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Sekirei: Pure Engagement Blu-ray Anime Review

9 min read

The second stage hits as Minato finds himself help more of the Sekirei achieve the next level.

What They Say:
A clandestine organization known as the MBI has issued an edict that threatens to end the lives of Minato and his luscious companions once and for all! The cutthroat organization’s Sekirei Plan will force all busty brawlers and their masters to engage in a flesh-baring fight to the finish. Only one amazing pair will be left standing when this curvaceous cavalcade of carnage has come to a conclusion. Does Minato have what it takes to survive the bombastic barrage of breast-jiggling blows coming his way?

The Review:
Please Note: The technical portion of this review covers the Blu-ray discs within the DVD/BD combo release.

The audio presentation of the release is standard high definition fare from FUNimation as we get a pair of lossless audio tracks using Dolby TrueHD. The original Japanese track is in stereo while the English mix gets the boost up to a 5.1 mix. The two mixes work very well with what the show intended, though we focused primarily on the Japanese track. The show covers the forward soundstage well with some solid directionality and good sense of depth in several scenes when it comes to the action. The show balances the dialogue and action well but it’s the action scenes that stand out the most. The English mix takes all of it and pushes it up a few notches with the action taking on greater impact while the bouncy fun has a bit more wistfulness about it. The show has a good track overall when you get down to it and it’s presented here cleanly and without problem. The language options here are locked, to note, as you can’t turn the subtitles off with the Japanese track.

Originally airing in 2010, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The show is spread across two discs with nine episodes on the first and four on the second, which also includes the extras. The show has a rather good bitrate to it where a lot of it is in the mid 30’s and high 20’s even when dealing with very still sequences. The show has a very good look to it with some great colors and detail and the high definition presentation really does it justice overall, giving it a rich look that stands out well. The first season was a fun show to watch but things just go much strong here in general. There’s little in the way of problems to be had here outside a brief moment or two of noise in some of the darker backgrounds that crop up from time to time over the five hour run the set covers.

The limited edition version of this release is a solid one through and through as it comes in a great looking heavy chipboard box. The box pushes the great looking character artwork and colors in a strong way with each of the main sides just featuring just a single character, which is surprising considering the size of the cast. The main cover itself does give itself over to Musubi and she brings quiet the smile and brightness to it. The side panel is kept simple with its logo and it mirrors the first season fairly well. Inside the box we get a single keepcase that holds the five discs that it has, three DVDs and two Blu-ray discs, as well as a buffer box that has some good looking black and white character artwork on it. The buffer box is meant to be tossed (or cut up and put in frames!) so that the first season DVDs can go in here. The keepcase artwork itself is pretty nice as it’s a bright and colorful piece with the main cast of girls all together against a light green background. The back cover is just a black background that breaks down the discs with episode numbers and titles as well as extras and their placement. The cover is reversible as well with another group of the girls around Musubi but it has a darker approach to it overall with serious expressions. No inserts are included with the release.

The menu design for this release is rather simple overall but it at least slides a little style into it. The main focus for it is on the logo which is nearly blazing through the middle with white bursts around it that blends into the blue. It’s just a layer over the clips that are running behind it from the show which are decent but rather obscured. The result may not be the most standout piece but it works pretty well and left me enjoying it for what it does to set the mood. The navigation strip along the bottom is straightforward as well with a simple blue box that has the selections, which also doubles as the pop-up menu during playback. Language selection is easy, especially as there are no subtitle selections since they’re locked to the language, but it does default to English language with sign/song subtitles.

The extras on this release are pretty nice as we get the standards in the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences as well as a couple of commentaries. These give the dub fans a bit more to work with when it comes to the set as they talk about the production and the fun of the show itself. The set also includes in the OVA in the extras section here rather than appended to the end of the series main video track itself.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After a surprisingly fun first season, Sekirei returns for a second season that moves the story forward a bit more, though in the end it just leaves us wanting even more. With the manga series still ongoing and only at twelve volumes since it began back in 2004, there’s a lot to still be explored with the property so things could feel a bit drawn out here. Thankfully, that doesn’t actually feel like it goes that way here as it has several characters to deal with and it spreads it over the set with a few different stories that ties it together. So while it does just move things forward incrementally overall, it does push several character storylines forward in a positive way.

With Minato having gathered together quite the group of women to his place, under the watchful eye of the landlady, events have quieted down a bit since the first season. Everyone has gotten along a bit better overall though there are still rivalries and jealousies playing out here that are cute, especially as Matsu watches all from her room with all the computer monitors there. Musubi had grown a bit in the previous season, especially since she was the glue through which everyone else came to Minato, but she’s mostly her usual self here for the majority of the set. In fact, she’s not really a main character for a lot of it either, though she gets in a few fights here and there and becomes instrumental at the end.

One of the early focuses of the set is on that of Kagari, the odd male in the group that ended up in Minato’s quasi-harem. There’s a lot of time where Kagari’s effeminate look has you wondering whether he is really a she in some way and that there’s something else going on here. While Minato has no problem with him even though they run into a few awkward situations, the thrust of the situation is that Kagari continues to find himself changing and syncing up with Minato against his will, as he’s been hoping for a female Ashikabi somewhere. Seeing him go through his change here, cope with it and to realize that it’s difficult for him to accept reacting to Minato is just a lot of fun, especially as they do start moving slowly and somewhat quietly his other changes as well.

One of my favorite subplots of this set involved Kazehana since she’s been largely played as a sexpot for most of it. Her attraction to Minato is obvious and she has quite a way about her, but she hasn’t given herself over to him as an Ashikabi for reaction yet but you can see how close she is for a lot of it. Combine that with her laid back personality and the regular drinking and you get an amusing character. She grows pretty well here though as she gets closer to Minato and really starts to figure out what kind of guy he is as he spends more and more time with his Sekirei. His straightforward dealing with them is a big part of who he is since he treats them well, something that can’t be said about a lot of the other Ashikabi, so watching her bond with him worked well, largely because of her enjoyable personality and copious fanservice shots.

One of the other subplot stories here is one that turns into the major motivation in the final arc as it revolves around Uzume. While she spent some time at the inn with Minato, She’s been a part of things but also the most distant and aloof of them all because she’s already bonded with Chiho. With the story starting to explore what’s going on with her Ashikabi, it pushes her towards leaving the inn and spending more time with her since she’s got such a medical condition. With it getting worse for her, Uzume’s spending with her makes sense and even leads to a couple of intense fights. But what it also brings to the table is that Minaka has taken note of everything going on and is ready to move the Sekirei project to the next stage, which I admit I’m eager to see play out.

And that’s to set the various Ashikabi against each other out there as he puts out a new rule in the game that those that haven’t gotten involved for awhile, or achieved any victories, must now do so or be eliminated. That brings in a lot of little seen Sekirei to the game but it also involves another story element that has Minato and all the girls from the inn coming to his side to go against Minaka at the MBI headquarters. It’s a very fun event as it plays out since it puts thema ll going at the place in different teams and dealing with all sorts of people that Minaka has at his disposal, including the Discipline Squad, which lets the final arc of the season work very well in going big yet having some utterly goofy Dr. Evil kind of moments as well. It all ties together well and really left me wanting another season right away.

In Summary:
Sekirei: Pure Engagement is a lot like the first season in that it’s just a hell of a lot of fun, just with more characters that are better established with each other. It spends a lot of time with a couple of different stories along the way to help expand the characters a bit and to either reinforce or just formalize the relationship with Minato, who himself doesn’t get a huge amount of time but still has a good bit of fun and presence in the series overall. There’s more focus on characters that were secondary in the first season and that works to the shows advantage, so it’s not all about Musubi and Minato, but it doesn’t ignore them either as it builds off of them. The show is an easy one to pick on for a lot of reasons, but just like that first season, I can’t help but to just enjoy this for what it is. It’s very easy to get into and a whole lot of it just makes me smile, laugh and grin,

Japanese DolbyTrueHD 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD Language, English Subtitles, Commentaries, OVA, Clean Opening, Clean Closing

Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B

Readers Rating: [ratings]

Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: January 3rd, 2011
MSRP: $69.98
Running Time: 350 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70″ LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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