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Dream Eater Merry Blu-ray Anime Review

9 min read

Stranded for years from her dream realm home, Merry finds herself caught up in a lot of danger.

What They Say:
Sometimes daydreaming can get you into trouble, but what do you do when it’s other people’s dreams that you have to watch out for? Yumeji Fujiwara has the unique ability to predict what kind of dreams other people will have, but lately, his own dreams have taken a bizarre turn in which he’s being pursued by armies of cats. Stranger yet, Yumeji learns that the leader of the dream cats needs his body to access the Real World.

Finally, the strange becomes downright weird when a beautiful girl suddenly drops on top of him and announces that she’s a Dream Demon looking for a way back to the Dream World! The fabric that separates reality and fantasy is torn to shreds, and Yumeji has a lot of sleepless nights ahead of him as he has to deal with both the dream stalking and a dream walking!

Contains episodes 1-13.

The Review:
Audio:
The audio presentation for this release is solid as it gives us the original Japanese language track and the new English language mix in DTS-HD MA lossless form, both of which are in stereo. The show has a very good mix of action and dialogue to it but does its action in a way that keeps rather distinct rather than overflowing across the screen. Placement is key here and good use of when to go big and when to work smaller effects. When it comes to the dialogue, it follows a similar pattern as it deals with a number of characters across the screen at a time, and in action scenes as well, while handling both the big and small moments. There are some very good scenes to be had here between just Merry and Yumeji that are quite endearing because of how personal it feels while still dealing with somewhat superficial moments. The sound mix does a very good job overall and captures the tone and the feel of the series well. We didn’t have any dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in early 2011, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The show runs for thirteen episodes and is spread across two discs with nine on the first disc and four on the second with another episode’s worth of clean opening and closing sequences. The animation design by JC Staff for this series is very strong and the transfer here captures it really, really well. Colors have a great amount of pop to them, there’s some excellent depth in the darker scenes that lets the detail stand out and when the high motion sequences kick in, it’s all handled cleanly and without problem. Colors look great here and the show has no problems with cross coloration or line noise and nothing to really have issue with when it comes to background noise.

Packaging:
The packaging for this release is simple in its approach but works well enough as it’s in a standard Blu-ray case that has but a single piece of character artwork on it. The front cover runs with a soft purple background with a splash of white along the top while the foreground is made up of a serious looking image of Merry. She’s a character that looks good in show but in still form, and with the expression here, is kind of comical when she’s trying to be serious. The cover has a simple look to it overall and it draws your attention with the skewed logo as well. The back cover throws things at angles as well, though not as strongly, with things like the tagline, the overall concept idea and even the images from the show. There’s some cuter pieces here with how Merry looks and that definitely gives it a bit more of a fun feeling. The show sells itself well here overall with all the elements combined. The production information covers both sides well and the technical information is well laid out and accurate. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.

Menu:
The menu design for this release is pretty nice as it has a darker feel to it as the left side has the navigation with black bars, mixing in some of the blue and purple backgrounds, while having a surprisingly good choice of pink for the episode numbers. Titles are kept white and it’s all very easy to read and move about it. The right side of the screen keeps to artwork from the show, such as the first menu using character artwork similar to what we see on the cover itself, just in a different pose. With the blue and purple background and more characters used for it, it’s a very appealing and atmospheric piece that really does set the mood just right for the show. Submenus load quickly and the navigation is spot on as the pop-up menu as well. The show defaults to English with sign/song subtitles.

Extras:
The only extras included on this release are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences that are on the second disc.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the ongoing manga series called Yumekui Merī that’s done by Ushiki Yoshitaka, Dream Eater Merry is a thirteen episode series from JC Staff. The show is one that tells a good, complete story within its run but is still just a part of a larger ongoing storyline as well. Some shows can be tough to adapt into this shorter form since it feels like they barely scrape the surface of what it can be about and you feel unfulfilled, especially if the original work is barely along itself and hasn’t truly defined where it wants to go. Others, like this one, are able to tell a pretty good, compelling and engaging story in its run that deals with some of the key issues and lets it feel complete while still saying there’s more than enough out there for more. And Dream Eater Merry may be one of those few shows of this length that really leaves you wanting more.

The show, taking place in the present day, revolves around two primary characters while adding to the cast in a way that enhances things without distracting as it goes on, or turning it into a harem series either. The male lead is that of Yumeji, a high school student who has a neat ability in that he can see other peoples auras when it comes to the kinds of dreams they have. We see it only a few times directly in how he sees it, but he does a cute bit of a routine with it in how he shows it to the girls in the class which only endears them to him more. He’s a good kid with a good heart that only wants to do right by people. He doesn’t have any huge, deep seated issues but he’s also one that is drawn to others which makes him want to be the hero in a lot of situations.

On the flip side we have Merry, a dream demon who has ended up in the human realm for the last ten years and is trying to find her way back. She’s had no luck as she hasn’t figured out a way to go to the dream realm from within the place between the two realms where humans dream. What she’s turned into a bit of though over time is something of a dream hunter, or a Baku as Yumeji terms her after they end up discovering each other in a dream. They don’t exactly form an easy alliance at first, but with his desire to help her he can’t not get involved. Merry doesn’t quite want help from him at the start either, but the more she realizes he’s someone not like other people she’s met over the years, the more drawn to him she gets. But while there may be some very, very mild romantic subtext, it’s not something that dominates or distracts in the series.

The show does a good job of introducing these other characters and exposing not only a larger threat that is touched upon here but not really dealt with while also giving us a more immediate threat to deal with. There’s some good little twists and turns as the cast grows but it’s the kind of show where you really need to just experience it and watch it come together. What I do want to touch on his the neat way they handle the between world sequences where Merry and Yumeji are drawn into the dream itself. With the potential to go for elaborately designed dream worlds, it instead has a look that’s more undefined with swathes of colors and indistinct backgrounds. There are some more defined areas here and there, but it has such a great look to it that it makes these sequences really fun to watch.

It also knows how to design a character. While I’m not entirely sold on Merry with the way her outfit comes together, the rest of the characters are pretty good. The human cast has some straightforward designs to them but the dream demons are pretty neat to see come about. The overarching villain in Heracles doesn’t get a lot of time but his design just makes him compelling to watch and listen to. The other female characters that pop in have some good designs as well, though none stand out in the same way. The one that sold me the most just for the coolness fact was John Doe the Chaser, who is sadly off screen for too much of the series but definitely commands a certain presence when he is there.

In Summary:
Dream Eater Merry is a show I knew nothing about going into it but over the course of its run it really drew me in greatly. It has a good story to work with and doesn’t fall into a lot of the usual traps. There’s no sense that it’s all being drawn out or dealing with fluff instead of the real story at hand. The characters get dealt with well but it doesn’t just lay everything out and moves on. Merry has some good aspects to her problem to be dealt with and Yumeji’s need to be the hero is natural but not overplayed. The series has a lot of potential to it for more than what we get here, but it also delivers in spades with what it accomplishes here. The series hits the animation quality and character design level great, weaves some fun stories into the mix with a lot of darkness to it that’s not overplayed and tells a fairly complete story while leaving room for plenty more. It’s a series that does that and has you wanting to hunt up the manga as well. Definitely recommended.

Features:
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, clean opening, Clean Closing

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

Readers Rating: [ratings]

Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: March 27th, 2012
MSRP: $69.98
Running Time: 325 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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