Following in the footsteps of a famous Grandfather is hard enough, but when that path leads down a treacherous winding road of exorcising demons even years of training and phenomenal talent may not save him from being swallowed by demons.
Shonen Onmyouji Complete Collection Anime DVD Review
Following in the footsteps of a famous Grandfather is hard enough, but when that path leads down a treacherous winding road of exorcising demons even years of training and phenomenal talent may not save him from being swallowed by demons. And if the demons don’t get him, the expectations on him following his grandfather might.
What They Say
Abeno Masahiro is the grandson of the great sorcerer Abeno Seimei. Unfortunately for him, his grandfather did such a great job in the past, he really hasn’t had a need to perform any magical duties and as a result, Masahiro lost his sixth sense and the ability to see spirits. One day, a demon drops from the sky and proclaims that Masahiro must continue his grandfather’s work and learn to be an Onmyouji regardless of the dangers that await him!
Contains episodes 1-26.
The Review: Audio:
For this review the Japanese track was used. The audio is a stereo track that conveys the dialogue and soundtrack in a clear way with no dropouts or distortions noticed. Most of the action takes place front and center so very little is actually required of any sort of directionality.
Created in 2006 the series is presented in anamorphic widescreen. The colors come across as rich and vibrant for the most part and the blacks are largely free of blocking and other issues. Sadly that is the extent of the “goods” for the video and there are a number of “bads”. Aliasing is a problem throughout the series. It isn’t constant but it has an annoying habit of popping up in action scenes-of which the series has many. There is also a very large noise presence and some color blurring on some effects. Just to put the cherry on top there is also a spot of blocking in one of the dark brown colors during the series. This was just not a great encode.
The series comprises 6 discs just like the original Geneon singles release contained in a thin cardboard sleeve like many of FUNimation’s thin pack sets. The front of the box has an image of Masahiro which was taken from the original Geneon release and each of the thin pack contained also mirror having the main covers for the discs facing out of their respective place. A very nice touch is that like the original singles the covers are reversible and have alternate characters on the other side so no character images have been lost in the transition.
The menus are static affairs that each have a different picture of a character in front of a pentagram and the menu is quick to respond to selections.
The only extras are a textless opening and closing.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The feature decides to open with a blast as the audience is introduced to the main character of Masahiro who is learning to become an Onmyouji and the small white creature Mokkun who follows him as they are battling a giant glowing skull. As the two are bickering after their victory the effects of the battle are seen as the old house they were fighting in starts to collapse on them. At this point a flashback introduces Masahiro as having failed at his attempt to become a calligrapher and meeting Mokkun for the first time that he knows of. Masahiro is revealed to be the grandson of the great Onmyouji Abe no Seimei which drives him crazy as he is always being compared by others to his grandfather as he seems to feel overlooks himself as a person. It turns out that Masahiro is currently lacking in the power of second sight to see the supernatural world that an Onmyouji needs and has been struggling to find his role since his second sight vanished when he was younger. Masahiro soon finds himself almost haunted by
Mokkun as Mokkun starts to follow him around. As Masahiro is leaving from his newest failure to find a role for himself as a flutist there is a sudden explosion of dirt ahead of him as a cart is thrust into the air and it and the ox pulling it disappear. The ground starts exploding around him and Mokkun ties to stop him from getting involved as he can see the creature Masahiro cannot and recognizes its power.
Masahiro returns home to find a scolding letter from his grandfather about how Masahiro seems to be giving up the way that he was taught by his grandfather but that his grandfather wants to entrust the exorcism of the demon plaguing the town to him. Since he can’t see the spirit Masahiro decides to use Mokkun as his eyes and the two set out. As they are out searching the ground starts to swell in front of them showing signs of the demon’s presence. As they attempt to flee Masahiro is tripped by something and dragged backward. Mokkun tells him the demon has its tongue around Masahiro’s leg and suddenly seems to be holding the demon’s mouth open to keep Masahiro from being eaten. As Masahiro refuses to sacrifice Mokkun to survive his second sight returns and Mokkun finally reveals his true name of Guren and form to Masahiro. Masahiro manages to exorcise the demon with Guren’s help while learning that Guren is also known as Touda and one of the spirits that are partnered with his grandfather. With this the flashback the scene returns to the aftermath of the battle with the skull as Masahiro receives some praise for defeating the skull but is also scolded for destroying the old house in the process.
With the set up out of the way the series proceeds to start on its first arc of introducing Masahiro into the Imperial Court and the new responsibilities that he will now be accepting. With his new entrance he also gains the attention of some powerful government officials, one of whom he is invited to visit. As he is walking the grounds after being presented to the Minister of the Left Mokkun senses a presence and runs to investigate. While Mokkun and Masahiro are discussing what the presence could have been they are interrupted by the daughter of the Minister of the Left who it is discovered has the ability to see Mokkun and other spiritual creatures. Masahiro quickly excuses himself though he clearly has developed a crush in the momentary meeting. Masahiro then begins his training in the Onmyouji dorms and discovers that being the newest person in the dorms and the grandson of a famous Onmyouji mean he is going to have to deal with a certain amount of bullying. As he is studying late at night a fire breaks out but rather than run toward the fire he senses a presence of a monster near the Minister of the lefts daughter and races there in time to protect her from the monster. As he tries to extradite himself from the situation he is chided by the Minister’s daughter to refer to her as Akiko and not “First princess.” Thanks to Akiko’s explanation of events Masahiro is forgiven for his entry into the Minister’s house and as he is about to go home one of Akiko’s ladies in waiting bring him a satchel as a gift from Akiko. As the arc progresses Akiko continues to come under assault Seimei comes to reinforce the barrier around Akiko while Masahiro is tasked with discovering what started the fire at the palace.
Also at this time the reason for Masahiro’s second sight vanishing and more of his connection to Mokkun are brought to life. By day Masahiro carries out his duties in the dorm and at night he patrols the duty having decided asking the minor demons in the area if they know anything. While doing this he runs into a demon neither he nor Mokkun recognizes reveals he works for another who seeks Masahiro’s power. As the arc deepens Masahiro and Mokkun learn the origin of the foe they face as well as that Akiko is also a target due to her spiritual power. The race against time is then compounded as the danger to both Akiko and Masahiro grows and Masahiro also gets tasked with saving a god while protecting someone he cherishes from a deadly curse-who he is going to lose even if he succeeds. The question quickly becomes if Masahiro has the strength to win and if not can his determination win enough allies to turn the tide in his favor?
With no small amount of support Masahiro makes it through his trial only to discover he has a new guest at his house as a powerful new opponent appears. As Masahiro tries to keep the fact he patrols the streets at night secret from his family and those at the dorms the effects of his late night sojourns start to show themselves at a time he can least afford them. At the same time it appears that the new opponent maybe targeting more than just the people around him due to their royal links but that the enemy in the shadows maybe one that holds a grudge against his grandfather-and is as powerful as him. Will Masahiro have the strength to defeat someone his grandfather fail to in his prime-and what will happen when old wounds are opened and the spirits that serve his grandfather have to face off against Guren? Will Masahiro have the strength to save Guren-and if he does, what will be the terrible price required to achieve a miracle?
Shonen Onmyouji is a fun series that doesn’t forget to smile or take itself too seriously. Based on a series of novels the characters are very well thought out and established and most of the main ones have this born out during the series. The series also does a very fine job of making layers for the stories as peeling one section back often reveals another underneath rather than signaling the completion of the arc. Also, the last scene in the series is a very wonderful tip of the hat to the story that had been developed at the beginning and could have been left out by other series but serves as a very poignant ending. On the downside, as events progress they often feel a little rushed and some of the supporting characters-particularly the other spirits-can appear with little to no introduction, apparently assuming the viewer is already familiar with them from the books. The video can also be substandard as well which can be distracting.
Shonen Onmyouji is a show that starts strong as it already has the templates for the characters established and does a very good job of making sure the anime gets the main ones in. It also does a very good job of establishing the first two arcs. Sadly it seems the pace just couldn’t keep up with the amount of story and the third arc and a number of secondary characters who appear there are rushed and never get the time to flourish that some of the earlier parts and characters do. It easily is a series that could have benefited from a few more episodes to develop and number of characters and keep the last arcs pacing from seeming like the sprint at the end of a marathon where the pacing changes completely. Even with these issues and the video problems it is a well above average story that never loses sight of its characters in the process of getting to its conclusion.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Content Grade: B Audio Grade: B+ Video Grade: C- Packaging Grade: B Menu Grade: B Extras Grade: C
Released By: Geneon Entertainment Release Date: October 27th, 2009 MSRP: $69.98 Running Time: 625 Minutes Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2 Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Samsung 50″ Plasma HDTV, Denon AVR-790 Receiver with 5.1 Sony Surround Sound Speakers, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080.