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Ghastly Prince Enma Burning Up DVD/Blu-ray Complete Series Premium Edition Anime Review

9 min read

Horror and comedy is a tough mix to work with but Go Nagai has a particular flair for it.

What They Say:
Meet the Demon Patrol: a hotheaded demon prince; a sultry, half-naked ice princess; a lusty frog-demon spy; a talking wizard hat… and one little girl. This rag-tag group has been charged with the protection of Earth from a multitude of demons who would love nothing more than to bring their world crashing down around them. They’ll face off against a vengeful squid, a somnambulant kitty cat, a pot full of snakes, a night-stalking deciduous, a hater of crotches, and even a literal butthead! Descend into an unreality filled with pratfalls, lewd behavior, and enough obscure cultural jetsam to drown us all!

Contains episodes 1-12 plus a full-color, 36-page hardcover artbook that explores the show’s outrageous world and characters with detailed bios, illustrations, concept art, roundtable discussions with the cast and crew, and an all-new interview with the original author, Go Nagai himself all in premium showcase packaging.

The Review:
The audio presentation for this release is straightforward as we get the original Japanese mix in stereo using the uncompressed PCM format. The show is one that utilizes the forward soundstage well for the most part but it is also something that just has a full feeling to it overall because it throws so much at the viewer. It’s loud, brash, distinct and playful in a lot of ways. There’s a lot of dialogue going on here that’s thrown all over the place at a rapid pace and that definitely comes across quite well. This is also mirrored in the action aspects of it as there’s a lot going on there with the sound effects and so forth, making it a pretty fun mix overall and one that definitely stands out. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Originally airing in the spring of 2001, the transfer for this twelve episode series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The show is spread across two discs with nine on the first and three on the second. Animated by Brain’s Base, there’s a lot of detail and great looking animation to be had here that really goes over the top a lot of the time and the transfer captures it beautifully. The show has a lot of bold colors throughout and works wonderfully with the dark areas as well, giving it a rich and textured feel where appropriate. Some episodes throw so much at the screen sometimes that it’s almost overpowering, especially in the last two episodes, that you can imagine what a pain this was to author. Colors are striking throughout, detail is spot on and the quality here overall is definitely a huge plus for the show.

The packaging for this release is another piece that really works well to make the premium edition feel completely worthwhile. The heavy chipboard box that’s oversized to hold everything works its two sides to great effect. One side has a very bright and outgoing look to it with the main cast falling from the sky over Japan with plenty of fanservice to be had while the other side goes for the darker approach using the same cast but changing up positions as they float over Tokyo itself. There’s a very obvious sense of fun and fanservice here so you know right from the start what you’re getting even just from the logo itself.

Inside the box we get the standard excellence in the hardcover book that all the premium editions carry. The book is very chock full of information and very busy, which is appropriate for the show, as it covers the various aspects of its setup and runs the gamut of its characters, powers and sexiness. There’s a slew of interviews and Q&A sessions here with both the cast and the creative staff of the series which deals with the production of the show well and what they all wanted to bring to the table. There’s a good evening of really reading and absorbing everything here with all the interviews which will tweak how you view the show itself.

Also in the case are the two clear keepcases which contains the two DVDs and two Blu-ray discs. The covers for these are similar to the box itself where one is a darker piece with the characters having fun while the other is brighter and a bit more fanservice oriented which works really nicely since it uses a lot of pinks in the background. The character designs look good, simple and effective here in drawing the eye and making you smile. The back covers are laid out the same while using the backgrounds of that respective volume and it’s a big and in your face approach here with a slew of pictures on each, some fun taglines and a clear look at the episodes by number and titles. The technical grids list everything very clearly for both formats so you know exactly how they’re made. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.

The menu design for this release has a lot going for it as it uses an array of clips and animation at the start of each volume before landing with a solid background and some foreground animation bits with the characters bouncing around. It’s light, silly and fun which carries over the overall feeling from the box art itself. The navigation strip along the bottom is the usual type we get from NIS America releases with some nicely done in theme colors and it works effectively in moving around the menus. There are no language/subtitles options on here as the release was solicited to have subtitles locked, but you can change them on the fly during playback.

The only extras on this release are all on the second volume as we get the clean opening and closing sequences.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the property created by Go Nagai back in 1973 that encompassed a twenty-five episode series from Toei Animation. While that was fairly popular, it had a series of manga stories and releases over the years since then, most of them in the 70’s, but others in the 90’s and beyond as well. With Go Nagai’s works always having some level of fans to them, doing some odd stories here and there always drew attention, even when others were writing and drawing them based off of his creation. Which is one of the reasons he’ll be one of the few creative forces whose name lasts, especially in Japan, since it’s not often overall that these kinds of things really happen.

The horror comedy series aimed at children is one that definitely is quite Japanese, though there are an immense number of Western pop culture references here as well. The thrust of the series is that we’re introduced to Harumi, an elementary school student who ends up being drawn into an underground base near the school where she meets the Demon Patrol. This group operates heavily in the area lately, and especially upon meeting Harumi, to deal with the growing number of comical demons that have appeared and are causing trouble. The group is lead by Enma of the Flame, the nephew of Enma the Great who rules over Hell and is just a big pot of comedy himself, when he shows up and bothers to get involved.

The group is fleshed out by Yukiko, an ice princess who is freezing to the touch much as Enma is hot, and she has a longstanding love for Enma. Enma on the other hand isn’t dismissive of her, but is child-like in that he wants to see her naked constantly, but only him and nobody else. They’re also helped in their missions by Kappavier, the kappa of the group who gets beaten up and abused constantly, and Chapeouji, the talking magical sorcerers hat that offers up all sorts of useful information along the way because of his deep knowledge. The show also brings in an amusing character in Enpi, someone who came from one of the later spinoff manga, who wants everyone to live like her by wearing practically nothing and enjoying life by having it be titillating.

Harumi gets drawn into the group pretty quickly and becomes a key part of things as they go along, though she has no powers and doesn’t turn a romantic interest here, something that I really liked. Though she’s pretty much the normal one of the group, she falls into their weird and wacky pattern quickly when it comes to the humor and insanity, though she tries to rail against it and deal with it, providing the balance. She has her moments of being caught up in it, but the best way to describe Harumi is that she’s the pinball in the machine with the Demon Patrol being the things she’s bounced off of. Sometimes quite literally.

When it comes to the stories of the series, that’s pretty simplistic as well as they basically have to deal with odd demons that have made their way to the surface. They’re not deep and are often just wacky in nature as the crew deals with the discovery of a particular demon in the area that’s causing problems and its effects. They’re silly and sometimes nonsensical and often quite raunchy. While this is a childrens horror comedy, it’s one that doesn’t hold back as we’ve seen from many kids anime series in its sexuality. It’s something that may go a bit far at times, but it’s comical since you have so many people trying to get naked or not get naked. And the demons are all over the map on this. The show works through a slew of standalone stories that let us get to know the world a bit, which works nicely, and it all leads up to a couple episode finale that goes very big, very quickly, in an over the top way that works just right.

In Summary:
While I never saw the original series, I did see the Demon Prince Enma series from several years ago that deals with the core characters from that 1973 show and delves into what their adult lives are like. The characters here go back to those younger days, changes out the human character, and sticks strictly to the comedy but you can see the ties that bind them. This series plays the comedy to the hilt and doesn’t hold back, giving us hyperactive characters and rarely slowing down, yet rarely feeling like it’s being crammed down our throats. The comedy here makes you laugh, has tons of references (some of which do make me question whether it’s a translation or a localization, but it works) and just provides hit after hit with it. It may be awkward at times, but I love the sexuality of it, the silliness and the darkness that’s thrown in as well. It’s childish at times, but it does it with a great big grin.

Japanese PCM 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Openings and Clean Endings for Episodes 1-2 & 4-12

Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: A
Menu Grade: B+
Extras Grade: B-

Released By: NIS America
Release Date: September 11th, 2012
MSRP: $69.99
Running Time: 292 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70″ LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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