Master of Mosquiton Anime Review
US Release By
Turn of the Century Gothic Horror Comedy
6 30-minute episodes
1996-11-21 - 1997-04-19
What's In It
- Superpowered Vampire Fights
- Pathetic Monsters
- Classic Super Technology
- Violence: 3 (significant)
- Nudity: 3 (significant)
- Sex: 2 (moderate)
- Language: 1 (mild)
One-quarter vampire and three-quarters human, Mosquiton possesses the powers of a vampire, yet is able to control his vampire instincts... so long as his thirst for blood is not aroused. Moreover, he is truly immortal--it takes only a drop of blood to resurrect him, though he will be bound to serve whoever's blood it is.
Therein lies the rub: Mosquiton's current master, Inaho, is a 17-year-old girl who's obsessed with finding an ancient artifact called the O-Part that will grand her the eternal life (and youth) that she needs to spend the aeons with her Moskie. As if that weren't bad enough, Mosquiton isn't exactly the angst-ridden paragon of vampirehood, either--he's got a soft spot for his new master, even if she does treat him like a slave. Joined by Mosquiton's two supernatural sidekicks--the fire and ice spirits Hono and Yuki--the crew set out to capture eternal life. Or something like that.
Their quest gets a pretty obvious jumpstart when an immense pyramid suddenly pops up in the middle of London, but following it is a very dangerous enemy from Mosquiton's past, someone even more dangerous from the annals of history.
Quick ReviewSwitch to Full Review
Master of Mosquiton has the foundation of an entertaining diversion--it's got vampire angst with a strong twist of humor, an imaginative plot, and a lot of goofy slapstick. Coupled with quality banter and lively acting in both Japanese and English, plus attractive visuals and a lovely soundtrack, it has the makings of a fine adventure romp in the grand anime tradition. However, this comes along with incoherent characterization and lazy, completely random plot progression, which drags the whole thing down. Worse, the plot and the main characters are so completely out of synch that it ends up something of a mess--a car wreck between a drama and a comedy that has no idea what it is or what it's trying to do.
In aggregate, it almost works, but it's either too silly or not funny enough for its own good. Still, it's imaginative, and for fans of light adventure and good banter, it's at least entertaining enough to be worth a look.
Full ReviewSwitch to Quick Review
Master of Mosquiton, from mad genius Satoru Akahori, has the foundation of an entertaining diversion--an anti-angsty vampire, a small cast of silly but likable characters, attractive visuals, a cracked plot, and it doesn't take itself at all seriously. It almost works, too, but the plot and the heroes are so completely out of synch that it ends up something of a mess--a hodgepodge of drama and comedy that can't make up its mind about what it is or what it's trying to do.
Master of Mosquiton isn't a parody of the vampire thing so much as it is a serious vampire story with heroes that are too self-absorbed to notice they're the good guys, or, for that matter, that they're involved in an epic plot. Their cluelessness is funny, but calling the plot progression forced and lazy is an understatement, even by goofy anime standards. It's more like the writers had a bunch of interesting ideas and just mashed them together into a collection of six disjointed episodes.
It starts out with the heroes breaking into a pyramid in the middle of London and having a big showdown with an entirely-serious villain from Mosquiton's past, then spends a couple of episodes meandering around in semi-romantic semi-drama about a semi-serious estranged wife from Mosquiton's past, and finally has the heroes quite literally stumble randomly into the middle of the big, dramatic denouement, with no idea whatsoever that there's even a plot afoot, let alone any intention of stopping it.
Inaho is sort of the best and worst of it. Mosquiton's beleaguered and reluctant devotion to his nutty master is certainly funny, but she's so fiercely annoying and self-centered that his character--and the entire romantic section that makes up the middle of the series--makes pretty much no sense. At the same time, she's got so much energy and spunk that she's a lot of fun to watch, and drives the humor throughout the series.
The plot is similar--it's an impressively imaginative, epic, millennium-spanning yarn, and the main villain is quite creepy. Except it's sort of a waste since it has absolutely nothing at all to do with the heroes until about the last twenty minutes of the series, and even then they only know what's going on because the villain spends a lot of time expositing. Inaho does make the pre-denouement into a good joke, though--a functional lunatic ranting at the calm, understated villain with very little understanding of (or interest in) his plans.
It all seems completely random, and it's disorienting to have serious characters grappling with ones who are anything but. Given enough time, such mood-mixing can work--Slayers or Trigun, for example--but with only six poorly-paced episodes, the drama is essentially a waste of time. Really, the harder it tried, the less I cared. Worst of all, it ends on a downer.
Now, it's always possible the series was intended as a backhanded parody, and just didn't work. Satoru Akahori has, after all, built a career treading the fine line between hilarious madness and just plain madness, and he's done some good deadpan parodies. In this case, though, it looks more like Akahori stuck Inaho in an otherwise serious series to lighten it up, except she was such a driving force she drug the whole thing into a confused mess.
That said, the series does pretty well when it's trying to be funny. Loaded with cheap jokes, the funnier half of the story has its heart in the right kind of wrong place, and more than enough spunk to support the laughs. The energetic banter (in both languages) is the best part of the whole thing, worthy of a great cheesy adventure flick. There's also a hilarious bit in the middle segment that is nearly worth the price of admission, with a berserker Inaho chasing Mosquiton and his lover through a luxury ship screaming and shooting at him the entire time.
The other good part of Master of Mosquiton is the visuals. The art is relatively detailed and very attractive, with some impressively-painted backgrounds. The subjects being drawn aren't lacking, either; the character design isn't wildly original, but it is distinctive and quite attractive (or notably ugly, in the case of the villain, or just character-full in the case of some minor British fellows). The world is a spectacle; set in the 1920s, there's Inaho's clunky-but-cool Jules Verne-esque flying machine, close-packed London streets, an abundance of Shanghai bustle, and a dose of ancient technology.
There is, in contrast, a ridiculously stiff and awkward-looking sphinx monster, which is obviously intentional--a goofy joke that hearkens back to the awful special effects of old-time adventure movies. Past that, the animation is mostly good (the frame rate certainly isn't lacking), but unfortunately the action sequences are rushed and poorly choreographed. There is one big, fancy showdown at the end that fares somewhat better, even if it is incongruently dramatic.
The Japanese acting is solid all-around, and is really what makes the whole thing almost work. Inaho is again the best and worst; Yuka Imai is better known for male roles (Jinto in Crest of the Stars and Otaru in Akahori's Saber Marionette series, for example), but here turns in a very distinctive performance that is on one hand fiercely annoying--a lot of screechy yelling--and on the other so full of manic energy that she sets the tone for the entire series. She has enough gusto to nearly save the otherwise incoherent characterization, and almost single-handedly drives the comedy. Takehito Koyasu is also good as Mosquiton--effectively switching between likably goofy lackey and, when he gets worked up, evil vampire. Plus, the banter is lively and colorful all-around. The other standout, however, is Masaru Ikeda as the evil mastermind--his understated performance oozes creepy-yet-wise-old-guy, and gives the character a lot more gravitas than the writing.
The English dub is, surprisingly, also very good. The well-written (or at least very funny) banter helps a lot, and both the casting and acting are quite good. I particularly like the two primaries: Mosquiton is just whiny and annoyed enough to be really funny, and his Master is appropriately over-the-top and shrill. They also got the Mosquiton/Mo-chan thing to work by translating it as Mosquiton/Moskie--all too often a dub takes a naming quirk that works well in Japanese and either makes it sound awkward or saps the humor out of it (Washu/"Little Washu" in the Tenchi series comes to mind).
The music, by Osamu Tezuka (no, not that one), is a treat--a richly-orchestrated, classically-inspired collection of lively themes fitting both the setting and the lighter end of the mood, and performed by a full orchestra. There's also a touch of period jazz (most notably the funky, horn-heavy opening instrumental) to balance it out. The only weakness is a generic, poorly-sung anime-style end-theme duet by the two lead actors.
In all, Master of Mosquiton is rather confused--it's got vampire angst with a strong twist of humor, an imaginative plot, and a lot of goofy slapstick all mashed into one short, scattered series. Coupled with quality banter and lively acting in both Japanese and English, plus attractive visuals and a lovely soundtrack, it has the makings of a fine adventure romp in the grand anime tradition. This is marred by incoherent characterization and complete lack of a functioning plot, which in aggregate drags the whole thing down. It's either too silly or not funny enough for its own good, but for fans of light adventure and good banter, it's at least entertaining enough to be worth a look.
Have something to say about this anime? Join our newly-resurrected forums and speak your mind.
The mood and plot is sort of similar to Ruin Explorers, though it's generally less serious. Phantom Quest Corps also does the not-so-serious vampire thing, though it's far less silly.
Notes and Trivia
Based on a concept by writer Satoru Akahori (probably best known for creating the Saber Marionette series and Sorcerer Hunters) and director/frequent collaborator Hiroshi Negishi. The manga version (with art by Tsutomu Isomata) began its 4-book run shortly before the OAVs hit the market in 1996 and continued through the end of 1998. There is also a TV series, Master Mosquiton '99, that retells a version of the same story; it somewhat ironically aired 1997-8 (it's set in 1999). Neither the TV series or manga is currently available in the US.
The plot is centered around Inaho's quest for an ancient artifact which AnimeWorks translated as "O-Part." The actual word intended was "OoPArt," short for "Out-of-Place Artifact"; it's a term mostly used in pseudo-science to refer to archaeological objects that are too advanced to have been created with the technology believed to be available at the time they were made. The term isn't very widely used in English, but is relatively well-known in Japan, and has appeared in a number of other anime. It's also a little anachronistic in this show; it was coined by Scottish writer Ivan T. Sanderson, who probably didn't start using it until well after the 1920s.
There's an early bilingual pun that didn't translate particularly well. Mosquiton of course sounds like "mosquito," the word for which in Japanese is "ka." Inaho actually comments on the similarity of his name to the bug, to which Mosquiton jokingly replies "Kaa"--both the sound a crow makes and the Japanese word for mosquito.
Inaho's family name is also a pun; Hitomebore means "Love at first sight" in Japanese, quite appropriate given her personality. Given what they are, it's not really a pun, but Yuki and Honoo mean, appropriately, "Snow" and "Flame" in Japanese.
Both of the villains are based on famed occult figures; Count St. Germaine isn't as well known as his master, but has been claimed to have all manner of supernatural powers, including immortality, dating back to the 1700s.
Composer Osamu Tezuka has done work for a number of anime series, but has no relation to the granddaddy of anime apart from having the same name.
US DVD Review
The 2-disc DVD set from AnimeWorks doesn't have much in the way of special features, but it does have a fairly crisp video transfer and decent stereo audio in both English and Japanese, plus a proper English subtitle track.
A modest amount of crude humor, quite a bit of nudity, and some serious violence account for AnimeWorks' 13-up rating, which if anything I'd call lenient.
Violence: 3 - Violent, and occasionally bloody, but not graphic.
Nudity: 3 - Mosquiton's buxom wife spends a lot of the middle section sans-clothing.
Sex/Mature Themes: 2 - Some vampire-related eroticism and tasteless humor.
Language: 1 - Not much worth noting.
Staff & Cast
English Dub Cast
Mosquiton: Guil Lunde
Inaho Hitomebore: Heather Bryson
Hono: Mark Laskowski
Yuki: Hilary Haag
Count Sangermaine: Andy McAvin
Rasputin: Lew Temple
Pharaoh Queen: Carol Matthews
Commander: Phil Ross
Soldier A: Victor Carsrud
Additional Voices: Christopher Patton, Jay Hickman
Producers: Masato Takami, Motoki Ueda
Original Story: Satoru Akahori, Hiroshi Negishi
Comics by: Comic Dragon Speical (illustrated by Tsutomu Isomata)
Screenplay: Satoru Akahori
Chief Director: Yusuke Yamamoto
Director of Photography: Motoaki
Animation Director: Umetaro Saitani
Art Director: Kazuo Ebisawa
Production Design: Takahiro Kishida
Character Designs in cooperation with: Sho Sawada
Music: Osamu Tezuka
End Theme: "Invincible Love"
Lyrics: Mizue and Hide
Music: Hidemi Yamamoto
Arrangement: Yasuhiko Shigemura, Nobuhiro Makino
Performed by: Takehito Koyasu, Yuka Imai
Production by: Zero G-Room, Nippon Columbia