Reviewby Chris Shepard, Feb 7th 2002
DVD Vol. 1:Taikoubou's Mission
The ancient Chinese Yin Dynasty is rotting from the inside out, infested with demon immortals. Project Soul Hunt was drafted by the Immortal High Council to capture all these “dangerous” souls and seal them away forever. Now all that remains is to find someone to carry it out.
Why risk the life of a perfectly good immortal if you can send a good-for-nothing instead? Taikoubou skips his lessons and naps while he's mediating; if he doesn't happen to make it back, so much the better.
Armed with nothing but a magical rod and a hit list, Taikoubou is dragged off by the spiritual beast Sibuxiang. But when your job is killing demon immortals, on-the-job training can be extremely rough! Will Taikoubou get his act together in time to save his skin? Or will he and Sibu get vaporized his first day on the job?
Soul Hunter is quite an odd show and it's extremely difficult trying to figure out where it's ultimately going. It has a mix of both a deep Chinese mythological backstory as well as a main character that's a complete goofball. Whatever Soul Hunter is, it's safe to say that it's at least very different.
ADV has done yet another fine job on the packaging of this DVD. The cover is bright and attractive and the summary does a fine job telling interested buyers what the show is about. Following suit, the menu system is colorful and beauteous as well. It is easy to navigate and is a pleasure to view.
This DVD has been stuffed with fine extras as well. Accompanying the five full episodes on this disc are background profiles on the mythology the series uses, descriptions of each character, a character relationship tree, profiles for each of the dub voice actors (including pictures), a glossary of terms used and finally my favorite, translation notes. This is all very nice indeed.
The dub used by Soul Hunter is not the greatest. Though the voices generally fit, they don't seem to be quite as sincere and meaningful in comparison to the original Japanese version. It's safe to say that it's a dub of standard quality at best.
Diving straight into this series, it can be a little hard to follow at first. Soul Hunter doesn't seem to know what type of anime it's trying to be. Part of the time it has a very serious tone. The young and seductive Dakki has managed to gain complete control over the emperor of the Chinese kingdom of Zhou. However, she's not quite as innocent as she seems. She's also from the Immortal World and quite evil as well, causing the kingdom great famine and death. In reaction to this, Soul Hunter Taikoubou has been called upon. It is now his job to basically wipe her out along with 354 other demon souls. However, it is also Taikoubou that brings out Soul Hunter's other more comical side.
Taikoubou is a lazy bum and would like nothing better than to sit around and sleep all day. He skips his training whenever he can and is downright uninterested in trying to save the world. He has an attitude and very little actual skill for doing battle. His uncertainties and goofball behavior keeps Soul Hunter chugging on from becoming too draining and boring.
At times it feels as if Soul Hunter is not lighthearted enough. For nearly ever potion not involving Taikoubou, the series is completely humorless and dry. These portions can go on for quite a while as well. While a backstory is necessary for giving the series a reason, these parts during the episodes could have been either spiced up a bit or shortened to keep more in flavor with the tone presented when the main hero is on screen.
Whenever Taikoubou is on screen, Soul Hunter becomes exciting and fun. The constant bickering between him and what looks like a flying hippo that he flies on, Sibu, creates some grand comedy. The battles Taikoubou gets himself into have yet to become too serious and they're always a pleasure turn your brain off to and watch. Soul Hunter does a great job with this and it is here where the series truly shines.
As with every anime series that contains fighting and battles, it's necessary to comment on the animation quality itself. Unfortunately, the animation isn't completely awesome but it is good enough to keep the action interesting. Soul Hunter does use some computer animation blended in at times but it never looks too out of place. The animation is of good standard quality.
Soul Hunter really needs to try to figure out what type of series it's trying to become. More screen time should have been dedicated to the main hero. The pacing is just too awkward when the show keeps switching back between a lighthearted comedy adventure and an overly serious Chinese mythological story. The comedy and serious tones clashed a little too much instead of flowing together as they should have. Hopefully future episodes will handle these elements better. So far, Soul Hunter has so much potential practically dangling right in front of it yet barely any of it has been grasped. Soul Hunter could turn out to be an awesome anime series but as of now, it's only slightly above average.
Overall (dub) : C+
Overall (sub) : B-
Animation : B
Art : B
Music : B
+ The main hero is fun, good comedy bits.
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