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K.O. Beast Vol. 1: Password to Treasure! Anime DVD Review

7 min read

KO Beast DVD 1 CoverOne of my favorites finds its way into my player once again.

What They Say:
Far in the future, Earth is divided between humans and metamorphic humanoid-animals. Wan turns into a half-tiger whenever he sneezes; Bud becomes a bird when he’s embarrassed, and Mei-Mer is a mermaid-princess. They want to recapture the Jinn statues, the totems of their villages, which were stolen by V-Darn and V-Sion, the nasty agents of human leader Czar Master. Both sides are searching for the unknown entity Gaia, and the little girl Yuni is the key to it all.

The Review:
Audio:
The audio presentation for this series brings us the original Japanese language track as well as the English language adaptation, both of which are encoded in stereo at 192kbps. Considering its overall age and original sound design, there’s not a lot to write home about here but it all does the job pretty well. The show features a decent stereo mix with a good sense of directionality for some of the vocal moments, but otherwise a solid center channel mix with good use by the music of the stereo channels. Dialogue is nice and clear and we noted no dropouts or distortions.

Video:
Originally released in 1993, the transfer for this OVA is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. This release contains the first three episode OVA series in one collection. Animated by Project B4 and Gainax, the transfer here manages to bring most of that to life, though there are some scratches on the print which are mostly visible during the first episode, though the other two episodes aren’t nick free. Barring that rather small issue, something I almost expect to see on anything from that time period and earlier, this transfer looks great. Nice vibrant colors, some minimal cross coloration along hairlines in places and minimal aliasing during some panning sequences.

Packaging:
A great vibrant cover, we get shots of the five main cast members underneath the logo (with Wan making his way into the new US logo). Lots of eye-catching colors here and good classic character designs. The front cover and the spine both contain the volume number, which gets big kudos from us. The back cover provides several character shots and some shots from the show itself surrounding the solid show summary. Production credits are minimal but the special features are nicely favored and clearly listed. The insert has another shot of the front cover while the reverse side has box art adverts.

Menu:
The menu is a nice energetic piece with lots going on while the opening theme plays along. Each of the selections has an animation piece playing below it, but this doesn’t slow down the load or access times at all since they aren’t transitional. The layout is pretty nicely done and things move nice and fast. The only slowdown comes in moving around in the trailers, as each trailer you move over causes a new logo to be loaded.

Extras:
There’s a great selection of extras here, far more than I expected from such an old show. The biographies are well done of the main cast, providing a little summary about them and then things such as their original Japanese names and what associations that may have plus other tidbits. The translators notes surprised us completely – the first three screens have a quick paragraph from the original Japanese voice actors for the three leads and they talk about their affection for the show and how it changed them. Very surprising! There’s also two more screens of basic notes about the show itself. A minute long video art gallery shows off various cels and other artwork. Also provided are the original two opening’s to the show. And, of course, there’s dub outtakes!

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
A long time ago, I had managed to see the first KO Beast Century OVA series. Not long after that, it was licensed in the UK and released. But sadly, no US release was forthcoming for many, many years. But a decade after it came out, it finally come out and the circle to my early fandom days is nearly complete.

KO Beast Century, or simply KO Beast for the US release, is a rarity among shows brought over here since it’s a heavily “furrie” release. The show takes place some 10,000 years in the future and the world is dramatically different. Most of humanity has changed into morphing races and lives in various tribes. You have, for example, a tiger tribe, bird tribes, mer-tribes, dog tribes and so forth. Each generally lives on their own and keep their distance from each other and get along peacefully.

But then there’s the humans.

Always with the humans.

Still seeing themselves as the lords of all they survey, they’re working on a cunning plan to return the human race to the forefront of the world and get rid of all these nasty animals and then assert their true destinies. The leaders of what’s left of humanity are little more than shells, but they have at their service some power mage knights in the form of V-Darn and V-Sion. They’ve set this two (pretty boy and pretty girl) warriors off to capture the Jinn from various villages. The Jinn are large statues that are worshiped by the local tribes, but they’re also secretly powerful weapons that may hold the key to humanity becoming top dog again.

So with that mission, they set off to various villages to burn and pillage and take the Jinn. We see this happen quickly as they attack young Wan’s village and steal their tiger Jinn. Wan himself is captured and brought to the humans location, where he’s quickly jailed. But he’s not alone long as he meets Bud in there. Bud, a member of the Bird tribe, is one of the best anime characters EVER. His masterful use of the English language alone sets him apart, but that he uses it to pick up every woman he comes into contact with is hilarious. And his ways play great against straight-arrow Wan.

The two get along for a bit in trying to figure out what’s happening, as Bud’s Jinn was also stolen, and we learn of Bud’s link to royalty. It’s then not long before Mei-Mer, an attractive mermaid girl and friend of Wan’s, gets tossed into the clink alongside her companion Tuttle. Their time in jail is amusing as they all adjust to each other’s personalities, but no show can last just taking place in jail. So it’s not long before they’re freed by a young blonde human girl named Yuni, who it turns out is the granddaughter of the professor the human overlords are using to gain control over the Jinn.

Dr. Password has decided he’s had enough of this and gets the royals free by insisting they save him and Yuni and then help him try and find Gaia, a force that will help secure peace in the world with all of its power. They all agree, since they want their Jinn’s back, and the show moves on its merry way of escape and then searching and fighting against the humans, both on a personal level and in their giant Jinn robots that come about.

This series is pretty straightforward and moves along at a great clip with little real downtime. The times they do take a break, such as a celebration of Bud’s return at the Bird Tribe, is filled with new bits to learn. Plus lots of Bud picking up girls. The series is actually split into two parts, the original three episode release, which ends with “a” conclusion but still a larger plot to go, and a second four episode series. The first series here plays out wonderfully, with very energetic characters with a variety of quirks. Even though it’s been nearly ten years since I last saw this, it all came rushing back to me with a great fondness.

My only point of confusion with the show is with the opening sequence. When it started off, I knew immediately it wasn’t the opening that I was familiar with. Maybe this is an international version that the licensor had provided, or something else? Thankfully, the openings I am familiar with were also included, and it was like seeing an old friend when those popped up. I’m definitely glad they managed to include those.

In Summary:
KO Beast is a great fun show that’s partially due to nostalgia but also because it does what it sets out to do in just having a good time with everything. The three OVA episodes are brisk, filled with laughs and action and a fun concept with lots of character quirks. The show also features a different dub that was produced for the North American market, so anyone previously afflicted by the UK release will want to give this a new shot. While nostalgia certainly plays a part in it, this is one of those OVA series where you realize afterwards that they don’t make them like this anymore. Very recommended

Features:
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Character bios, Translator Notes, Video Gallery, Original Openings, Dub outtakes

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

Released By: Nozomi Entertainment
Release Date: June 24th, 2003
MSRP: $24.95
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 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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