Otogi Zoshi Vol. #3 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: A
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Media Blasters
  • MSRP: 29.95
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Otogi Zoshi

Otogi Zoshi Vol. #3

By Chris Beveridge     August 09, 2005
Release Date: July 12, 2005


Otogi Zoshi Vol. #3
© Media Blasters


What They Say
Hikaru and her companions finally recover the last of the Magatama, but the capital is far from safe. The nobles have oppressed the great warlord Shuten Doji’s clan. With vengeance in his eyes, he raises a massive army and thunders toward the capital. As Hikaru prepares to defend her home, the Yin-Yang master Abe no Seimei sets plans of his own into motion. Hikaru struggles against violence on all sides, but even the loss of her most trusted friends couldn’t prepare her for the final betrayal.

The Review!
The first half of the series comes to a close and wraps up the Heian era storyline dramatically.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese and in the 5.1 mix that was provided. Production I.G. shows have been quite good in recent memory for being able to provide a 5.1 mix along with the stereo one (which is included) and they've done some good work with those mixes. This series is fairly mellow however so it's not a terribly active mix throughout it but it does have some really good moments with directionality. Where this mix really shines is in the subwoofer aspect of it as dialogue, songs and action sequences all utilize it to one extent or another and make good use of it. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions.

Video:
Originally airing in 2004, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. With it being set so far back in time and during a very dark period of the country, the color palette for the series is very dark and earthy in nature, even when it uses the few vibrant colors it does. A lot of the show is a mixture of grays and blacks that's handled well and mostly maintain a very good solid feel to them. A few areas crop up here and there were you can see some blocking going on but it's rare for a large black field to really remain consistently solid from what I've seen. Colors maintain a good feel throughout this and avoid looking like it's really digitally painted and the show is free from aliasing or cross coloration as well.

Packaging:
Using the same artwork as the Japanese release but with a better background to it, this is a light and very attractive looking cover that features a full length shot of Mansairaku along one side with the purple leaves and tress behind him while underneath the logo is a close-up of Seimi's face mask. The back cover is fairly subdued as well with a few shots from the show in circles as well as the brief summary of the shows premise. The discs features are clearly listed above the production information while the technical information is very handy to have here considering the language choices and more. The insert is a mostly black piece that has the series name and symbol near the top of it and it opens up to provide some liner notes and helpful word translations that covers these episodes across two panels. With there being two discs in this release, the keepcase doesn't have a flippy but each side has a place to hold the disc, though it makes it so that the insert pops about when it opens up.

Menu:
The main menu is a nice piece that has an animated version of Hikaru in her full kimono playing her brothers flute softly while the backgrounds shift colors and images between various locations, colors and text. It's a very soft and mellow piece, much like the show itself is once it gets underway, and it fits well with it. Access times are nice and fast and with nothing but the show and trailers on the main feature disc it's easy to navigate. The disc also correctly read our players' language presets and played accordingly.

Extras:
Much like the previous volumes, a second disc is here with plenty of extras. The group discussion hits its next installment here with the discussion taking place over food and alcohol. It's just as interesting as the previous ones. Also following up from the earlier extras, there's another Heian Lecture from Tokyo University that covers more material that went into the making of and design of the show. A new behind the scenes piece is also included as well as a discussion on the ending theme to the show. Like previous volumes, I'm hesitant to watch much of these since there's the potential for a lot of spoilers.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the layout of the series, this volume brings to a close the first half and the story arc that we've come to know that takes place in the Heian era. The show has been fascinating to watch in its detail to the way the country looked and felt at this time, an era that's still largely undocumented when it comes to the average person, and with the art style used it has such an earthy feel to it that it's much more alive than many other shows that are out there.

These last four episodes culminate in the event that will determine the survival of the capital city. Up to now, Hikaru has been racing around the country with her friends in order to get the Magatama's so they can provide a defense against the problems and fend off any attack. With only one left, she's gone to infiltrate Shuten Doji's encampment outside of the capital in order to try and get him to retreat and give her the stone so they can have peace at last. Shuten's not exactly a huge player here but he's provided some key moments to events such as this where he's gone against what he promised the onmyoji and has kept the stone to himself as well as starting to attack the city days earlier than planned. Watching the capital aflame only increases his own sense of power and doubles his determination to do what he wants.

Hikaru's inability to retrieve the final magatama from him sets into motion the plans of those playing in the capital as they believe the same as she does that having all of the stones will ensure their future. The two main ministers, continuing to work under Seimi's guidance, finally split though when they have the last magatama in their grasp and each of them tries to seize control. This only hastens the destruction of the capital and allows Seimi's own plans to unfurl as he's able to finish his manipulations of the ministers and he takes control of everything that's going on. The destruction of the city, which will be just the start of things, will bring about the new rebirth that he believes is promised. To create, you need to destroy, and this is his offering to the gods in order to save the capital. To save it you have to destroy it first. Unless Hikaru and the others can reach him in time to convince him otherwise or stop him.

As far as endings go for storylines, this one plays out well if a bit predictable as it goes along and the group gets thinned out as each of Hikaru's comrades stops to fend off the growing numbers of people wanting to kill her before she reaches Seimi. Much like Hikaru though as she starts to learn the truth of what the magatama's have been all about and what Seimi's plans really were, she can't help but wonder what it was all far and the view unfortunately starts to feel the same way as you start to feel just as duped as she was through all of this. The tension starts to ease off at the wrong time as the forces that have been defending Hikaru as she went to Seimi end up stopping and watching along with the government troops when the final magatama is launched and the imminent doom is upon them. It's tense up through this but then it goes on for so long that the tension slips away far too easily.

In Summary:
With the end of the arc, it plays out in an interesting way but with the lack of true historical perspective I feel like I'm missing a few key things. It's very enjoyable watching it all unfold however as the betrayals and revelations come about and the realization of how used Hikaru was for the entire thing hits home for her. What proved to be the most fascinating though is the next episode preview where the focus shifts from one capital to another – and jumps ahead a thousand years to the rebirth of the same people in a different era. I love it when shows do this and I'm really curious to see how this new chapter in the story reveals itself. By itself, these three volumes tell an excellent story of a time that's not all that focused on when it comes to anime, especially in a serious way. It's been quite enjoyable but I'm now really keen to see how the modern half lives.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles, Heian University Lectures, Roundtable discussion with creators,Promo reel, Music video by Attack Haus

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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