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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Haruka: Beyond the Stream of Time - A Tale of the Eight Guardians, Vol. 8
Haruka: Beyond the Stream of Time - A Tale of the Eight Guardians, Vol. 8
Other // Unrated // November 18, 2008
List Price: $29.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by John Sinnott | posted November 9, 2008 | E-mail the Author
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The Series:

In the penultimate volume of Haruka: Beyond the Stream of Time (volume eight for those keeping track) the story should be rushing to a climax. Unfortunately it really doesn't feel that way. With only six episodes left as the volume opens, the show is still taking its time to let the story unfold and the lack of urgency that Akane and her guardians feel to defeat the demon Akram and free the four gods is a little irritating. It makes me wonder if the show will actually be wrapped up in the last volume.

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 three episodes contained on this disc continue with the slow but enjoyable story. The capitol is still experiencing a drought, an unnatural event that the demons caused. The guardians decide to sit and talk about what should be done, but one of them, Inori, wants to take immediate action (not a bad idea at all.) So he rushes off to see his sister. Okay... This episode explores just why the young fighter hates demons as much as he does, something that has been the key point of a few episodes.

Next Ran, Tenma's sister, still doesn't have any memory of the time she was in Akram's service, so she's naturally confused about where they are and why. Tenma won't tell her the truth about what happened, because he's afraid that it will upset her, so she goes searching for the truth herself. She eventually learns about her past from Yasuaki, and this has devastating effects. While she does regain her memories, she also becomes susceptible to Akram's mechanizations.

In the final chapter of this volume, Akram manages to steal Ran back, and also the three Talismans that have been located too. Yasuaki and Eisen are the only two guardians who haven't found a Talisman yet, so the group's only hope lies with them. When a demon tells Yasuaki that he has no chance of locating the final Talisman however, it seems that all hope is lost.

While I still enjoy this show, it is not nearly as engaging as it should be. One of the main reasons is that all of the characters are bland. They are mainly one-note caricatures that don't seem 'real' at all. Even Akane isn't nearly as dynamic as she should be. I was expecting her to be a take-charge sort of person, but she mainly sits back and reacts to events. She should be more proactive but she's content to mainly sit around and wait for another bad thing to happen.

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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