Masahiro’s hunt for Kyuuki puts him in danger while other elements of a supernatural order begin to appear as well.
What They Say
Masahiro desperately looks for Kyuki as Akiko prepares for her upcoming examinations. As he wanders the city day and night he ends up collapsing from exhaustion. While he is recovering, he has a vision where Kyuki forces him to make a choice work for him and he will grant his deepest desire. The decision is his to make, will he take the path of least resistance or choose the higher road?
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.
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.
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 one of the shikigami 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 one of the shikigami.
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.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
To my surprise, I thought we were further into this series when Geneon dropped out of the game back in 2007. I had initially thought this was the fourth volume until I really sat down with it. This volume does serve as a good midway point as it finishes out the first storyline of the series and kicks into the second one. With Shonen Onmyouji covering the novels pretty well with its first several books, it’s able to tell a good story with lengthier plots while not adhering to some traditional manga “chapter” feelings. That said, finishing out the first story in the first two episodes after nearly a year does reduce the impact greatly unless you rewatch those first two volumes.
The first half of this volume concludes the storyline revolving around Kyuuki, the western spirit from China who is intent on setting up residence in Japan now. He’s been working various plans to try and gain a strong foothold in the country, but in coming across Masahiro as his abilities have been unlocked has turned out to be a significant problem. While Masahiro has certainly gotten help along the way, it’s his attitude about dealing with the problem and approaching it from different angles that has helped him the most. The main problem he has to deal with though is his emotions as Kyuuki has figured out the way to best manipulate the young man. His interest in Akiko has become his Achilles heel now Kyuuki is using that to try and sway him to his side.
The realization that Masahiro is actually stronger than he imagined causes enough problems, but it becomes even more interesting when Kyuuki realizes that Masahiro’s blood can provide him with some rather amazing rejuvenation. That sets things up for a strong fight finale in which the two have to face off, along with the help of a few shikigami and Mokkun as well. As a finale, the second episode here does take care of some dangling plot threads and brings it all to a rather good conclusion. But the delay in the release really dampens the impact overall since it’s been nearly a year of not seeing these characters in action and having the flow interrupted like that.
As a prelude to the next arc, it serves well however. Becoming reacquainted with the cast in this manner helps and we’re able to go into the second storyline feeling somewhat fresh and enthused as the reasons why we liked the series are still apparent. Masahiro’s life has changed a bit now that Kyuuki is dealt with in a couple of ways. Akiko is now no longer set to be married and she’s living within the Abe household, going so far as to be almost mothered by Masahiro’s mother. Akiko is now required to have some sort of regular onmyouji protection as Seimei has apparently set things up in a way to give Masahiro what he wants if he’s able to really step forward and claim it over time. Akiko seems perfectly content with this and with the idea of having something resembling a normal life.
With that as the backdrop, the story starts to work around two different ideas. The first is that Masahiro is finding that he really has to work harder in his studies to prove himself. While he’s definitely the most gifted in actual talent among the others who are there studying, he’s had to keep it secret while going on various jobs and missions for his grandfather and others. That’s kept him from attending a number of classes, not being in the dorm when he should be and not socializing as he should either. That has set some of the others against him for obvious reasons, and they’re taking it out on him in mild ways which amusingly enough infuriates Mokkun. Masahiro isn’t bothered by it though because he understands it and wants to work to correct it over time, which against presents him as a well balanced guy.
The larger storyline that’s coming into play is only in its early stages as Masahiro discovers that there’s an onryou, a spirit of the dead, walking about the city and trying to cause problems. This spirit is actually encountered a few times as it’s come to exact revenge for being exiled and banished years ago for political reasons and Lord Yukinari has become the object of his revenge. The actual scope and scale of the story is yet to be seen, but it does play out in some fun ways as the spirit has possessed one of Masahiro’s fellow onmyouji and is seeking a particular artifact that could cause a whole lot of trouble as time goes on. With this storyline set to encompass the second set of thirteen episodes of the season, this is but the tip of the iceberg and it looks interesting enough.
Shonen Onmyouji was one of the series that Geneon started with little fanfare before but really made me happy. It has some good animation, solid designs and interesting characters in a setting that’s really not utilized all that often when it comes to historical shows. It was one of many that I was sad to see end up getting put on hiatus back in late 2007 but one that I was quite excited to see start up again this year. This volume is a little problematic if you’re just dropping back into the show, but if you can re-watch the previous volumes or you’re going into all three fresh, you’re in for a treat. This is good solid supernatural anime with a historical angle with a couple of famous people involved. It won’t knock your socks off but you’ll likely come away pleased even if you’re fairly jaded to shows of this nature after many years.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles
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.