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Sakuya, The Slayer Of Demons
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Box Front Japanese Title: Sakuya Yokaiden (“Sakuya, The Demon Slayer”)
Director: Tomoo Haraguchi
Original Release Year: 2000
Running Time: 88 minutes

DVD Released By: Universe Laser & Video (Hong Kong)
Video: Widescreen
Audio: Cantonese 5.1, Cantonese DTS, Mandarin 5.1
Extras: Theatrical trailer
Subtitles: English, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese
Closed Captions: None
Region: 0 (the box says region 3, but the disk is actually region free)
Format: NTSC
Chapters: 9
Packaging: Keepcase
MSRP: $35 HK
UPC #: 4895024924823
Catalog #: 5765
Status: Available


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Reviewed by:  Jen
The Film: In the year 1707, eruptions of Mt. Fuji have released numerous demons upon Japan.  The Sakaki family is destined to fight the demons using Muramasa, the mystical Vortex Sword, which drains its wielder's life.  Sakuya Sakaki's father is killed in battle with a Kappa (a turtle-like water demon).  Sakuya inherits the sword and the demon-killing destiny of her family.  She finishes off the Kappa, but saves its infant son.  She raises him as her own brother and Sakaki heir, Taro Sakaki.

Six months after the defeat of the Kappa demon, Sakuya and Taro (now grown into a 10-year-old boy!) set out for the source of the demons, the field of Kasanagi at the base of Mt. Fuji.  They are accompanied by two ninjas, Hyoeh Mashiragi and Shuzo Nigarasu.  On the way to fight the ultimate demon, the Spider Queen, Sakuya and her company encounter a cat-demon, a wicked puppet master, a group of thieves, and demons both friendly and fierce.

Along the way, Taro's loyalty to Sakuya is tested.  Is he the Sakaki heir, as Sakuya thinks of him, or will he side with the demons?  Sakuya is tested as well.  She vowed to never use the Vortex Sword on humans (the only way to replenish her own life-force), but along the way she encounters men that may be even worse than the demons.

Sakuya, The Slayer Of Demons is a fun action / fantasy.  With the lead characters being a teenage girl and a young boy, the movie is aimed at a younger audience.  However, it is enjoyable for all ages.  The movie is often very stylized, with comic book-like subtitles popping up to describe new heroes and villains.  There is also a guest appearance by several creatures from Daiei's classic Yokai movies.  The special effects (by Shinji Higuchi of the Heisei Gamera series) are generally very good, with only a few fake-looking shots.  Sakuya, well played by Nozomi Ando, is a very strong female lead and she carries the movie well.  Even young Taro is not annoying, as some might expect him to be.  Grade:  B+

Video: The video quality is good throughout.  There is very little grain.  The bright, stylized pallet of the movie comes through nice and clear.  Even the many night scenes aren’t at all murky.  The only real complaint is that it’s not anamorphic.  Grade:  B

Audio: Sakuya is dubbed in both Cantonese (5.1 and DTS) and Mandarin (5.1 only).  Unfortunately, the original Japanese language track is not included.    The Cantonese version is the better of the two 5.1 options.  The dialogue sounds more natural and the voices are better suited to the characters.  There is a slight echo effect to the Mandarin dialogue and the voices do not fit the characters and situations as well.  The music and sound effects are clear on both.  I do not have a DTS system, so I cannot comment on that option.  Grade:  C

Extras / Menus: Most of the menus are still images with no sound or music.  The chapter select menu has animated film clips in the selection boxes.  The only extra is the film’s theatrical trailer.  It’s presented in widescreen and Japanese 2.0, with no subtitles.  Picture quality is noticeably less than the film itself.  Grade:  C

Final Analysis: A fun movie on a decent-quality DVD.  Until a subtitled version is available that contains the original Japanese language track, this disc is certainly recommended.  Final Grade:  B
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