What They Say
Born of legendary origins, the young Madara has grown up in obscurity as an apprentice blacksmith. An encounter with the demonic Mouki reveals his destiny, and catapults him into the middle of a mystic quest. Madara fights for revenge with the help of freedom fighters, magical swords and Kirin, the master of the Majin. His goal is to defeat his brother and then overthrow his father, the despotic Miroku.
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track and the English language dub, both of which are in stereo and encoded at 192kbps. The stereo track is pretty basic with little in the way of directionality and depth but it does serve the material decently with no dropouts or distortions. The action has some nice moment where it spreads out a bit and the music is where it feels like it has the most warmth. But it is a pretty standard early ’90s OVA so it doesn’t stretch too far. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any issues with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally released in 1991, the transfer is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. Animated by Studio Fantasia, the OVA quality here is definitely nicely ahead of its time and employs some really strong animation throughout it, though obviously, it doesn’t hold up quite as well against today’s OVA releases. The fluidity of the animation is very nice here, which results in some very slick looking sequences throughout. Colors are nice and solid without being over saturated or bleeding, cross coloration is fairly minimal and mostly shows in some tightly animated areas and aliasing is light for the most part. There’s a fair bit of nicks and dust throughout the print, but nothing terribly distracting.
Highlighting the dark nature of the show, the front cover is a mixture of dark reds and purples mixed against the imagery of the lead characters in macho mode while the big evil lurks in the shadowy background. The back cover provides a number of shots from the show and a brief summary of the premise. The technical specs and basic production information is all nice and clearly listed along the bottom. The insert users a piece of animation from the back cover as the only image there while also listing the discs chapter stops. The reverse side is just more boxart advertisements.
The main menu uses the same artwork as the insert for the primary full-color image on this static piece while other pieces are mixed into the background in softer blues and grays while some instrumental music plays along. All the selections are along the bottom, including the only extra available on the disc, so getting around is nice and easy.
The only extra available is a small series of production sketches that show off some of the conceptual ideas for character designs and such.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Whenever I get to go back to some of the older OVAs and movies from the ’80s and early ’90s, there’s always a sense of anticipation when that old Bandai Emotion logo comes up alongside the Kadokawa one. Some of my more favored pieces from that time came from these two places, so whenever a new discovery comes along, I can’t help but to get a little grin and anticipate what might be in store.
Madara is an interesting piece, presented as a two part OVA series that covers just under two hours worth of animation. The setting is a fantasy style world but one that’s not quite full of awe and wonder but more dark and deadly. The evil villain, Miroku, has been conquering lands left and right over the years and has built up a nice empire over time through his use of demons and other dark beastly figures. The known world is pretty much in fear of him and most do as much as they can to not be noticed by him.
The downfall of these villains usually comes in a few select forms. One of the more amusing ones, and it is one that always comes to bite them in the ass at the end, is becoming a father. Miroku has one particular woman in his custody that he uses for just such a purpose and the result isn’t entirely pleasant. She bears him two sons, but one of them is stillborn and the other has a dragon-styled crest across his forehead that glows. The arrival of the sons causes the death of the mother and sets things into motion that will lead to Miroku’s downfall.
One of them is that a retainer of Miroku’s flees with the living boy and raises him as his own grandson while they travel about the country. He grows up as Madara and knows nothing of his real past nor his true powers that he gained being related to Miroku. His life changes in his teen years when his grandfather is killed and he ends up taking up with a pair of princes who escaped Miroku’s grasp recently. Chaos and Seishinjya are from their respective conquered kingdoms and having escaped from Miroku, are building an army of soldiers who have escaped. Amusingly, they end up with less than one hundred such soldiers, which either doesn’t speak well for them or talks highly of how Miroku has hunted down his enemies.
Add in a cute girl named Kirin the same age as Madara and you have a decent travel show that deals with a group of rebels trying to take down an overly powerful villain. The two OVAs play out with much in the way of surprises, though the visual style is nice and the varying enemies in the form of demons and monsters is nicely diverse. The Demonic Trinity, a trio of demons who serve Miroku and are highly feared, play out a rather nice part during a journey across the sea, but in the end are far to easily dispatched to live up to their name.
Madara’s an interesting story, but it is mostly by the numbers and has little that will really break out of the norm. The characters are well stylized, the animation quite fluid at times and the action sequences are nicely violent without being overly violent. Fans of this show will really like how this came out and those looking to get away from the girls shows will take to this like a moth to a flame.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Production Sketches
Content Grade: B-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: C+
Released By: Media Blasters
Release Date: May 27th, 2003
Running Time: 120 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.