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Ontology on the gone!

The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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11/20/2004 Archived Entry: "Anime DVD Review: Flame of Recca, Vol. 1: A Ninja's Test (Episodes 1-4)"

Flame of Recca, Vol. 1: A Ninja's Test (Episodes 1-4)
Publisher: VIZ
Format: DVD

Review by Tom Good

Recca Hanabishi, like most high school boys, has special fighting powers and a mysterious past. (Well, like most high school boys in anime, anyway.) He belongs to a secret ninja clan and can harness the power of mystical fire. Clearly it is no ordinary fire, because it can burn the clothes off a female opponent without damaging her skin -- an ability that high school boys everywhere will appreciate. In theory, such powers might lead to an isolated and secretive life, but luckily for Recca, most of the other people he encounters possess supernatural artifacts: weapons called madogu, which in Recca's world are as common as cell phones.

In A Ninja's Test, Recca must first learn to use his fire, then fight against adversaries whose madogu have the powers of wind and water. He dedicates himself to serve his "Princess" Yanagi, a female classmate with healing powers. Another woman, the mysterious Kagehoshi, puts Recca into dangerous situations, but is she trying to kill him, or just toughen him up?

The English audio on this DVD is a good example of why I usually like to listen to the Japanese audio with English subtitles. The English audio track changes the feeling of the characters. In Japanese, Yanagi sounds very childlike and cute, but her English voice sounds too old. On the other hand, in Japanese Recca sounds more grown-up and thoughtful than his English counterpart, who sounds too immature to me. Kagehoshi is pretty good in both versions, though. With this DVD, you can try it both ways and compare.

Another factor with the audio is that a good bit of the dialogue consists of yelling. Some scenes are full of stock exchanges along the lines of, "You'll never escape this! Gyaaaaaaaa!!" "Oh yeah? Kyaaaaaaaaa!!" For some reason, I find this more annoying in English.

A Ninja's Test is entertaining, and I liked the character designs, especially for Recca and Kagehoshi. The DVD extras include a gallery of character sketches, English and Japanese audio, and opening and closing theme songs.

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