Twilight of the Dark Master -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: C

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  • Audio Rating: B
  • Video Rating: B-
  • Packaging Rating: N/A
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 15 & Up
  • Region: 2 - Europe
  • Released By: MVM Entertainment
  • MSRP: £17.99
  • Running time: 45
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen Letterbox
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Twilight of the Dark Master

Twilight of the Dark Master

By Dani Moure     May 19, 2004
Release Date: May 10, 2004

Twilight of the Dark Master
© MVM Entertainment

What They Say
Since the beginning of time, monstrous Demons and noble Guardians have battled for Earth - the everlasting gift of the one great Mother, creator of all life. A deep hatred burns between Demon and Guardian; the Guardians prevented the Demons from destroying humanity and the world itself.

Eons later, Neo-Shinjuku City: few Demons or Guardians remain to continue their epic war. Humans rule the Earth, with no real memory of either Demons or Guardians. Yet deep within the dark underworld of the city, one supreme Demon is alive and plotting to subjugate mankind. Only one Guardian is left to do battle, and the fate of the human race is at stake.

Twilight Of The Dark Master's elaborate story will transport you to another world of intricate, lavish imagery and exotic characters in an exhilarating whirlwind of action.

The Review!
A short, one-shot OVA, Twilight of the Dark Master provides some decent entertainment for 45 minutes, but does little to go any further.

I listened to the Japanese track for my main viewing, and found no dropouts or distortions. It's a pretty standard stereo mix, but there's nothing here to really stand out. Likewise, the voice acting is pretty run-of-the-mill, with no performances that really stand out.

I spot-checked the English dub, and while I didn't particularly like the sound of the dub itself, technically I noticed no problems.

The video quality on this release isn't anything outstanding, but isn't too bad. There are moments of artifacting and cross-colouration that creep in to certain areas, and occasionally stand out, but for the most part it looks fairly good. The show is very dark and the colours look a little washed out, but it seems to be the artistic style and it comes across quite well.

No packaging was included as this was a check disc.

The main menu has a pretty nice montage image, with Tsunami taking centre stage, and a few of the cast members either side of him, with a piece of background music from the show playing. Sub-menus are all static pieces, carrying over the borders from the main menu, with no music playing. As you'd expect, access times are quick. The menus are nothing mind-blowing, but they're decent and fit the tone of the show.

The main extra here is a feature Urban Vision seems to like, and that's a fifteen minute video that shows, in higher speed, Hisashi Abe creating the cover art. It's fascinating to watch him working, and the cover art looks gorgeous (and it's a shame it wasn't included with this review copy!). There's also an art gallery which features several character drawings in line art, slightly coloured and in full colour, but is all too brief.

The final extra is notable in that it's a set of trailers, this being the first MVM disc I've seen with any on. Showcased are Vampire Princess Miyu, Ninja Scroll TV (with a whopping 5 minute trailer), Bio Hunter and Psycho Diver Soul Siren.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
45 minutes is quite a long time. You can do a lot in three quarters of an hour. In anime terms, it's roughly equivalent to two regular TV series episodes, and think of all the great anime two-parters that are out there. But of course, they usually come partway through an established series, and at least when they open one you know you have more to look forward to, so most of the story will be setting up what's to come. So to try to introduce characters, try and get the audience emotionally invested, tell a good story and provide a good resolution in that time span is always going to be difficult, and thus 45 minutes doesn't seem so long after all.

But what's the point in writing all that? Well it should explain, in part, why Twilight of the Dark Master isn't really all that great. The story is quite contrived, and feels like it's been done several times before, and better. The prologue suggests that back in the day, when mother created Earth and humans, she also created a race of demons to help us overcome our fears. A tribe of "Guardians" were also created to protect humans from the demons. And while that's very interesting, later in the show it would seem that a drug is used to turn humans into demons. But we'll ignore that for now, and move on with the story.

Eiji and Shizuka are lovers, but one day, Eiji comes home from work and turns into a demon. He runs away, leaving destruction in his wake. Shizuka's distraught, and walks through town with a goal of stopping the demon (though quite how she'd do that isn't really worth thinking about), but ends up meeting a man called Tenku. He claims to know someone who can track demons, and ends up helping her out. His friend is a man called Tsunami, who can fly and commands fire, and shortly after we first see him he engages in a battle with a couple of wind masters, Huang Long and Chen Long.

Tsunami does indeed help in the search for the demon, and traces it back to a place called Crystal Box. When he goes to meet the owner, Mr Kudo, to ask about it, he ends up in a fight with two men who take the demon drug. He finds some of the demon capsules, but the man sent to Mr Junk's shop to investigate is quickly interrupted by Huang and Cheng, and so don't last long. So Shizuka then asks Tsunami for an update, but since he doesn't tell her anything, she tricks Tenku into telling her where demon Eiji is and goes to see him. She ends up getting mauled, but it all humours Mr Takamiya, who orchestrated all the tests through his company.

So as the final act of the OVA comes around, it's down to Tsunami and Takamiya, who's now awakened in giant demon form (though for a giant demon, he does very little to mark his authority over the tiny Tsunami). After Tsunami kills the final cast members who remain alive, he and Takamiya have a chat about how Tsunami caused the light when they fought 30 years ago that caused the city to be how it is now (yes, there's a mystery to the city), and how he will have to unleash his ultimate power once more, in an even stronger form, in order to kill Takamiya this time.

And thus Tsunami makes his choice and it's all over. The plot resolved, and we can all feel satisfied with that, at least. The problem with the plot is that, as you would expect, there are plenty of holes in there (most notably with things happening off screen and events not adding up), though they do a surprisingly good job of answering the biggest questions that pop up (namely, the origin of the demons and who is behind it, and what happened to the city 30 years ago). The answers are hardly spectacular, and you could probably guess in sweeping terms much of the plot of Twilight. The premise is interesting enough, it just doesn't have enough time to follow through on the questions and mysteries to be anything more than slightly entertaining as opposed to completely engaging.

Of course, the characters themselves come off as quite shallow, for the most part, though a couple do have a bit of character. What we see of the wind manipulators is interesting, but they only manage to get a few scenes and so don't do too much. Shizuka is relatively interesting, as is Tenko, and their scenes tend to be quite good, but they don't get enough time (which is a pattern that carries through this show). Tsunami is your pretty typical moody lead, and doesn't really have a chance to break out of that stereotype. The other characters are pretty throwaway, usually just being plot devices.

As you may also expect, this title is quite high on violence (though it's not really all that graphic), and has a bit of nudity. It's nowhere near as over the top as a lot of 90s OVAs that were going for the horror/sex/violence demographic, but it seems to be aiming at the same audience nonetheless. Amusingly, most of the characters that appear in the show end up dead by the end of it, so it doesn't really matter all that much anyway.

In Summary:
Twilight of the Dark Master isn't the worst OVA I've seen, it just greatly suffers from the lack of run time and inherent need to leave a lot out. The premise is quite interesting, and perhaps would play out a little better over a longer run time, but as it is there's just not enough here that would justify a purchase. Is it entertaining and relatively enjoyable? Yes. Something you'll want to watch over and over? Probably not.

Japanese Language (2.0),English Language (5.1),English Subtitles,Creating the Coverart,Gallery

Review Equipment
Philips 28" Pure Flat Widescreen TV, Pioneer DV-464 code free DVD player, JVC gold-plated RGB SCART cable, standard stereo sound.


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