Shrine of the Morning Mist Vol. #2 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B-

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 & 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: Shrine of the Morning Mist

Shrine of the Morning Mist Vol. #2

By Chris Beveridge     March 04, 2005
Release Date: February 22, 2005

Shrine of the Morning Mist Vol. #2
© Media Blasters

What They Say
Summer vacation is coming to a close for Yuzu and her priestess club, but there's still time for swimming, festivals and vicious monster battling.

When the girls return to school they find not one, but three new transfer students. One of them, Kukuri Shirayama, seems just as shy, klutzy and interested in Tadahiro as Yuzu is. Coincidentally, the new school year brings a dark new priestess club. But instead of fighting the forces of darkness, these priestess are devoted to awakening the Demon Lord!

The Review!
The plot thickens like molasses on a hot summer day and at a pretty similar pace as well.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this series in its original language of Japanese. The show sports a fairly standard stereo mix for a TV broadcast which means we do get some decent moments of directionality and some depth as well but nothing that really stands out too strongly. The music makes out rather well here and sounds quite warm and full. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no issues with dropouts or distortions during regular playback of either language track.

Originally airing in 2002, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. This show tends to go into a couple of different styles depending on what it's trying to get across and just about all of them look really good here. Some of the scenes with the soft backgrounds and the mist look really beautiful and avoid pixellation or blocking going on while some of the more vibrant action sequences are just great to look at with solid colors and no gradient issues with the digital painting. A touch of aliasing shows up in a few scenes but is otherwise negligible as is cross coloration.

Using the same artwork as the Japanese release but adding in a more stylized border around it and a really great looking English language logo along with keeping the Japanese logo, this cover just looks great with its light illustration look and the soft colors used in it. The image of Seiko with some confidence to her face coming out of the shrine area with her spear in this kind of near sepia tone format looks really good. The back cover is cleverly designed to show a number of shots from the show itself and provides a brief but good summary of the premise along with some of the basics of the production. The technical information is filled out in the always useful grid along the bottom. Like a lot of other recent releases from Media Blasters, there is no insert included in this release and we continue to look at this as a good thing since most inserts just rehash the cover information anyways.

The main menu is a good looking but simple static piece that has the headshot of Seiko from the front cover that's more a pencil sketch than full artwork with a bit of a tan filter applied to it, which looks really good against the indistinct back drop and the logo next to her. Selections are lined along the bottom and are quick and easy to navigate and access. The music from the show plays in a lengthy loop unlike the usual 30 second piece. With little to the disc other than the show itself, the menu does the job well though the disc didn't read our players' language presets properly and defaulted to English with no subtitles.

The extras are beefed up a bit with this volume, especially in comparison to the first. Similar to the first volume, we get the reappearance of the clean opening and closing sequences. The additional extras which run varying lengths are three featurettes that provide detailed information on some of the back stories of the series, such as one that talks about the mononoke and their origins. These are neat extras and help expand some basic things about the religion and premises in the show and are unfortunately more interesting than a lot of the show itself.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Shrine of the Morning Mist was a show that surprised us at first with the opening volume to the series since we weren't aware it was a half-episode show. These kinds of series have gotten much better in recent years and most of the writers and directors that dabble in this format have found what works right, but as we saw in the first volume these guys hadn't figured it out all that well. This volume fixes that up much better and the plot smoothes out as well.

The show opens easily enough and without needing to remember what's gone on before by doing a getaway episode, or a couple of them. Kurako has decided that they need to spend more time really training so she takes advantage of one of their breaks and heads to the beach with them all. During the morning they're run hard with their training but once that's done they get the rest of the day to themselves. So that provides us with a gaggle of girls on a beach in swimsuits acting cute and having fun for a couple of episodes. These are fairly light for the most part as it spans across a couple of episodes and deals with festivals and general training.

A lot of the focus on it comes down to the dynamic between Seiko and Yuzu being off as the two are highly competitive to begin with but both seem to be pushing harder lately. The festival provides the opportunity for each of them to be competitive with their own special skills and show off, but isn't it amazing that at the same time it shows just how unique they all are and how well they all work together because of this? The arc is fun overall though even if it's completely blunt about its intent, and one of the reasons it manages to be fun is through the circumstances that Chika finds herself in, such as wearing a boys uniform and going through a dating ritual with Yuzu. She's got such a good deadpan combined with her facial expressions that even I couldn't help but laugh.

Of course, life isn't all fun and games at the beach and school starts up again so the girls head back there. To their surprise, there's a trio of transfer students who've come to their school. The three definitely don't get along with the priestesses and there's a tangible bit of tension between them all, though the youngest of the new students seems to be a bit more interested in things than the others. Their arrival also heralds the arrival of the Priestesses of Twilight, a group that's here to work towards bringing their own god into play and putting the world in eternal twilight, ensuring that the morning mist will never come again.

Naturally, the Priestesses that we've gotten to know can't make the connection between three new evil priestesses showing up and the arrival of three new transfer students. This may be a fair thing though since the new girls are all much more powerful and are hitting back hard against the good guys so they're probably addled in the head after the first couple of defeats. With the two sides now here, we get to see them interact more and more both in priestess mode and as students which allows some chances to get to know them better. It's not a bad way of bringing more to the show but it falls on such an obvious plot element that better series have managed to find ways to use more creatively that seeing it again in its most basic mode is just annoying. The only other saving grace towards the end of this volume is that Koma gets an episode to herself where we get to know much more about her past.

In Summary:
Shrine of the Morning Mist is a series that I still like parts of, such as the formation of an actual club and having Yuzu's existing friends become powerful allies instead of meeting new friends episode after episode, but it's one that also at the same time relies on some of the worst clichés of the genre. The pacing has started working better here and even more so if you skip certain credits to make it feel like full length episodes.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Clean Opening,Clean Closing,Three Background Stories

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with upconversion set to 720p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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