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DVD Review

DVD cover

Planet of the Beast King


Starring (voice): Koichi Domoto, Minami Takayama and Kazuya Nakai
RRP: £19.99
Certificate: 15
Available 27 April 2009

In the far future mankind has successfully created colony worlds 150 light years from their home planet. Thor and his twin brother Rai once lived a privileged life until one day they return to find their parents murdered. Gassed, the two wake up on the hostile penal world of Chimera where they discover that not only is the planet a source of danger but the people who live there are violent and brutal. The culture has one imperative, that the inhabitants fight each other so that the strongest may claim the title of Beast King - the only way off the planet...

Jyu-Oh-Sei: Planet of the Beast King (2006) is a dystopian science fiction anime. The eleven episode series was inspired by a manga created by Natsumi Itsuki. The story was adapted by Reiko Yoshida for the BONES studio.

In some sense its structure is one that we have all come to know, that of a young man with a hidden destiny, the culmination of which is helped by a number of friends. Being only eleven episodes long, and covering a period of over five years, the story moves at a breathtaking pace. On the one hand this means the audience are unlikely to get bored, but the negative aspect of this is that you literally never get a chance to stop and smell the flowers - though on Chimera if you did they would eat you.

The planet is a fascinating character in its own right, which gets too little exploration. It is a place of both great beauty and violent climate changes, where even the most exotic plant is likely to pose a danger. Rai does not last very long and with his passing Thor teams up with Tiz and Third to discover the secrets of Chimera and start Thor on his path to becoming the Beast King.

The conclusive reveal is as exciting as it is unexpected, rounding off the whole story quite nicely. Normally the majority of anime shows continue to make more episodes until their target audience starts loosing the will to live, so it is a rare achievement to get to the end of a series actually wanting more.

Disc one holds episodes one through six, with the sixth episode - 'Blanc Rd' - boasting a full length commentary by J. Michael Tatum and Christopher Bevans, the voice directors, who also provide the voices for two of the characters. Plus there are contribution from the two voice actors who play Thor, Alison Viktorin and Sean Michael Teague, wherein there is much discussion about their characters. The quality of the animation remains high throughout the set.

Disc two holds the remaining five episodes and like the first disc has a trailer for another show which you have to watch before you get to the menu, this is annoying as it is nothing other than an enforced advert. The only extras on this disc are the original Japanese TV adverts; there are four of these all running at 1 min, 03 sec. Next up are both the textless opening and closing sequences with the songs ‘Deep in your Heart’ and ‘Take my Hand’. The disc finishes off with eight trailers for other shows.

The set comes with audio option for either an English 5.1 dub, and an impressive dub it is, well worth a listen, or the original Japanese stereo, still good, but in this case the addition of the 5.1 makes the English version a lot more dynamic. There is an option for English subtitles.

Overall I was impressed with the series; it sets out to tell a single story and along the way allows the characters to develop into more than two dimensional beings. Apart from the disappointment of not having more time to explore Chimera's ecosystem the show tells a good story with a satisfying ending.


Charles Packer

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