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And Yet The Town Moves Complete Collection Anime DVD Review

8 min read

High school girls, maids and quirkiness. All the right ingredients but the results don’t combine well.

What They Say:
Hotori Arashiyama loves mysteries, but there’s one she just can’t solve: why does the solution to one problem inevitably seem to lead to another? Like how when Hotori has to start working at the Seaside Maid Cafe after school to pay off a debt and her friend Toshiko fortunately knows exactly how a Maid Cafe should be run. Which is fortunate since Hotori has no clue. Except that, unfortunately, Toshiko has no interest in working at the cafe – until she discovers that Hotori’s childhood friend Hiroyuki is a regular. Which SEEMS fortunate. Except that Hotori doesn’t know that, while Toshiko likes Hiroyuki, Hiroyuki secretly likes Hotori, while Hotori secretly has a crush on… No, no more spoilers!

But if that’s not enough drama, there’s work, angst with a certain math teacher, table tennis between her classmates, her younger brother versus the school’s bad girl… And yet, even though everything seems like it’s going to crash at any moment, somehow Hotori’s life keeps going hilariously forward.

Contains episodes 1-12.

The Review:
Audio:
The audio presentation for this release is kept simple with just the original Japanese track in stereo encoded at 224kbps. The show is a dialogue heavy piece with some varied incidental bits of music and sound effects to drive home the wackiness that ensues from the dialogue at times but it never dominates. The dialogue is pretty well placed a lot of the time with how it works since the show uses a number of different camera angles in which to showcase its quirkiness so that definitely works in its favor. The opening and closing sequences use the forward soundstage in full form more than anywhere else in the show and it comes through well. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2010, the transfer for this twelve episode TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The show is spread across two discs evenly with six episode each with a fair bit of space to work with overall. The series has a good real world look with a lot of detail to its backgrounds so it has a very lived in look when you get down to it. The character animation looks very good as well since it deals with a lot of slow motions at times and a very fluid look in many areas so it has a good quality feel to it, though it does it through the usual kind of medium budget trickery with how it spreads things out. The transfer captures the good of the show very well with all of its detail but it has a fair bit of noise in some of the backgrounds

Packaging:
The series is released in a standard single sized keepcase to hold both discs with a hinge inside to bring it all together. With a surprising choice of an orange background, the front cover is given over to a rather larger image of Hotori in her maid uniform looking all happy as there are cloudy swirls around her with various items and the like that have some place in the series at different times. The logo across the lower center is decent but it’s just such an unusual name that it simply feels odd from the get god, especially with the mix of colors here. The back cover goes with a darker red background for what we see of it with the cloudy strips taking up more space here where it handles things like the summary, which is rather more than you’d expect, and the varied bits of information. Futaba gets the main character shot here and there’s a good array of small images from the show. Production credits are laid about cleanly and clearly and the technical grid is solid with its breakdown of how the disc is put together. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.

Menu:
The menu does some nice little in theme kind of design though it is kind of basic since there’s no music associated with it. With a blue background that you can only see along the sides, the main piece is that of a restaurant menu itself being opened up. The left side runs down things with a nice script that has the episode numbers and titles with a really ornate cursor icon while the right side has character artwork, the first with Hotori and the second with Futaba. The layout is simple and straightforward and with no language selection options to be had, player presets are a non-issue. Everything moves quickly and smoothly and is problem free.

Extras:
The only extras included in this release are on the first disc where it has the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the manga of the same name by Masakazu Ishiguro which began in 2005 and has just under ten volumes to its name after still going six years later, And Yet The Town Moves is a twelve episode series aimed at the seinen market and animated by Shaft. The show is one that largely plays with the usual slice of life elements that we see in many series dealing with high school girls, though the school focus itself is kept fairly minimal, but it also brings in a few outlandish elements as well. When your final episode deals with the lead character going to purgatory to await her assignment in heaven after dying, well, it knows how to go into weird areas when you least expect it and generate some amusement.

The show revolves around the character of Hotori, a high school girl who intends to be a detective when she gets out of school which is why she has little use for school itself. This causes an immense amount of frustration with her teachers, especially with her math teacher, Moriaki. He finds her to be the most frustrating of his students as evidenced by her low scores on tests, and make-up tests with the same questions that she scores even lower on. The only time he gets through to her is in a moment of brilliance as he describes figuring out math questions as detective work itself. It’s fun to see as he thinks he goes too far but ends up inspiring her, though not to the way he expects. The two have an awkward relationship over the course of the series, especially since he’s also aware of her work.

And her work is that of a maid in a local maid cafe that changed its nature recently and is really little more than a lark of sorts by the owner, Isohata. She’s a real classic matron of sorts with her granny age and attitude but she’s also quirky in a way as she deals with her staff. Hotori’s not the sharpest tool in the shed and that leaves her an easy target for Isohata as well as fellow school girls Futaba and Toshiko. There’s a lot of basic humor and silliness going on here as they do their jobs, initially with just Hotori working there. Trying to increase their customers tends to backfire and Hotori has to also deal with the way most of her ideas and her way of living ends up causing her to run afoul of the local cop who believes she’ll eventually go too far and have to be really arrested.

The series involves several other characters as it goes along as well and even spends some good time with Hotori’s younger siblings. Her sister Yukiko is a cute kid that gives her sister plenty of grief, but it’s Takeru that steals the show at times. He’s an earnest young kid who is just at that point where he’s about to become interested in girls and eventually finds himself on a date without knowing how to really handle it. Takeru’s surprisingly fun to watch as he gets involved with things but he’s still just a secondary character at best. It’s one of those times where a supporting character plays out better than the lead. And that’s mostly because Hotori is just as she’s described, a whiny young woman with a sense of self importance as she figures the world revolves around her wants and needs. And she’s unable to really do much as the world continually pushes back against her ideas.

A series can survive a character like that and even excel, but what ends up hurting And Yet The Town Moves is that the show feels like there’s no real “it” there to bring it all together. While it follows a lot of the usual slice of life elements, you can find yourself watching the first several episodes and realizing that there was nothing there. I mean, after the first three episodes I couldn’t really recount anything of note and barely remembered anyone outside of Hotori’s name and that was mostly because she was being chastised so much for her shenanigans. Slice of life shows can definitely work well and I’ve been a fan of many of them, but this one just left me cold throughout the majority of it. When you go a good chunk of it and the only thing you can latch onto is the lead characters name, it just feels devoid of anything usful.

In Summary:
And Yet The Town Moves is a series that has good potential to it but ends up not being able to do anything with it. Hotori is a character that has some fun moments to her, but she’s overshadowed by the other characters simply because they do have a little bit more personality and aren’t quite as grating as time goes on. The biggest problem I had with the show is that over the first half, very little of it was memorable. There’s some really good designs and I completely got into the way the backgrounds looked and was drawn to it, but the show has no meat on its bones and a whole lot of the comedy falls flat. It’s very focused at times on wordplay and similar gags you get with slice of life shows but even that felt like it fell flat a good deal of the time. Few shows leave me feeling as this one did as it was a real chore to get through the more it went on.

Features:
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing

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

Readers Rating: [ratings]

Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: January 3rd, 2011
MSRP: $49.99
Running Time: 300 minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic 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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