Name: Fener of Minerva: The Emergence (75.00% in 2 votes)
Release date: 2000
Reviewed by: Mike
Mike Thomas here with another OVA review. This time for Fencer of Minerva: The Emergence (Minerva no Kenshin). Fencer of Minerva is being released in the States by CPM's US Manga Corp sub-division. I'm afraid I don't know the original Japanese creators (though I do know it was part of the "Minerva Project").
Fencer of Minerva: The Emergence is the first 3 episodes of this 5 episode series. It is continued in Fencer of Minerva: The Tempest (also available from CPMs US Manga Corp sub-division). My review is based on the US Manga Corp subtitled version of "The Emergence".
Minerva no Kenshin is an adventure-romance 5 part OVA based heavily on John Norman's GOR novels. The Emergence is parts 1 - 3, and the Tempest finishes the series with parts 4 and 5. The story centers around the spirited girl Diana, and her boyhood love Sho, and their efforts of overthrowing the usurper king and his allies.
However, as with any good romantic story, their path to victory is very dangerous and pushes them both to their limits mentally and emotionally.
This series rocks! I cannot laud enough praises on it. After watching the initial 10 minutes of the first episode (each episode is 45 minutes long) I was hooked. I just wish I could remember who originally created this work (I do know it was part of the "Minerva Project") so I could give them the credit they are due. If you know who created this, let me know.
Anyway, the animation is fluid and well detailed. The colors choosen very much accent the characters and what their personalities are like. The characters are well drawn; from their factial expressions, to their movements, to their costumes. Each one has trademark movements that only they do, which adds to each characters personality and makes them that much more realistic.
The subtitles were very well done. Clear lettering, and small enough not to obscure what was going on, as well as being well timed. The translation itself was very good too. No lines were "Americanized" or translated loosely... though I don't think the ages that are subtitles are the true ages of the charcters. I believe that Sho and Diana are more likely 16 years old, and not 19 years old. The only problem with the subtitling that I had was that I think the music lyrics were hard-subtitled, so they can sometimes obscure the bottom of the scene, and the font/color chosen for them isn't the best (it's green with a black border).
The seiyuu were excellent; kudos to the cast for capturing the essence of their characters. Sho sounds like a Prince who has lost his throne, but not his Princely nature. Diana sounds like a girl coming of age who is very emotionally and mentally strong. Even Prince Dunan sounds very villanous and manipulative.
The music was also right on the money. A terrific mix of classical, chanting, and romantic sounding music helps to emphasis the nature of this story. And the heroic music when you first meet "the masked rider" is truely awesome. This is what really hooked me into staying up till 2 in the morning to finish this tape. Great musical score.
As to the story itself... DA-YUM! What a story! Set on an alien world strangely similar to ours, it is very similar to John Norman's GOR series. And it has definately drawn from this series of books for the cultures, histories, cities, and the like. The story itself is a romantic coming of age drama with great characters, and a very rich story.
Diana is the daughter of the previous king, but the new king has adopted her as his own. However, she does not want to marry Prince Dunan, and escapes the palace. Here is a girl who knows what she want's and isn't afraid to go out and get it when an obsticle is put into her way. However, our heroine's luck quickly runs out as she's captured by nomadic slave traders, and her foster-father has sent his army out to find her and bring her back.
This is where the story really takes off. For now Diana has to become a slave. And, although it seems like the other slave girls are being abusive to her, you realize quickly that they are just trying to train her as fast as they can so that her master won't tire of her, and throw her out to the wolves. Basically the experienced slaves are trying to keep her safe by teaching her the ropes.
Luckily fate has decreed that our heroine is to meet her true love, Sho. Sho arrives on the nomads camp and impresses the slave traders so much that they give Sho Diana to become his slave (which is an amuzing plot twist because when Sho and Diana were children she wanted to be a princess and not a slave, and told Sho this). And the slave traders agree to help Sho retake his throne from the usurper who killed his father.
Now this is where the anime expressess just how smart, quick-witted, strong, and determined Diana is. When she and Sho are trapped at a local town, she tricks her father's guards into obeying her because they believe she's Princess Diana (and she scolds them for not obeying her royal words sooner... very clever indeed. She basically used their own words against them). When Prince Dunan first captures her, she threatens to kill herself unless he releases her beloved Sho. Next, she's willing to undergo humiliation after humiliation once she is capture because it'll keep others she loves and cares about from being hurt. Lastly, she feels great remorse when her foster-father kills himself because he's the only father she's known, and she doesn't want her father to die.
Bascially Diana is one woman who I wouldn't want to pit my wits against because I know I'd lose. She's smart, sassy, quick-witted, clever, sexy, intellegent, strong, and independant. A character that a lot of girls could look up to.
In the third episode of The Emergence, Diana is able to save Sho and the Lady Patris (who Sho has become a retainer for) from Lady Patrises Uncle's fowl plans of killing her and taking all of Patrises estate. And Diana is able to show Patris that people do care for her and want to see her happy as well.
One last thing, even though Diana is Sho's slave, the series asks the question "Who really is the master?" As Diana is able to use her feminine charms to get what she wants, and you understand just how much Sho loves Diana, and how much Diana loves Sho.
This series does have many mature themes, and uses some serious trauma's for the plot. With this coming of age story Diana's, Patrises, and Sho's (to name a few) sexual desires awaken and grow. A lot is shown, and a lot is implied (which means you should watch it with your children, and I'd recommend a 15+ age for it), but it is shown in a very honest and romantic light.
More importantly Diana's rape and abuse at the hands of Prince Dunan is a very powerful scene. It truely cements just how vile and retched Prince Dunan is. However, it also shows just how strong a character Diana is, because she's willing to endure the emotional and physical pain it causes her so that no one else will be hurt or killed by Prince Dunan. And, more importantly, she realizes that despite this horrid event that has occured to her, she's still a very wonderful person that people love and care about. That is, though this event may have caused Diana to lose her innocence, it did not harden her heart and make her cold.
The only complaint I have about this tape is that it has no omake. I have heard that in the 2nd tape after the during/after the final credits is another short segment that is very important to watch, but there were none in "The Emergence". Also a minor complaint I have is Minerva no Kenshin would have been better translated as "Swordsman of Minerva" or "Knight of Mivera" instead of "Fencer of Minerva". But these are both minor quibbles, and don't really detract from this A+ show.
This is a highly recommended series. Even more so than End Of Summer (which is one of my personal favorites).
If you have any questions, please email me.
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