What They Say:
In a world that is parallel to ours, a battle between good and evil rages. Himiko, who wants to harness the powers of the gates of the wind in order to rule the universe, is in league with monsters, cyborgs, and other unseemly characters. Himiko wants to capture a teen girl named Miki who is unaware that she is a priestess and possesses a talisman that’s key to opening the gates of the wind. Out to protect Miki and to thwart Himiko’s plan is Hikikata Toshizo, who was a warrior on earth in the 19th century and who now lives in the parallel world, assisted by his aged sidekick, Gennai. With the help of a cat, Hikikata, Gennai, and Miki may succeed.
The audio presentation for this show is done up in its original Japanese language in stereo along with an English language dub, both of which are encoded at 192kbps. The bulk of the show is dialogue, often filled with screaming or the growls of beasts, and it’s fairly center channel oriented. The music and sound effects do a decent job of hitting the stereo channels but it’s not a very strong mix to begin with. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no issues during regular playback.
Originally released to video back in 1993, the two-part OVA series makes out pretty well in this full-frame transfer. Colors look good in general with blues maintaining a very solid look both in foreground and background animation. There are some good vibrant and fluid animated moments but not too many. Cross coloration is mostly non-existent but there’s some noticeable aliasing throughout the program as the character pans over various backgrounds. Some scenes look a touch soft but that may be more by intent than anything else. Zeguy’s transfer is about on par for what’s to be expected of a series like this.
Though the cover is mostly just clipped character art of Miki and Hijikata, the depth of the colors combined with the blue morphing background works well in catching the eye and bringing attention to itself. The character art looks good and the designs, particularly for Miki here, is definitely attractive. The back cover has another shot of Miki in the same clothes but with a different pose and even smiling while we get a bit of a summary of the premise and a rundown of the discs features. Most everything is clearly listed and easy to find, especially with the small print not being the same color as some of the other background colors. The keepcase opens up to a black and white shot of Hijikata from the show itself on one side and a listing of the chapter marks and English cast information since nothing could be found for the Japanese credits. It’s decent all told but nothing that’s terribly grabbing.
The menu uses pieces from the front cover, including the black and white pieces, in full color along one side while clips from the show play in the other, letting the menu selections separate the two. The layout is pretty standard fare for a CPM release with no transitional animations and a clean look, in general, that’s quick and easy to navigate.
The only extra included is a brief art video gallery of production stills and sketches.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Mask of Zeguy is a two-part OVA series, each running just over 35 minutes in length that really makes little sense in the long run. The beginning and setup of the series is fairly incoherent and then it moves into a middle section that sort of languishes a bit before trying to resolve everything in the last ten minutes or so.
The premise is fairly simple though a lot of things are just laid out in uncertainties, though maybe it means more to a native Japanese person. Basically, an evil sorceress named Himiko is seeking to open the gates in the clouds that lead to a mythical world beyond or something fairly undefined, at least in terms of what she wants there other than power. To achieve that goal of gaining the power of Zeguy, she needs to have the mask, the bell, the crown and the priestess of Zeguy. She’s not the only one looking for this power as someone from Earth has crossed over to the land of the clouds and is searching for it as well, a man named Komei. Their searches are often stifled by the “Warriors of Zeguy” which is currently made up of former Shinsengumi warrior Toshizo Hijikata. Along with the help of old man Gennai, the two famous men from the Meiji Restoration stories leap along the open spots in history to do battle against Komei to stop him from gaining the pieces he needs.
One pitched battle we see early on has the priest of the time, World War II, defending the bell and sending it further down the time stream to a descendant priestess. Komei’s foiled to some extent but he’s still intent on winning. This sequence is amusing if only to have a Shinsengumi member complain about that era having too much technology and watching him and Gennai fly a massive Japanese bomber up into the land of the clouds and through the gate area.
The shift of the bell to the future results in our meeting up with young high school girl named Miki, who has just had a fight with her best friend Sakaya. Sayaka’s accidentally ended up with the bell that Miki carries, so as you can expect, events move fast and the two are whisked away into the realm of the clouds and Sayaka’s taken hostage by Himiko’s minions as they think she’s the priestess and they now have the bell, the mask and her. So all that’s left is the crown, which they set out to find while Miki tries to take everything in, only to be tricked by Komei and then helped by Hijikata. She ends up with the duo for a bit and tries to help figure everything out, but the prejudices of men from a different time makes things difficult until they realize just who Miki really is and her place in being there.
The two OVAs are so poorly paced and laid out that it really feels like its dragging way too much early on when you should be getting the basics and then it moves too fast towards the end. When you realize there’s less than ten minutes left for the show and that there’s an actual resolution to things, it goes by so fast and almost comically at times that it’s just hard to really enjoy on any level. So little is explained about the area that they’re in above the clouds and the way it works never mind what’s really beyond the gates that it’s hard to get into. There’s some tying things into old Japanese poetry, so again there may be some element that I’m missing by being who I am and it’s keeping me from enjoying it.
While Miki’s character design and general actions come across pretty well, everyone else falls into mostly stereotypical situations and reactions with hardly any time to really provide characterization. Hijikata’s basically given to us to take in as he’s known historically, so unless you’re aware of how he’s been portrayed in history books you’re out of luck. The plot feels like it was tacked on by a few different writers who didn’t want to commit any of their real ideas to the show so that they could keep it for something better. I’m really surprised they managed to get a second episode made.
Content Grade: C
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B
Packaging Grade: B-
Menu Grade: B-
Extras Grade: C
Released By: Central Park Media
Release Date: May 11th, 2004
Running Time: 75 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.