What They Say
The Mobile Shinsengumi was organized for the specific reason of keeping Kyouto safe from influences which would hinder Japan’s efforts towards westernization, be those demons and monsters of every shape and size or a band of misanthropes bent on turning the clock back for the city of Kyou.
Yuuko Kondou, Toshie Hijikata, and Kaoru Okita are daughters of the renowned Isamu Kondou, Toshizou Hijikata, and Soushi Okita, leaders of the feared, original Shinsengumi. They have come together under the banner of “Truth” as their fathers once had and under the guidance of Ms. Oryou.
With the help of Oryou’s son Ryuunosuke, Shintarou, Gennai, and the cat monster Nekomaru, they protect Kyouto from the evil that lurks in the shadows. But, who protects the people of Kyoto from the Mobile Shinsengumi?
The audio presentation for this series brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo along with the English dub, both of which are encoded at 192kbps. The show is one that does have its share of action to it but it’s a fairly standard action/comedy piece with nothing that really stretches the stereo presentation. Dialogue was well placed and the action sequences have enough sense of directionality about them but it’s a fairly typical mix for a show of this nature. We didn’t have any issues with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally released in 2003 and 2004, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The print looks to be really good here with very clean and smooth looking colors, some really vibrant moments and a lot of very solid blacks. There were a couple of instances where we noted some blocking going on such as on a jacket or two where the solid color was a shade of dark green but most of the usual problem areas like the blacks and blues were all very solid. Cross coloration is virtually non-existent here and there was only some minor aliasing on some of the high motion sequences.
Using different artwork than what showed up on the Japanese releases, the cover here has most of the good guys together both in primary and secondary roles in minor action poses set against a dark city street in Kyoto where you can see the mountain range in the background with the purple skies at sunset. The characters don’t have much detail to them, or in the show for that matter, so the designs here look clean and smooth as well as pretty uncluttered. The layout is fairly standard for this many characters and the design is attractive enough overall. The back cover provides a pair of strips of shots from the show through the center that gives a good idea of what the actual animation is like. The top half has a summary of the premise and some nice detailed artwork of the main characters while the bottom half has the standard production information and technical layout. The insert is a really nice piece that has the lead trio in traditional kimono’s but done with an almost sepia tone to it that gives it a nostalgic feel. This opens up to a couple of panels that talk about some of the creatures that show up throughout the series and their origins. Though this release is in a clear keepcase there isn’t a reversible cover to it.
The menu is a simple static piece that has a good looking piece of artwork of the three lead women in their standard attire set against a darkened Kyoto street where you can see the setting sun sky in the background. A bit of music plays to the loop which is very short all told but the menus are functional and easy to navigate with quick access to each episode as well as language and extras. Access times are nice and fast and menus load quickly as well as the disc correctly reading our players’ language presets.
The extras for this release are pretty basic as we get the opening and closing sequences in clean form as well as a section of production art that’s broken up into categories and a brief video showing the 3D modeling used for the vehicles in the show.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Moeyo Ken takes place not long after the Meiji Restoration, so it is a time when there is a lot of change going on in the country as more westernization starts to take place, and more traditional things start to fall by the wayside, either by order or by force typically. From shrines to the code of the samurai itself, the country is no longer what it was during the Tokugawa period and a lot of people are having a hard time adapting. To make things worse for the people of Kyoto, they’re continually beset by demons of all different types but they’ve been used to that for pretty much a thousand years now so they rarely blink an eye at it. What does cause them trouble and fear is when the Mobile Shinsengumi arrives on the scene to take care of the demons.
The idea is, at first, a really interesting one. The daughters of three of the most well-known members of the Shinsengumi now work for the Meiji government and through the help of the wife of another member of the Shinsengumi they’ve built themselves a very futuristic looking set of tools to help them protect the city from the demons that come to destroy it. One of the tools is a set of high-speed pursuit cars that look like race cars but have some amusing throwbacks to them. Another is in the command center where they have wooden computers (complete with wooden keyboards) to do tracking and analysis. The best though is that there is a cannon at the top of the house that fires off three sets of powerful magical armor that each of the daughters wears to stave off the demons and with which they can combine their powers together to defeat their foes at crunch time.
Over the course of the four episodes, the trio try to defeat the demons that arrive but more often than not cause more damage and harm to the city than the demons could ever muster. One of their main foes turns out to be a childhood friend of the leaders, Yuuko, who wants to summon Shutendoji from his slumber so that he can turn the city into a thousand years of darkness for all of demonkind to enjoy. The trio often have difficulties in defeating their enemies due to their personalities, such as the leader not being that good of one. The other girls aren’t much better as they’re equally as easily distracted from things and don’t always put their full force forward until it’s really necessary, but that’s just a standard storytelling item.
The production of this show reveals more about it than the story does. The original story is written by Ohji Hiroi who is very much involved in many things that Red Entertainment does. Red is behind the massively popular Sakura Wars/Taisen properties and much of this show feels like it’s an attempt to create a new model of that for the next generation of fans. One of the draws for this OVA series it that the main character designs are done by Rumiko Takahashi, something she doesn’t really do all that often. The designs are all quite good looking and stylish enough within her boundaries, and they use a number of the facial sight gags she’s fond of here, but her inclusion in the production strikes such a similar chord to when the Sakura Wars franchise had Fujishima come on there to design the characters. In fact, other than the singing aspect of the characters in Sakura Wars, Moeyo Ken feels like a near direct transplant but backwards in time by about forty years or so from when that show takes place. The similarities become so strikingly obvious as it plays out that the parallels are almost impossible not to draw. And depending on how you view Sakura Wars, that’s either a good or bad thing.
With just four episodes here, you really don’t get a chance to do any real kind of character work or flesh them out any more than simple archetypes. Thee are some really cute moments throughout, such as the cat demon that lives with the main characters or the one guy on the bad guys side whose sole ability is being able to grow Chinese cabbage, but much of what’s here is a by the numbers production that looks to recreate another series in a new timeline. This show doesn’t feel like a video game come to anime form which is a plus but I think they ended up squandering a really neat idea of a “daughters of” generation of Shinsengumi trying to do something good in the world during the Restoration.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Clean open and closing animation, Production art galleries and 3D models
Content Grade: C
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: ADV Films
Release Date: January 11th, 2005
Running Time: 105 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.