Domain of Murder
Released Year : September 1, 1992 to ????
No of Episodes : 1
Genre : Drama,Mystery,Psychological,Seinen
Plot : On the trail of a missing husband, private investigator Goro crosses paths with a deranged killer. (Source: ANN)
Our Review : Ah "Hello Hedgehog: Domain of Murder", this is an OVA that almost know one knows about, in the U.S. and in Japan. I wouldn't even know about it if it weren't for ANN's recent Buried Treasure article. I read that review of it, and it seemed interesting so I bought the DVD. I am quite happy that I did, because this is quite an undicovered gem. It's no masterpeice, but it's a very good series.
This OVA is based off of the popular seinen manga "Hello Hedgehog". Sadly the OVA did not become too popular, but lucky enough for us, Central Park Media licensed it for some reason, and even gave it a good dub a few years later. Anyway the story is very interesting. It's a classic detective tale, but the mystery behind it is very interesting. The story starts out with Detective Goro (nicknamed "Hedgehog" due to his hair) being asked to find a lady's long lost husband. He ran away from the family years ago, and she beleived him to be dead. But a recent wanted poster she found (how cliche) has a picture of him on it. There's a different name on the poster, but it's definitely his picture. This lady wants the detective to find her husband, so she can talk to him once more before he goes to jail. It's an odd request, but Goro takes the case ( a little reluctantly at first). The case leads him to the other side of Japan, and while investigating there are many twists and turns. The plot is pretty much a regualr mature detective drama, something we'd be more used to seeing in an American Live Action Movie, or TV series then in anime, but the change in medium is well welcomed. The mystery is very good, but not without it's faults. I wouldn't go as far as calling them plot holes, but there are some real problems with the story. Many things that unfold are very unlikely, which is normally a little forgivable in an anime, but I'll hold them to it for this, since they are trying to be very realstic. For one thing, why does this one man make so much more progress on the case the the entire police force? Another thing, why the HELL didn't the police grab this man when he was about to get on the ferris wheel (toward the end of the OVA), or one of the many other times they could have grabbed him at the amusement park!? Look I know they are trying to "protect" his son, but they are putting him in (physical) harms way by not taking him away from his father! Trying to protect him from mental scares is not a good enough reason to gamble with hsi life! Real life police don't act this way, and least I sure hope they don't. If an officer ever made the same choses that the officers make in this anime, I would expect them to be fired! They make some real stupid descisions toward the end...but I digress. Anyway because they allowed him to get on the ferris wheel, an illogical scene occures, which is a pivotal moment in the anime, and due to this it feels forced and illogical and loses it's point. The part with the husband/father in the bar also has some problems to it, and feels a little off. More time should have been speant explaining exactly what went on there. There are also some real leaps of faith needed to believe that the car crash scene would ever happen in real life. It doesn't even make sense that the family is magically holding on to a vine, when they were just in their car folloing down a cliff! Of course the father is the only one holding on to the vine and the kids are holding on to him, too! But besides the multiple problems with the plot, it's actually pretty good. The ending was decent and it told a good story. If your forgiving, and willing to not question a few major scenes, this is a very good mystery anime. Perhaps I'm a little to hard on the plot anyway. It's not that bad.
As Justin Sevakis says in his "Buried Treasure" review of the OVA, I wouldnt call the animation/artwork ugly and cheap looking, I would call it realistic and detailed. The backgrounds are great looking! Ok so it's not Cowboy Bebop, or Paprika, or something, but the backgrounds are very good for 1992. It didn't blow me away, but it's above average. As for the character designs, I really enjoyed them. Some would call them ugly, I would call them real looking and seinen inspired. They all have a rustic, personal look to them I'd say. I wish a few more anime series looked like this. It's not top level work, but it's not cheap or anything at all.
While many of the characters actions (and non-actions) are very illogical (esecially the sons and the police forces actions, but even th e husband/father and wife/mothers toward the end), I still would give this about an 8/10. Many of the characters are realistic and interesting, despite problems with the others. They really show us a little bit of the way they live, and let us into their world a little. We learn a lot about these people in a short amount of time, which I think is a real feat. Although many of the characters feel tacked on and a little useless at the end, there's no one I really hated in the story, and I felt sympathetic to all of the. I felt like they were all decent or good characters.
I agree with Justin Sevakis on this one. It's so rare to see an anime like this make it to the US that the flaws are easily forgivable. It's really enjoyable, esecially if you don't sweat the small stuff (and think too hard about many of the major scenes). It's easy to like this OVA, and I'm very glad that I did. I think I may have been a little to hard on this OVA, because I really did enjoy it.
Now to sum it up. The story is great, with an interesting mystery, and great characters. There are problems with the plot, and illogical characters do harm the OVA, but it still comes out looking very nice. The music is decent, but forgettable. The artwork is great, and the character desings interesting. It's a good detective drama, with an attempt at realism, but does comes off a little forced. Great suspense story, and a good watch. This is not going to become your next favorite OVA, but you will probally enjoy it. I know I did!
Domain of Murder - Buried Treasure Review: http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/buried-treasure/2009-03-05/domain-of-murder