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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Haruka: Beyond the Streams of Time - A Tale of the Eight Guardians Vol. 5
Haruka: Beyond the Streams of Time - A Tale of the Eight Guardians Vol. 5
Bandai Visual USA // Unrated // August 19, 2008
List Price: $24.49 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by John Sinnott | posted October 24, 2008 | E-mail the Author
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The Series:

Things finally start to come together in Haruka:  Beyond the Stream of Time volume four.  Maybe it's because I'm used to 4 episodes per disc, or maybe the show is just taking its time getting started, but it wasn't until the end of this volume that I actually had a good idea where the show is going and what type of story it is trying to tell.  That helps a lot, as some of the earlier volumes seemed like random events that were just playing out.  The show has taken a turn for the better, not to see if it can continue on that streak.

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 (who has a sister, Ran, that mysteriously disappeared months ago) 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 story picks up where the last volume left off, with Akane having a deadly curse placed on her.  The Guardians are frantic because it seems like there is little they can do.  Once the curse is activated however, one of the Guardians risks his life and is able to turn the spell back on the caster, seriously wounding her.  The problem is that the person who created the curse is Ran, Tenma's long lost sister.  Akram takes the badly hurt girl away and says that he'll gladly trade her for the Priestess of the Dragon God.

This is a horrible burden for Akane.  She can't stand to thing of Ran being hurt because of her.  While the other Guardians are distracted, Akane opens up a portal and goes to the Demon's castles to trade herself for Tenma's sister.  (She never claimed to be bright.)  Naturally Akram doesn't just turn Ran over.  He hides her and makes Akane search.

Meanwhile the Guardians are frantic and come together to find the Priestess.  They too enter the Demon's realm but find that his powers are very strong, and illusions are constantly getting in their way.

Eventually Akane does find Ran, but Akram reveals that she's taken the Dark Dragon into her body, and that has erased all of her memories and personality, so even if they could save her, Ran isn't the same girl that she was.

The final episode on this disc is a bit of a breather where everyone relaxes before starting the next story arc.  When a bad omen occurs on the day of abstention, Akane has to be locked in her room for the entire day so that nothing bad will happen to her.  While she's there the Guardians relax and talk among themselves and Akane recalls some of her past adventures.  As the episode closes, the eight guardians and Akane decide what their next step must be.

Like the previous volumes, just as I started to get into the show the DVD was over.  That's too bad, but what can you do?  With all of the Guardians finally gathered the show can get on to the main story; releasing the four gods that Akram has captured.  It looks like this is going to be an adventure of the week show, with pairs of Guardians going after mystical seals, but hopefully there will be enough continuity to keep things jumping.

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:

There is nothing much in the bonus department.  Like the previous volumes, 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:

Though there isn't much new in this show, the characters are enjoyable and the story is flowing nicely so far.  It's a fun anime to watch and though it's not anything special it's worth watching.  Fans of fantasy anime like 12 Kingdoms and Fushigi Yugi will most likely enjoy this, and for them, this disc comes Recommended.
 

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