Mania Grade: B
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- Audio Rating: B+
- Video Rating: B
- Packaging Rating: B-
- Menus Rating: B-
- Extras Rating: N/A
- Age Rating: 13 & Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: Media Blasters
- MSRP: 39.95
- Running time: 325
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Zenki
Zenki Collection 3
By Chris Beveridge
December 25, 2002
Release Date: October 29, 2002
Zenki Collection 3
What They Say
© Media Blasters
The Tree of Karuma may be firewood, but the dark side of the human heart is still a home for demons. New evil and demonic objects called the Seeds of Karuma, have appeared. Only with the help of Zenki's brother, Goki, and newfound friends, Miss Kazue and Professor Kouri, will Chiaki be able to awaken the Ultimate form of the guardian spirit, Zenki, and face the Beasts of Karuma. This double DVD pack contains the complete third season.The Review!
With the first season and that villain now firmly behind us, things move forward into new and unknown areas.Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. Being a TV series from 1994, there's not a lot of real directionality to get from this. Just about everything is center channel based, but fills the forward soundstage nicely. Dialogue was clear and undistorted and the music comes across nicely.Video:
Considering its age and budget, this is a pretty solid looking show. Outside of some jagged lines during camera panning movements, this is a good looking transfer. Colors are solid with a minimal amount of banding, cross coloration is practically non-existent during the first half, but shows up a bit more in the later episodes and there were only a few scenes that looked a bit soft and out of place. While it's not a terribly vibrant show for the most part, this is much better than I expected it to be.Packaging:
The front cover for this double disc set has an image of Goki looking all super confident, taking up the majority of the cover. The logo runs along the left, though fairly hard to read at first, and part of the spell that binds him runs along the right. The covers pretty busy overall, and seeing the images online first didn't help as it just looked a mess. It's a bit better in person, but not by much. The back cover provides a number of screenshots and a small summary of the shows premise. Unlike the first collection, there’s only one insert listing the chapter marks for both discs instead of two single sided inserts.Menu:
The menus are very basic, as there's little on the disc outside of the episodes themselves. Language selection and scene access are your major points to check out, and both are accessed fairly quickly and with a minimum of fuss. The menus suffer in the same way the front cover of the package does, with the logo/text being somewhat hard to read and just looking too busy overall. Some of the way the colors look is almost garish in nature.Extras:
(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After a fairly conclusive first season, with the exception that there’s still evil seeds out there in the world, I wasn’t sure where they planned to go with the second season of Zenki. Based on the first thirteen episodes in this set, it looks like their basic plan was to introduce a craftier and more elusive villain and to pad out the cast. Padding out the cast ended up having the added benefit of more filler per episode as well.
Zenki, Chiaki and the rest of the group are continuing their hunt for the evil seeds that continue to transform people into the hideous beasts based on their desires. But early on, we learn that they’re not the only ones hunting these things. As it turns out, Engai, the son of the King of the Realm of the Dead, is now on Earth to collect the seeds once they’ve been used and are full of ripened energy. They’re not quite for him though, but rather for Kokutei, a very evil looking dog that’s with him. Engai clues everyone in early by saying that feeding him the seeds will eventually turn him into the Evil Beast Deity that will conquer, rule and destroy the world.
Back to good simple stories here.
For the good guys, they gain some new strength and friends here, though it takes a bit of time for them to really come over fully. We’re introduced to Kazue, a woman whose working with a research scientist into figuring out what’s behind the evil seeds. Things go horribly wrong when one of them goes active around him, causing him to transform and start attacking everyone. Kazue does her best to protect the scientist’s son, Akira. It takes awhile before you realize Akira is a boy however, because he looks very much like a girl.
It’s during the pitched battle, as we find out that the beasts are now more powerful than ever before, so much so that they can deflect the golden dragon axe, that Akira is much more than he seems. As his life is about to come to a close, his body begins to glow and a powerful spiritual force is unleashed, giving everyone time and energy to deal with the beast. Akira, we learn, is actually the reincarnation of Goki, a demon who was also under the control of the elder Master Ozune back in the past and used to work alongside Zenki. With Goki’s added power and the new spells that Chiaki suddenly knows, we get to see the same attack repeated episode after episode after episode.
This batch of episodes plays out nicely, but pretty much could be started as the first episode here without seeing the previous two sets, mostly because it repeats many of the same things, but doesn’t have the same comedic edge without the missing monk Anju. Each of the episodes stands alone and plays to the usual strengths and scripts used in each episode. If you’re uninterested in the fights, you can basically just watch the first half of each episode and not miss a thing.
The only place where Media Blasters really dropped the ball is in the credits section, as each episode is the same as it was in the previous season. In other words, we’re getting actors/cast credits for characters who have been gone for ages, and we don’t get new credits for the new characters added here. There’s also a segment where it repeats one of the previous credit sections as well. The quality control on this area is horribly bad.
While it may seem like I rag on Zenki, it’s actually a fun little series and it’s extremely affordable. It has a lot of predictability for someone like myself who has seen this kind of formula over and over during the years, but for newer fans, this is a perfect transitional show from things you see on TV to full on anime fandom. With the episodes themselves being very well done, the script solid with plenty of action and humor, it’s a sweet package.
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.