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ADV Films presents
Orphen #4: Mystere (1999)

"The time has come for me to face you, Killing Doll."
- Orphen (Shotaro Morikubo)

Review By: Dan Lopez   
Published: March 26, 2002

Stars: Shotaro Morikubo, Mayumi Iizuka, Oumi Minami
Other Stars: Kazue Ikura, Hekiru Shina
Director: Masahiro Aizawa

Manufacturer: DVXX
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (some violence, mild nudity, occult imagery)
Run Time: 02h:15m:47s
Release Date: March 26, 2002
UPC: 702727016325
Genre: anime

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

Sorcerer Orphen's adventures continue here in Volume 4 of the series and a few changes are in store for loyal viewers. The most obvious is that ADV seems to be moving to a format of 5 episodes per disc, but the series itself has a few modifications. Now, each episode is proceeded with a rather annoying introduction that repeats the overall plot of the whole show, and strange, digital effects are making their way into the program. None of these changes really ruin anything about Orphen, but they don't seem to add much. In any case, Volume 4 opens with the continuation of Volume 3: Orphen threatened by a strange "living doll" bent on killing sorcerers. The Killing Doll seems unstoppable and Orphen discovers his old friend Stephanie may have actually caused the Doll to come after him. This opens up all sorts of personality conflicts, but they are eventually settled, so that Orphen and his friends team-up against the Doll.The second episode is a complete departure from the regular storyline with Cleao's pet wolf-god cub, Leki, winding up lost and on his own little journey. Admittedly, this episode really clashes with the rest of the show. The animation changes completely (more on that later), and an entire show based around Leki wandering off seems to be just filler, having no real effect on the overall story; the remaining 3 episodes move the story along in a more expected direction. The Tower of Fangs (the society of sorcerers where Orphen trained) issue a commandment by which the dragon Azalie (the whole point of the show) will be killed. This presents a huge problem for Orphen, who wants to save her human soul. He decides to go to the Tower, hoping to discover some sort of evidence that will speed up the whole process of saving her.To be honest, at this point, Orphen is weakening quite a bit from its origins as story-driven show. It's been too long since anything has happened involving the original story (hunting Azalie), and when it does show up here, it takes Orphen on a direction that makes us ask why he didn't just do it in the first place, rather than "wander the land" as he does. I understand the need for sub-stories and filler, but it seems that it's been used rather badly over time. It doesn't feel as much like a story about a sorcerer searching for a dragon, but more about his bumbling friends and all the trouble they cause. Orphen began his journey by leaving the Tower of Fangs, but now he's on his way back; it's one of those slap-yourself-on-the-head moments, really. The pace has slowed way too much, and it feels like nothing is accomplished. It's frustrating, but I'm hoping that with the core plot back in the spotlight, things will move faster again.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: C


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Some slight grain in present in the cel animation, but overall, the transfer is perfectly clear and without compression problems. The biggest difference is that, oddly, the second episode is entirely computerized animation (rather than traditional cel-style), and this therefore as crystal clear as animation gets. Only the one episode is like this, though; the rest are the usual look and feel of Orphen. The digital effects I mentioned early are basically post-production ripples and artificial camera movement that is especially annoying, as it often obscures what's going on. It doesn't really effect the image quality, but it does make some sequences hard to watch.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Japanese, Englishyes

Audio Transfer Review: English and Japanese Dolby 2.0 audio is expansive and uses occasional surround effects for ambience, but is not overwhelming or loud for the source material. There is a lot of good stereo usage and a soundfield that basically draws you in. Sometimes the musical score is a little over-the-top, but it's usually brief .

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 25 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
2 Original Trailer(s)
5 Other Trailer(s) featuring Plastic Little, Princess Nine, Gasaraki, Those Who Hunt Elves, Burn UpExcess
Packaging: Scanavo
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Textless opening and closing.
  2. Sketch Gallery
Extras Review: Additional features include a textless opening and closing animation, as well as two trailers for past Orphen ADV discs. Also featured is a two-minute reel of sketches from the show, mostly black & white pencil drawings. There's a batch of previews and the same general presentation as previous discs. I will say, though, that the cover for this volume is one of the best anime covers I've seen in some time. It really fits well.

Extras Grade: D+


Final Comments

Orphen's story is slowing down and doesn't seem to know which direction to head. It does get back on the right track towards the end, but on the whole, this volume is the weakest one yet.


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