Ushio & Tora

volume 1 sleeve volume 2 sleeve volume 3 sleeve volume 4 sleeve volume 5 sleeve volume 6 sleeve

Official Blurb:

"Described by many fans as "CALVIN & HOBBES on acid", this video series combines horror, action and wacky humour. Ushio is a temple kid - one of a line of temple guardians going back to the day, five centuries ago, when one of his ancestors pinned a monster to a rock with a magic spear and a temple was built around the creature to keep it contained."

"Ushio doesn't take this too seriously until the day when he releases the monster, and finds himself the custodian of the 2,000 year old Spear of Beasts, which bestows on him the uncanny power of his ancestors and really wild hair."

"To begin with, the relationship between Ushio and his strange companion - whom he names TORA - is strained, partly becase of Tora's declared intention to eat Ushio as soon as he drops his guard; but as they share adventures fighting the various ancient monsters and spirits who still inhabit modern Japanm they come to respect and even like each other."

"Sharp, quirky character designs and imaginative use of colour characterise the series, giving it a biting edge unusual amoung the soft, sweet pastels of much contempoary anime."

Director:        Kunihiuko Yuyama
Screenplay:      Kenji Terada
Copyright:       K. Fujita/Shogakkan/Toshiba EMI/OB Planning/Toho

Label:           Western Connection
Language Format: Japanese language, English subtitles

Volume:          1               2               3
Running time:    60 mins         60 mins         60 mins 
Certificate:     12              12              12
Catalogue no:    WEST 025        WEST 029        WEST 031
Price:           £12.99          £12.99          £12.99
Release Date:    23rd Jan 1995   27th Feb 1995   27th Mar 1995

Volume:          4               5               6
Running time:    60 mins         60 mins         30 mins
Certificate:     12              12              ?
Catalogue no:    WEST 035        WEST 039        WEST 044
Price:           £12.99          £12.99          £12.99
Release Date:    24th Apr 1995   30th May 1995   26th June 1995

Reviews:

Volume 1:

Ushio, an unruly modern youth, has little respect for his father, a temple priest, and even less for his father's tales of a monster pinned to a rock by the Spear of Beast. One day, ordered to clean out an outbuilding, he trips over the ring handle of a trapdoor, and on opening it falls through into a cellar. Within is, of course the Beast. It begs Ushio to free it, but lets slip that it means to eat him once free. Sensible Ushio makes sure the spear is secure, and retreats. Unfortunately, the opening of the cellar has released evil spirits which terrorise Ushio's girl classmates, so he has to return to the cellar to do a deal with the Beast.

This is an excellent series, with both visual humour and comedy springing from the ambiguous nature of the relationship, with Tora appearing by turns monster, adversary, victim and collaborator, and Ushio by turns potential lunch, bully and hero, and an object of mirth for talking to an invisible companion. [Geoff Cowie]

Volume 5:

The front cover blurb describes this as ‘Calvin and Hobbes on acid’, which is fairly appropriate. For those who donít know - Ushio and Tora is the story of a boy and his (tiger-like) demon companion and their adventures together. Ordinarily, Tora (the demon) would simply eat Ushio, but Ushio has the ‘Spear of the Beast’ which allows him to keep the ravenous tiger-demon in line.

This tape contains the 9th and 10th OVAs in the series - the last two ‘normalí episodes (although a ‘Super-Deformed’ episode follows), and these combine to form a two part story.

Sometimes you can find yourself with a cut, without knowing where it came from. Often all that can be recalled is a gust of wind, and then the cut appeared. Some people say that this cut is caused by a vacuum pocket created by the gust of wind. Others say the cut, and the wind, are caused by a creature known as a Sickle-Weasel. This is the premise behind the two part story on this tape.

One of the darker Ushio and Tora stories, it involves a trio of Sickle Weasels, one of whom is on a killing spree, whilst the others try to stop him (note: I say ‘try to stop him’, not ‘want to stop him’). To this end they seek the holder of the ‘Spear of the Beast’ - Ushio - and ask him to help. They donít really want to do this - there is an enmity between the Sickle Weasels and Humanity - but Ushio does become involved. Of course, Tora tags along to lend a hand (literally) and, as he says a number of times, ‘protect his next meal’. However, is Ushio up to the job? Watch and see.

Although often quite simplistic, the animation in Ushio and Tora is effective and doesnít get bogged down. This lends itself to the action scenes (mostly fighting) that dominate the video. Like much of Ushio and Tora, the plot isnít too taxing, but is well paced, mixing comic elements and action sequences.

My one real criticism of this tape (and other Western Connection releases) is the subtitling. The titles are large and clear, and the translation is fine, but the timing leaves a lot to be desired. Although better than it used to be, titles often lag behind the dialogue, or else speed past before you can read them. I think Western Connection need to sort this out if people are to take them seriously.

Despite the titling, I have no reservations about recommending this tape (and any other Ushio and Tora ones in fact). They are a fun blend of comedy and action, and should be enjoyed by anyone who likes Urusei Yatsura, Ranma ½ (or Calvin & Hobbes). [Chris Hartford]

Comment from Usenet:

Martin D. Pay:
Especially the last three parts, which we had over here in the UK as
'CD Theatre' - they're three 10-minute (or thereabouts) mini-episodes
in SD format. Loved the one about the dumplings, and also the one
about the kitten...

Of course over here we had the benefit of one of the more bizarre
subtitled versions. ^_^