Otogi Zoshi Vol. #5 - Mania.com

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  • Audio Rating: B
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: A
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Media Blasters
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Otogi Zoshi

Otogi Zoshi Vol. #5

By Chris Beveridge     October 12, 2005
Release Date: November 15, 2005

Otogi Zoshi Vol. #5
© Media Blasters

What They Say
As Hikaru and Tsuna continue investigating the strange supernatural occurrences all around Tokyo, they are either helped or hindered by a mysterious man in a long black coat. There seems to be a new woman in Tsuna's life, but it's Ibaraki, and she has an agenda of her own. Then a series of flashbacks begin to haunt Hikaru. Are they memories of her previous life in the Heian Era? Her past and future are about to clash on the streets of modern day Tokyo!

The Review!
The mysteries start to become clearer as events unfold more and some people actually begin to talk instead of just looking cool.

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.

Originally airing in 2004, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. With it being set in modern day, the color palette used for the series is completely different from the first half and unsurprisingly they do an excellent job with it. The more varied and real world style backgrounds look great and the shift to the different clothing style is handled well but kept at a level just less than overly vibrant so it's not glaring or something that takes you out of the scene. 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.

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 half length shot of Sadamitsu looking all cool in his modern day getup and sunglasses as well as a close-up shot of Tsuna's face. The back cover is fairly subdued as well with a few shots from the show layered around 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. Unlike previous volumes, there was no insert included with this release. 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.

The main menu is a very relaxing piece that showcases black and white sketches of the chracters moving across the screen to various locations in the present day while a very mellow instrumental piece plays along. 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.

As the series gets closer to winding down it's not surprising to see that the extras are thinning out though they still get a second disc and there is plenty here. The seventh group discussion at the bar continues here and that runs for about twenty-two minutes. The same goes with the Tokyo University lecture series which is again more focused on current events as it covers some of the more recent historical events that are brought to the foreground in these episodes. Rounding it out is a dual interview with Mizuho Nishikubo and Chieko Kawabe, which is the second installment, and runs about eight minutes in length. All of these extras really continue to do a fantastic job of expanding upon the basics that you can get from the show and explains the deeper and more cultural roots of a lot of it and just how it was all approached. These continue to be some of the best extras out there.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Otogi Zoshi's second arc moves along nicely here and now that we're past the initial disjointed feeling due to the shift ahead in time, the characters are feeling more and more like their own rather than just future versions with weird personalities. The only area that continues to really feel odd is just how their eyes look. Somehow it looked completely natural and acceptable in the Heian era but when moved here it looks so out of place.

A lot happens across these four episodes and they make up the center part of the second arc so they definitely have the feel of educational episodes as we watch Hikaru go through the learning process of figuring out just what's going on around her. So many things have gone on since the anniversary of her brothers death and the arrival of the one she learns is named Mansairaku that she's able to start moving from reactive to proactive, but it still takes time. As busy as she is with school, she's still going out with Tsuna at night when he does his gigs which often are the jumping point for what's going on.

Each of the episodes tends to focus on a particular area as we're seeing the pattern around the yin and yang symbol combined with the hot points of chi around the rail line of Tokyo. One of the jobs that Tsuna gets is to photograph a ghost dog that's haunting a part of Shibuya which leads to an amusing supposition about the truth behind Hachiko. Hikaru's time there brings her into contact with Mansairaku again and she starts to get more of an education about one of the local shrines and what had gone on there in the past. This combines with the mysterious white ghost dog that appears and causes trouble whenever it does so as various bank machines and other equipment stops working. As Hikaru starts to delve into what's going on, we learn some neat little things about the origins and reverence people once had for wolves and a bit more about what Mansairaku is really up to.

Things really become clearer in the Ikebukuro episode though as Tsuna continues his own investigation into where Raikou has gone and has learned a few little things that are slowly coming together. He checks out a particular place in Ikebukuro where there's a lot of homeless people hanging about alongside a main thruway only to find himself sucked into the past by a tree that's one of the focal points of a number of recent events. This throws him about two hundred years back and subject to the whims of the bandits that roam the forest that the place was at the time. Hikaru's able to call Mansairaku to the place by using her pendant which is becoming increasingly important and he's able to manipulate things to go back and try to find him. The changes in the land from then to now are obvious but it's something that Mansairaku points out easily be talking about how people have lost their touch with the land and their memories are short. There's a quick bit of action that's nicely done as they deal with the bandits but the episode is more focus on establishing a relation to the series of events over the second arc and what it's all really about for Hikaru.

In watching these episodes I have to wonder how much of it is just a given to a native viewer and therefore a bit boring or whether it's things that just aren't all that known anymore. It feels weird to be rather familiar with a lot of these stories having read plenty of books about them as well as the numerous variations that show up in anime and manga. Even though there's familiarity there's always some minor changes and tweaks made to enhance the particular story that's being told and those manipulations are interesting to see. Also good to see with this volume is the cast becoming more and more their own characters and establishing themselves against their older selves. Hikaru's a bit rough still just because of how her character is and Sadamitsu and Kintaro really don't get much screen time, but I'm liking how they're dealing with Urabe and Tsuna and now Mansairaku as he's starting to talk about what he's up to and what's going on.

In Summary:
With this being the middle set of episodes of the second arc, it's definitely the one filled with revelations and movements that set up for the final volume. In its own way it's just as engaging as the first arc was but for different reasons as it's less focused than that storyline. While the original was a search at first for the stones, this one is more a search for self before being able to deal with whatever it is that's about to happen as the various forces are slowly and continually coming together. Otogi Zoshi took some real getting used to with its first volume and a readjustment with its fourth volume but each release continues to be engaging and interesting to watch.

Japanese 2.0 Language,Japanese 5.1 Language,English 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Group Discussion 7,Interviews,Tokyo University Lecture

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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