Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Descendants of Darkness DVD Collection|
Actors: Shinichirô Miki, Mayumi Asano, Toshihiko Seki, Shô Hayami, Toshiyuki Morikawa
Director: Hiroko Takita
Genres: Television, Anime & Manga, Animation
The complete series in one spellbinding boxed set!
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The Prettiest Dead Boys in Anime.
Jenny Cadaver | Gotham City Sewers, 3rd Fortress of Evil on the le | 04/27/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Wow, another great bishonen/shonen-ai series that ended too soon! The Angst, Love, & Darkness all starts in episode 1, and it doesn't let up. The darkness and melodrama is well-balanced by some nice everyday comic tropes and lighter characters. You can watch many of these episodes as crime-drama stories on their own, without worrying about the overarching story line... But soon you will definitely be sucked in & addicted by the interpersonal relationships and tangled vendettas, which is the mark of a truly good shojo anime.You've already got the gist of the story, which runs like a gothic buddy-cop tale: The afterlife has its own version of the FBI (which in turn has its own version of Internal Affairs), and some particular soul-collectors are Agents of Death. Agent Tsuzuki is a somewhat ditzy long-dead beauty with a reputation of being difficult to work with. His new partner, Hisoka, is a tormented dewy-eyed teenaged babydoll, who was murdered at 16 and has had a hard time connecting with people ever since. Work-related hijinks ensue as the relationship develops.Oh, now, don't get too squicked by the rumors of "gay kissing!" and "boy love!"... It's fairly tame, but for the occasional kiss and the VERY suggestive fondling of one wine-glass. I think it could've been a lot more intense, but mainstream audiences are squeamish. The whole sexual-subtext dance is carried off delicately, but retains a whiff of kinkiness. A flashback to the rape of a young boy is done out in romance colors, lingering body-silhouettes, and falling flower-petals; Muraki wins a night with Tsuzuki in a poker game, and Tsuzuki is on the verge of surrendering himself when his teenaged sidekick shows up to rescue him. We surely never got anything that good on "The X-Files". But it's nothing that could offend.I liked watching both the English dub and the subtitles. Both have managed to avoid stilted English and too many glaring errors. The voice-acting is mostly fantastic in both languages, too, with the right mix of tears and giggles. American TV fans will recognize half the voices behind Yu-Gi-Oh! and Pokemon-- so you know that the actors are well-practiced with summoning monsters and giving long, grave speeches about the bonds of friendship.Having the whole series in one box is definitely the way to go, unless you have your own reason for collecting everything epearately. There were some confusing new elements/characters introduced too near the end without satisfying resolution, and of course you want another series because Muraki is obviously still alive (in that way that very very evil villains have of repeatedly surviving certain death). But it's not so unsatisfying that you feel like you sat through 13 episodes for nothing. The art is lovely, and the explosions are particularly good. You get great monsters, excellent scenery & concept, fearsome powers, the mysteries of Death, a frisson of homoerotic innuendo, beautiful young heroes, excellent villains, and a pair of owl twins who work in the library archives. Can't go wrong for your money."
Dark and beautiful
Haru | Brookline, MA United States | 03/04/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Descendants of Darkness is an anime series with shounen-ai (boys' love) elements that is very enjoyable to watch. It is absorbing and beautifully animated. Japanese animation is known for its meticulous, artistic details and this one is no exception, from the fiery Suzaku to the mists of Kyoto. The characters are strong and believable: Tatsumi, Watari, Tsuzuki, Hisoka, Muraki, each distinctly different, all beautifully drawn. Even the villain Muraki is so elegant that it's not possible to completely hate him.
This anime is for mature adult, with plenty of blood and an underlying sexual theme. Yet the sexual content is what charges the show; without which it would be just a regular detective story with a rather mediocre fare (vampire, possessed violin, tarot cards, serial murders, nothing new here). The supernatural angle is impressive, but this, also, is not unique. What makes us glued to the show is what happens between Tsuzuki and Muraki: the tension between the hero and the villain is not one of antagonism but sexual attraction. Muraki's obsession with Tsuzuki is overpowering, and one wonders if Tsuzuki is truly repulsed by it. When Muraki won a night with Tsuzuki in a poker game, Tsuzuki could have left, he didn't have to keep his promise to a villain. But Tsuzuki was submissive. Is he a man who always keeps his end of the bargain, or did he in fact want it? He seems to always make himself close enough for Muraki to grab and embrace him.
Even so, there is no sexually explicit scene involving Muraki and Tsuzuki. Near kisses, the suggestive caressing of a wine glass, light necking, none which can be considered offensive. Muraki's advances are not vulgar, in spite of his sinister nature, he is a romantic. It's a credit to the animators that the shounen-ai is presented in scenes that do not turn people off, yet brimming with passion and sensuality. It's hard not to be moved by the scene where Muraki held Hisoka in his arms while a romantic song played in the background (end of episode 2). Or the kiss in episode 12.
The relationship between Tsuzuki and Hisoka is less complex, but just as intense. Personally, I don't think the affection they share is more than love between older and younger brothers. But it is true love, the kind that thinks of the other before oneself. In the first story, Tsuzuki jumped in the line of a dragon blast in order to protect Hisoka, and in the last, which realistically depicts how one falls into depression, Tsuzuki was saved only because Hisoka was willing to risk everything to save him.
Perhaps the reason the show is so appealing is because it focuses on human emotions; a reflection of our own fears and desires (including fear of the after life). It draws us in, causing us to ignore the oddities (like the count and the gushoshins) and the plot holes. Still, the stories move well, and the morbid premise is balanced with a lot of humor -- although I fail to see the need to turn Tsuzuki into a dog for comic relief. Going back and forth between such a silly childish caricature to an exquisite man with the power to summon the shikigami is simply ridiculous.
The dubbing is for the most part quite good, Dan Green did a wonderful job as Tsuzuki. The same can't be said of Eric Stuart, his dreadful (British?) accent gives Watari a stereotypically gay voice, a far cry from the delightful Kansai dialect by Seki Toshihiko. I also like Muraki's voice better in the original Japanese. There's a certain elegance and detachment in it that is missing in the English version. But gushoshin is infinitely more tolerable in English with a male voice. Music is okay, some great BGM like the devil's trill but in some places it's too loud and cacophonous. And the closing song is truly awful.
The only real disappointment, however, is that the series only consists of 13 episodes. Many questions remain unanswered -- I would love to know more of Muraki's past (like the story with his right eye and how he acquired his power) and of Tsuzuki's. I'd also like to see more of Tatsumi, the serious sweet secretary of the ministry who likes to wipe out those he doesn't like. Even Muraki seems afraid of him. But Muraki is still alive and the manga continues, I'm sure more anime episodes will be made in the future."
Descendants of Darkness Review
A UK Reader | 08/13/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have quite a few anime series and movies. I bought a lot of them based on reviews since I have only been watching anime with a couple of years. A lot of the reviews for the anime's I bought often start out with 'this is the best anime I have ever seen' and indeed I have found in a lot of cases the anime's like Akira, Cowboy Bebop, Amon Saga and so on were really good. However for me 'Descendants of Darkness' are on a level all of their own. Nothing I have seen in other anime's quite compare with the brilliant artwork, the dark and moody atmosphere creepily gothic in places. The characters are well fleshed out so you actually get to care for them. I found 'X' and 'Vampire D a little disappointing in this respect. I am an adult and wanted adult themes i.e. real life concerns not pornography. While some sexual scenes are dealt with they are not too explicit or invasive of the overall plots. 'Descendants of Darkness' is a DVD set to treasure whether you are into yaoi or not. The story satisfies on many levels and has a broad appeal not just as yaoi. The character Tsuzuki reminds me of Fox Mulder of the X Files in many ways, a delight to watch. There are also comic moments which are a hoot affording some relief from the darker moments in the plots. It is no wonder Yami No Matsuei [Descendants of Darkness] have an ever-growing cult following. I can't reccomend it enough."
At the risk of being lynched...
C. J. Rae | New Jersey | 05/14/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"...this is NOT shonen ai anime, despite the deluge of reviews that hail it as such. For anyone new to the genre who has comes across this title, "shonen ai" literally translates to "boy love," and the plotlines in those stories generally follows the basic formula of a romance novel, with the developing romance between the two male characters being the most important aspect of the story. In Japan, about 90% of these stories, or higher, are sold to women and they are written for women.
What this story DOES have is an intense homoerotic pull between the protagonist, Tsuzuki, and the antagonist, Muraki. Love between these two characters is no-where to be found, however, which is why I don't classify it as "shonen ai." If it's a shonen ai anime that you're looking for, I suggest you start with titles such as "Gravitation," or "Fake." Both are well known in the genre and are good places to start.
Other reviews pretty much cover the story, so I'll recap as shortly as possible. Tsuzuki is a "Guardian of Death," his job is to guide the lost and wandering souls who haven't paseed on into the world of the dead, so they don't muck up the world of the living. In other words, he's a detective on a sort of supernatural police task force, and the four story arcs reflect this. After seventy years of pounding the pavement and going through work partners like Kleenex, he is teamed at the beginning of the anime with a sixteen year old boy who has just died, called Hisoka. Both Tsuzuki and Hisoka have their own tragic pasts, and as they solve their investigations they bond with each other forming a deep and abiding friendship along the lines of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy, for those who know their Star Trek.
"Wait!" I hear the shonen ai fans cry! "We'll give you that there's really no love lost between Tsuzuki and Muraki, but what about Hisoka and Tsuzuki?" If you choose to see homosexual context in every relationship between male characters in any and every story, (Star Trek and Harry Potter being two fandoms that come to mind...), then you may convince yourself that you see a homosexual relationship between Hisoka and Tsuzuki. I don't see it, myself. I see two men who are the most important thing in the world to each other, I see a friendship that is as close as the bond between brothers, but I don't see any "evidence" that they're in love. However, I suggest you watch it yourself and use your own judgement.
The DVDs themselves were just fine. I ordered mine used, simply because I refuse to pay almost $90 for a four episode anime. The first two discs' menus are slightly confusing as they're laid out in a pentagram formation, but it's nothing that's too difficult to figure out. If you're on this site, you're already looking at the version licensed in America, and from someone who DID see the fansubs, the translations are pretty much as I remember them, if a little clearer. I recommend watching both the dub AND the original Japanese with subtitles. The dub, for the most part is excellent. My only complaint with it is the voice of Muraki, who sounds like Bert from Sesame Street has gone to the Dark Side. Fans who are used to the fansubs may find Hisoka's voice a little disconcerting to listen to at first (the American editors realize that by the age of sixteen a boy's voice has broken), as it is voiced by a young man rather than the rich contralto of the woman who originally voiced the character. Tsuzuki's voice is just as good in English as in the original Japanese and is a pleasure to listen to, as are most of the characters. In fact, some of the charcters are actually better in English, such as Princess Tsubaki.
In other words, if you're a fan of anime, I would recommend this title, although I wouldn't recommend it for someone completely new to anime. The arwork is beautiful, and you can see the artists beginning to experiment with computer animation is some of the shots. The dub and sub are very good and the content has survived the censorship filter, (I didn't think the relationship between Muraki and Tsuzuki would survive intact). Shonen ai fans will enjoy it and insist that various characters are in love with each other, while those who are not shonen ai fans will enjoy the casefiles and the action (which there is plenty of), as well as the character development."