Review: Jing: King of Bandits – Seventh Heaven (2004)

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Jing: King of Bandits is an anime series about the adventures of a young bandit called Jing. Known for its fun and humour, the series is liked by many, although it is not as popular or well-known as many other animes. Jing: King of Bandits – Seventh Heaven is an original video animation (OVA) that tells of another one of Jing’s adventures.

Jing, a bandit boy wonder, together with Kir, his wisecracking parrot sidekick, have been arrested and sent to Seventh Heaven, an inescapable prison. It is however Jing who has chosen to let himself get caught and sent there, as he is after some treasures at the prison known as ‘dream orbs’. These dream orbs belong to a prisoner called Campari, who can use them to capture anyone’s dreams and share them with others. But to get hold of the dream orbs, Jing must beat Campari and overcome the many other challenges that are awaiting him in Seventh Heaven…

Jing: King of Bandits – Seventh Heaven consists of three parts. Part one, Lost in Seventh Heaven sets the scene for what is to follow. Viewers learn why Jing and Kir come to be imprisoned. It also sets the tone for the rest of the OVA by introducing the surreal setting of the show, which overall is really quite strange. Many scenes involve the main characters wandering through worlds made up of weird images. The animators have certainly done a great job in creating an inventive and imaginative dream-like world, and the result is often quite dazzling. The energetic soundtrack fantastically mixes different instruments and tunes to help add to the bizarre atmosphere.

Part two, Dream in Seventh Heaven contains the back-story about Jing’s youth and gives viewers glimpses into Jing’s life, in particular how he comes to know Kir. Sadly, not enough is told about him, and as a result, Jing does not come across as particularly likeable in this OVA. Viewers new to the show will probably not know or get to learn enough about Jing to care about him. Kir, his talkative companion, offers some comic relief, but can also be quite annoying. While some of its dialogues are humorous, a lot of times the jokes do not work as well as they are intended.

The story lacks substance and the narrative lacks direction. With relatively little plot, and plenty of chasing and running around by the characters, it is often hard to know exactly what is going on. Quite often, the show is relying on characters themselves to describe what is happening, and really not everything makes sense. The best section is part three, Awake in Seventh Heaven, which tells the story of the dream master Campari, and manages to be interesting and even touching. The tale of the Akacians who live in nature and whose peaceful world is destroyed by brutal invaders is one that we hear about time after time in the real world. Here, the familiar story is told simply and beautifully.

Overall, Jing: King of Bandits – Seventh Heaven is decent but not spectacular. It offers some fun and entertainment, but does not do enough to really impress today’s viewers who have so many other animes to choose from. It is still likely to please those who like the original anime series, but for viewers new to the world of Jing and Kir, the original anime series should be a much better starting point.

6 sawing-a-human-in-half magic tricks out of 10.
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