Tuesday, May 19, 2009

DVD look : Domain of Murder

Well with all the bad news of CPM filing for bankrucpty, and then lots of things in my personal life, I haven't gotten to review a DVD from CPM in awhile. But now that everything has calmed down, I decided to review a little known OVA, Hello Hedgehog: Domain of Murder . I found out about this anime by reading Justin Sevakis's "Buried Treasure" review of it. He made it seem interesting, and I always like a good mystery, so I went ahead and bought it. It was really cheap too. Sevakis's review of it raised the price of the DVD a couple of dollors, but I still got it for $5.00 with shipping. You can now find it on Amazon for under $2.00, and Robert's Anime Corner has a ton of them for sale, and I'm sure you can find it elsewhere. I'm very glad I bought this, as for only 5 bucks it was well worth it. Overall I quite enjoyed it. It was a refreshing mature detective drama, something I'd expect to watch as a movie or live action series, not an anime. The OVA is based off of the best selling seinen manga series, "Hello Hedgehog" by Kenshi Hirogane . Kenshi Hirogane is also behind another mature, and rather unknown series Human Crossing.

Domain of Murder is an OVA from 1992, by studio Deen that clocks in around 52 minutes long. The story starts with Detective Goro (nicknamed "Hedgehog" due to his hair) being asked to find some women's long lost husband. The man ran away from home years ago, and she thought he was dead. However recently she discovered a wanted poster with his face on it. This women wants Goro to find her husband, so she can talk to him once more, before he get's arrested. It's a rather odd request, but Goro accepts it. Of course he has no idea where to start, and doesn't think he can find the man. If the entire police force can't find it, why could he right? Well Goro heads to the other side of Japan, and finds out the man is wanted for murder. He discovers some clues here and there, and meets two people who end up helping him. One is the bartender of the place the murder happened at, and the other is a police officer, and old friend of the missing husband. Overall the story plays out well, and the mystery is great. However there are some problems with the plot that need to be addressed. I wouldn't go as far as calling them plot holes, but there are some real problems with the story. Many things that unfold are very unlikely, which is normally a little forgivable in an anime, but I'll hold them to it for this, since they are trying to be very realstic. One example is toward the end of the anime, the police make mistake after mistake. Not to spoil anyone, but pay attention to the descisions the police make when they are at the amusement park. If the police acted this way in real life, they would get fired. Because of their bad choices they put many people's lives in danger. If they only acted, everyone could have came out of this alive, but instead they would rather risk the lives of a couple people. The part in the story where the husband kills the man in the bar needed to be explained more as well. As this is, it doesn't make complete sense yet. More time should have been spent in that flashback to make us understand exaclty what happened. And the car crash scene seems very illogical. It just doesn't make sense how that scene plays out. So besisdes a few problems with the plot, it is actually a pretty good OVA.

As far as the animation goes, I enjoyed it. I found it above avergae for 1992. The backgrounds are detailed and do a decent job of showing us Japan circa 1992. It didn't blow me away, but I did like it alot. The character designs are great as well. They go for a more "normal" look, so no big eyes or exaggerated expressions. It works though as all the characters look like real people and seem very original. They are highly detailed and look great overall. Ok so it may not be the best looking thing ever made, but you can tell the budget for this was pretty high. The music is alright, but nothing stood out for me. I'm not sure why CPM went back and dubbed this for the DVD, years after they released it sub-only, but I'm glad they did ! The dub is top of the line. All the characters are spot on. Michael Sinterniklaas directed this, and also played the lead character, Goro, and he does a great job. He makes Goro feel like a real person, like Goro exists out there somewhere. All the other characters are well cast, and do a great job overall. Caroline Hellman is alright as the Bar Tender, but there are some awkward lines here and there from her. She is funny when she is drunk though, so that is a plus. Dan Green plays two roles in this, and does a great job as always. Addie Blaustein plays one of the detectives at Goro's agency and she does a good job as well. Overall it's a great dub, but it sort of feels wasted on such an unknown title.

Being such an old and niche title, I wasn't expecting much with the the special features on this one. There really is nothing worth mentioning on the DVD. Overall the anime is pretty interesting. There are some problems with the plot, but I have to agree with Sevakis, that they are forgivable seeing how rare to see an anime like this make it to the US. The animation and dub are very good, but the music is not the best ever. It's a good detective drama, well worth the couple bucks for the DVD and I suggest it to anyone interested in mysteries. You can't go wrong with the price it's going for anyway.

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