Yet another Japanese animated tale of super-powered teenaged martial artists in an imagined universe, SHADOW SKILL: THE MOVIE offers some nice imagery and bursts of action, but is ultimately packed with too many arcane details to be of interest to any but the most diehard fans of video
game-style animated fantasies.
In the kingdom of Karuda, Ella Ragu, the 17-year-old master of the Shadow Skill, is the reigning champion after she defeats the demon beast Barsalf in the Karuda Combat Skills Competition. Her stepbrother Gau Ban has made a vow of silence until he can match Ella in the Shadow Skill martial art.
When Ella is attacked by Goa X, who revives the corpse of Barsalf, Gau goes to her rescue under the guidance of legendary warrior Scarface.
Gau and Ella are enlisted, along with Ella s bosom companion, the sorceress Fowari, by the teenaged Kiao Liu to seek out and defeat the demon beast, King of the Moon, a giant centaur with the head of a wolf. A four-pronged effort by Gau, Ella, Fowari, and Kiao Liu finally defeats the beast.
Fowari's stepbrother Lui comes out of hiding to manipulate a fight between Fowari and Ella, based on his assertion that Ella had killed Fowari's master. Gau learns that Lui wants Faurie eliminated so that he, Lui, can achieve their school's top ranking. Confident in his mastery of Shadow Skill,
Gau takes on Lui and defeats him, with the help of Scarface.
SHADOW SKILL: THE MOVIE (the video's onscreen title) strings together for theatrical release three episodes of an original animation video (OAV) series. Its U.S. video release is titled SHADOW SKILL, PART 2 (the title on the video box) because it follows the video release of the first episode
earlier in the year. Unlike other Japanese features compiled from OAV sources, this one makes no attempt to link the three unrelated stories with bridging narration or new footage.
Set in a vaguely medieval fantasy kingdom bursting with competing warriors, martial arts schools, demon beasts, and roving bands, the production offers some beautiful background scenery, frequent exciting and bloody fight scenes, and a moving and dramatic score. However, the wealth of trivia
poured out about these characters and their histories, rivalries, and special powers quickly overwhelms the viewer until the proceedings are virtually incomprehensible. To make matters worse, the English-language voice dubbing is even shriller and more badly directed than usual for English-dubbed
anime. (Violence, profanity.)
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- Released: 1997
- Rating: NR
- Review: Yet another Japanese animated tale of super-powered teenaged martial artists in an imagined universe, SHADOW SKILL: THE MOVIE offers some nice imagery and bursts of action, but is ultimately packed with too many arcane details to be of interest to any but… (more)