For a while now we've been talking about FUNimation's new wave of releases from the ADV and Geneon catalogues. Digging back into licenses that were released a couple of years ago and fell into obscurity may seem kind of silly, but in all honesty several of these would-be-popular shows were never really given a chance to get off the ground before they disappeared from store shelves. Check out our review section for a multitude of such releases, but for today's review we're looking at the second "part" (season) of Tokyo Majin.
Originally airing in Japan during the early part of 2007, Tokyo Majin made its way to the States later that same year. Sadly the 26 episode series, which was split between two seasons, never fully made it to see the light of day. Due to FUNimation's licensing efforts though, the first season of 14 episodes had been collected into a smallish boxed set. The second batch of twelve episodes has finally come around and in case you missed the series back when ADV stopped publishing it, this is your best chance to check it out.
Directed by Shinji Ishihara, Tokyo Majin the animated series is a continuation of sorts for the original PlayStation 1 which was released in the 90's. It's worth noting that the game was never released here in America and as such this anime is a newish property that not a lot of people may know anything about. As it stands, the concept may feel somewhat tired and its plot a little cliché, but at its core Tokyo Majin is a ruckus action affair with a dark theme as its driving force and some fun characters to back it up.
Taking place in Tokyo, the story here revolves around a string of mysterious incidences that defy explanation to the masses. Several unexplained deaths have been popping up all over the place and monsters are appearing frequently as well. The show quickly settles into a formulaic and familiar pattern with kids at the school gaining special abilities and becoming the heroes of the day more or less. The first season strung together a rather nice story with a great deal of energy and some intense action. It wasn't a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, and it may have felt a little too familiar at times, but it was entertaining nonetheless. How does the second act hold up?
Well, for what it's worth the second season of Tokyo Majin does buck the trend and tries to do something slightly different than what its first season did. This time around the kids are brought back through the ringer as more bad guys decide to show up and start murdering people. Some of this is skewed as the kids are basically vilified, and even though we know the truth it creates some interesting angles for the heroes to fight through. Right up to the end of this season though, it's basically just one battle after another. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it definitely does leave the pacing feeling somewhat haphazard and jilted.
The second season builds together its story with one random event after another and it just doesn't feel anywhere near as fine tuned as the first season did. There is a sense that it's all working towards something, and it eventually does climax, but the ending here is so random and out there that there's really no joy to be found in it. The show just kind of ends on a very sour note and afterwards there are a couple of random episodes that do not tie anything together. What started out as a fun diversion quickly took a turn for the worse, and because of that you should only consider this one a rental if you enjoyed the first season. It's just nowhere near as good and all around only the action, characters, and supernatural elements keep the show afloat at all.
Tokyo Majin is presented with a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen aspect ratio. ADV's original transfer looked pretty good and by comparison FUNimation's squashing of seven episodes on each disc didn't hurt it too much. The picture is particularly clean with only a few occasions where grain and compression artifacts are noticeable, but other than that the image is pretty solid. The show is vibrant looking with some nice designs, though the animation isn't quite as good as one would hope. There are places where it looks like AIC was attempting to save on the budget and because of that portions of the series just don't look as smooth as they should have.
Tokyo Majin comes with a 2.0 Japanese language track as well as a 5.1 English. The dubbing quality for both was good overall though I must admit that I felt the Japanese dub felt the most natural. I didn't fully appreciate some of the attempts made by members of the English voice cast. Technically speaking the quality is good as a whole and the 5.1 does offer a slightly better sense of immersion than the Japanese selection. Even so the differences weren't enough to sway my opinion on the dub but I must say that the English choice does present some nice use of the rear channels.
Once again clean animations and trailers are all you're going to find here.
I really enjoyed the first season of Tokyo Majin. It wasn't anything special, but it had enough action, an interesting enough premise, and a certain level of intrigue that made it worth watching. Unfortunately that spark and direction was completely lost for the second season. Sure the episodes leading up to the ending were fine enough, but the twisted finale almost ruined the entire thing. It's so random, so pointless, and it doesn't give a satisfying amount of closure. Even the episodes that are available for after the conclusion don't offer any insight into things.
If you liked the first season and want to know what happened to the kids or where they went from there then I suppose you could consider the second season a rental. Anyone looking into this show should just watch the first season and see where your interests go from there. The first season is entertaining enough, but this second one just drops the ball and is a disappointment.
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