Spirit Warrior Vol. #2: Regent of Darkness - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: B-
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Central Park Media
  • MSRP: 19.99
  • Running time: 48
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Spirit Warrior

Spirit Warrior Vol. #2: Regent of Darkness

By Chris Beveridge     December 07, 2003
Release Date: December 02, 2003


Spirit Warrior Vol. #2: Regent of Darkness
© Central Park Media


What They Say
A group of Neo-Nazis intend to blanket the world in darkness, and the forces of Light have assembled four heroes to oppose their mad scheme — including Kujaku, an apprentice exorcist, who holds an incredible power that he barely understands.

The Review!
With all the introductions now out of the way, Spirit Warrior moves quickly to plot and action, providing a bit more entertaining second episode.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The OVA series features a pretty standard stereo mix with only a few very minor moments of noticeable directionality across the forward soundstage, as the bulk of it is center channel based. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no technical issues with it at all.

Video:
Originally released to video back in 1994, Spirit Warrior manages to look decent nearly ten years later. The show is pretty dark in nature and with it being traditionally animated, there’s some noticeable grain and breakup visible during some of the backgrounds. Cross coloration and aliasing are very minimal though, providing something of a balance. Colors look good without bleeding and there’s very little noticeable in the way of jitter.

Packaging:
After the overly dark first volume, this cover goes a bit lighter with a blood red backdrop that lets the more vibrant looking designs in the foreground of Kujaku and Tenja-Oh catch the eye. The back cover provides a single character shot and gives time over to the summary and the basic features, technical and extras. The reverse side of the cover provides more artwork in black and white as well as chapter listings and the English cast list. Strangely, there’s no Japanese listings for actors as it’s listed as unavailable.

Menu:
The main menu is a nice layered piece with animation playing in the background while the top level has the menu pieces, using the front cover in reverse but much cleaner and brighter. Selections are quick and easy to access and the layout works nicely with no transitional animations.

Extras:
The disc sports a surprising extra, outside of the brief art video gallery that is, in that there’s an episode-length commentary by the director Rintaro. Rintaro’s been doing so many commentaries lately I’m starting to wonder if he’s got time to do new projects. This one is much like his other commentaries in that there are some good references and details about the production that are revealed and he does drift from time to time as in the past as well as a number of dead areas.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The first episode of this series was somewhat difficult to get into and overall wasn’t something that we were all that keen on. The way it was laid out at the beginning and introduced the setting just didn’t connect well with us. The character designs were attractive and some of the style good, but otherwise I found myself checking the clock counter more than anything else.

With the second episode, and the lack of need for introducing anyone new, the show gets to focus more on the plot which is a bit more engaging this time around. While it’s still essentially the same as the first volume brought it about, it’s paced out a bit better here. Each of the two sides is more clearly defined and their goals are more set in what they must do. Kujaku in particular feels more focused and that alone helps things move along better.

With the Neo-Nazi’s safely hidden away in southern Germany, they keep their captives in good comfort while they plan their next move. Since the castle they’re in isn’t the right one with which to launch their campaign of revival for the Regent of Darkness, they plot how to awaken what’s really inside Tomoko and use her to their advantage. Tomoko is still struggling with everything she’s come to learn, though she finds herself luckily comforted by her friend Asura during all of this. Ko continues to put up a brave front despite how injured he’s become and still does his best to defend the girls against the Neo-Nazi’s when they try to force Tomoko to understand her place.

With Tomoko now exercising her power, they’re able to take her off to Tibet where the Mandala Castle is, the place where they will be able to place Tomoko upon a shrine with the orb of darkness that will allow her to take all of Tenja-Oh into her body, thereby reviving the goddess of Darkness to once more stride over the planet. Though Kujaku and his allies end up in Germany too late to stop them there, they catch up in time in Tibet to try and convince Tomoko not to listen to the Neo-Nazi’s anymore.

But Tomoko finds herself driven by something deeper now, as she’s brought to where the lifeless body of her father is, still sitting in form on top of a barren rock with the wind whipping all around them. She remembers back to the past when she traveled with both him and Kujaku and what she believes she suffered due to his ways, and all of this continues to push her more to Tenja-Oh’s side, her own control and personality becoming less in charge of her body.

With her falling under Tenja-Oh’s sway, the larger battle becomes set as Kujaku gives himself over to the Underworld to take on Tenja-Oh and to stop one side from gaining too much of a victory over the other, but not without severe consequences. The result is a series of engaging fights, both on the smaller level between the Neo-Nazi’s and Kujaku’s friends as well as the larger one between the bigger powers. Each level has its own interesting moments to them, particularly with what at happens to Siegfried.

In Summary:
While I don’t think the series is all that interesting overall, this episode plays out much more ably than the previous one did, enough so that I wasn’t checking the runtime every couple of minutes. There are some good epic moments and I like the larger feel that’s given towards the end in battle, but there’s not enough for a full hook into the series. This may have played out better if the show wasn’t being released as a single episode at a time but rather some sort of compilation or other.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Art Gallery,Director's Commentary

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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