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Orphen The Soul Stealers

ADV Films // Unrated // May 10, 2002
List Price: $29.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by J. Doyle Wallis | posted May 27, 2002 | E-mail the Author
Once again, I bravely step into an anime already 15 episodes in, with no idea about the story... Here is what I could figure out. There are these sorcerers who live in the Tower of Fangs. A magical sword opens up a tear between dimensions and releases this dragon called The Bloody August. A sorceress named Azalie somehow has her spirit trapped inside the dragon, and everyone is trying to figure out how to remove her. Orphen is one of these people, he is a young spellcaster kicked out of the Tower of Fangs and wanted by its elders to pay for some crime he committed. His old teacher Childman tries to figure out how to release Azalie while he is undermined by an evil lackey named Flameheart. Orphen's companions are Cleao, a bratty girl, his apprentice, the aptly named, Majic, and two wacky troublesome trolls Volcan and Dortin, as well as a mysterious figure who pops up form time to time called Black Tiger, who is really one of Orphens old Tower of Fang buddies.

EPISODE SYNOPSIS- Sister of the Moon (Ep 15): Orphen shows his compaions a magical moondail spot that breifly conjures up protection, and Orphen has a flashback about his childhood and being taught magic. Childman attempts to free Azalie from the dragon, but instead finds his spirit switched with hers, he inside the dragon, and she, now all mean and villainous, inside his body. She attacks him in weakened dragon form and severely wounds him. The Black Tiger Returns (Ep 16): Flameheart is sent by the Tower of Fang elders to bring Orphen back, though Flameheart intends to kill him. Complications arise in the form of puppies Orphen tries to deliver, an erupting volcano, and the appearance of Black Tiger. Of Swords, Of Secrets (Ep 17): Very flashback heavy episode, in which Orphen tries to find a hermit magician named Rocks Row, who may know how to free Azalie. Trouble is the evil Azalie possessing Childman's body and powers beats them to the old magician and severely injures him. The old man lives long enough to tell Orphen that the magical sword his troll buddies have is the key to releasing the dragon, but the sword is 'incomplete'. Birds & Bees (Ep 18): Lighthearted, goofy episode in which Orphen must track down the trolls and get the sword from them. The trolls try to lose him in a giant magical tree called the Giga Sequoia, that aside from being massive, is infested with huge creatures, like giant walking sticks, squirrels, beetles, birds, and such. Dark Deception (Ep 19): Flameheart is told by one of the elders to keep an eye on Childman, who they now notice is behaving oddly. Black Tiger, likewise, tries to warn Orphen about Childman's intentions with the dragon, but Orphen isn't convinced. Possessed by Azalie Childman attacks The Bloody August/Childman and tries to destroy the dragon completely, but Orphen and Black Tiger barely manage to stop her.

It was pretty easy to understand, despite missing the first fourteen episodes. I think I got as good feel for the series, though of course I cant really judge it as a whole, just what I saw and the glimmer of how I expect they fit with the rest of the episodes... Typical fantasy mish-mash and anime clich├ęs, that should be pretty entertaining to fans of the genre. The storytelling felt a little cumbersome, but that may have been due to having to adapt the sort from a manga comic, plus the schizophrenic decision most anime writers make to have their series go from dead serious to comical in a breath. I guess that is why I preferred the episode Birds & Bees, because, basically, it was a stand alone episode just about the adventure of chasing the troll guys around the enchanted tree and getting into all sorts of funny scrapes. Other than that, the episodes seemed to have the same feel, Orphen mopey and reflective (at least one flashback per episode I think), Cleao being a nuisance, Majic tagging along, and the trolls being mischievous and gruff... One last thing, I suspect this is a translation problem, but both the dub and subs refer to Volcan and Dortin as "trolls" but, at first I thought they were wiseass little kids or midgets. Then, at one point (in both the sub and dub), Cleao says they are "fat", yet they looked perfectly proportioned to me, like I said, more like little kids. Its a little confusing, but I guess that what you get sometimes when everything must be filtered and translated.

The DVD: ADV films. 5 episodes, 2 hours. Picture-1.33:1, Original Aspect Ratio. Looks great. No problems whatsoever. Series has a fairly nice budget and aside from some zoom in on stills and other cost cutting tricks, the show looks very nice, minimal grain, and full color and sharpness. Sound- Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround, Original Japanese or English dub, with optional English subtitle options (full translation or just song translation). Good audio no problems whatsoever, mainly centered, but some music and fix fill out the side channels. Subtitles Vs the dub is vastly different- "Sword of Light!" (sub)/"Breathe of Fire!" (dub). I also am assuming Cleao is a misspelling of Cleo, because the subs have strange translations like Volcan saying, "I will kill you twice with an alarm clock, you!" Extras- Chapter Selections--- Original Tv Commercial--- Production Sketches--- Clean Opening and Closing Credit sequences, without those pesky superimposed English text tiles. --- ADV Previews for Miyuki Chan in Wonderland, Soul Hunter, Steel Angel Kurumi, Excel Saga, City Hunter: Secret Service and Sadia

Conclusion: No glitches, nice presentation, if you are a fan of the series, by all means pick it up.

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