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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Otogi Zoshi Vol 3: Burning the Past
Otogi Zoshi Vol 3: Burning the Past
Media Blasters // Unrated // July 12, 2005
List Price: $29.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by John Sinnott | posted August 22, 2005 | E-mail the Author
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The Show:

This third volume of Otogi Zoshi certainly gets over the slump it experienced in the last volume. Things get quite interesting as the show races to a conclusion to the first story arc. Though some won't enjoy the way this tale ends, I found it quite satisfying.

The story takes place at the beginning of the Heian period in Japan, 972 AD. The capital, Heian-Kyo (present day Kyoto), is suffering from famine and disease. The Emperor has recently died, and this has created political instability.

There are a lot of factions in Japan at this time vying for power. Principle among these are the Onmyo-ji, fortune tellers whose divinations of the future (often to their own advantage) had the most influence with the royal family. The blind Lord Abe no Seimei is the most powerful of the Onmyo-ji. Though he appears to be working to help the Emperor and the capital, he has ulterior motives.

Seimei has stated that if the five Magatama are returned to the capital, the plague and famine will end. So the Emperor has asked the loyal Minamoto clan to send their oldest son, Riakou, to reclaim these valuable objects. The only problem is that Riakou has recently died. So that the clan does not loose face, Riakou's younger sister, Minamoto no Hikaru, dresses as her brother and goes on the quest with her retainer, Watanabe no Tsuna. Joining the pair are Usui mo Sadamitsu, the warrior they allied with in the last volume, and Urabe, a member of the Onmyo-ji that Seimei has assigned to accompany them.

As this volume starts, Lord Doji and his forces have started their attack, and plan to burn the capital to the ground. Hikaru and her friends, minus Urabe who is missing, make their way to Lord Doji's camp in an attempt to reason with him and obtain the Magatama of Fire, the last such icon that is needed. Doji is in no mood to talk though, and plans on destroying the capital at any cost.

After their battle with the warlord Doji, things go from bad to worse. It turns out that Seimei has no plans on using the Magatama for the good of the capital and its people, he plans on using them to bring about the destruction of the world. Armed with this knowledge, Hikaru and her companions head for the capital to stop the evil priest. Seimei has thrown up barriers to their passing though, and one by one Hikaru's group are wounded, killed, or held up until the young girl is the only one to stop the powerful Seimei.

This volume made up for the flaws that the previous one had, I'm glad to say. I found the story much more tightly written, an Urabe is no longer a wonder woman who can solve any problem. The story moves at a much quicker pace too. Things go along at a break-neck speed as Hikaru tries to save the capital.

One of the things that I really liked about this volume was that there were a couple of surprises that I didn't see coming. Without giving anything away, I had pretty much determined how the series was going to end by the middle of this volume, but I was wrong. I like it when a show can throw me a curve that doesn't come across as fake or corny.

Overall, this was a good series. It had a lot of action and enough intrigue to keep me interested. In a lot of ways the show ends with this volume. The other three discs in the series have a story that is very different, though related, to the story told in the first three volumes.

The DVD:

This volume of Otogi Zoshi includes four episodes from the series on a two disc set. The first DVD has the program with the second DVD being reserved for the extras. It comes is a single width keepcase that has a disc on each side of the case.


This disc offers the choice of the original Japanese soundtrack or an English dub, both in stereo and 5.1. I alternated between the 5.1 Japanese and English tracks as I viewed the series, and I enjoyed both languages equally. The actors on the English dub did a very good job, especially Taylor Henry who lent his voice to Watanabe. He gives his character a strong voice that really helps the series. Julie Ann Taylor also does well as Minanoto, being able to sound like a young male or a female as the situation warrants.

They make good use of the surround channels though I thought some of the music was mixed a little low in the rear channels. This was a minor problem though, aside from that, the show sounds very good with a full range of sound. There are no audio defects.


The show is presented with a 1.33:1 aspect ratio that I believe was it's original ratio. The show uses a lot of dark colors, browns, greys, and blacks, and these shades are accurately reproduced. The lines are sharp and the image has a very good amount of detail. The only problem with the image was some minor aliasing that effected fine lines. Aside from that the show looked very good.


As with the other volumes in this series, there are some good extras included on the second disc.

Group Discussion Part Four: A 27-minute informal meeting where director Mizuho Nishikubo, supervising animation director Kazuchika Kise, character designer Shou Tajima, and wrier Yoshiki Sakurai talk about the show. Like with the first installments, this was interesting at the beginning but my interest waned after a while. I thought it dragged on a little too long.

Tokyo University Heian Lecture: Dr. Kazuto Hongo, a historian from Tokyo University and consultant for the show, gives a lecture on the historical accuracy of the series. He talks about the technology of the time as well as the social customs. This time he talks about some of the historical characters in the show as well as his theory that there were two types of 'warriors' at this time in Japan. This is my favorite extra and I look forward to watching these.

Behind the Scenes of Otogozoshi (sic): This is a light-hearted look at the creation of the anime. Some of the creative staff sit around and talk about it and joke around a lot. It was pretty fun.

Ending Theme Discussion: the director and vocalist talk about "Wish Upon a Star", the ending theme. They discuss why it was picked and how it fits in with the story.

This volume didn't include an insert of liner notes like the previous two volumes did.

Final Thoughts:

This disc wraps up the first part of the series. I was very happy with the ending. It answered a lot of questions and also threw some surprises out that I wasn't expecting. A very interesting series that is well worth watching. A high Recommendation.

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