Reviewby Sean Broestl, Aug 11th 2005
Shrine of the Morning Mist
DVD 1: Asagiri No Miko
Yuzu Heida, high school student and Shinto Priestess, becomes the protector to her cousin Tadahiro, who has returned to go to high school. Why does Tadahiro need the protection of a priestess? One of his eyes is linked to the spirit world, and this makes him central to a plot by monsters trying to help their god return to the physical world.
Yuzu can't do it all alone, though, she also has to recruit friends from school into the Priestess Club to help banish the demons who keep attacking her and Tadahiro.
There's a part of fandom out there who just can't get enough of Japanese shrine and/or priestess girls. Luckily for them, there's shows like Shrine of the Morning Mist to satisfy their need for white and red uniforms. Hopefully, those people whose eyes get just a little wider at the sight of that long-haired shrine maiden sweeping the walk for the nth time today don't also desire groundbreaking anime, because Shrine of the Morning Mist is not it.
That's not to say it isn't without merit. It's a good hour and a half of entertainment, just nothing that exudes originality or awesome production values. At its core, Shrine of the Morning Mist is nothing more a fun, preistess-themed magical girl show. Of course, after a long day of work or school, that might be exactly what you're looking for.
The mediocrity begins early in this show, with main character Yuzu being loudmouthed and a klutz. She's about to meet her cousin/childhood friend again after many years, and of course, she's nervous because she has childhood romance to accompany her childhood memory. Wonderful to know that even after all these years, this standby of plot development is still alive and well.
Thankfully, after the first episode, the writers seemed to realize to some degree what they would be writing themselves into in terms of character development if they kept that up, and following instalments downplay this to some degree. Yuzu is much more confident and composed from episode two onward, though she still gives out fanservice in the form of running villains and friends alike over with her bike.
Monster-of-the-week makes up the majority of the episode content right now. In the case of one episode on this disc, the Priestess Club kills the same giant twice in one episode, which is pretty impressive, considering these episodes are just under 15 minutes long to begin with. Monster and villain designs seem to be pretty generic for the most part. Even the recurring villain wears a mask that makes him rather indistinct, as far as anime goes.
On the bright side, the protagonists' character designs are colorful and tastefully done. While it would have been nice to maybe see some different outfits for each member of the priestess club, Sailor Moon-style, that probably would have ruined the show for the core audience. The rest of the time, we're left to try to distinguish the main characters in the Priestess Club from each other in terms of height. The main male character is actually a bit unique in that he has two different colored eyes.
The catch with having eyes like these is that one of them sees into the spirit world. This is not a good thing, as whenever Tadahiro sees things from the other side, those creatures somehow end up being part of our world. The details of this strange power have yet to be explained, since monsters show up in some episodes regardless of whether Tadahiro sees them first or not.
Most of each episode so far has just been devoted to some minor plot and character development before a monster shows up that has to be defeated before the episode ends. Lots of rapid scene cuts make up the majority of how the episode goes. When a monster appears, everything is dropped to take care of it. At least this pattern is broken later in the disc, though it doesn't stop more mediocre plot progression, which consists of some crying and blaming of self, then realizing friends are there to help, etc.
As mentioned earlier, the plot and the characters are probably ultimately secondary to what's really important in this show, and that's cute girls in priestess outfits. One of the show's charms actually comes from the absurdity of where the girls wear the infamous outfit. They wear it to school, to the mall, when they're riding bikes. After watching this show, you'd never doubt that the Japanese priestess outfit offers form and function for any situation. Admittedly, the characters are cute in them, and without the outfits, the show would probably have little, if anything, to make it stand out from the crowd. Yuzu and her friends even fight with very traditional weapons, which makes for a nice touch over giving them generic wands or something. You might say they the girls need a transformation sequence, but considering they're already in their battle outfits almost all the time anyway, what would be the point?
The disc itself is decently presented, wrapped in an appropriate shade of pink. There are ten 15-minute episodes, and they seem to go on forever. Extras on the disc, unfortunately, are rather basic—a clean opening and ending and nothing else. You do get almost half the series on this disc though, so it's a pretty good value for an hour and a half of entertainment.
So while Shrine of the Morning Mist isn't an Evangelion or Tenchi, it's still a solid show that doesn't try to hard to be something it can't be. At this point, it's settled into its formula, mediocre as it may be, and there's nothing wrong with that. It's a fun show, and can't be faulted for doing what it does best.
Overall (dub) : C
Overall (sub) : C
Story : C
Animation : B
Art : B+
Music : C
+ Great character design, catchy opening, comedy isn't overdone.
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