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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Tokyo Underground:Promise Vol 3
Tokyo Underground:Promise Vol 3
Geneon // Unrated // July 5, 2005
List Price: $29.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Don Houston | posted July 23, 2005 | E-mail the Author
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Movie: One of the most difficult things a reviewer can do is pick up a television show midstream and start reviewing it as though he knows what's going on. Much like missing random chapters in a book, lacking the background provided in most soap opera style shows (particularly anime releases), a reviewer has to guess as to what took place, who's whom, and essentially has little grounding to base his comments on. Such was the case with Tokyo Underground 3: The Promise. The show seemed to be a combination of the generic fighting show with heavy chase themes such as those from Earth 2 or Exodus 1. Here's what the back DVD cover said, although it didn't give me much to go on at all:

"After becoming Ruri's bodyguard, Shiel, Master of Thunder, develops sympathy for Ruri- especially after she overhears Pairon's plot to resurrect the hideous dragons in exchange for Ruri's life! Shiel helps Ruri escape confinement and tries to help her reunite with Rumina, but Pairon intercepts them and demands a duel to the death. While they promise each other to stay alive, can either Ruri or Shiel keep that promise?"

Okay, so the characters fight for survival as they learn various super kung fu techniques; not exactly a barn burner of an original concept. The original setting is somewhere below the city of Tokyo Japan in an area not generally known about by the citizens of the city. Exactly how the protagonists have pissed off the antagonists is a mystery to me (hopefully, that was covered in the first two volumes of the series, which included the first ten episodes of the show) but they sure were out for blood, if you catch my drift. There were glimpses of what the protagonists were searching for in their quest but most of the time, everyone was engaged in pointless discussion full of the usual grandstanding you'll find in a show designed for those under ten years of age (despite the "13 Up" label on the back cover, I doubt many teenagers would find this appealing, especially with the numerous competing shows that do a better job of the themes presented).

The episodes included here were 11) Fight To The Death- Beyond the Hatred, 12) The Insubordination-Escape to the Light, 13) The Promise of Ribbons, and The Assassins of Tower Gate. If it gives you any idea of how unengaging the show was for me, I fell asleep twice watching it, forcing me to rewind and do it all again, much to the dismay of my subconscious mind. More than anything else though, my biggest issue and problem with the show was with how boring it was for me to watch. With so many excellent anime series on the market these days, I can almost always find something to like with a show and this one was a rare bird in that sense so I can only suggest it as a Skip It unless you've watched the first two volumes and somehow found them appealing. My experience with diving into a series somewhere in the middle is that unless a show is really well made, it tends to weaken the actual appeal of any strong points but this one simply didn't have anything at all for me to latch onto and encourage me to go out and check out the previous volumes.

Picture: Tokyo Underground 3: The Promise was presented in the same 1.33:1 ratio full frame color it was made in for Japanese television. Like the cover art, it was very colorful but almost distractingly so with most of the attention spent on the characters as set in a host of generic backgrounds. The animation style itself looked to be computer aided design (not CGI) that replicated the more traditional hand drawn styles of series from the past. I thought the DVD transfer was very solid with no video noise or compression artifacts but the limited movement of the characters made the show look low end, something I generally don't associate with Geneon given the company's many excellent releases to date.

Sound: The audio was presented with the usual choice of a 2.0 Dolby Digital original Japanese track (with English subtitles) or an English language dub made exclusively for this release. While I've found a lot to like on many of Geneon's dubs in the last year or two, this one fell flat, almost as if it were rushed out the door as quickly as possible. The Japanese track stood out as superior but even it wasn't anything special, leading me to believe this was just the latest knockout fighting series tossed in to provide a hungry, youthful audience another generic show to (theoretically) enjoy. The music and vocals were fair but the amount of separation between the tracks was limited and the dynamic range nothing special either.

Extras: There weren't many extras in this four episode disc with my favorite being the plastic cell included in the DVD case. There was also a limited bit of sketches and some trailers as well as a generic paper insert but in all, the extras didn't add a lot of value.

Final Thoughts: Tokyo Underground 3: The Promise may well appeal to children in desperate need of another fighting show or those of you who've been enraptured by the first two volumes but even if they were great, this third release sure didn't show signs of that possibility given the manner in which the wooden characters, weak situations, and limited creativity of the plot managed to combine for an excruciating viewing experience. I promise (a take off on the title) to let someone else review later chapters in the series if they come in but the bottom line for me is that I wish I could have the time spent watching this back for just about any purpose at all.

If you enjoy anime, take a look at some of the recommendations by DVDTalk's twisted cast of reviewers in their Best Of Anime 2003 and Best Of Anime 2004 article or regular column Anime Talk

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