NIS America is
currently my favorite anime distributor.
When they announce a new title, even if I haven't heard about
it, I get
excited. Many of their releases are more
sedate shows that emphasize plot over giant robots and maniacal action,
is a nice change of pace from a lot of what gets released in R1. That's why I was surprised when I saw that
they were going to be releasing Ghastly
Prince Enma Burning Up, a title based on a Go Nagai (Devilman,
among many others) manga. Nagai is so
over the top and kinetic that I couldn't really see one of his shows
with the NIS America house style.
Unfortunately my first thoughts were correct.
This over-the-top anime features a lot of fan
service and broad, juvenile comedy most of which is overtly sexual. That makes the show too mature for kids and
too silly for most adults.
Harumi is a normal young girl who leads an uneventful life...
until she follows her friends to her school one night.
The group of boys is planning to steal toilet
paper, they're out at home, and even though the school is rumored to be
with ghosts in the evening, they venture forth.
It turns out the rumors are correct! After
they're in the school they find flying
demons that literally lick the face off of anyone they can capture. With all of her friends faceless, Harumi tries
to escape but falls into the school pool instead, and nearly drowns. She would have died if it wasn't for
Kappavier, a turtle like demon, who saves her.
After she revives her new friend takes the young girl to the
Inn, a castle that lies directly beneath the school and is home to
Prince Enma has been charged with going to the surface and
capturing demons that have escaped from Hell.
So what if he gets carried away and kills them most of the time? They end up in the same place, don't
they? Along with the fairly useless
Kappavier, Enma is assisted by Princess Yukikio from the Snow Woman
can perform Ice Magic, as well as Chapeauldie, a talking sentient hat. Together they form the Demon Patrol and vow
to capture any and all evil spirits roaming the world.
Well, at least when Kappavier and Enma aren't
trying to sneak a peak at Yukikio when she's naked.
This was one of those shows were at the end of every episode
you think "the next one should be better... this one wasn't quite as bad
last one." Alas, it never actually gets
good. The main problem is that there is
too much weird and too little funny. The
creature in the first episode, for example, is the Mug Mugger, who
(get it!) by licking them off. When he
encounters Enma he reveals that his main weapon is a gigantic
sword/horn/appendage that grows from between his legs.
Yeah, he fights the demon prince with a giant
That's not the only odd sexual situation in the show.
It's filled with them. The fact
that Enma and Kappavier are obsessed
with seeing Yukikio, who appears to be very young and has a body any
12-year-old boy would be proud of, in the nude is a bit creepy to say
least, but it's easy to overlook. That's
one of the standing jokes in anime.
Other things like the Mug Muggers phallic weapon are more
bizarre and hard
to ignore, or Das Foot, who has a pair of leg shaped horns growing out
head and proclaims that his "third horn is so thick and so long and so
majestic!" The character who gets the
WTF?!? Award has to be the old lady who lives in the convenience store
Harumi's home. Whenever she appears she
takes out her sagging breasts and swings them around in circles while
That must be funny on the other side of the
Pacific. I guess it's just a cultural
I'd be more forgiving of the sexual aspect of the show if
the joke were more in line with older tastes.
Instead all of the humor seems to be aimed at an elementary
level. The monster's names are all very
bad puns (Calamarauder is a giant squid, the Catnapper is a feline who
people to sleep) and the rest of the jokes seem like they would be at
an episode of a Nick Jr. show. It's not
really funny to anyone who has entered pubity.
I really like the way NIS America handles their Premium
Edition releases. This time the 12-episode
show is presented both on DVD and Blu-ray, each format taking up two
discs. The discs come in a pair of
double thinpak cases. These are housed,
not on top of each other, but side by side in a beautiful sturdy board
that's nearly 8 in X 11 in. The case is
attractively illustrated with characters from the show.
In a nice touch that shows a fine attention
to detail, the UPC code in hidden inconspicuously on the side of the
that the artwork isn't marred. Included
with the two DVDs is a very nice hardcover art book.
Scroll down to the extras section for more
details on that.
This release arrives with the original Japanese soundtrack
in lossless LPCM stereo. It sounded very
good, with full range and some nice separation.
There are optional English subtitles, but there is not a dub
which is fine with me. I prefer watching
anime in Japanese since that was the way it was created to be seen.
I viewed the series on the Blu-ray discs and spot checked
the DVDs. The 1.78:1 AVC 1080p (anamorphic
on the DVDs) image looks very good. The
colors are strong and solid and they're accurately reproduced and come
clearly. The level of detail is very
good and the lines are tight. Digitally
it also looked very good with aliasing, which often plagues anime,
The discs themselves include clean openings and closings for
the show, and that's about it.
The best extra isn't found on the discs however. That
award goes to the very nice hardcover
book that is included with the set. This
attractive full-color book includes images from the show along with
interviews (including one with creator Go Nagai), concept art, data on
monsters faced in the series and more. It's
printed on high quality glossy paper, and is really very striking.
I really wanted to like this show, but I couldn't get into
it. The humor was too juvenile and the
sexual aspects just too weird for my tastes.
When all was said and done, this was one of those rare anime
I just didn't enjoy. Skip it.