Twilight of the Dark Master -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: C-

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  • Audio Rating: A-
  • Video Rating: B-
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Urban Vision
  • MSRP: 24.95
  • Running time: 50
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Twilight of the Dark Master

Twilight of the Dark Master

By Chris Beveridge     June 12, 2001
Release Date: June 12, 2001

Twilight of the Dark Master
© Urban Vision

What They Say
From the beginning of time, Powerful, grotesque Demons and beautiful, noble Guardians have battled for Earth. A deep hatred eternally burns between Demon and Guardian; the Guardians knew the Demons’ thirst for blood and power would destroy humanity and the world itself.

Eons later, in the year 2089, few Demons or Guardians remain in Neo-Shinjuku to continue their epic war. Humans rule the Earth, with no real memory of the monstrous Demons or angelic Guardians. Yet, deep within the dark underworld of the city, the supreme Demon is still alive and plotting, once again, to overtake mankind. Only one Guardian is left to do battle, and the fate of the human race hangs in the balance…

Twilight of the Dark Master's elaborate story will transport you to a world full of ornate imagery and exotic characters.

The Review!
Fans of the cult favorite are indeed in for a treat with this show. It's one that was heavily petitioned for on this site when it first came out on VHS about three years ago, and has now finally made its way to the DVD format with some interesting twists.

Much like all the other Urban Vision releases to date, the English track has been spruced up to a 5.1 mix. This definitely has a noticeable difference, especially in music separation. The track has a more distinct sound for dialogue and the music sounds much fuller and wider. The Japanese track, which we listened to for our review due to the English track adding in dialogue where there was none, is a pretty straightforward stereo mix that sounded pretty much on the mark.

For the most part, this is a fairly decent transfer but it's not without its problems. Foremost is the edge enhancement/rainbows. There are a number of scenes where static characters look somewhat alive with the edging to otherwise smooth lines and the back and forth motion. It's pretty apparent throughout, some sequences more striking than others. There were also a couple of areas of noticeable artifacting, especially in one of the blue night skies early on and a couple of the red images later on in the show. Black levels look good and there's no heavy grain or print damage.

This is just a gorgeous looking cover. I couldn't take my eyes off of it when I first saw the image, never mind the actual package itself. The artwork was done especially by Hiroshi Abe and is one of those really rare treats. It's exceptionally rare to see a piece of art in this style used for a cover, and it's likely to be one of the more memorable ones of this year. The reverse side gives a rundown of the show as well as listing the features, some animation shots and the technical staff. The insert provides another showing of the cover art as well as talking about Abe's history and what else he's worked on. Great package all around.

The menu system here is pretty straightforward, with some nice opening animation design that's not lengthy and doesn't give anything away yet still looks stylish. Selections are laid out in a logical way and the access times are pretty good. There's not a lot of depth to the submenus, so moving around isn't a hassle.

The two main extras on the disc come in two very distinct forms but are both related. The first is the artwork gallery that has some very nice looking shots. The second is a 15 minute "sped up" video with the soundtrack from the show that shows Hiroshi Abe drawing what would become the cover for this DVD. I do find the piece fascinating, but I'm going to guess that artists are the ones who will get the most out of watching this. If it had been real time and we had heard Mr. Abe talking about what he was doing, etc. etc., while drawing it, it probably would have been more interesting.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
In the year 2033, Japan has once again been subjected to demon infestation. Or at least poor Shinjuku has been infected once more. In 2003, a bright light shone above the city and then was summarily wiped out. The police cordoned it off, but nobody ever discovered what happened. Nobody was let back in, but people found their way back in and life of some sort has resumed. It's not like the outside world though.

We're introduced to Eiji and Shizuki, a young couple now engaged. There's a couple of nice moments that are dialogue-free in the beginning that show their romance and it works well with the music. A quick run through the opening credits and now we see that Eiji's turned into a demon and has begun to shred Shizuki. He flees before finishing the job, and she's now determined to find him and end his pain and suffering by killing him herself.

As luck would have it, she ends up on Neo-Shinjuku, and is rescued by Tenku, a man who works for Tsunami Shijyo. Tsunami's a collector of various demon related materials and has a gallery of sorts filled with demonic artifacts. She requests his help in finding Eiji with the explicit knowledge that the demon must be killed. Tsunami sees into her heart and accepts it and heads off to find him.

Along the way we learn that a pharmaceutical company is behind the increasing number of demons showing up as they've found a way to turn humans into demons temporarily and giving them immense powers. This all starts relating back to the event 30 years prior, which Tsunami we discover is a critical part of.

The 45 minute OVA is based on the graphic novel by Saki Okuse, and a lot of this feels like something that was made to please fans of the graphic novel, but not really to entice those who haven't read it. There are many layered hints of things throughout, from a quick narration about the splitting of the demon and human races as well as the guardians of the human race in the intro as well as scattered ideas throughout the show, but these seem aimed more at the already knowledgeable fan rather than the newcomer.

The show does have some nice visuals, but not terribly high for an OVA from 1997. The character designs are all quite good looking and all the characters featured are older, so there's no teenyboppers playing about here all big eyed and full of raging emotions. Much like most other Urban Vision titles, this is a darker show with adult characters and the gritty world they live in. These are generally interesting places to visit, but this title just fell short in getting us to feel for any of the characters. Half the time I found it hard to remember most of the characters names until they were mentioned again.

As said, fans of this show are in for a couple of nice treats. The packaging alone for this show is really a highlight for me, but that's about it.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Exclusive Footage of the animation Director/Character Designer at Work,Original Artwork Gallery

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Pioneer 414 codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.


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