Guess what? FUNimation is still releasing titles that used to be ADV property. They've gone through an exhausting amount of shows already, and quite honestly I'm surprised that there's still some material to explore. The latest complete series release is Moeyo Ken, a 13 episode show that was originally released in 2005. Produced by relative unknown, Trinet Entertainment, Moeyo Ken made its way to the States through ADV's hands in 2007. From a few individual volumes to a complete collection this series has already been around the circuit enough to get some recognition. If you haven't seen it yet though, is it worth checking out?
Moeyo Ken takes place in an alternate version of the Meji Era. The focus of the series is more or less on a guy named Ryuunosuke Sakamoto, who is the president of the Shinsengumi and has recently returned from Shanghai. Ryuunosuke is more or less a regular bloke, though he's a touch odd. Then again considering this show focuses on monsters, ghosts, and all manner of other haphazard things thrown in, I suppose a peculiar male protagonist isn't that surprising. Whatever the case Ryuunosuke finds himself in the center of events and the focal point for the attention of Yuko, Toshie, and Kaoru, otherwise known as the Mobile Shinsengumi.
Just what is a Shinsengumi? Well, in real history they protected Japan and were a special police force of sorts during the shogunate period. In the case of Moeyo Ken they more or less hold the same role, but rather than police the populace they hunt down unlicensed monsters.
At any rate, Ryuunosuke has the misfortune of drawing interesting from the Mobile Shinsengumi. When they aren't dealing with monsters, crying over financial woes, destroying things, or causing a fuss, they are trying to hook Ryuunosuke up. It's not exactly a harem setting, but there are some elements there. Fan service works its way into the show at times and the fact that Ryuunosuke constantly finds himself at the center of attention from the fairer sex does give hints to the harem genre.
With this premise in place Moeyo Ken unfortunately does very little to spruce things up, improve upon things, or wow the viewer. Sure, it's a fun show, and yes the characters are lively and entertaining, but aside from the main plot the series doesn't really go anywhere. The action is stalled from the outset and all you get to see from one episode to the next is one gag right after another. It's bombastic and haphazard to say the least and the fact that the formula of a "monster of the week" is in place, leaves the series feeling painfully repetitive.
Moeyo Ken had a very promising idea backing it, and I'm sure when the original four episode OVA ran a few years prior to the TV show's release, someone thought it could have sustained more episodes. Unfortunately that just wasn't the case here. The well of ideas ran dry early on and the show fumbles around for the majority of its 13 episodes. You're going to laugh and I'm sure you'll be entertaining here and there, but the fact is that the series doesn't get interesting until the last couple of episodes. That's a shame really, because as I said I had high hopes for the series. I wanted to liken it to a lighthearted version of Tactics, but it pales in comparison.
If you missed ADV's release of Moeyo Ken, then you didn't really miss much. FUNimation's complete collection is a little more enticing since you can get the whole show all at once, but the fact remains that it's simply not that good. The characters are designed by Rumiko Takahashi which is a definite plus, there are some laughs, and there are a few promising elements here and there. Unfortunately the big picture just doesn't fall into place and in the end this show is worth little more than a rental. You might get more out of it depending upon what your expectations are, but I doubt it.
Moeyo Ken TV: The Complete Series is presented on DVD with a 1.78:1 anamorphic aspect ratio. I must admit that I was kind of surprised given the fact that the show was produced in 2005 and wasn't met with a lot of fanfare. For what it's worth the show looks very good and the episodes are presented in a 7/6 formation on the two discs. The colors are quite vivid, the lines are clean, and grain is hardly a problem. Some compression artifacts can be spotted from time to time, but they aren't much of a bother either. Overall this is a very nice looking show!
English and Japanese 2.0 stereo tracks are available for the series. Both offer roughly the same technically and you can expect the somewhat lively track to be spread about the front channels intelligently enough. There's not much movement on the soundstage, but then again with a 2.0 track you wouldn't really expect there to be. With all of the action this show has it would have been nice if a 5.1 track was included, but you take what you can get. As far as the dubbing is concerned I actually felt the English track was the more enjoyable of the two. Both language selections bring a certain amount of energy to the series, but the English track definitely kicked it up a notch.
Some trailers and textless songs are all you're going to find on this set for bonus features. It's a shame really because the original release by ADV included some commentaries and other features.
Moeyo Ken is a boisterous series that thrives on gags, boob jokes, and the torment of some of its characters. It's a slapstick show that proves to be entertaining and fun from time to time, but ultimately it's a disappointment. The fact that the show is stagnant in terms of growth really hurts it, and you shouldn't expect things to get better until it's almost over. Because of that I'd say you're better off renting this title.
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