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AKA: Senkaiden Houshin Engi
Genre: Historical fantasy action
Length: Television series, 26 episodes, 23 minutes each
Distributor: R1 DVD from ADV Films out of print.
Content Rating: 10+ (a few intense scenes, minor violence, demonic possession)
Related Series: N/A
Also Recommended: 12 Kingdoms, Fushigi Yugi: Mysterious Play, Saiyuki
Notes: Based on the manga by Fujisaki Ryou, itself a VERY loose adaptation on the Chinese legend of the Sealing Myth.
Rating:
 

Soul Hunter

Synopsis

Plucky, brash Taikoubou is sent on a mission to seal the demons who have taken control over the Yin dynasty, led by the powerful Dakki. (Or, Ducky!) How is he to accomplish this? By using a Paopei, an artifact that basically lets him control his ki into either powerful blasts, or use it like a Jedi light saber. And in case he doesn't feel like going, he's got the great beast Sibu Xiang to prod him along!

Use the force, Taikoubou!

Review

The original manga for Soul Hunter was one of the most popular series of the late 90s, so I was compelled to watch at least the first episode of the anime to see how it went.

That was sure a waste of time.

When you try to reconcile the "Sealing Myth" of one of the Chinese Dynasties with the visual design and style of the Barnum and Bailey Circus (?!?), you start wondering what in the world is going on. (I also find the pupils of half the characters' eyes totally creepy.) Not the mention the hero seems far dumber than Goku, but with the same happy-go-lucky attitude, and the villains just seem like nothing so much as dippy Valley Girl demons tap-dancing on the hapless Emperor. (I didn't know Harley Quinn was form Chinese mythology...)

I know it was -supposed- to be comedic, but it just fell flat with me. I mean, really, what is with all these bizarre half-baked beasts and anachronistic showgirl demons running around ancient China? And Sibu Xiang has to be one of the dumbest-looking magical beasts I have ever seen, right down there with Filia's gold dragon form in Slayers TRY. Imagine a seriously overweight kirin, and you're half way there.

What about those "villains"? Dakki is a total bimbo, throwing karaoke parties (!) and generally making a total mess of China. Yeah, I can see why the Powers That Be might be troubled, because obviously the villains are not just demons, but time travelers who have brought the magic of subwoofers to the 11th century. It's THAT dodgy. Even better, the series itself can't seem to keep the Japanese and Chinese names straight, and it's just going to be a royally unrecognizable mess to a Western audience who would need Cliff's Notes to understand this.

Animation wise, it's not very impressive, with some CG effects that would look cool if they didn't look like every *other* action series on the market. The visuals were so unappealing, and the characters so unengaging, that I was absolutely convinced there was no way in heck this would get licensed, but thanks to Media Blasters and their handy Anime Licensing Dartboard (tm), here we have it.

Though there were 365 demons to seal in the original myth, the series obviously didn't get that far, as it was apparently canned after a single season. Again, I could be wrong ... but then, it could just be my primal fear of clowns acting up again. Or maybe is it the Dragon Ball Z ki-fights? I dunno… (Doesn't anyone actually -fight- any more?!?)

Soul Hunter simply isn't worth my time - maybe another THEM member can bail me out and give me a detailed write-up, but this is it for now.

Visually and stylistically unappealing, with an unlikable cast of characters and a plot that Westerners just can't get into. Maybe I'll give it another star after I read the manga ... or maybe not.Carlos Ross

Recommended Audience: Okay for kids, I guess, though the "glowing baby" childbirth scene might freak out the younguns. (And maybe a few adults, for that matter.) Ki-blast violence no worse than Dragon Ball.



Version(s) Viewed: Prerelease fansub
Review Status: Partial (1/26)
Soul Hunter © 1999 Fujisaki Ryuu / Shueisha / TV Tokyo / Houshin Project 1999