Sunday, November 22, 2009

DVD Review: Moeyo Ken Complete Series

This one's kind of an oldie, but I figured I'd dust it off and check it out. Originally an ADV license, Moeyo Ken never really saw much excitement when it was released here in the States the first time around. Still, it was a harem-ish show and it had an attractive looked, so with license in hand it's really no surprise that FUNimation decided to take a stab at it as well. They released the 13 episode series as a 2-disc complete boxed set back during the summer. Really though, if you passed on this one for two years, is it worth digging into now?

Moeyo Ken takes place in an alternate version of the Meji Era. The focus of the series is more or less on a guy named Ryuunosuke Sakamoto, who is the president of the Shinsengumi and has recently returned from Shanghai. Ryuunosuke seems like a regular bloke, though he's a little strange in some regards. Then again considering this show focuses on monsters, ghosts, and all manner of other haphazard things thrown in, a little strangeness almost seems normal. Whatever the case Ryuunosuke finds himself in the center of events and the focal point for the attention of Yuko, Toshie, and Kaoru, otherwise known as the Mobile Shinsengumi.

Just what is a Shinsengumi? Well, in real history they protected Japan and were a special police force of sorts during the shogunate period. In the case of Moeyo Ken they pretty much hold the same role, but rather than police the populace they hunt down unlicensed monsters and deal with supernatural stuff.

At any rate, Ryuunosuke has the misfortune of becoming involved with the Shinsengumi. When they aren't dealing with monsters, crying over financial woes, destroying things, or causing a fuss, they are trying to hook Ryuunosuke up. It's not exactly a harem setting, but there are some elements strewn about along with an ample amount of fan-service as well. Needless to say Ryuunosuke finds himself frequently the center of attention for the girls and this leads into many gags pulled from other harem shows. It's not bad, mind you, but I think the show could have gotten by without it. Still, there are a few laughs to be had.
With this premise in place Moeyo Ken unfortunately does very little to spruce things up, improve upon things, or otherwise "wow" the viewer. Sure, it's a fun show, and yes the characters are lively and entertaining, but aside from the main plot the series doesn't really go anywhere. The action is stalled from the outset and all you get to see from one episode to the next is one gag right after another. It's bombastic and haphazard to say the least and the fact that the "monster of the week" formula is in place, leaves the series feeling painfully repetitive long before you even hit the half-way point. Not a good thing for a 13 episode series, I assure you.

Moeyo Ken had a promising idea backing it, and I'm sure when the original four episode OVA ran a few years prior to the TV show's release, someone thought it could have sustained more episodes. Unfortunately that just wasn't the case. The well of ideas ran dry early on and the show fumbles around for the majority of its time here. You're going to laugh and I'm sure you'll be entertaining here and there (mostly by the fan-service), but the fact remains that the series doesn't get interesting until the last couple of episodes. That's just too little, too late.

Moeyo Ken TV: The Complete Series is presented on DVD with a 1.78:1 anamorphic aspect ratio.The colors are quite vivid, the lines are clean, and grain is hardly a problem. Some compression artifacts can be spotted from time to time, but they aren't much of a bother either. English and Japanese 2.0 stereo tracks are available for the series on this release, and technically speaking they are just fine. As far as the dub is concerned, I dare say that I actually preferred the English version's over-the-top acting. Some trailers and textless songs are all you're going to find here for bonus features.
If you missed out on ADV's release of Moeyo Ken, then you didn't really miss much. FUNimation's complete collection is a little more enticing since you can get the whole show all at once, but the fact remains that it's simply not that good. The characters are designed by Rumiko Takahashi which is a definite plus, and there's a lightweight Tactics feel to everything, but the promise of a few laughs and decent episodes here and there isn't really worth the price of admission.

Maki Rating:

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