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
"Hello Hedgehog: Domain of Murder" is an oldie detective short-film, being an adapted story from the manga. Although it's old, the art style is proportioned well and still looks good - taking on a look similar to Naoki Urasawa's art. The animation is also good and rarely wavers in quality control, while there is moments of stuttering due to not enough frames at times. The sound work is good to the ambiance and the soundtrack is also fair, with older music styles at times. A dub was created for this, surprisingly, and it's even more surprising how good it is. I went the dub route
and could definitely say it's not the wrong way to go, as there isn't one "ill-served" actor (random quote from section on this anime from "The Anime Encyclopedia, 3rd Revised Edition: A Century of Japanese Animation"). There is also no try-hard voice actors that speak out of a natural state (besides some brief workers), which deserves extra points. The characters of this short are also well-realized some of the time, featuring moments of interaction that feel genuine and are interesting just with that in mind - even if nothing much were going on. The mystery of the story is interesting too in what it leads to, and in some of the turns that come along the way, but the story is also in a way the weakest part of this short.
With some believable characters and good English actors, it was just a shame that the detective case itself didn't end up with the same genuine taste in the mouth. The issue with it is that there are far too many assumptions that lead to the case's resolution. Some of these assumptions that are made are also inherently based on nothing, and are even biased into making one think a certain way about a situation that a detective should still be critical about - not finding every possible twist to lead the conclusion in the direction they see the culprit's motives and mentality from personal feelings. However, the assumptions do go in the detective's favor of course, but I never really felt impressed by his work. The only thing the detective really did as a solid move forward was finding a person related to the suspect to get information, along with finding an explanation for an angle of a wound. From there, further information was given by that same related person when it benefited moving the story forward - one moment literally being the related person to the suspect calling the detective right as the growing thought of a potential turn to the case brews in his mind, only happening to solidify his hunch for him to move forward with it. That type of scenario happens twice, but that isn't the only type of victorious assumption that is made. Two other assumptions are literally never backed with anything and are simply of the detective rebuilding scenarios in his mind to understand what happened - but with no real evidence to lead to his twisted conclusion of supporting how he hopes everything will turn out. There is also one, without a question, stupid decision that is made by the detective and the police near the end - and it happens so continuously that I almost want to say it was multiple stupid decisions. This decision leads to a bad situation that could've been prevented, but evidently leads into a nice conclusion with regards to why the whole case happened. And while that conclusion does feel good at being conclusive, the previous out-of-nowhere stupid decisions leading to it make it feel potent of contrivances. I would say some of the assumptions leading to developments as fueled by contrivances as-well, with regards to random information being fed from nowhere to make new thoughts feel plausible real-time.
Overall, "Hello Hedgehog: Domain of Murder" was enjoyable and in-a-way better than I thought. I have been looking for something like "Monster" for quite a while and can safely say this isn't that, although the similar art style was nice along with the surprising work that went into this in visuals and voices. I feel that more adaptations of this manga would've been cool as there is no telling if there's better stories than this, but even if this were the average level - a show like that would still be enjoyable.
Domain of Murder is a simple old school detective story, and it was pretty fun to watch. Its just a single episode based on a random case from the manga it was adapted from.
story: The story is about a private detective working for a firm taking on a case to find a disturbed killer. This story about the killer has a twist I have never seen in an anime before or anything else in matter of fact. It makes you think would we have done the same thing if we were in his shoes or what would we have done different. it might have not
been the right thing to do but was it really wrong?.Is it fair for us to judge him on the decision he made. It will make you question your moral values and makes you think what did the victim feel when the killer had to make the tough decision. I know I am very vague about the twist behind the killer but I cannot ruin the little the story has(for the few that decide to watch it because of this review), since it is only 51 minutes. 8/10
Animation: The animation has the old school feel. It kind of feels low budget but the animation is clean. It being low budget does not take away from the anime at all because I believe it goes well with the detective story. None of the characters are pretty or cute which makes ova seem more realistic. It also animated some great scenery from a couple of Japan's cities. 7/10
Sound: I can't say I remember much but nothing annoyed me. Sub and dub both are done well. Decent background music. One thing I do remember is that they changed the dialogue and accents from the background characters, when Goru travels from Tokyo to another city. It is easy to recognize in the sub and probably not at all in the dub, but is mentioned in both. 6/10
Characters: The main character is Detective Goru he is a private detective and works with other private detectives for a firm. To me it seems the other detectives and the people that run the firm are main characters from the manga but only make a small appearance in this ova and that is probably due to them only showing one case from the manga. The killer and other people involved in the case get well developed for the case so the audience gets a real feel of what these characters are going through. You get to know more and more about Detective Goru's personality as the ova progresses . 7/10
I did enjoy it nothing really bored me when I was watching it. I wish they had done at least a few more ovas and maybe we could have gotten introduced to more of the main characters from manga. Like I said earlier it is really just a random case from the manga adapted into animated form. To me I think it is probably not even the best case or story the manga had to offer. I could just tell by watching this ova that the manga will have more interesting stories and cases to show. I haven't read the manga and don't plan to read it, but that's just because I don't really like to read.
I watch a lot of anime and I don't really watch any american TV even though I live in America so I can't say for sure if the twist has not been done before. but I have not seen it before. I think you should give it a watch especially if you like some detective mysteries.