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"Maburaho Vol. 7:" The End of Everything, Thankfully

by on May 31, 2006

After a long, annoying, and at times, torturous ride, Maburaho is down to its last volume. The series has shown flashes of being good, but can it recapture that essence in time for the series finale?

Rin is the only one left with ashes to give to Kazuki, but Shino’s words tear at her core. The young samurai girl is unable to decide which cruel fate Kazuki would rather have, and has shut herself in, not allowing anybody else to enter her shell. Kazuki, sensing her depression, tries everything in his power to get Rin to smile again. However, Rin’s smile is short-lived, as Kazuki is now in a state of pain. Seems there are still some of Kazuki’s ashes lying around somewhere, and to find out who has it, Dr. Akai takes the girls inside Kazuki’s memories. When they find out the truth, the girls have a powerful decision to make. Should they let Kazuki remain as a ghost, but still be the Kazuki they all know and love? Or should they restore him to human form, causing a chain reaction that will erase Kazuki’s memories forever?

Maburaho’s few shining moments have come thanks to the drama, and since this volume is almost all drama, you would think that this would be worth watching. Well, you’re right. The first episode feels a little padded, since neither Rin nor Kazuki do a whole lot until the final few minutes, but the episode is still rather enjoyable. I’m not sure if it’s because of the episode actually being good, or just the fact that Rin’s my favorite of the four girls though. Either way, the episode has some good chemistry between Rin and Kazuki as the two continue to spend the day together, which is enjoyable to watch. I do wish we could have seen Rin’s family one last time before the series ended forever, as her talking to other people would have been better than her staring at the river every 5 minutes, but even without that the episode is decent. It’s not perfect in any way, but for this show, it’s good enough.

After that, we get the two-part finale, and the drama here is actually really good, mainly due to Yamase. Her reluctance to help bring back Kazuki is rather refreshing and it does fit her character very well, since Yamase’s always been different than the other three girls. Her reactions (as well as the other girls’ reactions) to Kazuki’s memories (proving that he is a teenage boy after all) are pretty chuckle-worthy. This ends up leading to a big fight between Yamase and Rin & Kuriko, which is actually really entertaining. Too bad Yuna stops it before the fight can really get going. But then the episode kind of falls apart after that, as Yuna spouts a couple lines, and everything’s OK. Well, not really, as the big climax gives way to a really, really annoying cop-out. We also find out about Shino’s past and her relationship with the Manager, but only about what is essentially a human transmutation. Apparently, Shino’s been around a while, but it’s unclear if she’s immortal, or just using magic to keep her living longer. But we don’t get any info on that and instead deal with the major cop-out ending. I mean, seriously, that final few minutes were really, really disappointing.

With the budget saved up over the past few episodes, J.C. Staff poured all of it into the final three episodes and it pays off. The background of Kazuki’s memories, similar to a galaxy in space, adds some spice to the animation and offers up an interesting background for the characters to react against. And the fight near the beginning of Episode 24 is extremely well animated, both 2D and CG-wise. Then again, the animation has never been this series’ problem, so there’s no real cause for concern here. Really, there’s not that much to complain about here. The transfer is typical ADV as well. There’s some slight interlacing and blurriness around the various outlines, but if you have an old-school analog television and not one of those super HD, mega-clear, new-fangled sets, you should be all set. You know, it’s really hard to talk about the animation without using filler sentences when there isn’t anything that I haven’t said in my other Maburaho reviews. Oh, well. I guess that is a good thing.

It’s more of the same for the sound, as well. The music, while not excellent, serves its purpose rather well and enhances the scenes effectively enough. The opening gets some extra playtime, which I don’t really mind at all, since the opening is rather catchy. One thing that might annoy some fans, though, is that the ending theme starts up 2/3 of the way through the final episode, followed by the epilogue. Unless it’s being played on a computer, some people might want to hit “Menu” as soon as the ending starts, angry at the conclusion at that point (since the cop-out happens after the credits end). I know what the producers were trying to do, so I’m just giving a warning. Both voice casts go all out on the final few episodes and it pays off, as all the actors, including the Japanese Kazuki, sound excellent. Luci Christian’s Yamase deserves some extra props, as she really made Yamase, who didn’t appear all that much in the series, stand out among the girls. Really, if you haven’t been disappointed by the voices so far, this volume isn’t going to disappoint you.

Unfortunately, ADV forgot to pack in actual extras in this DVD once again. On the disc itself, we get the textless opening/closing, trailers, and more production art. There’s also the newspaper insert, which is still a fun read, as it talks about an American magician who became a Chinese magician under the name Chung Ling Soo, and his rivalry against Chung Ling Foo, along with his final act. But that still doesn’t excuse ADV for not having a commentary during the final episode or some kind of interview or something. I mean, the extras were the best parts of the first 5 volumes, and now that the show gets better, the extras disappear? Come on, ADV! You can do better than that!

Overall, this is only for Maburaho fans. Those who hated previous volumes might be able to tolerate this final volume, but it won’t make rush out to by the other volumes anytime soon.

Episodes on Maburaho Volume 7: Wizard of Ahhhhs!
Episode #22: He Kept It…
Episode #23: We Were Seen…
Episode #24: It Ended…

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