Blood Reign: Curse of the Yoma Review

Plot: Two ninjas, Marou and Hikage, are best friends. However, one day, in the wake of war, Marou suddenly turns on him and his ninja clan, injuring Hikage with a shuriken in the process. Hikage sets out to find him, but soon finds out that he is the leader of newly respawning Yoma who have been awakened and empowered by the blood, death and hatred of war. They call him Kikuga no Miko, and he plans to destroy the world with his army of Yoma. Hikage is the only one with a chance to save him or kill him.

Breakdown: This is a pretty ‘meh’ feature for the bulk of the first half. Two ninja are best friends from childhood. At least I assume as much. Quite literally the only evidence towards this is constant clips of them running through a field of flowers as children. One of them betrays the other and their ninja clan with only the other best friend able to stop him. Really a cliché plot point, even in the 80’s, but the show does a pretty good job of keeping you interested and entertained throughout it all.

Hikage’s a bit of a bore. Another common trope of ninja shows are main characters who are stoic and silent. While this can be fine and badass, Hikage gives off a more ‘not talking because I’m rude’ and ‘I’m very boring’ vibe. He’s not an awful main character as we can see that he does truly care about the people who get close to him, but for most of the OVA he’s pretty boring. His English dub voice actor doesn’t help at all. He sounds so bored most of the time.

Marou’s also a bit of a problem. Like I stated, we get no real insight into his and Hikage’s friendship outside of a constant scene of them running through a field of flowers as children. While they do a fairly good job at making us more emotionally connected to this character towards the very end, you feel no real emotion about his and Hikage’s situation for most of the show because we don’t know Marou outside of him being evil. The first scene in the series is him attacking Hikage and leaving the village.

Inuyasha did the same thing. The very first scene in Inuyasha is of him wreaking havoc in the village, stealing, possibly killing people, pretty sure he maimed Kaede, and basically painting the picture that he was a bad guy and Kikyo was the hero. Despite starting off rocky, through character development and backstory, we learned why he did this and that he is actually a good guy at heart. The whole mess was just a big misunderstanding. This OVA didn’t care enough to bother showing such background or development. He’s evil but we’re supposed to care about him because Hikage basically tells us to.

As another means to get us emotionally connected to his character, we have a bit of a plot twist near the end of the movie. Her name is Kotone and she was Marou’s wife before she was slain by Marou. She wanders the earth as a spirit and meets another character named Aya. We can emotionally connect with Kotone because her story is quite sad, but she does come right out of nowhere. She also serves as a bit of a weird plot device at the end of the OVA that I won’t spoil but it doesn’t make much sense to me.

Aya is actually two different characters over the course of the OVA. She’s a woman that Hikage meets in the first episode. She takes him to a village made up of travelers who live their lives getting drunk, partying and pretty much just ignoring the harshness of the world around them.

It’s later revealed that she, along with everyone else in the village, had horrible pasts that made them want to commit suicide. A Yoma created a village where travelers like her who have lost the will to live get to live relatively peacefully until the Yoma decides to eat some of them. I would suppose the other villagers don’t question this either because of the spell of the Yoma or because they’re all travelers and don’t find it odd when someone suddenly disappears. Hikage develops a bit of a thing for her, but she’s not the character who meets Kotone.

Aya #2 is a konoichi from a ninja village that Hikage meets in his travels. She’s being chased by ninjas from her village claiming that she killed their master. She denies this, but we never find out the story behind this accusation nor whether or not she actually did it. I’d say ‘no’ considering her demeanor and the fact that she doesn’t seem all that skillful as a ninja to kill a master, of all people, but we never learn for sure.

Aya’s….okay. While she has an interesting weapon (razor sharp wires that she can shoot from her hands) she doesn’t get to do a lot with it. She accidentally blinds one of her comrades and manages to hit a demon horse, but her attack actually ends up backfiring on her.

She’s not….annoying, per se. She does fall in love with Hikage faster than a Disney princess, but I do give her props for being practically the only one with a voice actress who seems to actually give a crap. She does get slightly annoying when captured, though, and seems to suffer from the same speech impediment as Miaka, Kagome, Tamahome and Inuyasha. She constantly yells Hikage’s name and can’t seem to save herself for the, no pun intended, life of her. Damn shame too, since she’s the only female fighter in the entire OVA.

There is plenty to like about this OVA, though. The atmosphere is fairly creepy, and there are some moments that are legitimately frightening. The Yoma, while having a very common theme of bugs such as spiders (okay, arachnids) and moths along with snakes, as the enemies were pretty good in design and fairly intimidating. Oh and did I mention there’s a werewolf-centaur in this movie? That’s either incredibly awesome or Mad Libs Yoma edition.

While you really only watch this for creepy scenes and fairly cool fights for a bulk of the OVA, the relationships are usually fairly sincere. I just wish we had gotten a bit more development for them to feel more emotionally connected.

Art and Animation: The art and animation are pretty dated. It was never distractingly bad, but it definitely showed its age. While many of the visuals were creepy and the character designs were okay, it still seemed quite rough and not very fluid.

Also, it kinda bothers me that Hikage wasn’t injured more than he was. He wears an eyepatch for the bulk of part one and we see that he didn’t even lose his eye – he just got a small cut under his eye from Marou’s shuriken. It wouldn’t bother me as much if the scar were actually noticeable. For a good chunk of part two I kept forgetting that he had that scar.

Music: Ehhhhhh. While not being particularly bad either, the music is also dated. And when I say that, I don’t mean it’s old traditional Japanese music to fit the era, I mean it’s really energetic synthesizer music. Sometimes the music does get distracting, but, for the most part, the score is okay.

Bottom Line: It’s a short, fairly decent watch for any fans of the genre. I see that people are actually quite mixed in their opinion of this show. Some say it’s awful, others say it’s okay and some say it’s awesome. I guess it’s not a taste for everyone, but you be the judge.

Additional Information and Notes: Blood Reign: Curse of the Yoma was produced by JC Staff and Toho.

It was directed by Takashi Anno, and it was based off of a manga written and illustrated by Kei Kusunoki.

It is/was under an English dub license by ADV Films.

Runtime: 80 minutes

Year: 1989

Recommended Audience: LOTS of blood, gore, guts and dead bodies. A couple of scenes are pretty damn gross in their graphic nature, and there’s never a shortage of blood flying around in battle. In terms of sex, there is none, no nudity either (well, there’s a naked baby at the end if that’s really offensive to you) some swearing peppered throughout, Aya #2 has a swearing streak for a bit. 16+

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The Infinity Dreams Award

The first award that I was nominated for in my absence was an Infinity Dreams award by Shiroyuni of The Limitless Imagination. Thank you very much for your nomination, Shiroyuni! I’ve never even seen this award, I don’t believe, but then again I have been out of the loop in recent weeks. I don’t see any rules listed on Shiroyuni’s post outside of posting seven dreams that the nominee has and nominating other people to do it. I’m not really sure how to address the dream aspect. Like Shiroyuni, I’d probably lean more towards writing out goals than dreams, but let’s see how I do. Seems like fun, so let’s get started!

1 – Be Socially Outgoing

I have severe social anxiety and have been this way for about ten years now, and I’ve missed out on a lot because of it. I am working to get better with it, but it is an uphill climb to say the least. I used to be very social and at ease around both strangers and friends, and I really miss being that way; so much so that eventually being that way again really does seem like a dream.

2 – Work in the Animation Industry

I’ve always wanted to be an animator. I’ve loved to draw for as long as I can remember, and I’ve loved animations for as long as I can remember. Over time, I’ve developed a fascination with the animation process and the creation of animated features. I love reading about the history of animation, seeing behind the scenes featurettes and just overall learning about it. I have never even begun to even scratch the surface of breaking into the animation industry, however, and I really don’t think I’ll ever get a chance to even think about pursuing it.

3 – Hold a Rock Concert

Silly? Yes. Cliche? Yes. But I have always wanted to put on a great and huge rock concert just once in my life. I don’t even have to be lead singer or anything, just be on stage and have fun making music. I do play the drums, or at least I used to back in school, but I never was able to practice at home what with drums being the ultimate annoyer of parents. I couldn’t even use the little practice pad they gave us very often because it annoyed them. Still, I love music, and I’d love to be able to do that just once.

4 – Become a Voice Actor

Another feasible one, but one that likely will never happen. I’m pretty ambivalent about my voice. I’ve gotten some positive feedback on it before, but I just don’t really have a very feminine voice. It’s kinda low-ish and a little raspy. I’ve been told it kinda sounds like Ellen Page or Tex from Red vs. Blue. I still don’t think I have the chops or the range to ever be able to do even indie projects. I was selected to do a voice for a parody that someone was making of Vampire Knight quite a few years back, but the project just never happened. Other than some random Q&As and an announcement/test thing here and there, I haven’t even really recorded my voice much. I’d love to at least give it one shot, though.

5 – Gain Superpowers

What? Last I checked these were dreams. This is like mandatory dream territory. For anyone wondering, I’d most like to have elemental based powers. That’s one of the reasons why Avatar tickled my fancy so much. That sounded way weirder than I intended.

6 – Have a Pet Fox

Not entirely unfeasible, but apparently foxes have a musk that smells something fierce. Plus the domestication issue. I just love foxes and I’d love to have one as a pet.

7 – Go Into Space

I loves me some space. The stars, the planets, the technology to get there; I love it all. Technology has been advancing insanely quickly in recent decades, but I can pretty much guarantee I’ll never make it into space. A girl can dream though, right?

And now for some people who I assume dream a little dream of…well, let’s find out. I don’t know how many people I’m meant to nominate here, but I’m gonna go with five just to make it a little easier on me.

The Fangirl’s Dilemma

The Anime Rambler

Akko Anime

Beneath the Tangles

Lesley’s Musings

Thanks again to Shiroyuni of the Limitless Imagination for nominating me, and I hope my nominees have fun with their posts! 🙂 Visit their blogs because they’re awesome and I said so.

Site Update: 8/23/15

Hey everybody, Fiddletwix here with a site update. I’ve been having a bit of a sudden hiatus, and I apologize for the lack of updates. My family recently adopted two young black lab puppies and I’ve been assigned to much of their care, which eats up a good chunk of my spare time especially considering that I have a crazy adult border collie to look after as well. They’re adorable puppies, though, so I can’t complain. I haven’t even really had much time to watch anime or read manga with school and work stuff to deal with as well. Additionally, I’ve just been overwhelmed emotionally and mentally for various reasons, so I’ve been struggling with that. However, I hope to get some new stuff out soon.

In the meantime, wow, awards. I currently have a grand total of six awards that have been graciously given to me by Fujoshika of Fujoshitep, Muranodo of Otaku Academia, Krystallina of Daiyamanga, Shiroyuni of The Limitless Imagination, Lazarinth of Fantasy and Anime and finally Cassidy Cornblatt of Funny Anime Pics. Thank you guys very much for all of your award nominations; and rest assured that I will be doing all of them. Nominations might be an issue because I tend to nominate as many people as humanly possible, but considering these are all new awards; four Creative Blog awards, one Free Spirit award and one Infinity Dreams award, I will be able to sort something out….it’ll just take me a while.

Things are getting a little more organized on my end, I think anyway, so hopefully I’ll be getting back to my rhythm. In the meantime, though, thanks for continuing to visit The Anime Madhouse, reading the post things, pressing the star and posting your thoughts and kind words through the magic box of commenting. You guys are the best. 🙂

Manhole (Manga) Review

Plot: After a strange man wanders into a street naked while crazily babbling to the people around him, he accidentally ends up dead. When his body is examined, they discover that the reason for his crazed behavior was actually an illness caused filaria, which is usually transmitted through mosquitoes in Botswana. However, they’re in Japan and it’s the middle of winter, making the likelihood of mosquito bites extremely low. Someone is purposely breeding the disease in Japan and spreading it throughout the city, setting to make a complete outbreak over the country. But what is the true nature of filaria, and why is someone spreading it across the city?

Breakdown: Manhole is basically a mystery or thriller manga involving the strange case of filaria that is spreading throughout the town. Explaining what filaria is might be a spoiler in itself, but let’s just say that it’s not really a lethal disease if you have enough willpower. It will take only your right eye if you do, but if you don’t you could easily end up dead.

The case takes a lot of interesting twists and turns as we follow our investigators and subsequent main characters of Inoue and Mizoguchi, a somewhat rookie and veteran cop respectively. These two bounce off of each other very well, and, while we get really no backstory on them whatsoever, their characters seem real and are both really likable in their own respects. Inoue took a bit of time for me to actually get into liking her character, but she was never annoying or unlikable to me.

The story is very intriguing. While it really seems like bio-terrorism from the getgo, the actual purpose behind the spread of the disease is equal parts tragic, sad and creepy. Basically a biological version of Saw, in a way.

The art is gorgeously detailed in both environments and character designs, though I do have to say that there are some instances where the art looks like it kinda doesn’t blend in quite well, like with Inoue’s facial design. Everyone is drawn to look very realistic yet Inoue’s design leans a bit more toward traditional anime style. The angles and shading choices are spot on, and it’s also one of the few books to have such disgustingly detailed artwork, meant in a complimentary way I assure you, to actually make me cringe and get goosebumps. It is some deliciously grotesque artwork sometimes.

Bottom Line: This is a fantastic mystery and an intriguing case with a great focus, characters and even antagonists. The artwork is superb in even the tiniest of details, and while it’s not particularly scary it will likely give you the chills a few times with the nature of the disease/parasite. It’s also at a great length, though it does occasionally feel like it’s dragging a small bit. I’d recommend it to anyone with a love of crime dramas, creepy visuals and antagonists with legit stories.

Additional Information and Notes: Manhole was written and illustrated by Tetsuya Tsutsui.

Volumes: 3

Chapters: 29

Year: 2004 – 2006

Recommended Audience: There is some seriously gross imagery here, both in terms of the effects of the disease and gore. There’s also self-harm/suicide, swearing, hinted animal abuse-ish-kinda, and several instances of non-sexual nudity though there is sexual language as well as mentions of rape. 17+

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