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DVD Review

DVD cover

MÄR (Märchen Awakens Romance)
Volume 1


Starring (voice): Kumiko Higa, Motoko Kumai, Souichiro Hoshi and Ai Shimizu
Manga Entertainment
RRP: £24.99
Certificate: 12
Available 07 July 2008

Ginta Toramizu is a slightly below average hyper school kid whose only claim to fame is his continual dreams about another magical world. He spends so much time talking about this that he is the butt of jokes from most of his fellow students and his mother despairs of him. This all changes when a magical door appears, a door into the very realm he has been dreaming of. Without hesitation Ginta steps through…

MÄR (Märchen Awakens Romance) is an anime show directed by Masaharu Okuwaki from the original manga by Nobuyuki Anzai. What separates the show from many of its competitors is the attempt to set it in a traditional western fairy tale world as opposed to just having magic as a theme. This three disc set contains the first thirteen episodes. The shows are presented in their original 4:3 aspect ratio with either a Japanese or English vocal track. Being a Shōnen (intended for young boys) show you can expect lots of comedy and lots of fights. The only extras are on disc one, a couple of trailers, there is nothing on the second disc or third discs.

Episode one, Open! Door to another World, in which we get a very sketchy back story about Ginta, enough to know that although his mother makes a living selling fairy stories, she is oddly annoyed that her son should be dreaming of another realm. The only person who believes him is his one single friend, Koyuki. When he steps through the door he becomes super strong with perfect vision. The first character that he meets, Dorothy, introduces him to the concept of Arms, which are magical piece of jewellery which can transform into weapons. Together, Ginta and Dorothy go after a particularly special Arm know as Babbo.

It is an okay opening shot, introducing Ginta as a character as well as setting up the mystery of his mother's resistance to his dreams. The Arm sequences contain some average CGI sequences. That said, this is a Shōnen show and these things tend to disintegrate very quickly into a poor excuse for another fighting scene

Episode two, Babbo: The Legendary Arm: With the guardian still on the rampage, Ginta starts learning to use Babbo, who can change his size but not his weight. So by episode two the basic premise is set. Ginta is on a journey with the bad tempered Babbo, who Dorothy has already warned him is valuable, therefore there will be others trying to claim him, which is another way of saying there will be a lot of fight scenes. Having won Babbo, Ginta is tricked out of his new prize by a pair of thieves led by Master Mokku. Of course his recovery starts another fight.

The show introduces another theme, it would seem that Babbo has lost his memory and so the two new friends are off to discover Ginta’s connection to this new realm and Babbo’s lost memories.

Episode three, Jack’s Battle Shovel in Action: Having turned up at Jack's house in the last episode, Ginta and Babbo discover that his farm is being plagued by vegetarian werewolves. Well, it is a fairy tale. Dare I say cue another fight scene? Much of the episode is given over to Jack’s (The Scarecrow) back story about his father being lost in a nameless war, and his attempts to become a man by taking on the werewolves. Things do not go well for Jack until Ginta and Babbo lend a hand.

Episode four, Lost and Found Babbo!: Having met a new friend in Jack, Ginta is unaware that the Thieves Guild has placed a one hundred million bounty on Babbo’s head. Jack tells Ginta that he is in Mar, which is exactly the same as the stories that his mother writes about. Jack and Ginta set off on their quest to find a dimensional Arm to get Ginta home. With the first town that they come to they run into trouble when Bubo is stolen by the guild of thieves, but they find help when they meet a fairy.

So were onto the second disc, which kicks off with episode five: Alviss, The Mysterious Young Man. Here we first meet Alviss, an important character in the show, who had gone off to fight against the Chess Pieces which had invaded Mars Heaven. Like most introductions in these shows this one ends up in a fight which allows doubt about the characters true intentions and ultimately leads to a bonding between Alviss and Ginta.

Episode six, Snow: The Young Girl Inside the Ice: Through a series of encounters Jack and Ginta continue to meet the characters which will ultimately join them in their war against the Chess Pieces. In this episode a talking dog leads the pair to a princess who is trapped in ice. She had trapped herself as protection against the agents of the Chess Pieces and when Ginta gets her out he is rewarded with a kiss - well she is a sleeping princess, of sorts. This part of the story concludes in episode seven: Awaken: Meet the other Ed, after Ginta has faced off, for the first time, against agents of the Chess Pieces.

Episode eight, Phantom, The Undead Knight, is a kind of pause and reflect episode with Alan, who was previously Edward the dog, another good guy and a warrior explaining to Ginta about the war against the Chess Pieces. Although Ginta has Babbo and strength he has little skill. Dorothy turns up again with some more information about the manipulation of magic.

Episode nine, The Training Gate - Merilo and Bumoru, and the show is still in pause mode, which is no bad thing as it gives the producers time to work on some of the character development. The group is split and sent to different dimensions in order to train.

Episode ten, The Second Great War Begins!: With their training well on its way it looks like events are going to overrun Ginta and his friends when the Chess Pieces start their new offensive. All over the world cities are being destroyed and their populations are crying out, through their dimensional Arms for the Cross Guard members to come to their aid. Alan and Alviss know they must help even though their participation in the previous offensive has left them both cursed.

Episode eleven, Babbo: Version 2!: With Alviss away, Alan watches over the dimensional gate awaiting the return of the trainees. Before they can do this Ian (I know, a villain called Ian...?) attacks. With little hope of rescue, Alan fights until he is saved by the return of Ginta and Snow, but is the new training enough for Ginta to defeat Ian?

Episode twelve, Nanishi, Chief of Luberia: Realising that they cannot defeat the Chess Pieces on their own, the group decide to raise an army - the Team MÄR. The first step they take is to travel to Luberia, where they immediately come into conflict with Nanashi, head of the thieves’ guild.

Episode thirteen, Nanashi Vs. Orco at the Underground Lake!: With their new found ally Ginta, Babbo and Dorothy go after the two Chess Pieces which are still present, while the rest of the group remain behind to help rebuild the town of Vestry.

In the end the show has some good animation. It’s not too top heavy with the fighting scenes, but then plot and character development are painfully slow. Taken on its own merits it’s a good show, but I cant help feeling that we’ve seem it all before. Maybe if they start to push the fairy tale angle things will change. The box set is also let down by its lack of extras.


Charles Packer

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