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ADV Films presents

Dragon Half (1993)

Rosario: Oh, here little girl! Why not have a sweet apple!
Mink: That apple is obviously poisoned! Do you think I'm stupid?
Rosario: No! My 'Snow White' plan has failed!- Kaneto Shiozawa, Kotono Mitsuishi

Stars: Kotono Mitsuishi, Yasunori Matsumoto, Keinichi Ohata
Other Stars: Kaneto Shiozawa, Noriko Asano, Kikuko Inoue
Director: Shinya Sadamitsu

Manufacturer: DVCC
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nudity, some language, adult humor, cartoonish violence)
Run Time: 00h:49m:42s
Release Date: 2002-09-24
Genre: anime

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ B+B+B+ D


DVD Review

Every now and then, it's good to see an anime that's just completely bonkers. Dragon Half is so ridiculous, silly, and outright nonsensical that it is totally enjoyable on every level as both a comedic series as well as a satire of typical fantasy anime in Japan. If you're feeling burned out on noble heroes slaying the great, demonic evil with their magical swords, you might want to give this disc a spin, and enjoy a good laugh at the whole genre. The story concerns Mink, a half human/half dragon girl who is the product of a romantic relationship between the kingdom's best dragon hunter and the kingdom's fiercest Red Dragon. She's also madly in love with Dick Saucer, the current master dragon hunter in the realm and pop-singing sensation. The problem is, Dick Saucer has no clue who Mink is. So, like any good, blind fan, Mink decides that she wants to see his latest concert.

Meanwhile, King Civa is scheming to obtain the Red Dragon for his own wife. How will he do this? By assigning dragon slayers to kill Mink because she not only stands in the way, but also is just plain annoying. The King's evil assistant, Rosario (complete with atmospheric dry ice) develops the ultimate plan (for which he gets no credit): Why not send Dick Saucer to kill Mink? That way, she'll run willingly to his side, then get clobbered. Life is not easy for Mink, but she couldn't care less about the people trying to kill her. All Mink wants is a ticket to see Dick Saucer in concert singing his latest hits and the only way to do so is to enter the "Brutal, Killer, Martial Arts Tournament" to make enough money. The plot is fairly incidental to the wild comedy of the 2 episodes presented here, which are the only 2 episodes of Dragon Half produced.

It's all about satire and silliness, and it excels in that. The artwork style often switches between good, superdeformed (small, childlike characters), and highly detailed. It's also a bit cheeky and certainly not a kids show. There's a bit of fanservice involved with Mink and her friends' revealing outfits and some sexual innuendo, but it's all in good fun and not at all as obvious or blatant as it is in some anime. The jokes and sight gags are often laugh-out-loud funny, especially to anyone who's seen a good deal of fantasy animation. There's a slight undercurrent of poking fun at Japan's long-running video game series, Dragon Quest, with some art and characters obviously nodding to the work of Akira Toriyama, who worked on some of those games. The insanity of it all is topped off with one of the most bizarre ending themes perhaps ever made; My Omlette, in which Minks sings about how she boils eggs, with the lyrics all synchronized to a Beethoven piece. Wow.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

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

Image Transfer Review: The animation is nicely presented and, although suffering from a slight bit of grain, looks good all around. Everything is hand drawn and there are no computerized effects, which means it looks a bit older than it actually is, with a very slight blur that usually accompanies thoroughly traditional animation. There are some hard subtitles in the image that translate the text on signs and other elements important to the humor.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Japanese, Englishyes

Audio Transfer Review: The stereo soundtrack is nice and active despite the lack of surround effects. The dialogue is free of any problems or distortion, which is fairly important since the voices offer so much of the subtle humor in the show. There's a few moments of directionality, but nothing terribly impressive. The soundtrack serves its purpose, but really doesn't result in a major experience. I strongly recommend the Japanese audio, as the humor is very much geared towards how the dialogue comes out and sounds.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+ 

Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 8 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
6 Other Trailer(s) featuring All Purpose Cultural Cat-Girl Nuku Nuku, Steel Angel Kurumi, Devil Hunter Yohko, Excel Saga, Sakura Wars 2: Flower Power, Golden Boy
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Textless closing credits.
Extras Review: A textless closing credits sequence is the only feature-related extra on the disc, although the ending theme lyrics are translated into English after the first episode, and Japanese (Romanji) after the second episode. The presentation is pretty much usual ADV treatment, and the 8 chapter stops is plenty for the feature. There are trailers for other comedy anime series, including the completely bizarro Excel Saga and All Purpose Cultural Cat-Girl Nuku Nuku.

Extras Grade: D

Final Comments

Absolutely filled with comic delight, Dragon Half is a must-see for those who appreciate their anime thoroughly twisted and completely ludicrous. It's a bit short at only 50 minutes, but it's 50 minutes of one of the funniest animations I've ever seen. Although the jokes are aimed at veterans of anime, even newcomers should be able to appreciate this clever satire.

Dan Lopez 2002-09-25