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Hatenkou Yugi Complete Collection Anime DVD Review

8 min read

Hatenkou Yugi DVD Front coverIt’s like someone animated a (bad) fanfic.

What They Say:
When most parents decide that their children need to see more of the world, they send their offspring on cruises or vacations. Rahzel Anadis’s father simply kicks her out of the house with little more than the clothes on her back, the tiny hat on her head, and her stuffed bear with a blindfold. Being as resourceful as she is quirky, however, Rahzel quickly manages to recruit two tall, dark, and dangerous gentlemen as traveling companions.

Well, tall and dark describes the oversexed Baroqueheat, while the moodier Alzeid is tall and pale. Though exactly how these brooding bad boys benefit from the arrangement is a bit less clear; especially since Rahzel spends the money they make performing perilous missions as fast as they’ve earned it. Could it be her endless optimism and quest for fun that has them bedazzled? Or is the connection something literally more magical? Whatever the reason, if there’s an odd job to be done, the odds are that they’ll take it in HATENKO YUGI!

The Review:
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track only in stereo encoded at 224kbps. The series is one that works a familiar kind of pattern of action and dialogue where both of them are decent enough but neither really stands out in any particular way. The action side works the forward soundstage in a very basic way so there’s not a lot of impact in most of the scenes and it’s kind of minimal when it comes to any directionality, though it does use it from time to time and with some decent placement when there are characters in the background or distance making an impact on things. Dialogue itself is certainly problem free but it’s not something that stands out all that much or does anything interesting, but it’s serviceable and does what it needs to.

Originally airing in 2008, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The ten episodes for the series have a weird split of four on the first disc, with the single extra, while the second disc has six episodes. Animated by Studio Deen, the show is essentially a budget production where there’s not a lot of detail, not a lot of fluidity to the animation, and the color palette is pretty bland for the most part. There are a few vibrant moments from time to time, often just with some of Rahzel’s outfits, but largely this isn’t a show that stands out with its design. And that translates into the transfer as there’s a softness to the materials that has this looking weaker than normal along with a bit more noise than normal as well. From a distance on most sets it’ll be fine, but the closer you get the more you notice how things aren’t as solid as they should be.

The packaging design for this release brings us a standard sized DVD case that holds the two discs against the interior walls. The front cover is essentially the best part of this release in total as we get an appealing looking image of Rahzel in the foreground where you likely won’t even notice Alzeid in the background behind the wrought iron element. It’s a pretty distinctive cover with its color design and there’s a lot to like in how it stands out. The logo along the bottom has some nice framing elements to it that gives it a bit of class. The back cover works a pretty detailed summary of the premise to flesh it out but we get some really bad character artwork on the right that looks like fan art, especially in contrast to the shots from the show itself. THe discs extras and episode count are listed clearly and the technical and production sections covers everything cleanly and clearly. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.

The menus for this release work some of the better elements of the packaging design as it sets it up with a split design where the left side has the navigation and the right the artwork. The navigation uses the black and silver/white aspect of the logo from the front cover with easily selectable episodes and submenus where needed that load quickly and without problems. The right side swaps out different artwork for each volume where it’s a lot closer to the style of the manga, at least the covers, with a really great sense of design and color that pops and has some solid detail, though it does start to come close to some of the design problems of the artwork on the back cover. It’s a mixed bag in that it looks really appealing at first but then you wonder a bit more as you look at it more closely.

The only extras included here is the clean version of the opening sequence as no clean version of the ending was available.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the manga by Minari Endoh, Hatenkou Yugi is a ten episode anime series that aired in the winter 2008 season. Animated by Studio Deen, the show has all the hallmarks of a budget series designed to try and get people interested in the manga more than anything else. The manga has done fairly well in Japan as Endoh is known for her MariaHolic series and this title began back in 1999 and continues to run to this day in Monthly Comic Zero Sum where they’ve got seventeen compiled volumes. It even saw release in North America from TOKYOPOP where they got ten volumes of it out under the name Dazzle before that publisher went under. And those releases were certainly appealing with their covers and designs.

The series revolves around a young girl named Rahzel who we see in the first episode is sent off by her father to experience the world as he essentially throws her out after having a fairly stable and good life. While she’s fifteen in in the manga, she looks to be anywhere from ten to her early twenties depending on how they want her character design to look in any given episode. Rahzel’s life takes a very fast turn while walking out in the city by herself with her teddy bear as she runs into a man named Alzeid in an alley where he’s about to kill someone. Alzeid’s a largely emotionless character that ends up having his vengeance delayed by Rahzel as she gets in the way of his execution and the two end up wandering together as he continues his journey for vengeance. And then suddenly at the end of the opening episode they’re joined by Baroqueheat, an older friend of Alzeid’s from the military that’s now hanging out with them on a regular basis.

This then shifts the series into what’s essentially story of the week material with minor morality plays as told by people who we really know little about. There’s little in the way of backstory given for the trio, Baroqueheat in particular feels even more like a cipher, and the focus is on those that they encounter. With the world having some form of magic within it that Rahzel has some control over while Alzeid and Baroqueheat provide the muscle, the range of tales is just weird and irregular. It starts with one involving a ghost of a woman that died waiting for a lover to run away from her to others just looking for revenge and justice for various reasons. None of the stories resonate as they’re not able to tell anything of meaning within the running time and with main characters that are little more than paper thin access points into the world for the viewer we don’t even get anything useful with them.

Mostly, this show commits the cardinal sin of simply being boring. And heavily boring, at that. It doesn’t have anything that you can work with to look past the banality of story and character and that in turn just makes this a slog of an experience that you simply can’t wait to be done and over with.

In Summary:
With all the anime that I watch, hell, all the shows that I watch, there are precious few that at the end of the season leave me feeling like this where the main thought is “this is not worth talking about or expending energy upon at all.” The series is essentially a budget one that doesn’t have anything in terms of style or design to latch onto, the characters aren’t engaging in the slightest, the animation is weak, and the storytelling is predictable from the first minute or less in most of the episodes. The opening episode alone was almost enough for me to just turn it off and walk away from it because of how absolutely terrible it was in terms of setting up the basics and how it worked its structure. If there are fans of the show then I’m more than glad that they have access to owning it, but beyond that this is one of those shows that you not only question the why of it being licensed but also the why of it being produced.

Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening

Content Grade: D
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: B-
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B-
Extras Grade: C

Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: July 5th, 2016
MSRP: $49.98
Running Time: 250 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen

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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