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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Jyu-Oh-Sei : The Complete Series
Jyu-Oh-Sei : The Complete Series
FUNimation // Unrated // October 7, 2008
List Price: $59.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Todd Douglass Jr. | posted November 1, 2008 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Recommended
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The Show:

Obscure anime is something of a rarity in the States. If it's not mainstream in Japan, then chances are very good that it will never see the light of day on our side of the pond. Thankfully every once in a while a publisher will bite the bullet and take a chance with such a title in hopes that the hardcore audience will at least latch on to check it out. We see this happen every few months or so, and FUNimation's latest such release is Jyu-Oh-Sei, one of the coolest shows you've probably never heard about.

With a mere eleven episodes to tell its story, Jyu-Oh-Sei doesn't waste any time throwing you right into things, though the plot does take a little while to really get going. Basically, the show takes place in the year 2436 and sees humanity living amongst the stars on other planets, in ships, and different parts of the solar system. Some things are different in terms of the way we perceive time, and the length of our life spans, but for the most part humanity hasn't changed much.

The series focuses on twin brothers Thor and Rai who live in a space colony known as Juno. The brothers quickly find the world around them tattered and their lives changed forever when their parents are murdered. Thor, being the smarter and braver of the two, quickly realizes that they may be next, while Rai mourns the loss of their parents and is almost resigned to accepting whatever fate comes their way. That fate, such as it is, is for the two to be exiled to a planet in the Balkan System known as Chimera, or Planet of the Beast King.

Chimaera is very different from the rest of human civilization in quite a few ways. For starters it's actually a penal colony where the one rule you need to know is that only the strong survive. Naturally it's rather shocking at first for Thor and Rai on Chimaera. Their parents have just been killed and now they find themselves marooned on a strange, primitive world. Their lives quickly go from being cushy to existing by a kill-or-be-killed mentality considering they are on a planet surrounded by criminals at every turn. Luckily they aren't completely alone, and though it's a tad rocky at first, they discover that friends can be made and there's potential for an existence here.

On Chimaera, the best way to get ahead is to join up with other humans. Because of that, people all over the planet join Rings, which are basically gangs of sorts. There's a structure to each group, and the ultimate goal is for one individual to be crowned King of the Beasts. It's also worth noting that out of all the prisoners on the planet, roughly twenty percent of them are women. This plays out in some interesting scenes as you'd imagine, and thankfully the show avoids anime clich├ęs and tries to stray away from too much fan service.

Throughout all eleven episodes of Jyu-Oh-Sei, the show focuses strongly on Thor more than anyone else. It follows the story mostly from his perspective and examines what he has to do to survive and protect his childish brother. This lasts for a while and at some point in the show, things leap forward by a few years to depict a much older, more mature Thor. I didn't quite appreciate that jump in time as it detracted from the experience and quality of the character development, but I suppose with only eleven episodes it was necessary for the producers to do something to progress the story.

Anyways, Thor continues to grow as a person and make new friends, including a woman named Tiz, who is convinced that Thor is the man for her. On Chimaera, once a woman wants you, you're basically bound to her, so like it or not Thor is stuck with Tiz. This leads to some weak moments, and her character is never fully developed, but at least she's better than Rai. At any rate, Thor continues to battle and grow stronger in his attempt to become the Beast King and get off the planet.

It's very hard to deny the Lord of the Flies vibe that comes from Jyu-Oh-Sei. It's very much a look at the brutality of humanity, and when stripped down from our comforts, how animalistic we can really be. Because of that, this anime stands out as a unique entry in the world of science fiction. It's very rare to see a show such as this, and it's enthralling the whole way through, but I do have to admit that there are some missteps along the way that detract from the experience.

For starters, the show feels glaringly short. With only eleven episodes and a multitude of years to tell about Thor's life, you'll feel like there's always something missing. You'll want more, but you're simply not going to get it. Things feel disjointed because of this, and you'll get the feeling that this show simply is rushed and not complete. The ironic part is that despite that sensation, I still strongly recommend checking this show out. It's a flawed science fiction piece, but the isolated and primitive life Thor experiences on Chimaera is riveting at times. It creates an experience that is unique for an anime and it's definitely unlike anything you've watched recently.

The DVD:

Video:

Jyu-Oh-Sei looks pretty darned good on DVD. The anamorphic presentation does the show wonders and FUNimation's transfer is handled very well. The colors are vibrant, the animation is fantastic, and all around the design for this show is very appealing. Though the picture is mostly clean and sharp, there are a few points where grain and noise is present in the background and some of the faster animations display some aliasing. Some of this may be due to the fact that six and five episodes were packed onto the two discs, but all in all there's very little to complain about here.

Audio:

The sound in Jyu-Oh-Sei comes with Japanese 2.0 and English 5.1 for language tracks. I was rather surprised to find the 5.1 selection there, as this was probably a series with a smaller budget, and it's definitely appreciated. Both tracks did a fine job in terms of dub quality and there's definitely something to enjoy with each. The quality of that sound is equally commendable with a great amount of clarity in both tracks and nice presence on the soundstage. The 5.1 selection isn't quite as immersive as it could have been, but it's definitely a nice step up from the 2.0 offering.

Extras:

The first disc of Jyu-Oh-Sei contains a staff commentary for the fifth episode. It's a good listen and there are nice little insights to some behind the scenes stuff, but all around it's about what you'd expect from an anime commentary. The second disc includes textless animation, trailers, and some original commercials promoting the show.

Final Thoughts:

If you're in the market for a unique science fiction show, then Jyu-Oh-Sei may just be the ticket. It quickly sets the tone at the very beginning of the series and it continues to improve upon it over the course of its eleven episodes. As good as many of its elements are, there are some glaring flaws, but most of these pertain to length and a lack of time to properly develop things. This could easily have been a fleshed out, larger experience, but as it stands the whole affair feels very strongly like an OVA. Even so, the show still is incredible at times and it's definitely worth a spin. Consider it recommended.


Check out more of my reviews here. Head on over to my anime blog as well for random musings and reviews of anime, manga, and stuff from Japan!

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