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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Haruka - Beyond the Stream of Time: A Tale of the Eight Guardians Vol 2
Haruka - Beyond the Stream of Time: A Tale of the Eight Guardians Vol 2
Bandai Visual USA // Unrated // May 27, 2008
List Price: $29.99 [Buy now and save at Rightstuf]
Review by John Sinnott | posted May 17, 2008 | E-mail the Author
C O N T E N T
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The Series:

With the second volume of Haruka:  Beyond the Stream of Time viewers are treated to three whole episodes of the series, without an increase in price.  The MSRP of $30 is still a hefty price to pay for three episodes, no dub track and almost no extras but it is a step in the right direction.  Hopefully Bandai-Visual will continue to with this trend and start releasing some reasonably priced anime.  This volume of the show is solid, though it is still establishing the characters and getting the plot rolling.  Akane gets another Guardian, her friend Tenma learns more about his powers, and the city Beyond the Flow of Time becomes endangered.

Series Background:

While walking to school one morning, Akane is inexplicably drawn to an old boarded up well.  Almost in a trance she goes to the ancient hole, and when she gets there a giant wind gushes up from the well and a shadow-creature tries to pull her in.  Her two friends, Tenma and Shimon, fight the creature but all three of them end up being pulled into the well and transported to a different place.  (Shades of Inu Yasha!)

Akane wakes up in the house of a princess, Fuji, and immediately bolts out of the compound. In the city she encounters the man who summoned her:  Akram.  He's a demon, though he looks human.  His race has been fighting the people who like in the Capital city for years and years.  The four Gods who lived in the mountains surrounding the city have protected it however and now the demon-people are few in number.  Akram has been able to steal the four Gods though, and now the city is vulnerable.  The only person who can possibly save it is The Priestess of the Dragon God; none other than Akane herself.

Eventually she's brought back to the castle and her two friends are found.  They've become Guardians, fighters empowered with a Dragon Jewel who battle to keep the Priestess safe.  There are eight in all, with one of Princess Fuji's guards being the third.  But who are the others and can they stop whatever plane the demons are hatching.

This volume:

The three episodes in this volume are still establishing the setting and introducing the characters, but they move the story along nicely.  First Akane abruptly comes down with a fever and faints.  The doctors can't determine the cause or recommend any cure.  This infuriates Tenma who wants to try to find a way back to their own world, even if it deprives the people of this one of their salvation.

While in a fever-induced coma, Akane is transported to another part of the world and meets Abe-no-Seimei, an attractive young man who happens to be a powerful sorcerer.  His powers save Akane, and himself, from a disguised demon.  After the battle the Princess notices that Seimei bears a Dragon Crystal, signifying that he is one of her Guardians.  Breaking off a branch from a cherry tree and giving it to the young girl, the sorcerer sends Akane back to her body, which has recovered from the fever.

In the next episode Akane meets her newest protector once again.  While attending the Flower Purifying Ceremony, she discovers that Seimei is one of the participants too.  A giant cherry tree stands on a hill in the capital and this enchanted tree absorbs all of the misfortune that would befall the city.  Its blossoms turn red with evil, and once a year the tree is purified, turning the blossoms back to white.  If this isn't done before the blossoms fall, terrible things will happen to the city.

This year the Demon Akram has other plans.  He slays the priests who purify the tree before they can finish their incantation, leaving the city ripe of disaster.

The volume ends with a look back into Tenma's past.  He's always been very protective of Akane, and now we know why:  a few years ago he left his younger sister alone while he went to play with his friends.  When he returned home she was missing, and though the police and the community searched and searched, she was never found again.  Needless to say, this had a profound affect on the young man, and he's not about to let a second person that he cares about disappear or be hurt.

This show felt like it was just starting to get rolling at the end of this volume.  They really should have released one disc with the first 5 episodes, that's what it takes to get a good taste of this series.  And how is it?  Pretty good over all.  The program is derivative of other fantasy shows, and so far there hasn't been anything surprising that's happened, but it's a fun ride none the less.  It's pretty easy to predict how the rest of the series is going to unfold:  every couple of episodes Akane will discover another Guardian until all eight are gathered, Akram will try several smaller scheme which will be foiled by the Princess and her companions, and finally Akram will release his master plan which seems impossible to stop but after a three episode battle (which will go poorly for the good guys) the humans will triumph.  Hopefully they'll throw in some twists and surprises along the way.  We'll just have to wait and see.

The DVD:


Audio:

Being a Bandai Visual show, this DVD did not have an English dub, only the original stereo mix in Japanese with optional English subs.  The show sounded fine, though for the price they could certainly spring for a dub track.  There was some separation in the audio but nothing too fancy.  A 5.1 track would have been nice for the action sequence at the end of the first episode but as it was this track was adequate.

Video:

I was disappointed in the way this series looked.  On smaller monitors it may look fine, but on my 52" display the image was very soft and colors were muted.  It looked like I was watching the show through a rather thick layer of dust on the screen.  (I wasn't, I checked.)  The 1.78:1 anamorphic image just didn't impress me at all.  I suppose this could be the look the creators were going for, but it came across looking below average.  Aside from that, digital defects were minor.  A little aliasing was all.

Extras:

Nothing much in the bonus department.  There are alternate voice-over tracks for the 'next episode' previews but that was it.  I'm really surprised that BV isn't putting trailers for their other shows on their releases, or textless songs.  These are pretty standard bonus items and to have a premium priced disc leave them off is pretty bad.

Final Thoughts:

This volume helped flesh out the series.  Yes, it is a typical fantasy show in a lot of ways, but the ride is enjoyable and even if the outcome is predestined I'll stay on board.  The price is a little steep, but at least Bandai-Visual didn't bump it up to $50 like some of their releases have been.  For fans of fantasy anime, I'd recommend this series.
 

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