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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Haruka: Beyond the Stream of Time - A Tale of the Eight Guardians, Vol. 7
Haruka: Beyond the Stream of Time - A Tale of the Eight Guardians, Vol. 7
Other // PG-13 // October 21, 2008
List Price: $29.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by John Sinnott | posted October 28, 2008 | E-mail the Author
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The Series:

With Haruka: Beyond the Stream of Time Volume Seven otaku get another trio of episodes that are mostly fun. Like the previous volumes however, the story just isn't as urgent or pressing as it should be. At long last all the characters are introduced and the problem has finally been revealed, but instead of rushing off to fix things, the series pauses for a filler episode that brings the pace to a screeching halt.

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. Over the course of the first four volumes the eight guardians are discovered and the demon Akram's plans have been foiled, if only temporarily. Now the guardians have been given the task of finding the Four Sacred Talismans which may release the captured gods. It takes two guardians working together to find one, and not all of the Priestess guards get along well. They'll have to overcome their personal differences before they can learn to work as a team.

This volume:

The first episode on this disc is a filler episode that doesn't really have much to do with the main plot at all. While walking through the city one day, Akane and her friends bump into a girl that is the priestess' exact double. Holy coincidences Batman! The girl seems sad and when questioned pours out her troubles and deepest secrets to the group of strangers. It turns out that when her father died, the girl had to live with her uncle who treats her cruelly. What's worse is that she's in love with a young man from a noble family, but his parents won't let them marry since she's a commoner. Time is pressing since the uncle has promised the girl's hand in marriage to a rich old priest. They won't be physical, but she will have enough money so that she can live comfortably for the rest of her life. It doesn't sound all that bad to me, but Akane is horrified.

So what does the Priestess do? She comes up with an incredibly stupid plan to have the guardians kidnap her doppelganger from the old priest and hide her away. Only too happy to risk their lives on the silly scheme, they manage to get her away and then forge documents showing she's of a noble house that has no money, which is fine for the parents of her love.

All during this episode I was scratching my head. What does this have to do with anything? Why did the use the trite and clich├ęd 'identical twin' ploy, and why did they employ such a hair-brained scheme? While the story was sweet, it didn't fit in with what went on before. Things were just starting to get interesting with the search for the Talismans when this happened.

The next two episodes get things on track again, more or less. The next episode also is rather slow, as it shows how one of the Guardians, Eisen, is starting to fall in love with Akane and has to resist letting his feelings get in the way of his duties.

The final story finally got the series jump-started again, with Takamichi searching for his Talisman. He encounters a demon who has imprisoned the Guardian's dead mother's spirit. He can see her in a large crystal ball, and his mother even gives him hints as to where to find what he's searching for. There's a catch, of course. The demon won't release the mother's spirit unless Takamichi gives her the Talisman. If she doesn't pass on to the afterlife, his mother's spirit will eventually turn into an angry ghost and the young warrior will be forced to hunt her down and kill her. He couldn't bear to do that, but he can't betray Akane and the other Guardians either.

This volume has a lot of the problems that the series itself has. Just when you think that it has found its message and story and that the plot is going to start rolling, it veers off and stalls. The first episode was stupid, the second OK, and the third was really good. If they could just edit out some of the bad episodes and concentrate on the main thrust of the show, this would be a much better anime.

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:

While this show is still fun, it hasn't really set itself apart from all the other fantasy anime out there. The eight guardians all have stereotyped personalities, and now that they've all been found were treated to a series of lessons on how to get along with people. It's not actually all that bad, but I was hoping that the show would have progressed a bit more, in both plot and characterization, by this point in the series. It's still an enjoyable anime, just not as deep and engrossing as it could be. Rent it.

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