Shonen Onmyouji Vol. #5 - Mania.com



DVD Review

Mania Grade: B

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B-
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: 13 and Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Shonen Onmyouji

Shonen Onmyouji Vol. #5

Shonen Onmyouji Vol. #5 DVD Review

By Chris Beveridge     February 09, 2009
Release Date: January 13, 2009


Shonen Omnyouji Vol. #5
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.

The seals to the underworld are becoming weaker and weaker and Chisiki no Guuji is ever closer to releasing the dead into the world of the living.

What They Say
 

Amidst the apparitions and spirits of dead people running rampant in the middle of the city, Masahiro finds the ghost of a border guard wandering about. When he tries to put him to rest, Masahiro ends up getting possessed instead. Meanwhile, Mokkun has been acting strange and the timing couldn't be worse since the demon Mokkun had failed to capture kidnaps Masahiro's niece!

Contains episodes 19-22.

The Review!
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. 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 a great illustration of Kouchin with a very cool background for her 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 Kouchin.

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:
None.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The fifth installment of Shonen Onmyouji starts to expand more on the larger plot that was teased out a bit in the previous volume and it’s certainly becoming larger in scale. The first arc of the series revolved around the Western demons coming to Japan to roost while this one is shaping up to bring the dead back to the land of the living as someone with a grudge wants to break the seals of the Underworld. The pasts of a few characters become very important during these episodes as it’s the foundation for what’s happening.

The capital itself is really starting to suffer now as a miasma has slowly been seeping out from one of the main portals to the Underworld. The miasma has infected quite a lot of people and is causing many to fall sick, though those more in tune with their spiritual side are affected as well as those of the imperial family. This has Masahiro quite concerned because Akiko is rather affected by it because of her lineage. But it’s affecting many others as well and his grandfather is intent on having him on the front lines of this with his elder brother trying to stave things off. For Masahiro, it’s certainly a powerful moment as there is quite a lot at stake and he’s being rather trusted to deal with things capably.

What he discovers is that Kazane is again operating in a way that’s causing plenty of trouble as she’s befriend Princess Nagako. That has caused the princess to not look kindly upon anyone due to the way her mother has been giving all her attention to Atsuyasu since they were born. Kazane is able to manipulate Nagako easily enough and uses that in order to draw Masahiro and the shikigami to the Underworld itself where they can execute the next phase of the plan. Kazane has such a seething hatred of Guren that he’s quickly become the target and she uses everything in her arsenal to take him down and use him in a way that only makes everyone else panic and uncertain of what to do next.

So much of this rides on the past, which Masahiro only just learned about. When Seimei tells him about what happened decades ago when he went off to meet the Miko and to discuss how the seal was, his friend Ryusai went along with him. This was actually a nudging by Chisiki no Guuji since he knew that Ryusai would become smitten by the Miko and would swipe her from there, which in turn causes the seals to weaken even more. What makes the entire event even more of a problem is that it turns friend against friend and Guren becomes involved to the point where he becomes quite violent and his “original sin” is committed. Guren is rather quite when Seimei discusses all of this in front of him, but Masahiro is quite comforting when Guren is in his Mokkun form and is able to try and assuage him a bit.

So with Guren now under the control of Ryusai, or what passes for him after all these years, his sin is committed once again in a way that only ensures that Guren stays under his control. Events have spiraled and the seals are becoming weaker, but there is more and more information that comes out which spells of bigger problems to be sure. With Takao now back in the picture and aware of what’s going on, she begins her own manipulations to ensure that things go the way she wants. Events from the past are being revisited because of what Chisiki no Guuji is up to and many of the players from then are still around as well as new people with new bonds that could alter it. It’s all rather predictable in its own way, but the cast continues to be engaging even if you know the direction it will go. The series is one that can still take chances since it’s based off of light novels, and that adds a bit of uncertainty to it all which is a big positive.

In Summary:
The middle part of this arc plays out pretty much as expected in that we finally get some much needed background to the story and to the characters. The world is placed at risk once again, but it’s got enough of a connection to the people that we’ve grown to know that it doesn’t feel all that manufactured. There have been enough hints and teases along the way as its built up that this does feel like a natural culmination of events. The downside is that Masahiro spends about half of the disc out of the picture and it’s up to Seimei to carry it. He does, but it still feels odd to see him in his younger form and so in command of things. But with so much of it tied to his own mistakes, it does fit overall. But the title character should be a bit more prominent!

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles

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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