Spirit Warrior Vol. #5: Harvest of the Cherry Blossoms - Mania.com

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Mania Grade: C-

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: C+
  • Packaging Rating: C+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: C+
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Central Park Media
  • MSRP: 19.99
  • Running time: 52
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Spirit Warrior

Spirit Warrior Vol. #5: Harvest of the Cherry Blossoms

By Chris Beveridge     July 19, 2004
Release Date: June 08, 2004

Spirit Warrior Vol. #5: Harvest of the Cherry Blossoms
© Central Park Media

What They Say
A once-famous actress is possessed by an unspeakable evil: The Mistress of the Underworld! Can apprentice exorcist Kujaku save her victim, or will his death pave the way for the dark queen?s rebirth?

The Review!
The last OVA in the series ties the past to the present once more in an eerie tale of curses.

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.

Originally released to video back in 1991, Spirit Warrior manages to look decent over 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. There's a fair bit of cross coloration during the initial sequences but that tapers off after a bit and aliasing is very minimal though, providing something of a balance. Colors look good without bleeding and there's very little noticeable in the way of jitter.

The illustrations used for this final cover go against what the show itself looks like, much like some of the past covers, and in general just doesn't look all that good. I'm not much of a fan of the particular style used and the characters are only simple resemblances of their anime selves. 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. Unfortunately, there's no Japanese listing for actors as it's listed as unavailable.

Using static images of the characters in this episode in a circular format, you get a decent looking menu that tries to be as in-theme as possible, though I can see why they had to stretch to be able to do it. Selections are lined down along the right side next to the video clip which also plays a spot of instrumental music before quickly recycling. Selections are quick and easy to access and the layout works nicely with no transitional animations.

The only included extra is a brief video gallery showcasing some shots from the show and the small amount of available artwork for this episode for things like packaging.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Suffice to say, the Spirit Warrior series hasn't really been my cup of tea over the course of the five OVA releases that have come out. While I've liked some aspects of them, such as the character designs or some of the presentation pieces, the stories themselves have been pretty lackluster and uninteresting. A lot of this is hampered by the lead character, Kujaku, who often seems to just wander in and out of situations only to use his abilities to save things at the last and move on. Other than seeing some of his background via his fathers quest, there hasn't been much to latch onto.

This final volume, A Harvest of Cherry Blossoms, runs in a similar manner. We're initially given some previews of what's to come as Onimaru is shown taking a boat to an island where even the locals fear to tread. Flames rising from there give a bad omen of more things to come before we shift back to the hustle and bustle of the city. Kujaku and his girlfriend as well as his teacher are there to meet with a TV producer for some show she's doing and are taking in the sights on their way. Events lead things so that he actually misses the intended show and it's probably for the best. Centered in Shibuya on Hachiko, the famous guardian dog there, two mystics are shown on live TV to be working their powers to help open up the sealed dog to see what's inside, something that's supposedly connected to a famous movie star of Japan that disappeared decades ago.

The broadcast goes well at first but then something goes awry as the two mystics began to spontaneously spurting blood from massive wounds. All of it is caught on tape and much of it broadcast, though there's little outcry from it. The shows producer ends up not getting in much trouble and in fact sets about meeting with a few more mystics. With Kujaku actually showing up to this one, he and the Catholic priest in attendance both use the materials she provides to realize that when Hachiko moved, it created a blind spot that leads to an island to the southwest, an island where Onimaru already is. An island where the famous movie star is supposedly living in isolation in her mansion.

Getting everyone in tow and heading out to the island, the mystery starts to unravel as they meet the former star and begin to understand the curse that's on her. The mystery of the curse goes back to the days of the war and a number of interesting bits come out from it, including an amusing ghostly sexual encounter, but the time spent on the island and going forward plays out like Ten Little Indians as one by one the people are killed off, much as is required to break the curse. As it goes along, the interesting pieces at the beginning of the show fall off in favor of more mystical action and more general action pieces to keep things moving along. By the halfway mark I had actually fallen asleep. It took two viewings to finally get through the show.

In Summary:
Spirit Warrior was simply something that just didn't appeal to me with its pacing, characters or a lot of its stories. The last story really does play out like a lot of the others which also made the series less and less interesting as it progressed since you could see how it was going to get resolved in general if not in detail. The release of the series also felt much in the vein of something being milked as there would have been better ways to release it than as five single volumes. For those that like the show, the releases in general have been of decent quality considering the age of it and they're likely happy in general since there was always a chance that it wouldn't make it onto DVD, but I'm suspecting that's a small group. If you have any interest in this at all, wait for some cheap sales or box sets. If you have insomnia, this might help.

Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Art Gallery

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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