PictureImage quality is a real mixed bag, with beautifully rendered art full of rich colour and, at times, intricate and detailed drawings. Frequent blurring of background, and at times foreground, gives a real sense of depth to the “firestones and brimstone” type imagery. On the downside the picture is plagued by small imperfections that seem to have been transferred from a badly scratched source material. Some episodes suffer this affliction worse than others and by the time we get to the final disc things show a definite improvement. Artwork is also variable in style at times, perhaps due to changing directors and art studios.
SoundIt's time for trying out your amp's Dolby Pro Logic II abilities as The Hakkenden has two audio tracks - one in Japanese Stereo, the other in English Stereo; neither will really test your set-up, but they're adequate and do their jobs just fine. As I've mentioned before The Hakkenden isn't the easiest series to follow - there's a lot going on and I found it very necessary to choose the English audio option, despite the Japanese offering sounding just a bit fuller and more distinct. I did try the Japanese setting, along with the English subs, but found it difficult to really appreciate the movie's art and the storyline suffered also.
For some reason I found myself being startled every time I chose an option from the menu - the sound of the sword that slashes across the screen seems to be at just the right pitch to make me jump!
ExtrasCharacter Gallery, Non Credit Opening, Non Credit Ending and DVD Credits are all pretty self explanatory and the only extra feature of note is The Hakkenden Digest - a thirty minute abridged version of the complete series which includes an voice-over to further explain the complex story. This comes in surprisingly handy and really helps make sure you've understood the full version! All supplemental material is included on disc 3.
VerdictI've watched a few of the classic Japanese anime titles now and The Legend Of The Dog Warriors: The Hakkenden is the first one that's really grabbed me by the smalls and kept my attention from beginning to end. This receives a recommendation from me - I think it's an ideal introduction to an intriguing and distinctive genre... and it's very reasonably priced!
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