Review by: Brenda Gregson
Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
MSRP: $19.98 US
Running Time: 90 minutes
Rating: TV PG
Release Date: Available Now
Welcome to a prison where dreams hold the answer to a real truth.
Rare is the anime that will have you loving its unusual nature and offbeat visual and storytelling style to the point that you will be scratching your head one minute and then singing its praises the next. Jing King of Bandits: Seventh Heaven fits this description with The Complete OVA collection. While it only spans three episodes, the anime still manages to be refreshingly unique and lots of fun to watch if you like an offbeat story.
The DVD covers all three episodes of the OVA as a young boy named Jing who the media has labeled the Bandit Boy Wonder or the King of Bandits who has made quite a reputation for himself. Somehow, together with his talking bird (who also happens to have a thing for the ladies) named Kir, has been captured and is now on his way to service his sentence in one of the most unusual maximum security prisons … Asylum #7 or also known as the Seventh Heaven since the prison guards dress like angels complete with fake wings.
Filled with unusual creatures and other assortment of freaks, Jing finds life in this prison is brutal with inmates threatening to break him in half or steal his food. Yet a part of Jing is calm and collected as he reveals that there is something in prison that makes it worth wearing the awful striped inmate uniform and putting up with dangerous inmates. You see, Jing has heard a rumor that stored somewhere deep within the prison itself. He is searching for a treasure known as Dream Orbs. That’s right; Jing plans to steal orbs containing people’s dreams.
As they explore the interior of the prison, they find an inmate who suddenly reveals that he’s a magician with a trick up his sleeve that slips Jing and Kir into a living dream. Suddenly, they find a girl named Benedictine who helps them attempt to escape the prison grounds only to find out that the exterior of the prison is surrounded by a bizarre landscape of mazes. It becomes clear to Jing and his love-sick bird companion that it is becoming hard to make a distinction between reality and dream.
In the meantime, the trio makes it out of prison where they reach a small city’s train station. The train seems to be running late but when it arrives Jing and the others realize that the train is being pulled by a Dodo Bird … a giant Dodo Bird. Unfortunately, some mechanical dummies are chasing after them so they have no choice but to hop on the train and force the conductor to make the train move. The dummies manage to hop on to the train so Jing and his two companions manage to jump on the Dodo and make it fly.
Oddly enough, the events never happened and Jing wakes up realizing that he and Kir had destroyed a statue of the prison’s warden. As punishment, they are sent to solitary confinement where they are chained up and held in the darkness only to find the magician, Compari, inside as well. He tells a tale that’s quite familiar to Jing. It’s the story of his past when he was a child thief living with his brother and his best friends. When his only female friend is kidnapped, Jing (along with an egg that eventually hatches to reveal Kir) comes to her rescue while fighting off a marshal sent to arrest him for theft.
What’s the point of the story? Well, Compari seems to think that he has Jing beaten because he was able to pull a memory and make it come to life like a movie reel. Still, Jing has his own trick of his own and it manages to stun Compari as Jing reveals the truth about the magician. It’s one of the best scenes in the OVA, if you ask me. While there are only three OVA episodes, the series manages to be offbeat yet endearing. The strange scenes and animation might not be everyone’s cup of tea either but if it is you will not be disappointed by the strangeness.
Jing King of Bandits: Seventh Heaven, The Complete OVA, is a short, strange trip that will leave you wondering what’s going on but you will love every second of it at the same time. Sure, the oddball twists and turns might not be everyone’s favorite but if you give it a chance the story will grab you in the end and make you glad you stuck around.
DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN
A young boy who is known throughout the strange world as the Bandit King is finally placed behind bars in the oddest maximum security prison called Asylum #7. It is here that Jing and his talking bird, Kir, look for a hidden treasure as they go up against a powerful magician.
VIDEO QUALITY: A
You just have to love a series where a train is being pulled by a Dodo bird trying hard not to get its tail feathers being bitten off by a pack of dogs. The visual scenery and character design is unique and that’s a very good thing.
AUDIO QUALITY: A-
The score by Eiji Yoshizawa is just as wonderfully strange as the animation itself and, at the same time, is delightfully cinematic. The voice acting for both the Japanese and English dub work wonderfully, although Kir’s voice in English sounds a bit too annoying for my taste.
The single disc comes with a production art gallery that’s a nice touch and a few trailers with not much else. We would have really loved interviews with the cast and the director.
A most unusual yet entertaining anime, Jing King of Bandits: Seventh Heaven is what anime would have been like if David Lynch or Terry Gilliam ever decided to create anime themselves. With bizarre scenes and intriguing animation, it’s hard not to like a three-episode OVA that’s straight-up-mind-blowing and exceptionally fun to watch.