Urotsukidoji: Legend of the Overfiend/Legend of the Demon Womb (1993)

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Released 6-Dec-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Anime Menu Animation & Audio-Static listing.
Theatrical Trailer-1:03 worth for this feature and 5 minutes of ads for other.
DVD-ROM Extras-Instruction to launch previews of other manga titles
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 1993
Running Time 186:29 (Case: 192)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (102:43) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Hideki Takayama
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Christopher Courage
Joy Rebel
Danny Bush
Lucy Morales
Rose Palmer
Bick Balse
Jurgen Often
Jake La Car
Pat McGroyn
Randy Woodcock
Case Click
RPI $27.95 Music Masamichi Amano


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Screen, not known whether Pan & Scan or Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Unknown Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    Urotsukidoji (translated as 'the wandering kid') is an epic, portrayed in classical erotic anime style, that can be viewed on many levels; a tale of creation, a classical battle of good versus evil, magical beasts and battles, and a graphic portrayal of sexual practices perverted and conventional that leaves nothing to the imagination. Over three hours of Manga, even in the heavily censored R4 version, leaves one in no doubt that there is a breadth and depth to this epic that rivals any of the classical or contemporary literary sagas.

    Based on the original story by graphic artist Toshio Maeda, Urotsukidoji was created by Director Hideki Takayama and released in 5 volumes or Ova from 1987 to 1993. The first three Ova: Birth of the Overfiend, Curse of the Overfiend, and Final Inferno are combined in the first feature presented on this disc as Legend of the Overfiend and the final two Ova: Legend of the Demon Womb and Battle of the Apartment Tower are presented in the second feature as Legend of the Demon Womb.

    Not surprisingly banned and heavily cut in many countries for its graphical sexual content and violence, the feature has undergone several releases on VHS, laserdisc and now DVD since its original inception. The complete, uncut (although discretely tiled) edition is termed Urotsukidoji Perfect Collection. Originally released on video in 1997, it was re-released as an R1 2-disc DVD set in 2000. The R4 version forming the basis of this review is believed to be ported from the European R2 version heavily censored courtesy of the British Board of Film Censorship.

    To the plot then! The first story, Legend of The Overfiend,  centres around the half-man, half beast Amano Jyaku (Christopher Courage) who has spent 300 years hanging around with his sister Megumi (Lucy Morales) waiting for signs of the arrival of the Overfiend (Chojin). The Chojin was said in legend to appear once every 3000 years to unite the three realms of humans (Ninju-ki), half beasts (Jujin-ki) and demons (Ma-ki) in everlasting peace and harmony. Chief contenders for the Chojin-to-be are the wet Nagumo (Danny Bush), the high-school wimp and butt of everyone's jokes, introduced spying on the girls in their changing room and the sports macho-hero Ozaki (Bick Balse). Ozaki habitually has the requisite number of scantily clad cheer-girls hanging off him, including Nagumo's wet-dream fancy Akemi (Rebel Joy) who are seen later pleading with him to "give it to me Ozaki!" - get the general idea! Various demons including Amano's nemesis Sui-Kaku-Jyu (Jurgen Often) oppose this search as they basically like the universe the way it is. The anime proceeds at an unrelenting pace towards the battle-royale finale wherein, in a twist to the tale, demons, humans and half-beasts unite to prevent total annihilation.

    The second feature, Legend of the Demon Womb, starts with a prologue in World War II. Hitler is seen overseeing his evil genius Myuni Hausen in a macabre and perverted laboratory occult experiment, whereby the energy harvested from the mechanical rape of multiple women by a demonic device is supposed to yield him ultimate power and conquest. The experiment goes horribly wrong and all perish save for the son of Myuni Hausen, known also as Myuni Hausen (Bick Balse), who grows up as an orphan in a sadistic institution and works out his woes by becoming an occult master with the power to harness the demon Kohoki. Myuni Hausen II coerces Kohoki to help create the Evil King from Nagumo's cousin Takeaki (Jake le Car). The finale comes when the Evil King battles the alleged Overfiend and Amano battles the evil Myuni Hausen to prevent his world takeover and save his sister Megumi from death and further demonic rape. The feature finishes with an epilogue that suggests that the evil Myuni Hausen yet survives and the blood of the vanquished Evil King awakens an older and more potent force that predates the Legend of the Chojin.

    Well that's the story and I don't think any of the above details will spoil the plot. The story is exceedingly complex and interpretable at many levels. It includes concepts of  Buddhism (the differing realms), tantric magic (the utilisation of sexual congress to release spiritual energy) and occultism (the symbology of the pentacle by the Magister Myuni Hausen together with his use of ritual to evoke and control demonic forces) with an overall concept of balance of evil and good, the one not capable of existence without its precise mirror. The pace of the film is certainly breath-taking and the imagery sickening, macabre and compelling. There is frequent focus on sexual degradation and demonic and monster rape (yes those demonic tentacles do get everywhere) together with graphic depiction of teacher-pupil sexual assault, masturbation, intercourse and oral sex. If your personal philosophy rejects the imagery of sex and deviancy together with graphic depiction of violence then you will rightly reject and abhor this film and its content. Personally I can't say I like or enjoy this feature but am fascinated at what the message is and I don't believe that it is one of base sexual titillation. I find it nonsensical that this feature is censored yet other graphic real depictions of rape (Accused), mutilation of humans by shot and shell (Saving Private Ryan) and summary cold-blooded execution (Killing Fields) are considered acceptable. The only concessions to taboo in this feature is that child sexual assault is not featured and that pubic hair is not featured in the anime (it apparently is particularly offensive to the Japanese and is excluded in erotic anime by convention!).

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The general quality of this video transfer falls short of the clarity and quality realised by present day DVD releases of recent productions. Comparison of film artefacts suggests that this transfer comes from different stock from the master used for the Urotsukidoji: Perfect Collection release. The cartoons are over 15 years old and lack the technical computer generated imagery of latter day releases such as Pokemon or from the Pixar stable. Presumably the anticipated sales did not justify the intensive clean-up and remastering that we have seen for the Disney classics. We therefore have as reasonable a transfer, from fairly dirty and faded film stock, as we could expect given the likely source.

    The transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and is not 16x9 enhanced. The original film aspect ratio is not known but I would guess it to be a full frame transfer.

    The transfer is soft and slightly washed-out. Shadow detail is limited in keeping with the original style of cartoon drawing and there is a moderate degree of low level noise.

    The colours varied between pastel shades of the human characters filmed in daylight to vibrant, strong colours of the battle scenes between monsters. There was a general muting of colours overall consistent with some fading of the film stock.

    There were no MPEG or film-to-video artefacts seen. However, there were frequent film artefacts from a wide variety of dirt (black flecks) and the occasional hair (13:30). Reel change markings were seen throughout (30:08. 50:09, 85:48) and a curious pink spot was seen on Akemi's nose at 14:55.

    There were no subtitles but lip synching was reasonable considering the Japanese to English dub.

    This disc is an RSDL disc, with the layer change placed between features at 102:43 where it is not disruptive to the film flow.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The soundtrack was good: entertaining musically, battle effects suitably impressive, and clear dialogue, essential to try and keep track of what was happening.

    There was one soundtrack available, recorded in English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround without audible subwoofer support.

    The dialogue was clear and easy to understand at all times. Although I did not recognise any of the listed voice talents they all put in a good performance with suitably Japanese cultural emphasis (the girls have high-pitched feminine voices and the men are suitably macho and pitched in the lower registers).

    The musical score by Masamichi Amano was varied, essential in an originally 4 hour feature. The style nicely backdropped the action, ranging from boppy bubblegum pop during the high school scenes to atmospheric ethereal synthesiser effects for some of the out-of-world sequences.

    The surround channels were used in low-key fashion for general ambience and occasionally for depth of soundstage effects.

    The subwoofer was not utilised which was a shame as some of the apocalyptic battle scenes could have used it to good effect.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    The extras are just about non-existent. The lack of video or audio remastering could have been economically made up for by some background on the title and Japanese producers who are just about unknown in the West.

    The menu is a simple list of options presented at 1.33:1 and is not animated.

Feature Choice

    Choice between watching Legend of the Overfiend or Legend of the Demon Womb.

Interactive

    Simple instructions on how to put the DVD into a DVD-ROM drive and execute the manga.exe file. This gives a limited taste of and source links to some of the Techno music accompanying the start of the feature.

Trailer

    1:03 trailer for the feature and 5:08 of adverts for other manga titles

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on:     The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on:     Both video transfers, even though of differing origins, are of the same mediocre quality.

Summary

    This single R4 disc compilation of Urotsukidji is an economical taster of the Urosukidoji: Perfect Collection which, though missing an hour of censored footage, hangs together quite well as a standalone feature and omits some of the more disturbing and distasteful sexual violence. Even in this watered-down version it is still strong stuff and not recommended for those of strong moral turpitude or minors. For die-hard devotees of erotic manga or students of the eternal question, the R1 edition provides a more detailed insight into the twisted visions of its creator. The video quality is poor although not surprisingly so and the soundtrack is good although the original Japanese with English subtitles certainly complements the art-house qualities of the production. The DVD format has been utilised here to house a long feature on a single disc but could have been so much more, especially as this version appears set for world-wide release. This reviewer neither recommends nor condemns this title - caveat emptor!

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© John Lancaster (read my bio)
Wednesday, January 09, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba SD-900E, using RGB output
DisplayPioneer SD-T50W1 (127cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersB&W 602 front/rear. B&W LRC6 Centre / Solid (AKA B&W) 500 SW

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