Anime Meta-Review


Shadow Skill


By Date




Title Info

  • seen: 1 of 2
  • type: OAV
  • grade: worthy
  • genre: magic_war
  • people: Hayashibara
  • made: unknown
  • Review created: Wed Oct 25 12:10:28 EST 2000
  • mod: none

Well, I have to admit, perhaps I was in the mood for a bit of biffo, but this is a pretty good OAV. Given it's a card carrying member of the often woeful magic warrior genre this is probably one worth seeking out (unless you detest the genre). Why is it good? well, as you might suspect, its not really due to the story. In essence you have a seriously tough and agressive female warrior, skilled and deadly enough to hold the title of Sevaar, which is given only to the very best. She's also adopted a young guy, gau, who she is training...albeit generally by kicking him through landscape features. The fact that this actually comes to seem like a form of affection should give a good idea for how brutal this OAV is. The story focuses on their regular trip to visit the graves of Gau's parents. But the actual focus is on Gau acheiving another level in his abilities as a practitioner of `shadow skill'...the semi-magical martial art that they all seek to master.

One cool thing is that normally these shows are dominated by a `noble' fight against an evil villain. While there is such a villain in this series he proves to be little more than another target when he unwisely shows himself. The true focus is on what it means to be a warrior. While its far from deep philosophy it does mean that the show has a strong element of character, atmosphere and some consideration of what it means to be at this level in a martial art. Elements such as the `love' of this dangerous craft, the `liberating' elements of personal power are touched on and handled quite well. At the same time the three main characters all approach it in subtly different ways, and the interaction between them is actually pretty cool. There are also flashes of other characters, familiar to those who know the TV series or the manga, but they have minimal introduction or impact in this anime. I should also mention that this is a longer OAV episode and that it exists largely outside of the continuity of the TV series.

These shows also live or die by the hot martial arts action they contain, and shadow skill is no slouch in this department. While the absence of a `villain' might seem a limiting factor this will only last until you see what these guys consider training...ouch. While the style does include `magic' moves (and that is the only thing that can explain their survival) there's some awfully active and inventive physical moves in there. And while the budget is not immense the animation is good quality and willing to try to represent these moves rather than fall back to endless `energy' blasts. What's even nicer is that the moves actually manage to look cool, and some of the fights take place in interesting environments. While the music was fairly subdued, barring some energetic electronic stuff at the `big' fights, the ambient noises are excellent and the voices superb (even those not belonging to Megumi Hayashibara). While I don't actually like this genre much, and there is little story here, if I had to sit down and watch a fighting anime there's a good chance this would be the one i'd select.

The only review for this title is from Lord Carnage and it warned me that there are two tapes (50 and 90 minutes) which is sweet. In any case he liked it, but found the time limit to be a limiting factor in this review. And you also get another look at the hentai-alike covers which have nothing to do with the series.


Words by Andrew Shelton, Web by Ticti, Last Compile: Wed Aug 5 12:39:24 WST 2009