Tuesday, December 15, 2009

DVD Look: Domain of Murder

For my next review, I've decided to review a little known OVA, Hello Hedgehog: Domain of Murder . I found out about this anime by reading Justin Sevakis's "Buried Treasure" review of it. He made it seem interesting, and I always like a good mystery, so I went ahead and bought it. It was really cheap too. Sevakis's review of it raised the price of the DVD a couple of dollars, but I still got it for $5.00 with shipping. You can now find it on Amazon for under $2.00, and Robert's Anime Corner has a ton of them for sale, and I'm sure you can find it elsewhere. I'm very glad I bought this, as for only 5 bucks it was well worth it. Overall I quite enjoyed it. It was a refreshing mature detective drama, something I'd expect to watch as a movie or live action series, not an anime. The OVA is based off of the best selling seinen manga series, "Hello Hedgehog" by Kenshi Hirogane . Kenshi Hirogane is also behind another mature, and rather unknown series Human Crossing.

Domain of Murder is an OVA from 1992, by studio Deen that clocks in around 52 minutes long. The story starts with Detective Goro (nicknamed "Hedgehog" due to his hair) being asked to find some women's long lost husband. The man ran away from home years ago, and she thought he was dead. However recently she discovered a wanted poster with his face on it. This women wants Goro to find her husband, so she can talk to him once more, before he gets arrested. It's a rather odd request, but Goro accepts it. Of course he has no idea where to start, and doesn't think he can find the man. If the entire police force can't find it, why could he right? Well Goro heads to the other side of Japan, and finds out the man is wanted for murder. He discovers some clues here and there, and meets two people who end up helping him. One is the bartender of the place the murder happened at, and the other is a police officer, and old friend of the missing husband. Overall the story plays out well, and the mystery is great. However there are some problems with the plot that need to be addressed. I wouldn't go as far as calling them plot holes, but there are some real problems with the story. Many things that unfold are very unlikely, which is normally a little forgivable in an anime, but I'll hold them to it for this, since they are trying to be very realistic. One example is toward the end of the anime, the police make mistake after mistake. Not to spoil anyone, but pay attention to the decisions the police make when they are at the amusement park. If the police acted this way in real life, they would get fired. Because of their bad choices they put many people's lives in danger. If they only acted, everyone could have came out of this alive, but instead they would rather risk the lives of a couple people. The part in the story where the husband kills the man in the bar needed to be explained more as well. As this is, it doesn't make complete sense yet. More time should have been spent in that flashback to make us understand exactly what happened. And the car crash scene seems very illogical. It just doesn't make sense how that scene plays out. So besides a few problems with the plot, it is actually a pretty good OVA.

As far as the animation goes, I enjoyed it. I found it above average for 1992. The backgrounds are detailed and do a decent job of showing us Japan circa 1992. It didn't blow me away, but I did like it a lot. The character designs are great as well. They go for a more "normal" look, so no big eyes or exaggerated expressions. It works though as all the characters look like real people and seem very original. They are highly detailed and look great overall. OK so it may not be the best looking thing ever made, but you can tell the budget for this was pretty high. The music is alright, but nothing stood out for me. I'm not sure why CPM went back and dubbed this for the DVD, years after they released it sub-only, but I'm glad they did ! The dub is top of the line. All the characters are spot on. Michael Sinterniklaas directed this, and also played the lead character, Goro, and he does a great job. He makes Goro feel like a real person, like Goro exists out there somewhere. All the other characters are well cast, and do a great job overall. Caroline Hellman is alright as the Bar Tender, but there are some awkward lines here and there from her. She is funny when she is drunk though, so that is a plus. Dan Green plays two roles in this, and does a great job as always. Addie Blaustein plays one of the detectives at Goro's agency and she does a good job as well. Overall it's a great dub, but it sort of feels wasted on such an unknown title.

Being such an old and niche title, I wasn't expecting much with the the special features on this one. There really is nothing worth mentioning on the DVD. Overall the anime is pretty interesting. There are some problems with the plot, but I have to agree with Sevakis, that they are forgivable seeing how rare to see an anime like this make it to the US. The animation and dub are very good, but the music is not the best ever. It's a good detective drama, well worth the couple bucks for the DVD and I suggest it to anyone interested in mysteries. You can't go wrong with the price it's going for anyway.

Prede's Review

3.5/5 Stars


  1. Never even heard of this one. Aces

  2. I hated the guts out of "Human Crossing". It was really like some middle aged man's view of the world, who still though it was still the 1970's. Quite unrealistic and unbelivable.

    On the other hand I enjoyed "Hello Hedgehog" a lot more. It's very much like a BBC or Channel 4 cop drama that my parents so dearly love. Like "Midsomer Murders". That's not a put down by the way. However I really got this feeling while watching it that may have been better stories that they could have pulled out of the manga.

    I think if you like this one you may enjoy "Master Keaton" Prede. It's done by the same guy who did "Yawara!" and "Monster", but there's a bit more action in it than this show.

  3. Hmmm...."Human Crossing", I can understand the hate on that one. But I really liked it. It's not a favorite of mine or anything, but I did like it. Of course that doesn't mean I don't have a lot of problems with that however. For one the constant need to have happy holywood endings for every episode, no matter what, got on my nerves. Even when it would never happen in real life, or the 22 minutes could never alow for it to be told properly, or the story may be better told with a sadder ending, no to hell with that, give it a happy ending. It felt like an american TV show, that has to sum everything up by the end of the show, and get everything back to normal. I didn't like that aspect. And it';s a very uneven show, some episodes are better written then others. Oh and many stories just played out to unrealistically for me. And I can totally see what you mean by it feeling very 1970-ish. I totally get that. Like the writers were living in denial, like it's the 1970's and this is how the world is. And that is a bit of a problem, especially since they try and make the show very realistic. However the majority episodes I enjoyed, and many were great. It was pretty impressive to be able to tell complete stories within the time frame, and make them very emotional. And many of the stories reflected real life very well, and the drama was handled with care most of the time. There's a lot to like about that series. And a lot to get bothered by. Still I found I liked it more overall. Not sure how many times I'll re-watch it, but it's a decent show (with some big problems sadly :( ). Although I found myself enjoying "Domain of Murder" much, much more.

    "Domain of Murder" is totally rooted in the type of detective stories your talking about. And it's a very well done OVA, although flawed. I wonder what else the manga had to offer.

    "Master Keaton" however is a favorite of mine! Thanks for the suggestion though, because obviously you get my tastes. It's a really solid show, much better then "Human Crossings" and a little better then this. I'd give it my full 4 stars. The first few episodes sadly were kind of weaker then the rest of the show. I think that may have to do with Urasawa not writing the first few stories in the manga, and I hear it's almost a frame for fram adaptation of the manga. So that makes a lot of sense. Urasawa has a lot of talent, I'm currently watching "Yawara" and "Monster", and reading "20th Century Boys" and "Pluto". I like his very cinematic type of story telling.

    I find I enjoy these "Salaryman shows" every once in awhile. "Master Keaton", this, "Human Crossing", "Ergo Proxy", "Witch Hunter Robin", "Le Chevalier D'Eon", etc. These types of series apeal to my tastes sometimes. While I have to be in the mood for them, I find I really like them.

    Anyway thanks so much for reading and commenting. I'm glad you liked "Domain of Murder". Be sure to check out the dub (if your into that). I agree with Sevakis that it's one of CPM's stronger dubs. Although I don't think I'd call it their best one. They have a lot of amazing dubs. It's hard to pick a "best" one.

  4. Nice review. I may have to check this one out too. I love a good mystery!

  5. Thanks for reading! It's a great little mystery. Well worth checking out for the price its going for at least.