SoulTaker: The Monster Within (Volume 1)
The Monster Within is the first volume of the SoulTaker series to arrive on DVD from Pioneer. The disc collects the first three episodes in the series:
Episode 1: The Crest of the Devil
Episode 2: The World is an Illusion
Episode 3: The Skull and the Maiden
As her last dying act, Kyosuke's mother plunges a knife into his heart. Buried and left for dead, Maya saves him and brings Kyosuke to her apartment. He soon discovers that the two of them have a strange connection. When Kyosuke goes to visit the graveyard, he is attacked by mutants from the Hospital, who are looking for his sister – a sister he was unaware of. Shiro saves him, though during the battle, Kyosuke learns the Kirihara Group has kidnapped Maya. Later, Shiro tells him that his twin sister is named Runa, and that Maya is a Flicker, a fragment of Runa's soul. The two of them set off to free her, but in the ensuing battle, Kyosuke transforms into the mysterious and powerful SoulTaker…
These first three episodes of SoulTaker are layered with mysteries and at times, can get a bit confusing. However, it remained interesting throughout as it slowly revealed those complexities. The animation is very stylized and almost surreal in places, making the show very captivating. I honestly can't wait to see future volumes to see how everything comes together.
SoulTaker is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The transfer is breathtaking, with vibrant colors, rich blacks, and no color bleeding or smearing. This is easily some of the best looking anime I've seen.
SoulTaker is presented in Dolby 2.0 Surround in English or Japanese, with optional subtitles available in English. The tracks have quite a bit of directionality throughout the episodes and sound fantastic with no audio issues. The music is also terrific. Though I primarily listened to the Japanese track, I watched a fair amount with the English dub, and had no real problems. Some of the supporting characters were voiced a bit strangely, but the main characters were terrific.
Extras include the non-credit opening and ending, as well as an art gallery of 33 character sketches. The DVD also features some nice motion menus, as well as a very cool holofoil cover.
Fans of anime should definitely give SoulTaker a look. Pioneer has presented the first three episodes with a breathtaking transfer and great sound. Recommended!