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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Otogi Zoshi Vol 4 - Modern History
Otogi Zoshi Vol 4 - Modern History
Media Blasters // Unrated // September 13, 2005
List Price: $29.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by John Sinnott | posted October 3, 2005 | E-mail the Author
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The Show:

At  the end third volume of Otogi Zoshi the story came to a conclusion that wrapped up just about all of the plotlines.  So what happens in volume four?  The story takes a drastic change in tone and shifts over 1000 years into the future to present day Japan.  The main characters have the same names as the people in the first half of the show, but their personalities are totally different.  The storyline bears no resemblance to the events in the first half and, what's worse, this new story doesn't seem to have a point.

With this volume we jump ahead 1000 years to present day Tokyo.  Hikaru is here, and like the earlier story she has a brother Riakou.  Riakou has been missing for a while, and Hikaru is determined to find him.  Hikaru is a landlady, and rents rooms to the other characters, including Tsuna.  He is now a freelance reporter who always lands assignments investigating paranormal events and urban legends.

Tsuna takes Hikaru along with him when he investigates a haunted train crossing.  Every night after the last train passes, the signal crosses are lowered for no reason.  It happens while they are there of course, but when the bars are lowered Hikaru sees a train pass by with her brother riding on it.  Tsuna doesn't see the train, and thinks that Hikaru was just imagining things.

As Tsuna keeps on investigating odd events that occur around Tokyo, Hikaru tags along and continues to see glimpses of her brother, but never gets closer to finding him or discovering what happened.  Along with a set of odd and unusual pictures that Riakou had taken and hidden that Hikaru finds, she looks for her brother but never really gets closer to finding him.

Though the first half of this show is very enjoyable, this new story takes a turn for the worse.  The characters that were so likable in the first half change dramatically.  They really aren't the same people at all, they just have the same names.  Hikaru is no longer the brave and smart girl she used to be.  Now she's pretty much of an idiot, who runs into danger without thinking.

The story to this second section is really dull too.  The mystery of Hikaru's missing brother never seems to get closer to being resolved.  She finds clues and sees him again, but never seems to follow them up.  At one point the ghost train that her brother is on stops at an abandoned station.  Hikaru misses the train, but never bothers to try to catch it again.

There is a lot of problems with this arc.  The characters don't seem to evolve at all, while they had a good amount of development in the first half.  The dialog is stilted, and episodes are contrived, and the animation is more limited than the first half.  I was really surprised how quickly this series has gone into a nose dive.

The DVD:


This volume of Otogi Zoshi includes five episodes from the series on a two disc set.  The first DVD has the program with the second DVD being reserved for the extras.  It comes is a single width keepcase that has a disc on each side of the case.

Audio:

This disc offers the choice of the original Japanese soundtrack or an English dub, both in stereo and 5.1.  I alternated between the 5.1 Japanese and English tracks as I viewed the series, and I enjoyed both languages equally.  The actors on the English dub did a very good job, especially Taylor Henry who lent his voice to Watanabe.  He gives his character a strong voice that really helps the series.  Julie Ann Taylor also does well as Minanoto, being able to sound like a young male or a female as the situation warrants.

They make good use of the surround channels though I thought some of the music was mixed a little low in the rear channels.  This was a minor problem though, aside from that, the show sounds very good with a full range of sound.  There are no audio defects.

Video:

The show is presented with a 1.33:1 aspect ratio that I believe was it's original ratio.  The show uses a lot of dark colors, browns, greys, and blacks, and these shades are accurately reproduced.  The lines are sharp and the image has a very good amount of detail.  The only problem with the image was some minor aliasing that effected fine lines.  Aside from that the show looked very good.

Extras:

As with the other volumes in this series, there are some good extras included  on the second disc.

Group Discussion Parts Five and Six: Two more group discussions.  This time director Mizuho Nishikubo, sound director Kazuhiro Wakabayashi and head writer Yoshiki Sakurai are joined by interveiwer Michiko Yamakawa to talk about this new direction the show has taken.  They also talk about the sound and music that's in the show.  Like with the earlier installments, this was interesting at the beginning but my interest waned after a while.  I thought it dragged on a little too long.

Tokyo University Tokyo Lecture: Dr. Hiroyuki Suzuki, an architect from Tokyo University talks about the history of architecture and about the rail lines that were found in Tokyo's past, which has a lot of bearing on these episodes. This is my favorite extra and I look forward to watching these.

There is also a series of trailers and a music video.

Final Thoughts:

I was really disappointed at how poor the second part of this series is.  There is very little connection to the first half until the last episode on the disc, and Hikaru, a character that I really grew to like in at the beginning of the series, is completely different in this second half.  The story is meandering and doesn't seem to have a point.  If you liked the first half, just assume that the story ended with volume three.  For the very curious, this is worth a rental, but not more.

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