Shonen Onmyouji Vol. #2 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B-
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 125
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Shonen Onmyouji

Shonen Onmyouji Vol. #2

By Chris Beveridge     August 30, 2007
Release Date: September 11, 2007


Shonen Onmyoji Vol. #2
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
One night, an unexpected guest, Princess Keiko, suddenly appears in Akiko's courtyard. She tries to lure Akiko out of the house; however, her body is surrounded by a demonic aura. Later, it is discovered that Keiko has been ill and confined to bed. Is this the work of demons? To uncover the truth, Masahiro and Akiko visit Keiko's mansion together - just then, Akiko is kidnapped by the demons!

The Review!
As Masahiro continues to hunt down Kyuuki, the larger picture of what his life will be like begins to take shape.

Audio:
Shonen Onmyouji is presented with two stereo language tracks which are both encoded at 192 kbps. While there is a good full feeling to the mixes as it spreads out across the two channels, there isn't a lot of real directionality to it. The full mix works well in the action sequences as it has some nice impact to it but during the various dialogue scenes the characters are generally front and center anyway so placement isn't much of an issue. In listening to this disc with both language tracks, we didn't have any issues with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2006, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The source materials for the series are in great shape considering how recent it is and it shows throughout here. Colors are rich and vibrant with no visible bleeding or break-up in them. Some backgrounds, such as dark blue night skies and the occasional brown wall, do show some movement to them but it's fairly minimal. The reds in the color palette tend to look the best, particularly when Masahiro is in his full robes. With no noticeable cross coloration and only a small amount of aliasing during panning sequences, the release looks quite solid.

Packaging:
The original Japanese artwork again provides for a very striking cover both in the overall detail of the character design but also the overall layout. The background is a bit muted but it lets the attention focus squarely on character artwork. The back cover uses the same kind of background to provide the summary of the show and list through the discs features and extras. It also uses it to cover the remainder of the items such as the production information and the usual array of logos. There's a strip along the left that features a number of non-cropped shots from the show which look good. No technical grid is here unfortunately. The cover is reversible here with the original artwork of Seiryuu in an action pose while the back cover is laid out the same but with a different set of shots from the show. The insert uses a smaller version of the front cover artwork along with a breakdown of what months the remaining volumes will be release while the other side has a full version of the reverse cover artwork of Seiryuu.

Menu:
The menu layout isn't a surprise in that it utilizes the same artwork from the cover to good effect as it comes across as all the more striking in this form. While the character illustration is fantastic, the background is just a dull grey piece that reminds me of concrete. The series logo and navigation strip is along the left which is quick and easy to use though it doesn't provide individual top level episode access. Similar to a couple of other new shows from Geneon, there isn't any background music playing to the imagery. With no real animations to the menus, everything is fast to load and problem free. The disc did not read our players' language presets though and defaulted to English with no subtitles.

Extras:
The only extra on this release is a clean version of the ending sequence.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With little buzz to it, the first volume of Shonen Onmyouji turned out to be quite the surprise as it was well paced, had likeable characters and just had a good sense of fun about it. Playing in a time period that's gotten some notice in the last few years, it's able to take some known characters and play with them a bit by shifting it down a couple of generations to show the "what happens next" phase of the stories. Abe no Seimi has had plenty of tales about him spun but you always want to know what happens later on.

The series is still essentially running with its original storyline of having Masahiro growing into his new role as an onmyouji. His growth is fortuitously timed to the arrival of a foreign demon from the west named Kyuuki who is intent on making Japan his home now. Masahiro certainly has a good deal of on the job training to do here and a lot of it is foisted on him by his grandfather who isn't getting all that involved in the hunt. He's been good enough to have Guren work with him and help out but for the most part he's playing it relatively hands off so that Masahiro can learn the ropes quicker and more effectively. This causes some problems with the shikigami that guard and protect him, but for Masahiro it seems to be working good in the long run.

With five episodes on this volume, the series progresses along rather well as we see Masahiro interacting with more mononoke while also starting to get a better handle on his abilities. His grandfathers faith in him is well justified at times as we see him doing some of the basics, such as rebuilding the barriers that protect Akiko, but also in the way he takes on the problems that face him. A runaway demon carriage is something that's easy to manage but it's the way he does it which helps him in the long run. If there's any problem that Masahiro really has, it's one that he's not truly aware of just yet. And that's the fact that most of the other shikigami simply can't accept him as the heir to Abe no Seimi, no matter what Seimi himself says about it.

The interactions between Seimi and the shikigami start to explore more of what has gone in the past, a relative blink of the eye for the shikigami. Guren's involvement with Abe no Seimi is one that's a bit clearer now but the context of all of it is still sorely lacking. The small revelations we do get starts to help the understanding of why shikigami like Seiryuu is so opposed not only to Masahiro but also to Guren. The gradual introduction of more of the shikigami has helped to expand the overall cast but they're kept relatively minor to the story so far. Piece by piece though we're getting more of the big picture and seeing how it's all going to affect the growth of Masahiro as he takes Abe no Seimi's place in the scheme of things.

The series doesn't have any noticeable drop-off in terms of quality of the production with this volume and continues on with a generally solid look to it. Though there are obvious corners cut here and there the overall look of the show is surprisingly good and fluid. Characters continue to have a good mix of detail to them while also having a bit of simplicity in a way. The various creatures that show up are well done while not standing out too strongly as there is some familiarity to their designs. But with the show playing in what's essentially already covered ground from many other series, I don't have a lot of expectations for great originality. What they do however is use what's been explored before in a great way with a solid presentation overall.

In Summary:
Shonen Onmyouji may not be the most original show out there but it is well executed with an interesting storyline, good character designs and a real sense of story. There hasn't been anything that really qualifies as filler in it so far and the larger storyline is progressing well. The use of the foreign demons is a nice twist on things and having the main one become wounded and in hiding lets Masahiro grow against the lesser demons without having to face off against the big bad guy too soon. The cast grows rather nicely with these episodes as well and we can get an idea of how things are going to change over the course of the next four volumes. Shonen Onmyouji isn't a knockout hit but it's the kind of solid entertainment that you have no regrets in recommending to anyone.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Clean Closing

Review Equipment
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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