Series 1 - Part 1

Starring (voice): Kouki Miyata, Takahiro Sakurai, Marina Inoue, Nana Mizuki and Omi Minami
Manga Entertainment
RRP: 29.99
Certificate: 12
Available 26 March 2007

Even from childhood Kantaro Ichinomiya has dreamt of meeting the Demon Eating Goblin, who is stronger than any living demon. Years later, as an impoverished folklore writer and part time exorcist, he lives together with his pet demon Yoko, still dreaming of meeting the Goblin. For all his research, it is an accident which finally brings Kantaro to the shrine of the Goblin. He names the demon Haruka and the two of them start a journey of demon slaying...

Tactics is set in the Meiji era (1868 - 1912), although to be honest the show is not historically accurate, nor does it pretend to be, so the odd stylistic glitch, especially in the clothes can be forgiven. The show was based on the original manga by Sakura Kinoshita and Kazuko Higashiyama. Produced by Studio Deen (Anime studio established 1975), whose founders had originally worked for Sunrise (Cowboy Bebop, Mobile Suit Gundam) and directed by Hiroshi Watanabe (Oh my Goddess, Guyver: Out of Control).

Originally produced in 2004, the show is a combination of comedy, romance and monster busting. The show is well animated, as it should be given the talent involved and the voice acting, both English and Japanese is suitably hectic. What the show really misses out on is a convincing story arc to carry the twenty-six episodes.

For the most part, after the establishing episodes, the show pretty much becomes formulaic monster of the week fare. Not really problematic if you are restricted to watching an episode a week, but as most people who buy DVDs will be watching two to three episodes at a time it can seem a bit samey. There is a bit of interplay between Yoko and Kantaro and the premise that the Demon Eating Goblin does not appear to be as kick-arse as his legend would have you believe, due to unresolved issues from his past, are present but they are mostly dealt with in the most cursory way.

The box set holds a mightily impressive thirteen episodes of this twenty-six episode show. At this price each show works out about fifty pence a show, which for anime is a phenomenally good deal.

Disc one holds the first five episodes, but nothing in the way of extras. Disc two has a further four episodes and some good extras. You get a photo gallery, player cards, mechanise ads, TV commercial and textless opening and closing sequences. If that were not enough it also contains a ten minute mini feature with one of the voice artists.

Disc three contains four episodes and has some extras in the form of trailers, though the one for the new Hellboy show is over six minutes long. If you're not wowed by the number of shows or the reasonable extras then the widescreen picture quality and audio options, English and Japanese stereo and 5.1, with subtitles should seal the deal.

In the end the show has many points to recommend it, the animation, sound, voice acting and the relatively good selection of extras. What it looses on narrative development it gains in price, not the greatest show, but what did you expect for fifty pence an episode?

Charles Packer

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