Tokyo Majin Vol. #2 (also w/box) - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B-

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: A-
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: TV MA
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.98/39.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Tokyo Majin

Tokyo Majin Vol. #2 (also w/box)

By Chris Beveridge     March 19, 2008
Release Date: March 04, 2008


Tokyo Majin Vol. #2 (also w/box)
© ADV Films


What They Say
As a mist of evil envelops Tokyo, new waves of monstrosities emerge from the shadows! Preying on the souls of the living, wearing forms both bestial and human, they converge in an unholy alliance to strike against the one force that may be able to stop them: the students of Tokyo Majin! Now guided by an old friend versed in the Dark Arts, the five students of Magami High must face the renewed fury of demon beasts, psychic-powered delusionals and insect girls as they burn a path towards their ultimate nemesis. And while they have the courage of a hundred, the bloody battles of this holy war will take its toll, and not even Tokyo Majin will have the strength to survive against an endless army of the demons unscathed! The scales tip towards the side of darkness in the second stunning volume of Tokyo Majin!

The Review!
Turning its focus on the characters, their relationships and their pasts, Tokyo Majin runs through fairly standard material that works slowly due to the ensemble cast.

Audio:
The bilingual presentation of Tokyo Majin is quite good as both mixes play to their strengths. Both are encoded at 448 kbps and the background and action effects are solid throughout, though these aren't common since it's kept most to action sequences. Dialogue placement is used well in both mixes also with some throws to the rear channels which add to the overall atmosphere of the scenes. The original score has plenty of movement as well which brings it all to life while still coming across as unobtrusive. Dialogue placement and depth is good, but not above and beyond some other shows, but it is better than the majority of the seemingly standard stereo mixes that come out of Japan. In listening to both tracks, we didn't have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally in 2007, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. Tokyo Majin is one of those series that tries to rise above the standard action presentations and give the viewer something a bit grittier and a bit more detailed. The transfer for this show reflects the solid production values of the series and lets the quality of the work really shine. What surprised me the most was how well the few scenes with gradients worked out as it didn't devolve into a lot of noise or blocking. Additionally, the show has a very specific look, not as stark as some others, where it uses a very light kind of grain in order to add atmosphere. The end result is that the materials here look fantastic and it really provides for an engaging series of visuals. We watched this one late at night in a completely dark room on a 70" set and came away very pleased with it.

Packaging:
Tokyo Majin has quite the appealing cover for this installment even as busy as it is. The large logo along the right in both the English and Japanese looks good with lots of dark and violent tones to it. The bulk of the cover is still given over to the character artwork and this one lets four of the leads fill it out as they're grouped together while a demonic image is in the background. The back cover continues the dark theme without the flames and has several shots from the show and an overall sense of foreboding with mysterious eyes peeking out from behind the summary. The discs production information is cleanly listed, though a touch small and difficult to read in some cases, while the technical grid covers the basics along the bottom. No insert is included nor is there a reversible cover.

With the second volume of the series also comes in a disc+box variant which serves up the need of the collector base nicely. The heavy chipboard box utilizes a lot of the same colors as the keepcase for this volume with the red border around it and some great shades of blue in the character artwork. The box artwork is one big wraparound piece that has the central focus of the nasty demon for the spine with the series logo in its jaw. The colors stand out well and the spine will certainly make this one apparent on anyone's shelf. The main panels are laid out nicely as well with character artwork on each of them that's detailed and with a solid amount of vibrancy. In a bit of horribly bad marketing choices however, the cardboard insert inside advertises these shows to the Tokyo Majin crowd: Wallflower and Air. Uh, guys? There's certainly bound to be some crossover, but surely you could have found better shows to advertise with this one.

Menu:
Continuing a recent trend from ADV Films with simple static menus, this one is decently done as it features the strong character artwork off to the right that has most Tatsuma and Kyoichi from the front cover of the keepcase. The background to the menu is done in three horizontal strips with flames and parchment while the center strip has the navigation. As is standard and welcome, individual episode selection is here while the only submenus are for the languages and extras. Everything loads very quickly and moving about is pretty much a breeze. The disc also performed as expected when it came to it reading our player presets as it grabbed what I specified and played accordingly.

Extras:
The only extras included in this release are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences which does include the non-standard ending from the first episode on the volume.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The second volume of Tokyo Majin drops us down to just four episodes which are focused more around building up the characters and their relationships with each other more than anything else. Following a rather traditional approach to episodic anime storytelling, it doesn't exactly fall into a trap but it does what it should do at this point in a familiar way. There are ties that some of these characters have that go back a ways and some revelations that are slowly starting to bubble to the surface. While not as haphazardly told as the first volume of the series was, Tokyo Majin is still trying to find the right voice to work with.

When it comes to the larger storyline of the series, the focus is still primarily kept on Tendo Kozunu as he works his little manipulations on people in order to ferret out what he's looking for. His quest for the Bodhisattva Eye isn't exactly all dominating or driving him to do things badly but at the same time he doesn't exactly seem to have a real way of finding it. He's acquired a lot of other nasty things along the way and is certainly powerful enough, and a bit cracked in the head, but he pales next to his constant companion of Marie Claire. Her general disinterest in things is amusing enough in itself but when she's accidentally drawn into one of Kozunu's encounters with the gang, she ends up showing just how over the top she can be with her powers. In a way, the method through which she does this is one of the charms of the show as it's done in an almost lightly comical way that has a very classic feel to it without having the absurdity level go through the roof as we've seen with a lot of other shows in recent years.

While Kozunu and his shenanigans do have their impact here, the majority of the volume deals with the lead cast of characters trying to figure out exactly how they fit into all of this. Depending on which characters you like, this is either a good or a bad thing, and that's just something that happens with any ensemble show. The show spends a good bit of time initially in dealing with Aoi and Hisui since she's out of commission due to a battle. This allows for some nice flashback material to when the two of them were kids and were introduced to each other. These scenes are a bit unsettling as it shows some rather strict parenting, especially for Hisui, but it also produces some of the creepiest looking character designs. Aoi in particular looks decidedly scary in this form and really throws me off every time I see her or any of the other characters in this particular age form. Taking the time to go back to this period helps to solidify the relationship between the two of them and that works well in the current storyline.

The impact of what everyone is actually involved in is another partial focus of these episodes, again with Aoi as something of the moral center of it all. With so many kids getting caught up in the various attacks and being twisted by the demonic horde, she provides a good place to start and is in a lot of ways the real lead character of the show. She's the one that everyone seems to really find as the glue of the group. But even then, there are some that have much more interesting relationships that are slowly progressing. The one between Daigo and Komaki is probably my favorite one so far because it plays in that realm of believable due to him being so interested in her and her not really realizing it in some ways. Daigo plays up the role of the big strong guy with a real heart pretty well and having him go through some tender scenes with her helps to strengthen the budding potential that's there for them. The heart that they bring to it, albeit slowly, is an area that looks to be pretty interesting if they utilize it as it goes on.

Visually, Tokyo Majin continues to be a show that's a lot of fun to watch and appeals to those who don't like standard school character designs. Everyone feels like they're older teenagers rather than fresh faced plucky kids and that goes a long way towards making this show stand out. There's an edge to a lot of them, like Hisui, Tatsumi and Kyoichi, but even characters like Aoi and Komaki don't feel too girly and soft. This is quite appealing and helps to push that more serious edge that the show is trying to achieve. Even when you have someone that's meant to be cute like Marie Claire, there's a certain menace to her. And when the show goes into its comedic elements, that kind of serious nature just accents the comedy even more. It's exaggerated but it doesn't feel out of place.

In Summary:
Tokyo Majin doesn't feel like it's progressing all that much with these four episodes however. There are a lot of good character moments throughout it and several things that helps to slowly push the overall mythos along, but these episodes just don't resonate strongly as pieces that really build on everything that's come before. The cast isn't large here, especially for the primary characters, but it doesn't seem to be able to spend enough time with them during each episode to really foster a connection with them. Most of them are still ciphers to one extent or another now and some spend a lot of time off camera like Hisui after we get his background piece. The group has done some good things together and dealt with several issues, but they haven't really clicked together as a whole yet.

Features
Japanese 5.1 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Clean Opening,Clean Closing

Review Equipment
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.v

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