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Orphen Season 2: Revenge Vol 2

ADV Films // Unrated // January 20, 2004
List Price: $29.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Don Houston | posted February 9, 2004 | E-mail the Author
Movie: Anime that centers on fantasy in the sword & sorcery realm is very common, sparking interest for years in the fan community. After all, the genre has limitless potential if the creative minds behind it are up to the challenge. Depending on which sub-genre you prefer to watch, you still probably have a lot to pick from and my experience with fans of this type of show tells me they are some of the most demanding fans you'll find. One of the most recent releases in this genre by ADV Films is Orphen 2: Revenge (Volume Two), a show that is the second season of a semi-popular series, which also has a videogame to its credit.

I'm only vaguely familiar with the first season but the premise was that Orphen, a sorcerer in training, set out to save a friend that had bad luck with a spell. The spell transformed her into a creature and Orphen's master set out to hunt her down. Orphen, on the other hand, tried to get to her first, in order to reverse the spell and protect her. None of that came into play during this, or even the first, DVD of the second season.

Needless to say, Orphen also has other enemies and must call upon his powers to fight off a variety of beasts and demons, as well as more mundane threats. The crew, on the other hand, has all the usual inter-personal conflicts with one another, to the point that they are usually more troublesome to each other than most of the enemies they encounter. After the initial arc of the season is over, a deeper thread starts too, one with some potential for an interesting plot but that may surface until later so I'll reserve my judgment at this time. Here's a list of the four included episodes for you:

Episode Five: Awaken, Beloved One:
A powerful sorcerer (Girudei?) has issues with Orphen meddling in his affairs, especially since he is using the dark arts in a pursuit of immortality. He seeks to revive Allana, his most precious possession (his daughter) that is trapped in stasis. As the two battle it out, the consequences of immortality become evident and Orphen's principles about defending his ground just as powerful as a father's love for his girl.

Episode Six: Shrimp Man, Crab Woman:
A bit of fishing proves just the thing to get the crew back on track, and eating well to boot. Unfortunately, things go amiss and Orphen is rendered powerless by a small accident. That's when the trouble begins as giant lobsters and crabs attack the team. Will Orphen's teammates be able to cover the attackers or will a couple of them end up seafood snacks?

Episode Seven: The Sweet Trap Of An Errand:
The two gals, Cleao and Lycoris, get sent on a shopping trip to gather supplies for the journey. Cleao loves to shop but can't stick with a budget while Lycoris is a stick in the mud, not having any fun with the task. By the end of the day, the two learn to like one another (a miracle) and catch a trio of robbers in the process.

Episode Eight: Is That A Bird?/Bird! Bird! Bird?
The girls, fresh back from their shopping spree, find that they broke the budget and now the team is busted. They attempt to get jobs in order to save the day but eventually, the rest of the crew, including Orphen himself, pitch in to help as well. When Lycoris ends up taking care of a giant bird, a giant carnivore bird at that, all heck breaks loose.

I liked a couple of the episodes but all too often, the humor was missing this time (or was too obscure). I still think the series is salvageable but I can't justify giving it a rating of more than Rent It. The replay value was somewhat less than I'd like and the same issues with needing to know information from previous episodes reared its ugly head. Check it out before buying or don't say I didn't warn you.

Picture: The picture was presented in the usual 1.33:1 aspect ratio full frame color, the current industry standard. The picture was pretty good but there was some grain, some edge enhancement, and minor pattern noise at times. The anime style itself was somewhat limited, using various cost saving techniques (limited movement of the cells, static backgrounds, etc.), but about what you'd expect for a follow up series. I didn't see any artifacts or other major problems with the DVD transfer.

Sound: The audio was presented with a choice of either the original Japanese track with English subtitles or an English dub, both in 2.0 Dolby Digital. I didn't notice any real separation between the channels (I experimented with turning off my center channel) but the vocals were clear enough and the music okay for a budget release. The subtitles were not dub-titles in that they did not mirror what the English track said but most of the time, they followed it fairly closely.

Extras: There was a couple minutes of audio outtakes, trailers, clean opening and closing, and a paper insert that didn't have a lot of detail (it wasn't the companies top of the line style insert).

Final Thoughts: I'm still hopeful that the show will pull itself up and rise like a Phoenix from the ashes but the limitations, combined with the lack of significant extras, didn't make me want to suggest this one as anything more than a rental.

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