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Polyphonica Crimson S Complete Collection Anime DVD Review

9 min read

Return to the world of the music in a different form as the light novel world is tackled in Polyphonica Crimson S.

What They Say:
To bring law and order you need police, to make music you need musicians, and to make the former using the latter, you need a Dantist! Ever since he was visited by a mysterious spirit as a boy, Phoron’s wanted to become one of the elite battle bards who watch over the continent of Polyphonica. Yet even though he’s mastered the basic skills for singing the Commandia spells and operating a One-Man Orchestra, he’s been unable to summon the required spirit companion because of a promise he made to that first spirit: to sing only for her.

But that silence is shattered and Phoron’s musical meanderings are over when his supernatural partner suddenly returns, intent on finalizing the “contract” they made twelve years ago! Which would be great except for one thing: she’s not just any spirit, but the dreaded Corticarte, the Crimson Annihilator! But what the heck, sometimes you just you just have to grit your teeth and duet!

Contains episodes 1-12

The Review:
Polyphonica is a monolingual release from Sentai Filmworks where it contains the original Japanese stereo mix encoded at 224kbps. The show is one that is built around music but it doesn’t really take it anywhere exceptional, but it does provide us with a good sounding mix overall that’s full in its design. The bulk of it is dialogue and some action effects outside of the music and it’s all rather basic, particularly as there’s often only one character talking and seemingly near the center of the stage each time. Placement is decent considering what it’s doing and there’s no real noticeable depth for the show. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout though and it works for the material well enough.

Originally airing in 2009, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The series is spread across two discs in a six/six format which gives each of them plenty of breathing room as there’s little on the disc otherwise. Similar to Polyphonica has a rather bright and clean look to it where it’s almost too clean and digital looking. The character animation comes across well with its vibrant colors and little in the way of noise while the backgrounds tend to be a touch softer and not as sharp overall, though essentially just as free of noise. Where the problem lies is in that this looks to be a composite release as the dot crawl is a significant issue here as it’s around most of the characters most of the time and through a lot of the background items as well. With rainbows galore in some scenes adding more movement, it’s a huge distraction and really is a surprise to see considering the show came out just a few years ago and these kinds of masters were utilized..

This release definitely gets quite a good looking packaging design to it where it showcases a practically naked Coaticorte laying on her back with her hair all around her while on the bed. It uses a lot of soft colors and plenty of skin to be an appealing looking work which makes you wish the show itself was as alluring. The logo is a bit busy but it’s using what it was in Japan as well so the blame can go in that direction. It’s not bad as it has a certain elegance to it but it’s just busy and muddled with the background that’s used here and the colors overall. The back cover goes for a lighter color overall but still the same kind of feel as it uses two other characters in the same skimpy outfits that are certainly cute to say the least. It sells the show to the most base of instincts though. The series summary is laid out clearly and without problems and we get a good little batch of shots from the show and a clean look at how many episodes and discs there are as well as what extras are included. Add in the clean and accurate technical grid and you’ve got a good looking package here overall. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.

The menu design for this is pretty nicely done as it uses the pinks for its shading while the background works various musical notes to tie it together softly. The foreground on the left of the first volume for example gives us a very cute and seemingly younger version of Coritcarte with a big smile while the right hsa the episode selection and special features submenu available, all while playing some of the upbeat music and vocals from the show. The layout is nicely done, it’s bright and appealing and certainly fits with the atmosphere of the show. Being a monolingual release, there is no submenu for language options and the show naturally defaults with subtitles on, but they can be turned off.

The only extras included are on the first disc with the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After the first series surfaced in 2007 that was tied to the manga property being released at the same time, both of which go back to the original game, a second series was set into motion in 2009. Rather than working as a sequel, or a prequel like some thought it might be initially, it instead works back to the light novel series from the property and reboots itself in its own way. With the same group of characters overall though, it’s the kind of show that feels rather familiar but goes in some different directions, provided the previous series made enough of an impact on you to actually remember it. It’s been a bit since Polyphonica came out and I have to admit that I didn’t remember anything about it other than the music until I queued up this release in my player to see what it’s all about.

The show works its basic origins well enough at the start, introducing us to a young Pholon with a connection to the music spirit that has now returned to his life in the present. Accepted into the prestigious academy where he’s been able to get by on a grant due to his poverty, he’s working the one man band angle and is doing his best against a large set of very talented individuals. But he’s missing something that is keeping him from really achieving what his potential can be. What makes the situation worse for him is that most of the guys around there routinely mock him and challenge him, but he’s the type to shy away from confrontation unless necessary. This garners him the title of being a wimp, but the viewer knows it’s more that he doesn’t want to go down that path unless he has to or it really gets to him since the whole thing could impact his ability to be there.

And as bad as that is, there’s also some resentment there from the music spirit that he does have a relationship with and takes some time to really form the pact with, Coaticarte. The fiery redhead has her reasons for wanting to enter into the pact with him that goes back to when he was younger and more, but she’s also headstrong enough to try and dominate him into doing what needs to be done in order to unlock his true potential. Because of his mildly introverted ways and the general demeanor he carries, he’s not playing strongly or passionately with his music. It’s precise and technically solid, quite skillful as some instructors will say, but it lacks that emotional connection to elevate it to something more like many other students do. And that’s what Coaticarte is trying to do in her own awkward and convoluted manner.

The first half of the series serves us the basic introductions and familiarizes us with Rembalt, the main friend that Pholon has who is quite gifted and generally popular. From there, it works us through the general idea of the series, showing how the spirits and music come together with some teaching lessons, some rivalries that come up as Pholon gets his challengers and a little extra about there being something more going on at the school. A lot of it is fairly fluffy with usual kinds of tension and drama among high school kids, albeit the artsy types, but there’s also the arrival of a woman named Raika who pretends to be something else in order to get onto the campus to search for some sort of treasure that’s hidden there, which gives hint as to what the truth may be about both Coaticarte as well as Pholon.

When the show starts to push the bigger picture more, it’s certainly creative and interesting overall, but it’s something that really doesn’t feel like it belongs in this series. While we have all the bits and pieces about the students having pacts with the spirits and what it means power wise and how they impact each other, there’s also a much larger picture going on with some powerful players of old that have connections tot he school and their own agendas as well. One of them has formed his own group as he intends to find a set of instruments of power that he needs in order to achieve his goal.

And that goal? To end the world. Very simple. While the first half of the series deals with small bullying issues and the nudging together of the two main leads into their pact and understanding, which in particular is designed to highlight Pholon’s true potential and the deep power that Coaticarte has. That was mediocre but it made sense. When it goes to this level with the overall villain stepping into the picture with the intent to reset the world in a big way, it comes across as too much. Especially since as they animate some of these sequences it just shows how poor a fit the animation design team was. It has a very low budget look to it and the tension just doesn’t work. The ideas behind it aren’t bad, but they simply don’t belong in this series and especially not one this short.

In Summary:
Polyphonica Crimson S was a series that I wondered if it would improve on what came before with the other series that worked off the manga instead of the light novel. With Crimson S, it does try to go for something bigger than the other series which was pretty much smaller character material. The larger storyline it works with is very unlike the other one but it doesn’t help and instead just made the show harder to watch when you get down to it. I had little memory of the previous season that had come out but getting into this one brought a lot of it back. And that kind of disconnected feel that it had is mirrored here as it never feels like the characters are in it nor the writers. It’s a by the numbers show with a bit of potential but the execution is just lacking on so many levels. In re-reading what I wrote back in 2009 of the other series, it definitely holds true here. The characters just feel like they’re going the motions and that’s about it. Add in the writers and animating team doing the same and you get something that really doesn’t work that well as a whole work, though it certainly has its individual moments.

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

Content Grade: C-
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: C-
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-

Released By: Maiden Japan
Release Date: April 3rd, 2012
MSRP: $49.98
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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