Shuten Doji Vol. #2 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: C

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B-
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: TV MA
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Shuten Doji

Shuten Doji Vol. #2

By Chris Beveridge     August 12, 2005
Release Date: June 28, 2005

Shuten Doji Vol. #2
© ADV Films

What They Say
Shuten Doji is the story of Jiro Shutendo, who seems like a normal kid but somehow feels different from his friends and schoolmates. It never crossed Jiro’s mind that he might not be human at all! When Jiro’s girlfriend is kidnapped by a band of evil monsters, he must journey through time and space to rescue her and discover his true origins.

The Review!
Jumping around the timeline even more before barreling towards a surprisingly interesting conclusion, Shuten Doji messes with history some more and teases about the future.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The stereo mix is a product of its time and it feels fairly limited in its range but mostly just has a full feeling to it with the action effects and music while most of the dialogue comes across through the center channel. It's a busy sound mix but it doesn't really have much in the way of directionality but this is true of most OVAs from this time period. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions on either language track.

Originally released in 1989, the transfer for this OVA series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is not enhanced for anamorphic playback. A lot of OVA series over the years were done in widescreen in order to provide it with a theatrical and bigger than life feel and it's something that fits well with this series. Being from 1989, the print here has suffered a fair bit over the years and you can see grain and dirt on the print throughout at various places along with the occasional nick and scratch, but nothing that truly detracts from it if you're used to seeing how material from this area tends to look. There's a bit of noticeable blocking throughout that's cause by the visible level of grain and there's a few scenes where you can really notice both some aliasing and jitter, things again that are common to more traditionally animated shows. The transfer isn't one that shines, especially compared to new shows, but it is what you'd expect from a show of this vintage.

Similar in style and feel to the first volume, Jiro in his bare-chested best and a naked Miyuki make up the foreground for this cover and they look very much like what you'd expect from a Go Nagai property. The murky background provides the form for the oni to show itself but also to just have something of a dark and bloody feel to it. The cover has a strong horror feel to it, especially with the logo, that jumps out nicely. The back cover keeps up the murky feeling and supplies some demonic artwork there as well as a few shots from the show. The summary goes over the premise easily enough and they also list the two episode numbers and titles, though they should have made a bigger deal of their individual running time, which is easily figured out from the total in the grid but could throw a casual buyer at first. No insert was included with this release nor is the cover reversible.

The main menu is a simple static piece that has a dark red background with a demonic face taking up a huge chunk of the landscape while they overlay it with the character artwork from the front cover which is still done in full color, all of which is set to a bit of creepy music that involves a lot of heavy demonic breathing. The selections are few with just the episodes here so access times are nice and fast and the navigation is easy. The disc did correctly read our players' language presets as well


Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the last two OVA episodes, Shuten Doji as told through the eyes of Go Nagai comes to a close and it's not without pulling some of the tricks that are often done in those series. Each of the lengthy episodes focus on a particular area and the fourth episode even does a nice job of recapping the first three of them so that you can get the timeline and history all in order before the final episode.

The series has been twisty to say the least so far and this volume only rockets it up a few more notches. With Jiro in the lead and a couple of demons and Miyuki following him as they search through the open time-space continuum area for the way to get back to the past and to Ogunkukai. The hope is that once they're there they can figure out exactly what's going on and stop it. Unfortunately, the oni that are all over the place continue to thwart their plans and before they know it, Jiro gets separated from them and ends up in one place while the remainder of them end up elsewhere.

For Miyuki and the others, they end up back in the Heian era and keep low while waiting for Jiro to return to them since they're all needed in order to go to Ogunkukai. Jiro on the other hand ends up in the year 2100 and floating out in space where he's picked up by the starship Alfard. The minimal crew on board is split over how to deal with him and their research into who he is reveals that he's human in form but his body is made up of pure light. This becomes something of a revelation for Jiro but before anything can really be explored about his claims to his past, one of the ships crew decides that he's going to kill Jiro. Enter the cyborg Iron Kaiser, the son of someone Jiro killed back in the first volume who has lived over a hundred years in order to extract his revenge. Chaos ensues on the ship and we get something akin to the Alien films combined with oni and Nagai-ness and it does turn out to be as comical as it sounds.

Jiro's actually in luck here since the ship just happens to be carrying an ultra top secret device that can send inorganic matter through the timeline so they opt to help him out before things go so badly on board that they have to evacuate. Sending him back into the past, Jiro's able to team up with his friends once more in the Heian era and they're able to move forward again in trying to get to Ogunkukai to deal with the root cause of the problem of the Oni in what's considered the oni hell. Their arrival there is paralleled with the story happening in the present time about Jiro's mother and her seeming insanity where she's painted her room to resemble what Ogukukai has become. As the truth about this place is revealed, it's actually quite an interesting little twist on things as far as demon world stories go.

In looking at the four episodes in total, the show was a challenge to watch almost all the way through but the fourth episode if taken on its own with the 5 minute recap at the beginning, you almost feel like it's a much better show than it is. I've never been much of a fan of Go Nagai's works and only Devil Lady has piqued my interest and held my attention for the entire duration so I wasn't surprised that I didn't care much for Shuten Doji. It's been interesting to watch though as it's one of at least three shows that are in release right now that cover the same original period of time in the Heian era and works with the same historical characters but manipulates them all differently. Seeing these multiple takes is simply fascinating from a creative standpoint.

In Summary:
Showing its age and having something of a plot that's really all over the place and almost comical at times such as launching it into the year 2100, Shuten Doji comes to a close with the last two episodes. I'll give it some props for providing a rather creative reason for everything that's happened with the last episode since I certainly didn't see it coming and it's not one used all that often either. But when you feel like you could dump seventy-five percent of the series and just watch the last episode and not feel like you really missed anything, you can probably say that for the series in its entirety. For fans of the show, this is a good release overall and probably as good as it'll ever look outside of a complete remaster of the source materials. If you've not seen it, make sure you're a Go Nagai fan first since this show is pretty much aimed at that segment of fandom and isn't really a crossover title.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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