Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok Vol. #4 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: TV PG
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok

Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok Vol. #4

By Brett Barkley     May 16, 2006
Release Date: April 04, 2006


Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok Vol. #4
© ADV Films


What They Say
34" Sony FD Trinitron Wega HDTV KD-34XBR910 and Sony Dav-FR9 progressive scan Home Theatre System with 114 watts per channel to each speaker and 115 watts to each of the subwoofer's two woofers.

The Review!
Some major characters are introduced in this volume, and the viewer gets a great deal more insight in to the reasons for Loki's banishment, while the humor and characterization remain consistent and enjoyable.

Audio:

Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok is presented in Dolby 5.1 in English and Dolby 2.0 in Japanese with English subtitles. I greatly enjoyed the English track and felt the actors really did a great job in bringing personality to their respective characters. Considering the large amount of dialogue in this series, this was actually a necessity. That the audio was reproduced well only served to do the actors justice. Understandably, the same can be said for the actors on the Japanese Dolby 2.0 track, though it comes across much flatter in comparison. On an issue of personal preference, I actually prefer Ms. Fuchizaki's rendition of Loki on the Japanese track, though again you just don't get the same impact with the 2.0 audio. As always, there are trade-offs between the two audio options, but this feels like a solid release all the way around.



Video:

Having an original Japanese air date of 2003, Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok clearly shows in its production values and relative freshness. Video is crisp and clear with colors represented very nicely. This series appears to really rely on moody and striking color schemes, which are all done to great effect throughout the episodes on this disk. Some of the scenes with the possessed doll from the first episode, or even the opening itself are perfect examples of just how nicely this series' colors are represented throughout. I found overall quality of the presentation to be very strong, finding no instances of cross coloration or pixilation. This is a great looking piece of work.

Packaging:

Volume four ships in a clear keepcase and features an image of the three Norn sisters (Verdandi, Urd, and Skuld respectively) amidst a nicely designed cover. The lighter tones of their costumes (similar to school outfits) does a nice job of making the figures separate from the background. The cover also features some intricate designs that give it a very unique look unlike any other anime cover I'm immediately familiar with. The back cover continues the black and dark gray background pattern, featuring an easy-to-read volume summary and features included on the disk, as well as several images from the episodes, which also read nicely against this dark background. The spine clearly displays the title (though not the logo) and has a very classy feel. While there is no insert included with this volume, the clear keepcase does feature a vibrantly-colored reversible cover candid dinner shot of the bulk of the cast to this point (though with no Freya).


Menu:

The disk menu is nicely designed and very easy to use. Featuring some of the Victorian-inspired border design work from the rear cover of the disk itself, the primary background image is a rotating shot of the disk from episode fourteen, portraying Skoll and Hati, the giant dogs from Norse mythology, as they chase the sun and moon respectively. As with the menus from the previous disks, ghostly feathers float over the entire menu as a moody music clip plays throughout. While the image isn't necessarily as engaging as some that have come before, and the darker tones make the ghostly feather effects a bit difficult to see, I liked the image used here, as it is a vast departure from the character-oriented menu backgrounds used in the past.

In terms of navigation, the menu is also successful. A breeze to use and easy to instantly understand, all navigation is featured against a gold band along the lower edge of the screen. The Mythical Detective seal is featured boldly in the lowermost left of the screen, and the episodes are listed in order thirteen through sixteen, with Preview Volume 5, Extras and Language options in the rightmost corner. By pressing the down key on the remote, the viewer can quickly move through the listing of disk options.


Extras:

The third volume of Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok features a preview of volume 4, Clean Opening Animation, Clean Closing Animation, another Interview with Seiyuu (Part 1 of a session with Japanese voice actors Showtaro Morikubo, who plays Narugami, and Romi Paku, the voice of Heimdall), a Character Art Gallery, the welcome inclusion of Norse Mythology Notes and ADV Preview and DVD Credits. I actually really liked the Clean Opening Animation, simply because the mood and design of the opening is just that good. The Character Art Gallery is pretty nice, offering animation still of a number of the characters from the first volume. I was slightly disappointed there weren't more and would have really appreciated more in the way of concept sketches and unfinished pieces, just to get a better idea of the behind-the-scenes artistic energy brought to the series. The video interview was again fun and playful, though slightly more goofy than informative, but enjoyable nonetheless. I was very pleased with the inclusion of the notes on Norse Mythology. This in-depth examination of the source material is very enlightening, though only marginally beneficial to enjoy the series.


Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)

Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok began its life as a serialized manga published in Shonen Gangan under the name, Mythical Detective Loki. The title was lengthened to the final Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok after the property was relocated to Comic Blade magazine. The television series based on the original manga ran for 26 episodes in 2003.

Very loosely based on Norse mythology (in which Loki finds himself exiled to Midgard "our human realm, or Japan in this case "in the body of a child, and a number of other famous Norse characters are recreated here as well, as teenagers), this series is a sort of fusion between those mythological characters and the boy detective genre. The plot follows Loki, who has established the Enjaku Detective agency, which appears to handle more occult-oriented cases. Loki has been judged by Odin and exiled to this realm and placed in the somewhat limiting form of a child. He is accompanied by his faithful servant Yamino (who has a penchant for sending away for mail-order junk and seems genuinely surprised when it breaks) and Mayura Daidoji, an energetic, if somewhat clumsy high school girl who manages to force her way in to Loki's life. Additional characters from Norse mythology are introduced play a vital role in the plot. The additional characters introduced to this point are Thor, Hemidall, Frey and Freya. Each of these Norse transplants also has special abilities, though theirs do not seem as limited by their youthful exteriors as Loki.

Volume four of Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok naturally continues the storyline of Loki's banishment to Midgard. It also introduces a new and likeable character to the primary cast, several new villains, offers a glimpse of the adult Loki, as well as managing to shed some light on the reasons for Loki's punishment and why Odin is intent on destroying him. I found this volume very entertaining, as it managed to retain the series' fresh, light-hearted tone, while also engaging the viewer with action and drama.

The first volume, episode thirteen, which opens and undetermined time after the twelfth, begins by exploring Reiya's interest in Loki, while simultaneously, Yamino stumbles onto (and eventually out of) a trap set for Loki by the three Norn sisters. The trap, in the form of a flower, actually manages to place Yamino under s spell of control, and he takes the flower down to the basement, to the flames of evil Loki has captured. When timely (and completely oblivious) intercession arrives in the form of Mayura, the spell is broken, but not before some damage is done. Meanwhile, in expressing her romantic feelings for Loki, Freya is freed from her child-bound form of Reiya, and set out to track down Loki, forcing him to marry her (which does seem a bit odd, as she's in adult form, while at this point, he is still in his child form "though only briefly). Later in the episode, when Loki discovers the captured flames have been tainted by the flower's magic, the resulting explosion manages to temporarily revert him to his adult form.

I found episode thirteen to be fun and entertaining. While it feels somewhat light and maybe even inconsequential, is deceptively so in that the introduction of the Norn sisters (who really dominate this volume as the primary antagonists) and the changes in Reiya/Freya that have made the character all the more unpredictable, all appear to be key to the ongoing storyline. In this regard, episode thirteen is really the perfect opening for this volume; light, while also sowing the seeds for drama in the preceding episodes.

Episode fourteen, likely my favorite of this volume, introduces a major new (and entertaining) character, and significantly raises the show's cuteness factor. The episode begins with Mayura's desire for a "mystery dog", or a canine companion to help her solve mysteries. When a puppy apparently falls from the sky, Mayura (naturally) takes it home without question. At night, however, while she sleeps, the puppy sneaks out. That night, a giant wolf stalks through the city, extinguishing every light he passes. Loki immediately recognizes Odin's hand in the widespread blackouts and naturally seeks answers. While Mayura tries to find her new puppy a more permanent place to live with Loki and Yamino, Loki determines that Skoll and Hati have arrived in Midgard. As Loki and Yamino (in his giant snake form) battle the formidable Hati (one in the pair of Asgardian wolves that chase the sun and the moon, thereby accounting for our days, Hati chases the moon, extinguishing its light), Mayura's new puppy finally reveals itself in a truly great scene.

This episode, while also introducing one of my favorite new cast members, in the form of Fenrir, another of Loki's sons, maintains the series' humor (of course Narugami/Thor has a new part-time job), as well as offering a fair amount of action. While easily resolved, I found the episode's main battle, particularly with the surprise final reveal, to be quite entertaining. Additionally, the Norn sisters are given yet more screen time, building interest in what role they'll play in the following episodes.

Episode fifteen continues the Norn sisters' plot to destroy Loki. When Mayura stumbles in to a Norn trap disguised as a fortune telling tent, Loki, Yamino and the newly-welcomed-to-the-family Fenrir must go to the rescue. While Yamino and Fenrir must handle the formidable demons swarming the tent, Loki journeys in to the tent and, subsequently, in to a strange and enchanting dimension to rescue Mayura. He has a strange and revealing encounter with Odin, who has possessed Mayura's body. While brief, this encounter sheds a great deal of light on Loki's banishment, and Odin subsequently vows to utterly destroy him. Once back in our world, the three Norn sisters warn Loki of his coming fate and suggest the reason for all that has and is about to occur in his life.

As noted above, this episode reveals some clues as to why Loki is in his current state, and the trouble that is coming his way. While not giving anything away, the groundwork for Ragnarok is definitely being set here. While this episode wasn't necessarily heavy on action, as the primary confrontation, in fact, the Norn sisters' entire scheme, is little more than a warning of what is to come, it does a nice job of setting up the following episode, and giving the viewers just enough information to continue to wonder about the reasons for Loki's banishment.

Continuing the Norn sisters' plot to destroy Loki, episode sixteen, the final episode on the disk, centers on the wedding ceremony of one of Mayura's friends at the temple. However, the Norns have planned to use this opportunity to enact their plot to kill Loki. Through an elaborate scheme that involves exchanging the bride's ring with an enchanted one, a trap is set and Loki is soon captured. Captured in a bottle-reality, Loki finds himself on a tiny island with Verdandi. Exploiting Loki's hatred of water, Verdandi turns the endless waves in to watery dragons and serpents that threaten to engulf Loki and the tiny island itself. It is only through the intervention of Yamino and Fenrir in our reatlity that Loki is spared.

I enjoyed this episode for a number of reasons. The action was well done, and I really enjoyed seeing Yamino and Fenrir play a larger role in the storyline. Since the last episode, these two characters have really begun to develop and grow, which makes the cast feel more robust, stronger than simple additions to Loki's story. This is one of the things I enjoy most about the series "the fact that characters continue to grow. In this episode, while Yamino and Fenrir save the day, we also learn about Loki's weakness for water. I greatly enjoy the fact the characters are continuing to be fleshed-out, with individual strengths and weaknesses. And, of course, this episode featured more of the series' great humor, with a nice scene featuring Narugami/Thor disguised as the bride.


In Summary:

This series continues to charm, as I find myself increasingly excited for each subsequent volume. I thoroughly enjoy the introduction of each new character and particularly the complications that often occur as a result. While action seuquences have never been the series' strong point, building and exploring character through humor has.

With this volume, Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok is really finding a decent stride for itself, as new and pivotal characters, both good and bad, have been added to the cast, and the groundwork for the series' core mysteries, specifically why Loki was banished to Midgard and why Odin seeks to destroy him, is set here. Just enough information is given to keep the viewers interested, and there is more than enough humor and characterization to entertain. The new cast members truly add to the feel of the show, as Loki's family actually feels much more complete, and I was very pleased to see Yamino and Fenrir both taking larger roles as more than just sidekicks.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Interview with voice actors Showtaro Morikubo (Narugami) and Romi Paku (Heimdall),Character art gallery,Norse mythology notes,Clean opening animation,Clean closing animation

Review Equipment
34" Sony FD Trinitron Wega HDTV KD-34XBR910 and Sony Dav-FR9 progressive scan Home Theatre System with 114 watts per channel to each speaker and 115 watts to each of the subwoofer's two woofers.

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