M.D. Geist was a gory action OAV series animated by Studio Wave and Zero G-Room in 1986. Production on the OAV was a mess with much of the direction for the anime done by a then young and inexperienced director named Koichi Ohata and a disorganized animation team, which led to the anime’s producers to have to recruit the more experienced Hayato Ikeda for occasional consulting.
The anime was picked up for North American VHS distribution in the early 1990s by Central Park Media who used the main character of Geist as the logo for their anime label, U.S. Manga Corps. M.D. Geist winded up being one of the distributor’s best-selling titles at the time and decided to collaborate with Ikeda to release a Director’s Cut edition of the OAV which extended the anime by five minutes and cleaned up many of the animation and transition errors from the original release. Manga Corps also helped provide support for Ikeda in creating the title’s anime sequel, Death Forces, and a comic book adaptation called Ground Zero.
Manga Corps would later distribute a DVD release of both OAVs to M.D. Geist in 2002 up to when Central Park Media declared bankruptcy in early 2009. ADV Films winded up license rescuing both OAVs later in the year and releasing them to DVD on the same disc. Manga Entertainment has streaming rights to the anime as it can be viewed legally online via Hulu.
If you want a fun read about M.D. Geist, check out this Buried Garbage article from Anime News Network several years back from the site’s media director, Justin Sevakis, as he recalls his painful experience putting up with the huge love that his former boss, CPM founder John O’Donnell, had for the anime during his work for the distributor.
Geist was part of a group of superhuman soldiers called Most Dangerous Soldiers (MDS) created by the Regular Army to fight against the Nexrum Army in a bloody war on
the planet Jerra. Unfortunately, the MDS units had no regard for whom they fought as they would attack both ally and foe. This led to the Regular Army to make countermeasures against the MDS units as they forced Geist into cryogenic sleep and launched him into space by satellite. Years later, the satellite crashes back onto the surface of Jerra and Geist is awakened from his sleep. After encountering a group of bandits, Geist is reunited with the Regular Army as he becomes tasked with trying to save the planet from a doomsday weapon called Death Force set to annihilate all life on Jerra.
-Geist- The main protagonist of the series. A member of the MDS units with a strong love of battling who has no regard for whomever gets in his way.
-Vaiya- A female member of the group of bandits that encounter Geist after he awakens from his cryogenic sleep. Greedy for money and admiring Geist for his strength, Vaiya makes several attempts at trying to bring the MDS to her side throughout the OAV to no avail.
-Colonel Krutes- Leader of the Regular Army soldiers and
Geist’s former superior whom Geist assists in the mission to stop Death Force.
With the messy background on M.D. Geist’s production that I brought up above, it’s no wonder that it is well-known as one of anime’s infamous duds. The title has a nice number of sloppy transitions where changes between camera shots and scenes look badly edited. The animation quality isn’t much better as it has not aged too well and is noticeably low quality compared to other anime titles released in the mid-80s having a decent number of animation errors and resorting to enough animation shortcuts as the liberal use of speed stripes and still frames of characters meshed together are fairly common in the title.
The plot to M.D. Geist is very barebones, mostly just being an excuse for Geist’s gory fights against anything that comes his way. The series attempts a twist ending for its finale, but this lacks any kind of impact due to the lack of depth on elements of the title’s plot.
The characters in the series are not much better off either as they are quite one-dimensional in depth and have very little diversity in their personality. For the lead character of the series, Geist comes across as a stereotypical action movie hero, only having much less personality and too consumed with the desire of wanting to engage in battles for one to even care for the guy.
Samurai Shodown was based on the cult hit fighting video game series, Samurai Spirits, made by SNK in 1993 with the game being notable as one of the first fighting games that made use of weaponry as part of its combat system. A TV special that loosely adapted the game’s plot and characters was aired on Fuji TV the following year on September 8. The anime was licensed by ADV Films in the late 1990s releasing the movie on VHS and later on DVD in 2003, with both versions being out of print.
Haohmaru and six other warriors are chosen Holy Warriors tasked with preventing the unsealing of the power of the evil god Ambrosia. However, one of the warriors named Amakusa betrayed the other six by breaking the god’s seal to obtain Ambrosia’s power. He proceeds to kill the six in a confrontation yet fails to prevent their souls from escaping. One hundred years later, Amakusa is now the corrupt leader of Japan and seeks to wipe out humanity by freeing Ambrosia from his seal. Fortunately, the six Holy Warriors have been reincarnated and are prepared to fight their former comrade. However, Haohmaru has no memory of his past life as a Holy Warrior and the other five warriors find themselves having to try getting him to recall his former life before confronting Amakusa.
-Haohmaru- One of the reincarnated Holy Warriors who has no memory of his former life. The cocky and energetic young swordsman had settled in a small Japanese village before it was wiped out by Amakusa’s forces. Consumed with rage, Haohmaru seeks to avenge the loss of his mother and other villagers, unaware that he is becoming a pawn in Amakusa’s plans.
-Amakusa- A powerful sorcerer who was once one of the Holy Warriors. After being fatally wounded in a heated battle, Amakusa used the last of his strength to release the seal on Ambrosia’s power so he could be resurrected. However, this power corrupts his mind and consumes him to destroy the six other Holy Warriors and have the desire to wipe out humanity by releasing the evil god from his seal.
Samurai Shodown is no different from many horrible anime adaptations of video game titles as the movie’s creators seemed more concerned with making a quick buck off the video game’s popularity than offering a quality anime title to watch.
The title’s Holy Warriors storyline is an anime-original one that has a nice number of glaring plot holes and logical lapses. Considering it took one hundred years in the storyline for the six killed warriors to be reborn and reunite, you would have to wonder why Amakusa didn’t bother wiping out humanity in that time or kill the warriors outright
while they were much younger to keep them from being a threat.
Alongside its issues with its anime-original plot, Samurai Shodown carries all the typical flaws you would find in an anime adapted from a fighting video game series. Characters from the video game, regardless of their role, are added in having little depth compared to Haohmaru and Amakusa, seemingly being around just to please fans of the video game. Pacing is clearly rushed which greatly limits any depth one can get from the anime’s plot and characters for one to even care about them. Also, the anime borrows enough clichés from typical action anime such as sudden power upgrades, hammy and cocky villains and way too much emphasis on the main hero despite earlier plot mentions.
Even as an action title, Samurai Shodown fails to deliver good quality in its action scenes thanks to its below average animation. Lazy choreography, reused animation frames and the use of speed stripes in backgrounds are the norm with any action scene you can find in Samurai Shodown.
ADV even had its part to play in enhancing the horrific quality of Samurai Shodown when they changed Amakusa’s gender into a woman for their English dub, only adding more to the gender confusion folks had of the androgynous villain’s character.
Master of Martial Hearts was a 5-episode OAV anime series released from October 29, 2008 to February 25, 2009. The series was animated by Studio ARMS, who are well-known for creating Elfen Lied and a number of other ecchi titles, and is currently licensed in America by Funimation Entertainment for streaming and video release.
High school student Aya Iseshima comes across a brawl between two girls competing in a tournament for a prize called the Platonic Heart (Martial Heart in English dub) that will grant any wish to the winner of the tournament. Aya finds herself making friends with one of the two girls, a young priestess named Miko Kazuki, who chooses to retire from the tournament as her wish of making friends with someone came true. However, Aya finds herself placed in the tournament in Miko’s place. When the priestess is mysteriously abducted from her home, Aya finds herself competing in the Platonic Heart tournament against a number of fetish-themed women to learn of the whereabouts of Miko and the true nature of the tournament.
Originality is definitely not Master of Martial Hearts' best area. The series takes aspects of Ikki Tousen with its fan service and clothes-tearing fights with many aspects of the show’s plot being an excuse for said fights, even with the occasional hints dropped regarding the true nature of the Platonic Heart tournament. The fights Aya gets involved in involve women in fetish-themed outfits from their professions whose only roles are to pander to the title’s otaku audience and be punching bags to the female lead.
Master of Martial Hearts also takes a page from School Days’ book in trying to create an unexpected and shocking resolution in its final episode when Aya learns the truth surrounding the Platonic Heart tournament (which I won’t spoil here). While School Days made some sense with its shocking resolution with how hated much of its cast became from their actions (one of the few times you'll hear me praise the series for something), the revelations concerning the tournament for Master of Martial Hearts come across as poorly written and mean-spirited in comparison.
The action scenes don’t even work well in this title because of the subpar animation in Master of Martial Hearts. The quality and detail in the series looks more on par with a TV anime than an OAV and the action scenes weren’t too engaging or fluid as attacks from many female fighters tended to be themed for whatever fetish that the fighters stuck with and shortcuts with animation were quite notable. Also, don’t be too surprised if you see a change in the bust sizes of Aya and Natsume as they tend to switch quite frequently between being normal-sized and huge.
Might also want to avoid listening to Master of Martial Hearts' opening music as it makes for quite the obnoxious and irritating little J-Pop song.