Miss the 1990's when ultra-violent anime was in
fashion? No need to fret.
There's still some being made, and it's
slowly making its way to R1. Case in
a 12-episode series
that was recently released by Sony through their MOD program. This hack-and-slash show boasts some lovely
art, an intricate story, and many decapitations. There
are some problems though with a story
and characters that never quite gel and the lack of an original
soundtrack. It's one of those releases
that aims pretty high, but doesn't hit the mark.
In ancient Japan
a master, Kuro, and his disciple, Benkei, are fleeing for their lives. They are trying to sneak through a forest
when they're ambushed, and barely manage to escape.
Luckily Benkei spots a house where they meet Kuromitsu, a
lovely lady who agrees to let them stay for as long as they want on one
condition: they never look into her
bedroom at the end of the hall. It seems
like an easy request, and since Kuro has come down with a high fever,
A couple of days later, while Benkei is traveling into town
in search of some medicine, Kuro is looking for Kuromitsu when he peaks
her room. There he sees here licking the
blood from a dead man hanging from the ceiling. Yes,
she's a vampire. Instead of being angry
however, she is
remorseful. She apologizes for letting
him see her eat, and regrets the trauma she may have caused him. It is at that moment that the house is
They are not attacked by the people searching for Kuro,
instead it's the Red Army a group that wants to capture Kuromitsu. They realize that she is immortal and want
the secret to ever-lasting life. In the
battle Kuro gets terribly wounded and Kuromitsu knows that the only way
him is to make him immortal, so after drinking some of his blood, he
This saves his life, and makes him very powerful, but before
he can fully transform Benkei returns and, having been brainwashed by
Army, slices off Kuro's head. This
doesn't kill him, he's immortal after all, but it does mean that the
transformation process is halted before is can become complete.
Kuro wakes up in a field.
He doesn't know where he is or how he got there.
He starts to explore and discovers a modern
city that has been nearly destroyed. High rise buildings are leaning
are bombed out buildings everywhere.
It's hundreds of years in the future, after a devastating war
the Red Army, using the same symbol that was tattooed on Benkei's hand
those years ago, rules the country. Now,
as it was back when Kuro first encountered them, they want to harvest
Kuromitsu's secret to immortatlity.
Encountering a member of the resistance, Karuta, Kuro
reluctantly join when the offer him the one thing he yearns for: to find his one true love, the vampire
Kuromitsu. It won't be so easy
however. The Red Army does have some of
Kuromitsu's blood, and with it they've been making an army of mutant
that may be as powerful as Kuro.
This show had a lot of promise. The
premise was interesting and the show was
pretty mysterious. Viewers are always at
the edge of understanding what is going on and why.
Every time one secret is revealed it leads to
another question. I really enjoy shows
like that... they pull you in. The design
of the show is excellent too. The art is
beautiful and the animation well done (though they do cut a few corners
and there it's not distracting).
The problems involve the story telling style and the
characters. The tale unfolds through
current events, flashbacks, dream sequences, and hallucinations, and it
terribly confusing because there's no mechanism to clue viewers in to
where and when any particular scene is taking place.
More than a few times I was wondering what
was going on, only to realize later that the confusing scene happened
undetermined time in the past.
On top of that, the creators did a poor job of establishing
their characters. Kuro falls in love
with Kuromitsu after a brief conversation and is willing to search for
the rest of eternity. Why?
Is it just love or does he have some bond
with the person who gave him eternal life?
What does Kuromitsu get out of all of this?
What are her motivations? These are
some pretty basic questions. At the end of
the show, when all is said and
done, there are still many events that aren't explained very well, if
all. Granted, a lot is wrapped up, but
so much isn't that I wasn't very satisfied with the conclusion. It's too bad that there were so many
problems, because with a bit of tweaking this could have been a very
This 12-episode series arrives on two DVD-r discs in a
single-width keepcase. The discs
themselves don't have any art; just the title and Sony logo in black on
background but the case itself includes a colorful cover.
This is where a lot of otaku are going to be
disappointed: The only audio included is
a 5.1 English dub. Yes, I wish that the
original language track had been included too, especially at this price
point. Having said that, I thought the
dub was pretty good. The voice actors did a good job and the battle
really came alive with the 5.1 track.
The whole soundstage is used, even when there isn't a lot of
screen. There are a couple of places
where someone's voice would be thrown to the rear of the room when they
entering from behind the camera. The
whole track was effective and immersive with no signs of audio defects. Had they included a Japanese track, my rating
would be a lot higher.
The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen image is pretty good.
The colors really pop and the lines are nice
and tight. There wasn't any aliasing or
other common digital artifacts. Overall
it's a very good looking show.
None, not even a clean opening and closing. I'm
pretty surprised that they didn't include
trailers for the other two Sony Choice Collection anime titles. That seems like a no-brainer to me.
This is one of those shows that I wish was just a bit
better. Had they done some minor things
differently (had a bit more characterization, arranged the flashback in
organized fashion so viewers wouldn't be confused) it could have been
excellent show. As it is I was a bit
disappointed when it ended. I was hoping
things would be wrapped up a little tighter and that it would redeem
the final reel. Added to that is the
fact that the original language isn't available on these discs and it's
recommend that fans rent it.