Otogi Zoshi
Volume 4 - Modern History

Starring (voice): Fumie Mizusawa, Kan Tokumaru, Kenta Miyake and Kumi Sakuma
Manga Entertainment
RRP: 19.99
Certificate: 15
Available 26 March 2007

Hikaru is a seventeen year old student living in Tokyo, little does she realise that she is the living embodiment of her ancestor from the Heian period. Unfinished business has drawn the spirits across time and space. Hikaru sets off to find her missing brother, Raiko, with the help of Urabe, a fortune teller, Sadamitu and Tsuna, a writer and a tenant of hers in the Minamoto Heights apartment complex...

This disc contains volume four (Modern History) of the series Otogi Zoshi. This was always going to be an interesting juxtaposition, cutting a series in half, with the first half being set a thousand years ago and the second half being a contemporary story. Although, the premise for each appears to be very different, the first half being the search for the Magatama and the second for Hikaru's missing brother, both are essentially quests. Given that Otogi Zoshi is a single story you just know that somehow the two events are related.

Episode fourteen, Tokyo, and we meet modern Hikaru, a self reliant young woman who still mourns the loss of her brother, a year ago. When she goes on a ghost hunt with Tsuna she thinks that she sees her brother on the ghost train. Unable to get it out of her mind she returns, with Tsuna, in an effort to find him, only to be warned off by a red haired stranger.

Episode fifteen, Shinjuku, following clues left in Raiko's room Hikaru finds a secret passage beneath Tokyo. Tsuna, worried about her disappearance, seeks out the help of Urabe. Travelling into the underground passageway she meets the red headed stranger, who she first met near the ghost train.

Episode sixteen, Shibakouen, and strange things have been interfering with radio and television signals. Hikaru and Tsuna go off to investigate. She meets a monk whose sister has fallen through a gap in time; Hikaru sees this as a way to find her brother.

Episode seventeen, Kourakuen, and it's one for the boxing fans, as something is defiantly going on at the local boxing arena. Names appear on the wall from nowhere and late at night cheering can be heard.

You have to ask yourself, what the hell happened; Volumes One to Three came as a double disc issue and had excellent extras. The extras were an integral part of the show getting consistently excellent marks, and then suddenly we're back in the land of trailers for extras.

Ok, so we were stiffed over the extras, but what of the show, have they been able to retain the stylistic look of the show? Well the answer is yes and no. Although the level of animation remains high, it has an understandably more modern sensibility. There is a greater use of montage shots as well as a move away from earth tones as the dominant colours.

The plot remains strong and engaging, setting up a real mystery over the disappearance of Hikaru's brother. For those used to frenetic shows like Naruto, this might seem a little slow but, like a good wine, it's well worth the wait. The English dub of the show remains a delight to listen to, with a lot of strong voice acting.

I can't wait for the box set.

Charles Packer

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