Soul Hunter Vol. #3 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: A-
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • 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: Soul Hunter

Soul Hunter Vol. #3

By Chris Beveridge     March 01, 2002
Release Date: March 26, 2002


Soul Hunter Vol. #3
© ADV Films


What They Say
Entrusted with the two princes by the dying Empress, Kou Hiko heads west to seek refuge. The noble Duke may have a lead, but Dakki's demon minions are hot on their heels, Bunchu is out for his comrade's blood, and Taikoubou is lagging behind as usual. It's a race to safety with the princes as the prizes; but will the royal scions be content to sit by as their lives are put on the line?

When agendas clash, fists and feet fly, and mysterious weapons of potent magic strike down one victim after another. As the future of the Yin is debated in blows, the question is not who will reach the princes first, but who will stay alive long enough to hang on to them!

Based on one of China's most popular novels and an incredibly successful Japanese comic book.

The Review!
The third installment of Soul Hunter takes a step back from the various pieces of intrigue going on and gets to focus a bit more on character interaction and some lengthy battles. And the number of new characters introduced drops off dramatically!

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:
The transfer this time around looks noticeably better compared to the first two volumes due to the amount of cross coloration dropping off quite a lot. While it's still there in some areas, again very noticeable in the ending sequence, things look much better all around here with only some basic line shifting going on during some panning sequences. Colors look good and though a few areas seem a bit soft, it looks intentional.

Packaging:
Nataku takes center stage hee with a great sunset background behind him as well as the visage of Bunchu. The back cover continues the sunset theme and provides some more animation shots and a few menu shots as well. The summary is pretty decent and all the features are clearly listed as well as production credits. The insert provides another shot of the front cover while the reverse side continues to give more new terms from the show.

Menus:
The menu uses Nataku here as well with a shot of him flying around. When you move to submenus, his paopei shoots off towards you and transitions to the new screen after it locks in. It's a neat little menu that uses the animation nicely without being overbearing. Moving about the menus is a touch slower due to the transitions, but access times are still good.

Extras:
There's a good selection of extras here, though some are familiar but bear repetition across multiple volumes. The glossary of terms and the translators notes are again immensely helpful in being able to figure out a lot of the subtler parts of this series. The relationship tree is constantly referenced since I have a hell of a time keeping track of everyone and checking out the original US trailer has been interesting to see how it was marketed. The voice actor profiles continue to be a good addition as well, and with the continued inclusion of pictures, makes them seem more "real" than before as well.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After the first nine episodes, I admit to still being somewhat confused to just what all is going on here. There's a large cast of characters and a lot of deceptions going on and a whole lot of agendas going forward. Thankfully, things slow down a bit here as various groups begin to gel together and we move into some multi-episode events.

The main thrust of these episodes deal with Kou Hiko and his transport of the two princes to the west. His journey goes fairly uneventful until they get close to one of the first outposts. It's around this time that we learn through discussions between Bunchu and Dakki (and her puppet Emperor) that assassins have already been sent to kill Kou Hiko and to bring the crown princes back. With their mother murdered now, they have an important role to play. Bunchu knows this too but has his own plans for the princes, which go against both Dakki's and against his old friend Kou Hiko's.

There's also the introduction of a new character during this early point, an Orphen-like young lad that's got on a similar outfit with the vest. He arrives near the outpost and spends the evening at an inn, taking in the drink and meager food while playing the musical instrument there. This section was particularly good as it was a quiet way of introducing a new warrior and also provided a really great piece of music. I was surprised to find it dubbed as I thought most companies had stopped dubbing songs. It's a good job overall with the dub of it, but I think it really loses some of the songs beauty in English.

Regardless, things start to come to a head at outpost after Kou Hiko and his charges enter. The assassins sent by Dakki make their move and manage to cause quite a bit of trouble. This is when the mysterious warrior enters and proceeds to pull out a light blade and gets the cool pose. We also learn that the lad is actually Kou Hiko's son, which adds a new wrinkle to things.

We also learn that Bunchu has sent his own assassins to the area to take out Kou Hiko as well. Their arrival is timed with the arrival of Taikoubou and his ragtag group of followers and not-followers. There's a number of really good fight sequences throughout these episodes, particularly as we get some of the better magic oriented attacks from the new assassins. But the section that really stands out is the swordfight between Bunchu and Kou Hiko over the princes fate.

While we still have a large cast of characters, we get to know a few of them a fair bit better with these episodes. The rush of the earlier episodes is gone for now and that change in pacing really helped improve our enjoyment of it. But I'm still not terribly keen on some of the mixes that go into this, such as the high-technology we see those in the Immortal World using to gain their goals. Frankly, when the giant ball shaped mecha came out, I thought of two things: Dragonball Z mixing which I again don't care for and the second was the Disney CG show Rolli Polli Olli. The inclusion of such beasts in this show really throws off the ability to get into it in my minds eye.

But overall, we did enjoy things here better than before. Not the most ringing endorsement of course, but at least it didn't get worse!

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Lingua Franca glossary of terms,Translators notes,Relationship tree,US Teaser,Voice actor profiles

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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