Soul Hunter Vol. #2 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: C+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: A
  • Age Rating: 3 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.99
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Soul Hunter

Soul Hunter Vol. #2

By Chris Beveridge     January 31, 2002
Release Date: February 12, 2002


Soul Hunter Vol. #2
© ADV Films


What They Say
The honorable Bunchu and Kou Hiko must do their best to thwart Dakki, the immortal who has bewitched their beloved Emperor. Not satisfied with her defeat of the Four Great Lords, the evil temptress has her sights set on the Empress and her sons, the heirs to the throne! The two will have to use all their cunning to keep the Yin Dynasty alive and their own heads attached to their shoulders.
Now faced with the imminent collapse of law and order in the realm, what does the valiant immortal Taikoubou do? He gets roaring drunk, of course! Project Soul Hunt is turning out to be far more difficult than expected, and if Taikoubou's "allies" don't manage to tear him apart, there are plenty of evil immortals ready to finish the job.

The Review!
The second volume continues the tale of many characters but mostly about Taikoubou. With one less episode, the show doesn't feel quite as dragged out as the first volume did. But for some reason, this show still leaves me confused afterwards.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. Throughout this stereo track we heard some nice directionality across the forward soundstage but nothing thrown to the rear speakers. Dialogue was nice and clear and the overall feel of the track is what you'd expect from a late 90's TV soundtrack. We listened to a good amount of the English track and noted no issues there either.

Video:
Much like the first volume, we saw a lot of cross coloration showing up throughout all of the episodes here. It moves around from mostly hair to entire characters as the show moves along and the ending sequence with the scroll and the little fluff that hangs off of it is fully alive with colors. The animation looks good for the most part, but there does seem to be some differences in the quality at times as it looks like more traditional animation shifts back from the more computer cel shaded characters.

Packaging:
This release has a great looking cover with Dakki taking the center stage with the moon and one of her potential thorns in the background. The logo for this show looks pretty slick too with the colors mixed in from here. The back cover features a couple of very small animation shots and a good summary of the episodes. Features and production credits are also listed nice and clearly, . There's no episode listings since the volume is numbered. The insert provides a portion of the front cover while the reverse side gives a list of new terms for the episodes on this disc.

Menus:
The menu uses the cover artwork of Dakki and some swirling animation behind her playing along with music from the show. The design and look of the main menu is quite good and gets you ready for the show. The submenus are pretty similar to the first volume in layout and access times between menus is nice and fast. I still found myself making the same silly mistakes in highlighting the wrong selections with the black/red coloring choices, but not as bad as I did on the first volume.

Extras:
The extras bear some resemblance to the first volume but there's some nice updates here. The ending sequence gets a textless version here since the opening appeared on the first volume. The voice actor profiles continue here again for the English actors and I really like the style used for it and the information provided. Just getting pictures of the actors makes it easier to make a connection with them and their roles. The translator notes here goes into more details about things that crop up in these episodes, though parts of it sound a little defensive but understandable, especially since this show is so culturally based. The relationship tree still strikes me as a really neat extra with being able to move in and around on it while the glossary of terms helps clarify more of the confusing words that get thrown about in this show.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Soul Hunter's second volume manages to settle down a bit but still continues to introduce new characters. While the cast is still growing, I've not been able to really latch onto any of them, especially Taikoubou since he's technically the lead character. And when you don't care much for the lead, that doesn't give help for much of the series.

There's two main plots going on through these episodes and it's unfortunate that the subplot is the more interesting of the two. That one continues to revolve around Dakki and her taking over things by continuing to tighten her control on the emperor. With several of the emperors most trusted advisors dead now, those who remain either live in fear of what will happen next or begin plotting to take back the kingdom before it becomes
completely ruined.

Things go worse in general for the kingdom though as the subtle paranoia that Dakki induces causes the emperor to believe that Empress Kyouhi may have been involved with those who were sent to take him out. Dakki convinces the emperor to send armed soldiers to retrieve her and to hold her in a cell while they interrogate her and her associates about what's been going on. This in particular causes things not to go would for those who were planning on using Kyouhi's son as the potential successor to the emperor once they could displace Dakki, since he's now tainted with the scandal, be it real or not.

On the other end of the spectrum, you've got Taikoubou going on about his journey. It's also been fairly uninteresting. While Nataku gave the show a little hope during the last disc, he's practically relegated to the sidelines here when Taikoubou encounters Ki Shou's son Raishinshi, the winged bare-chested kid with the bishounen hair. Rainshinshi has decided to play superhero and rid the land of evil doers everywhere and after rescuing his father and reintroducing himself to him, he heads off into the world to do just that.

As luck would have it, he comes across Taikoubou and the two get along just as you'd expect. Yup, the two are fighting practically right off the bat. On the plus side, they actual fight when they get right down to it after Taikoubou tells him to fight like a man, they both get on the ground and get ready to duke it out. Taikoubou makes it an interesting match by each a particular peach that gets him fairly well tipsy if not plain drunk, which gives the match a feel of something out of Drunken Master.

Soul Hunter's premise and overall story still hasn't really grabbed us. While there's some interesting things going on in the political side of things with Dakki and those around her, it's just so convoluted to this poor westerner that it's hard to grapple with everything that's going on. I like big casts and I like the Chinese background to it all (after all, I did finish and love all of the Chung Kuo novels), but there's just something about this show I'm having a hard time nailing down.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Closing Animation,Voice Actor Profiles,Translator Notes,Relationship Tree,Lingua Franca

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Skyworth 1050P Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.

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