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The SoulTaker
The Monster Within
Volume 1

review by Zach B.

 

Rating: 16 and up

Running Time: 75 minutes

 

Studio: Pioneer

Retail Price: $29.99

Features: Non-Credit Opening and Closing, Art Gallery

Specs: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, English Subtitles, Chapter Selection (5 Chapters per episode)

Released: February 26th, 2002

 

 

The premise goes right into full gear of "The SoulTaker" somewhat, as we meet Kyosuke Date, a young man who in church, was stabbed in the heart by his own mother (literally). Kyosuke is not dead, but he's buried alive where he's rescued by a girl.As Kyosuke tries to wonder why his own mother would do such a thing, he soon realizes that the stabbing is not exactly the truth, and with that, a large mystery unfolds about who Kyosuke he is and the power he has (that's later on)... so, the quest to learn the truth begins. Kyosuke ends up going back to the graveyard where he meets a sinsister doctor from the HOSPITAL, where a mysterious man named Shiro comes to his aide. From there, Kyoskue learns he has a twin sister who's in a lot of trouble, and he must rescue her. She's a "flicker." I'm not quite sure what a "flicker" is exactly, but it seems to be they're not human, but have human elements within them (I'm sure repeated viewings will clear all this up). I hate to reveal much more since this series has a lot of key plot points that may spoil it for you... but if you like a load of twists and turns, interesting settings, wonderfully crafted characters and animation that flows so well and strongly varies, "The SoulTaker" is for you.

Like I've said before, I do enjoy Japanese animation but I'm not a diehard fan. I like some of the mainstream stuff, but I'm more into things of a cult following, but if it has a good story, I'll most likely watch it. "The SoulTaker" is truly not for a good percentage of who watches Japanese animation now (young kids), but for the older animé fan (sixteen years and up), it's really worth looking into if you're not just into mindless violence, but like some thought and mystery behind what you watch.

Even though some may argue what "The SoulTaker" is somewhat standard, there's a lot more to it than what meets the eye. It packs some rather good and somewhat intense action sequences, but it cannot be denied that the story in "The SoulTaker" really drives it. It's really a good mystery, in my opinion. The background is presented in the prologue somewhat rushed but in a good understanding matter, and it goes right from there, barely giving you anytime to catch your breath. I think something like "The SoulTaker" takes repeated viewings to fully understand and get the gist of since there is a rather large amount to the story. It can be a little hard to keep up with things, and considerding this is one big mystery, some rather large leaps are taken in the plot. They may appear out of nowhere and not make much sense at first. You may think they're filler, but they add up into what everything is all about in the end. So if you easily get confused and have a hard time following some things, you may not like "The SoulTaker." But if you stick with it, you'll really get into it and keep wondering, wanting to know what goes on next. You'll be amazed and surprised at some of the twists, too.

Despite how deep "The SoulTaker" is, one must admire the wondrous animation it has. The style is wild and like I said earlier, packs a strong variety thanks to its many sequences and locations. Whether it's crisp nights, underwater action or the fantastic opening, it is sure to amaze you. Some of the images may feel out of place in everything, but they fit and work within it. The color use here is really nice, while the character designs themselves are great. The animation moves so smoothly and silky, it all keeps up with what's going on nicely. I must admit though some of the dream and "experiment" scenes are a bit trippy, not to mention the large use of red. So, what else is there to say? Not much. Even if you're not into the genre of animé, "The SoulTaker" is still highly worth checking out and one of the most original Japanese animation series I've watched. It keeps you intrigued and it keeps you thinking. If you miss one bit, you may miss everything else... I'm looking forward to what happens next in this saga.

 

Presented in glorious 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, this first volume of "The SoulTaker" looks rather amazing and glorious. The only real flaw I noticed is some grain... but other than that, this is an electrifying transfer that will knock the socks off your displays. Since the animation is so rich and fluid, the extra resolution truly takes advantage of the wonders the series offers. The color palette in the series is really plentiful, and everything be it the backgrounds or the characters themselves, and how it all moves is perfectly reflected in the picture. Blacks are solid, shadow detail is dead on and the colors are bold, well saturated and quite wondrous. Overall, a very impressive transfer that fits really well with everything else. A nice show-off piece, for sure.

 

I was a little disappointed with the audio. The Dolby Digital stereo mixes are adaquette, but nothing too amazing sadly. The dialogue is clear and easy to hear on both the English and Japanese tracks, and the action sequences and effects don't pack the punch one may expect. There is some great action throughout the episodes, but nothing that really shines or to draw you in more. I think a 5.1 remix on "The SoulTaker" would have been great. I mean, you can hear the action and the sound effects are good, but the directional dynamics and effects don't exist so well because this is stereo. I kept hoping for more of a "kick" and things would boost up, but it didn't happen. I think if there was more activity going on with the mix, this would have been a near perfect presentation. Again, you can hear everything, but don't expect something to take over your speaker channels. As far as the English dub goes, it's quite good. The words match well with the lips, and the voices are rather strong fits with the characters themselves. Still, I prefer the Japanese... and with that, you have the English dubtitles (subtitles for the dub and not the literal translation).

 

Not much here. You can watch a Non-Credit Opening and Ending in anamorphic widescreen. There is also a cool 33 still Art Gallery to view.

 

 

"The SoulTaker" is a rather deep and enjoyable piece of work. For the mature animation fan, this is something worth checking out. While the audio is a bit lacking, the transfer is amazing. Not much as far as extras though sadly... this is worth a rental for sure due to the high price, but if you really like it or are a die-hard Japanese animation freak, it's worth buying.