Time for another "dust collector", an aging tape that has lurked upon the shelves of darkness, growing strong on the evil of those who gave it a voice. But I am the judge of dead anime, and I will prosecute it on the VHS of great justice!
There is evil done in this world, and those who suffer from it have always hoped that justice would be brought to punish the wrongdoer. But human justice is so flawed, evidence is uncertain, judgment complex, and the punishments limited. Many people who carry out even the most evil acts manage to continue on without any ramifications, and all the advantages, from the crimes they have committed.
Or so they think, for the dead have a court of their own. And their judge, clutching the laws of darkness in a book bound in human skin that beats with a heart of its own, can call the dead as witnesses. And his judgments are not bound by human morality. Nothing can stop the justice he represents ... apart from the even more terrifying defence attorney of the dead!
Corny.. really, really corny. The idea, even when stated in a neutral fashion, is way over the top. You can almost imagine how it could be done well, with this exotic supernatural basis being used as the hidden basis for a subtle character driven drama. CLAMP, on a good day, or the people who did Kyuuketsuki Miyu, could make something decent out of this basis. But this is done with all the subtlety of a slasher fic which makes the whole thing just way over the top.
Then again if anyone deserves punishment it is the scriptwriter and the people who did the dub for this title. Normally I discuss production last but this is a show that is pushing towards comedy as it is, it didn't need the terrible over-acting it receives here. This is especially true for the defence lawyer of the dead who's irritating nasally tones just destroy any depth the role might have had. The presentation of the 10 judges of the dead is also something that will be hard to forget, although on re-watching the bailiff of the dead is also extremely giggle inducing.
The core of this story has issues itself. It seems at times as if it wants to be a horror film, but it's too messy and uncontrolled to get away with that. Not to mention that the `legal' bits tend to drain any energy and suspense from the show. The legal bits themselves, that could be intelligent and suspenseful, are pretty basic and the eventual court of the dead looks like a disco nightmare and ends up being a fairly severe anti-climax. It also seems rather strange that the judge of the dead holds a job as a junior office worker and his domain basically extends to any evil that happens to occur in his office.
Ultimately neither the mystical, nor the logical, conflict actually has sufficient interest to carry the show. And the large number of elements, done without much subtlety, conflict with the show developing a flavor. I also get a vague sense that this was intended to be the pilot for a longer series, but I guess we escaped from that. There's also an expletive or two, and one extremely brief sex scene, which serve to do little more than earn this picture the mature rating its content isn't intense enough to get on its own.
The production is old and was probably nothing great when it first came out. The style tries for gothic but hits disco, the action scenes are pretty average and the animation itself is not smooth. The colors are restricted, and quite flat, and there's some overuse of visual filters. One specific filter is a sort of out of focus effect that is rather painful on the eye. The bodily proportions are also weird and fairly unattractive, reaching a peak in one of the accused who has this strangely inhuman appearance that is never explained and looks quite weird. The voice over I have already mentioned but it really must be blamed again for much of what is wrong with the title. The opening and incidental sound are largely absent, but the closing music is alright.