What They Say
In a world beyond time, a demoniac race called “Genmas” control the degenerated humans. Now the fates of Rufu and Jin, twins separated at birth, ultimately intertwine as each learns of the legacy of their birthright and the supernatural powers of the demon gene!
The audio presentation 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 show doesn’t have a lot of moments where directionality is even useful as it’s very much geared towards a full center channel presentation. The music is relatively mild throughout as well and the action scenes don’t call for a lot of impact. In terms of dialogue, it’s pretty good for what it needs to do and it gets the point across without any problems. We didn’t have any issues with dropouts or dialogue during regular playback of the original language.
Originally airing in 2002, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The release is done with the same four discs that came out as single volumes and offer no differences in that regard. The production in itself is not a high-quality show and the source materials aren’t the best as there is a fair amount of cross coloration throughout the thirteen episode series. Some episodes show it more than others but it’s present pretty regularly. Line noise is generally minimal but some of the zooms and pans do contain noticeable amounts of it. The backgrounds are a bit of a wash as even with the high bitrate there’s still some noticeable noise in there. The problems all seem to stem from a low series of production values. There’s even one episode early on where there’s basically a digital glitch that causes part of the program to block up, like tape being pulled. It’s not in the authoring by Media Blasters but in the actual source material.
Genma Wars uses a big bulky DVD case that houses all four volumes in the space of about three keepcases. There are little space savings here in comparison to other shows, but this was originally released before thinpak releases really got underway. The cover art is decent as it features the two lead characters with lightning flashing around them while the background has the image of King Mah overshadowing them as well as some of the loves of their lives. The logo is a bit hard to read due to the font used but it’s not as bad as some other shows. The back cover keeps things clean and simple with some basic character artwork that’s filtered through dark red set next to a difficult to read summary of the plot. The font used really doesn’t work too well with the color scheme. A few shots from the show are here as well and there’s the standard round of production information and a good technical grid. There are a few mentions of the amount of discs in the package which is a nice plus. The insert that’s included has the chapter stops for all the disc on one side and advertisements on the other.
The menu design is the same across all four volumes as it features the artwork from the cover but with much more vibrant colors. The logo is shifted behind the character artwork and the star-filled background is much bluer and vibrant looking. There’s no music associated with it and the navigation strip along the bottom is kept to simple text with no real flourish or style to it. Access times are solid and with nothing on the discs besides the show itself and some trailers, getting around is a breeze. The discs correctly read our audio language selections as the tracks are labeled properly but both subtitle tracks are listed as other and the full subtitles is set as the second subtitle track.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the manga from 1967 that was done by science fiction writer Kazumasa Hirai and mangaka Shotaro Ishinomori, Genma Wars is something that we’ve seen before in a different form. The property was adapted into anime form some years prior and best known as Harmageddon in the US. Differences abound in this one and I’m sure both can say that in comparison to the manga. When this series was originally released in single form in the US, I couldn’t make it past the first episode and let another reviewer handle it. In the years since, I’ve had the collected version sitting in my pile and never had a nibble from any other reviewer. So with a bit of dead time (thank you kindly, Geneon), I found myself staring at this long enough and put it into the player.
Going into Genma Wars at this point was certainly an interesting experience. The first time I had seen it, I was thrown off by the crude designs, the meager animation and some really stilted storytelling. It felt like a childish attempt at anime in comparison to what else was coming out at the time. Since then, I’ve largely forgotten about the show but I have discovered Shotaro Ishinomori. First through his Skull Man manga and then through other anime series such as Gilgamesh and 009-1. My appreciation for his particular art style grew as did my interest in his works in general. In going through Genma Wars, I can certainly see much of the same things that I did in those other shows, but the creative teams behind those shows managed to bring it into the present with a good budget and some worthwhile tweaks to make it more relevant. Genma Wars simply doesn’t work well and feels like it was made in the eighties.
The series takes place in some post-apocalyptic future where mankind has been mostly wiped out. All that remains is a group of humans now known as the Hito who carve out a meager life as peasants and villagers under the watchful guise of the Mah tribe. The Mah tribe came to the planet some years ago and have taken control of everything. Supervised by King Mah, they’re cruel overseers who torture and torment the villagers and generally make their lives hell. Every now and then, someone from the Mah tribe brings a tasty young offering from a village to the King and he has his way with them. The produced offspring tend to disappear, but some of them still lurk about the world.
Events take a different turn when the King ends up really having feelings for one young woman, Non, who bears him a set of twins. The two redheaded children are split up since only one of them has the Force powers that are indicative of a Mah. That child, Loof, is kept in the castle while the other, Jin, is left to eke out an existence with his mother. The pair is helped out a bit by the Mah who brought Non to the King since he was cast out after a previous incident which caused him to be turned into a wolf. Nuu ends up developing fatherly feelings for Jin and takes care of them as they work through the issues of being cast out not only from the Mah but the village as well. Unsurprisingly, the two brothers eventually meet up again but not before going through a series of changes.
Loof is raised as the spoiled brat of the King who takes pleasure in tweaking Queen Parome, a vile woman who despises her husband for his dalliances. Jin suffers under the teasing and bullying of the other village children and the usual stares and whispered talk about their status. When everything changes is during an incident where Non is threatened and Jin channels his Force powers for the first time, an event that actually drains Loof of his powers. That causes Loof to be sent out into the world as a mere human who has a Mah mindset. His discovery of humanity and his first human love is shown in contrast to the bloodthirsty mindset that Jin gains as he starts to understand his power and looks for people to help him in overthrowing the Mah.
Genma Wars goes through some of the standard storytelling methods of love and loss, fights and deceptions before it brings us to the big raid on King Mah’s castle. What is surprising with the show is that it utilizes a different approach in telling its story. Rather than introducing us to Jin and Loof as adults and going through their changes which in turn would give us a flashback period to their origins, we go through their origins first and it takes time to build up to their adult period. Most shows try to throw you right into the thick of the action with material that will appeal to a particular age group. It’s not often that you start off a series by focusing on the leads in infant mode for as long as it does here. Genma Wars also throws another curve into the mix by having the leads travel back to the “past/future” of 2006 which is when the world will change because of the Mah. This rounds out the last quarter of the series and has a very odd feeling because of the way the characters act and end up seemingly comfortable with their surroundings so quickly.
While the production values for the series are pretty low, it does provide for some amusing pandering and raw sexuality combined with the violence. The violence escapes unscathed throughout the show but the sexuality takes some weird turns. Edited by the licensor and not Media Blasters, a number of scenes find themselves either zoomed in or obscured by some soft black angles. It’s really weird to see what is and isn’t edited in this way since there are some racy scenes to be found that are kept in without any touch-ups. In a way, it’s even more amusing because the nudity and nipples were almost all the show really had going for it with a good chunk of its potential audience.
One thing is evident throughout Genma Wars – if you’re a woman, you’re going to die. None of the female characters survive well here and they all go through some serious loss and pain because of their involvement with the Mah boys. While my fears about the show were pretty much realized in finally seeing it, it admittedly doesn’t feel as bad as I remember it being several years ago. Different influences and a greater interest in Ishinomori’s work has certainly affected that. Yet Genma Wars is definitely the most substandard adaptations of his works that I’ve seen. While there may be a good core story to work with here, one that’s definitely familiar, its execution is incredibly weak and done with poor animation that was emblematic of many digital productions during this time that were looking to do things on the cheap. Genma Wars continues to be an easy pass for the majority of people but I’ve found it to be an interesting curiosity and a way to get more of Ishinomori’s alluring ladies in anime form.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Content Grade: C-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: C
Packaging Grade: B-
Menu Grade: B-
Extras Grade: N/A
Released By: Media Blasters
Release Date: December 16th, 2003
Running Time: 325 Minute
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.