Geneon // 2004 // 100 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Mitchell Hattaway (Retired) // July 28th, 2005
Seeking the lost melody.
In the recent past, humanity fought a war against monsters. The monsters won. Time passed, a new century dawned, and much of humanity chose to forget the loss. With the exception of the occasional child who is sacrificed to the monsters, life goes on as if nothing happened. High school student Bocca hears tales of the war from Tsunagi, a strange old man who owns a motorcycle repair shop. Tsunagi teaches Bocca about the Warriors of Melos, a band of fighters who still battle the monsters, and of the Melody of Oblivion, the mystical being who aids the warriors in their struggle. Everyone else thinks Tsunagi is just a crazy old coot. But that's about to change.
Four episodes of the anime series The Melody of Oblivion are included on this release; here's a synopsis of each:
* Episode One: "Warriors of Melos"
Despite his apparent skills with a bow, Bocca is in danger of flunking his archery class. His parents bribe his teacher to pass him; Bocca witnesses this and runs away. He is later accosted by Sayoko, a young girl who claims to be a fortune teller. Sayoko convinces Bocca to buy her lunch; two policemen show up looking for the girl, who quickly runs off, but not before lifting Bocca's wallet. Bocca walks to Tsunagi's garage; Tsunagi introduces Bocca to Kurofune, who is a Warrior of Melos, and shows the boy the two Aibars -- battle motorcycles employed by the Warriors of Melos -- he has been repairing. Horu, a monster who has come to the city to receive his sacrifice, attacks Kurofune; Kurofune summons his Aibar and pursues Horu. Bocca, shaken by what he has witnessed, has a vision of the Melody of Oblivion.
* Episode Two: "The Beginning of the Long Journey After School"
Kurofune continues his pursuit of Horu. Bocca reveals to his friend Elle, who is the mayor's daughter, the events the previous evening; she warns him to be careful. Later that day Bocca runs into Sayoko, who once again convinces him to treat her to a meal. Horu returns to the mayor's office and demands another sacrifice, only this time he alters the deal. Instead of a no-name youth no one will miss, Horu demands the mayor hand over his own daughter. Bocca's archery instructor, hoping to gain favor with Horu, snatches Elle, ties her up, and locks her in the school's gym. Sayoko, who has been looking for Kurofune, drags Bocca back to the school, where they find Horu and Kurofune fighting. A glowing sigil appears on Bocca's arm; realizing he has been marked as a Warrior of Melos, Bocca jumps into the battle. Horu eventually drops Elle and vanishes. Kurofune tells Sayoko to stop following him; he then hops on his Aibar and leaves. Bocca and Sayoko climb onto Bocca's Aibar and drive off, leaving a distraught and confused Elle behind.
* Episode Three: "Cape of the Midnight Sun"
Their search for the Melody of Oblivion brings Bocca and Sayoko to a resort town trapped in a period of perpetual midnight. Sayoko, looking for someone to scam, runs across a young girl who looks to be an easy mark. Sayoko's plan goes awry when she and the girl are attacked by a large robotic chicken. Bocca flies in on his Aibar and shoots the chicken with a magic arrow. Bocca and Sayoko take the young girl, who is named Q-chan, back to the hotel run by her older sister. Eiko, Q-chan's sister, tells the two travelers they can stay for as long as they want; she later takes Bocca aside and tells him the Aibars will not be enough to stop the monsters. Believing she knows the whereabouts of the Melody of Oblivion, Bocca visits the city's head of tourism, who warns him to end his quest.
* Episode Four: "Monster Union"
Sayoko informs Bocca the robot chicken was controlled by an agent of the Monster Union, an organization of power mad humans who have been enthralled by the monsters. Bocca once again battles the chicken, and Eiko is revealed to be the head of the city's branch of the Monster Union. Bocca causes considerable damage to the chicken; Eiko and the chicken fly away.
The Melody of Oblivion is a mishmash of ideas -- many of them familiar, most of them bad. To make matters worse, the show is dour, pretentious, and dull. Don't get me wrong, there are a few laughs, but they're all unintentional, such as when Horu rides atop a bus that suddenly sprouts the legs and horns of a bull, or when Eiko receives orders from her masters via some sort of parrot-like creature. Then there's that big robotic chicken. Really, how terrifying is that? The Aibars, which are supposed to be amazing battle vehicles, look quite silly. (I'm really dating myself here, but the design of the Aibars -- there's a metallic horse's head jutting from between the handlebars -- reminds me of the horses ridden by Force Commander and Baron Karza from the old Micronauts toy line.) There's also an overabundance of gratuitous fan service. There's really no need for it in a series such as this, and the fact that Sayoko is only fourteen makes her frequent disrobing more than a little sick. And what's up with the flamenco music used during the fight scenes? Honestly, who thought that was a good fit?
The technical side of this release doesn't quite live up to what I've come to expect from Geneon. There's a little too much shimmer and a few too many instances of jagged lines and haloing in the transfer, although the colors are represented well enough. (In case you were wondering, the animation itself looks a little cheap and rushed.) The stereo audio tracks feature very little channel separation, and there's almost no low-end activity. (Be warned: the acting in the dub is awful.) Extras include the standard creditless opening sequence, as well as Geneon's ubiquitous previews.
All in all, The Melody of Oblivion simply isn't worth your time or money. Skip it.
Review content copyright © 2005 Mitchell Hattaway; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Japanese)
Running Time: 100 Minutes
Release Year: 2004
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Clean Opening Animation
* Anime News Network Page
* Official Site