What They Say:
On the trail of a missing husband, private investigator Goro crosses paths with a deranged killer.
The audio prseentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo along with an English dub, both of which are encoded at 192kbps. The stereo mix is pretty basic with nothing terribly impressive coming from the forward soundstage. Dialogue is nice and clear throughout and we had no issues with dropouts or distortions but this is in the end a fairly lackluster track, but it owes much to the material and the time it came out. Though there isn’t much noteworthy in terms of directionality, it serves its purpose well and is free of flaws.
Originally released to video in 1992, Domain of Murder is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. While this OVA isn’t one of the best and brightest of its time, it’s a very solid piece of work that has plenty of detail that shows through in this transfer, parts of which I’d guess weren’t all that noticeable during its original run. The show is done in a real world style with lots of flat colors for the backgrounds and more lively coloring for the character animation. The show works well with the various dark sequences without any noticeable macroblocking or breakup during high motion sequences. Colors look solid and problem free while aliasing is very minimal. Add in a general lack of cross coloration and you have a fairly enjoyable transfer that’s about twelve years old.
Using various shots from the show that they likely had from cels or other promotional materials, the cover has that old comic book feel to it with Goro and Sayoko running at a heated moment while you see Tsuyoshi behind the chain link fence in a very fuzzy image. This is hardly a spectacular cover but it’s the kind you expected back in the early 90’s and from a title that has nothing really usable on hand for artwork. The back cover provides a few shots from the show set to a sniper scope and a brief summary of what to expect. The discs features and technical information are all nice and clearly listed. The reverse side cover which is the usual black and white piece has a large sniper scope shot on the left side while the right side has the chapter listings, bilingual cast list and a rundown of the basic production credits. This is definitely one of the low end covers we’ve seen from CPM in some time.
A strangely quiet menu, the layout is very nicely done with the look of a detectives desk that has files and photos across it. The file folder tabs are the menu selections themselves, which means it’s very easy to move along the list and make the selection. Access times are nice and fast and the layout is very nicely done with the exception of the very quiet aspect of it that just feels weird. The disc did not however read our player defaults for languages so they had to be set on the fly.
The only included extra, beyond the English language trailer, is a brief art gallery showcasing scenes from the show in cel form.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Domain of Murder has the feel of a show that’s in the middle of a lengthy series, where we’re just dropped into the latest investigation that Goro is sent off to do for the detective agency he works for. Within the fifty minute run time, we get a very well done if somewhat unmemorable storyline that’s akin to the classic private dick stories of US primetime television during the 70’s and 80’s. A little bit of youth, some basic grunt work, getting friendly with the locals and trying to solve the case is a basic staple of this show.
The investigation begins when a woman comes to the agency and requests that her husband be found. He’s been missing for three years but she found his picture one of the wanted posts in Tokyo. He looks different but she’s quite sure it’s him. She relates her tale of woe of how her husband used to take the kids on long car rides to see the country whereas it would make her sick so she never went. During one of their trips, an accident happened and the older daughter, Sayaka, was killed in the crash. Her husband Tsuyoshi and her son Keita both survived but it was harrowing experience. Tsuyoshi blamed himself for quite some time and after a year he finally just up and disappeared one day.
Now, according to the rap sheet, he’s known as Masao and was living off in a remote city where he’s accused of killing not only a local yakuza member but also his supposed girlfriend. His wife, Sayoko, doesn’t care about any of it but just wants the agency to find him before the police do so she can see him one last time before he’s hauled in for whatever he’s done. So Goro is assigned to the case and heads off to find out what he can in the city, learn what Masao was doing, where he was going and whatever he can from the local police and citizens. A lot of his time is spent with the woman who owned the bar where the yakuza murder took place as he gets friendly with the manager and they end up going on some rather fun pub crawls. The tale takes a more curious turn when an old childhood friend who is now a part of the Metro PD shows up looking for Masao as well and we start to learn more of all of their pasts and the reality of what happened during the accident several years ago.
Domain of Murder is a very competently told tale but one that like a lot of mystery shows has very little in terms of repeat value. There’s some good detail to this show with some good backgrounds and fun characters. The show isn’t done completely realistic in fashion but these are all regular people who are trying to figure out what made Tsuyoshi snap and flee his life after a year and then causes him to turn to even darker events elsewhere. Some of the best material comes from the bar manager as she practically picks up Goro without his realizing but we get some emotional material from the accident sequence itself. Again, maybe this is an area where having kids makes you even more squeamish than normal since you never want to find yourself in one of those positions. It’s one thing to say it when you have no kids, but when you do and you can visualize them in that position, you empathize a bit more with the show.
While not something that should be in every library, Domain of Murder is one of those quiet little OVA series that lucked out in being licensed to begin with a few years back and then getting a new dub in 2004 for a DVD release. It’s definitely worth a rental and a rather enjoyable way to spend an hour or so as it basically gives you an anime version of any standard detective serial that Hollywood made for prime time TV.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Art Gallery, Trailer
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B
Packaging Grade: C
Menu Grade: B-
Extras Grade: C
Released By: Central Park Media
Release Date: June 8th, 2004
Running Time: 51 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
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.