Ghastly Prince Enma Burning Up Complete Series Premium Bonus Set
NIS America, Inc. // Unrated // $55.99 // September 11, 2012
Review by John Sinnott | posted September 18, 2012
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The Series:
NIS America is currently my favorite anime distributor.  When they announce a new title, even if I haven't heard about it, I get excited.  Many of their releases are more sedate shows that emphasize plot over giant robots and maniacal action, which is a nice change of pace from a lot of what gets released in R1.  That's why I was surprised when I saw that they were going to be releasing Ghastly Prince Enma Burning Up, a title based on a Go Nagai (Devilman, Getter Robo, among many others) manga.  Nagai is so over the top and kinetic that I couldn't really see one of his shows fitting in with the NIS America house style.  Unfortunately my first thoughts were correct.  This over-the-top anime features a lot of fan service and broad, juvenile comedy most of which is overtly sexual.  That makes the show too mature for kids and too silly for most adults.

Harumi is a normal young girl who leads an uneventful life... until she follows her friends to her school one night.  The group of boys is planning to steal toilet paper, they're out at home, and even though the school is rumored to be filled with ghosts in the evening, they venture forth.
It turns out the rumors are correct!  After they're in the school they find flying demons that literally lick the face off of anyone they can capture.  With all of her friends faceless, Harumi tries to escape but falls into the school pool instead, and nearly drowns.  She would have died if it wasn't for Kappavier, a turtle like demon, who saves her.  After she revives her new friend takes the young girl to the Helliday Inn, a castle that lies directly beneath the school and is home to Demon Prince Enma.

Prince Enma has been charged with going to the surface and capturing demons that have escaped from Hell.  So what if he gets carried away and kills them most of the time?  They end up in the same place, don't they?  Along with the fairly useless Kappavier, Enma is assisted by Princess Yukikio from the Snow Woman Clan who can perform Ice Magic, as well as Chapeauldie, a talking sentient hat.  Together they form the Demon Patrol and vow to capture any and all evil spirits roaming the world.  Well, at least when Kappavier and Enma aren't trying to sneak a peak at Yukikio when she's naked.
This was one of those shows were at the end of every episode you think "the next one should be better... this one wasn't quite as bad as the last one."  Alas, it never actually gets good.  The main problem is that there is too much weird and too little funny.  The creature in the first episode, for example, is the Mug Mugger, who steal faces (get it!) by licking them off.  When he encounters Enma he reveals that his main weapon is a gigantic sword/horn/appendage that grows from between his legs.  Yeah, he fights the demon prince with a giant phallic symbol.

That's not the only odd sexual situation in the show.  It's filled with them.  The fact that Enma and Kappavier are obsessed with seeing Yukikio, who appears to be very young and has a body any 12-year-old boy would be proud of, in the nude is a bit creepy to say the least, but it's easy to overlook.  That's one of the standing jokes in anime.  Other things like the Mug Muggers phallic weapon are more bizarre and hard to ignore, or Das Foot, who has a pair of leg shaped horns growing out of his head and proclaims that his "third horn is so thick and so long and so majestic!"  The character who gets the WTF?!? Award has to be the old lady who lives in the convenience store near Harumi's home.  Whenever she appears she takes out her sagging breasts and swings them around in circles while talking.  Oooooookkkay.  That must be funny on the other side of the Pacific.  I guess it's just a cultural difference.
I'd be more forgiving of the sexual aspect of the show if the joke were more in line with older tastes.  Instead all of the humor seems to be aimed at an elementary school level.  The monster's names are all very bad puns (Calamarauder is a giant squid, the Catnapper is a feline who puts people to sleep) and the rest of the jokes seem like they would be at home in an episode of a Nick Jr. show.  It's not really funny to anyone who has entered pubity.
The Blu-ray:

I really like the way NIS America handles their Premium Edition releases.  This time the 12-episode show is presented both on DVD and Blu-ray, each format taking up two discs.  The discs come in a pair of double thinpak cases.  These are housed, not on top of each other, but side by side in a beautiful sturdy board case that's nearly 8 in X 11 in.  The case is attractively illustrated with characters from the show.  In a nice touch that shows a fine attention to detail, the UPC code in hidden inconspicuously on the side of the case so that the artwork isn't marred.  Included with the two DVDs is a very nice hardcover art book.  Scroll down to the extras section for more details on that.

This release arrives with the original Japanese soundtrack in lossless LPCM stereo.  It sounded very good, with full range and some nice separation.  There are optional English subtitles, but there is not a dub track, which is fine with me.  I prefer watching anime in Japanese since that was the way it was created to be seen.
I viewed the series on the Blu-ray discs and spot checked the DVDs.  The 1.78:1 AVC 1080p (anamorphic on the DVDs) image looks very good.  The colors are strong and solid and they're accurately reproduced and come through clearly.  The level of detail is very good and the lines are tight.  Digitally it also looked very good with aliasing, which often plagues anime, being nonexistent.
The discs themselves include clean openings and closings for the show, and that's about it.   
The best extra isn't found on the discs however.  That award goes to the very nice hardcover book that is included with the set.  This attractive full-color book includes images from the show along with talent interviews (including one with creator Go Nagai), concept art, data on the monsters faced in the series and more.  It's printed on high quality glossy paper, and is really very striking.
Final Thoughts:
I really wanted to like this show, but I couldn't get into it.  The humor was too juvenile and the sexual aspects just too weird for my tastes.  When all was said and done, this was one of those rare anime series that I just didn't enjoy.  Skip it. 

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