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ADV Films presents
Soul Hunter #5: City of Fire (1999)

"You have come to an end...Dakki."
- Lord Bunchu (Yuki Matsuda)

Review By: Dan Lopez   
Published: August 22, 2002

Stars: Ikihiro Hanawa, Yoichi Masukawa, Yumi Kakazu
Other Stars: Yuki Matsuda, Tamio Ohki
Director: Junji Nishimura

Manufacturer: DVCC
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (animated violence, some nudity)
Run Time: 01h:20m:30s
Release Date: June 18, 2002
UPC: 702727022623
Genre: anime

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ A-A-B C+

DVD Review

City of Fire begins the final battle between Taikoubou's mini-army and that of the demoness Dakki, who has successfully engineered the downfall of the Yin empire. But is it truly the final battle? We shall see. As things begin, Taikoubou, Lord Bunchu, and other former servants of the Yin Dynasty have helped to cement a newfound bond between the armies of the West, North, East, and Yin itself. They have averted a war, thankfully, but of course, Dakki and the Emperor (who is now well beyond help, totally seduced by her) must be dealt with. As the final plans for assault are made, the two Yin princes emerge again, but to everyone's surprise, they've been aged into teenagers and have been given their own Paopei (mystical weapons) with which to combat the supernatural. Sadly, with their new power has come arrogance, and they will not see the Yin army abandon the ideals of the Emperor.

Lord Khou must make a difficult decision of loyalty in order to help Taikoubou and his friends to launch an assault on Dakki. Being the crafty demon she is, she preempts their attack by unleashing a gigantic monster on the world. This, in combination with her revelation that she herself controls a Paopei that manipulates gravity, makes things very dire. They must face many foes, including Dakki's evil helpmates who are also demons, one of whom can imitate any Paopei used against her. Many plot points come to an end and, of course, the conflict with Dakki is the central issue of this disc. Taikoubou learns some interesting things in the process about what Dakki's done, but he also makes an unusual and creepy discovery in the Emperor's palace that makes him ask disturbing questions. Is this final push against evil actually the last deed the Immortals need to perform to complete Project Soul Hunt, or is there another layer to the plot?

Any mistakes in pacing or side-stories Soul Hunter may have made in the past are totally made up for in these four wonderful episodes. The epic feel of the series really comes into play here, as we truly experience a suitably epic conclusion. Of course, this isn't the final disc in the series, but more on that will be discussed as the time comes. That aside, this is truly a storytelling machine that really gets the viewer involved. Everything about the show so far from the dozens of central characters, to even cursory side elements you might not think important, come forward and it really impressed me to see the writing become strong enough to deliver the big finish we want to see. Soul Hunter is not over yet, though...

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: A-


Image Transfer

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

Image Transfer Review: As with previous volumes, the show uses both cel animation and computer assisted animation. I'm still squeamish with the technique since it's so jarring to see it switch back and forth so much, but that said, the transfer still looks extremely good, if not near perfect. Despite some of the grain in the traditionally animated sections, there are no noticeable digital flaws that take away from the picture, and the computer enhanced sections are easily 'A+', straight-from-the-source quality, it would seem.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, Japaneseyes

Audio Transfer Review: The surround audio captures the action quite well, despite not really using any surround effects. There's some good directionality and it carries high and low points well enough to immerse the viewer properly. Dialogue is perfectly balanced despite all the loud explosions and other madness going on in this action-heavy volume, and there are really no complaints. The English audio is just as good, and though I don't like the dub much, it serves the purpose without taking too many liberties with the script.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
6 Other Trailer(s) featuring Excel Saga, Sakura Diaries, Dirty Pair Flash: Random Angels, Miyuki-chan in Wonderland, Princess Nine and Burn Up Excess
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. English Voice Actor Profiles
  2. Character Descriptions
  3. Relationship Tree
  4. Term Glossary
  5. Translator notes.
Extras Review: The disc contains the usual supplements, designed to help viewers straighten out the characters, understand some of the Japanese terms and keep everything clear. The translation notes help give some insight into how the dialogue writers decide to approach subtitles. There are profiles for the English voice cast and the usual batch of ADV trailers.

Extras Grade: C+


Final Comments

The next to last volume of Soul Hunter impresses on many levels as an action-packed, emotionally intense, high point to the series. It's sad, happy, and everything in-between, using clever surprises to keep you guessing until the end. The next and final volume should offer even more for fans to chew on.


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