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Sekirei Season 1 Blu-ray Anime Review

10 min read

When busty young women fall from the sky into your lap, do not question it. Accept it and revel in it.

What They Say:
Minato had no luck with the ladies until the day a well-rounded warrior-babe named Musubi fell into his life – and crushed his face with her ginormous cleavage. Hunted by a stunning pair of twin sisters, Musubi was searching for the right guy to give her a squeeze and unlock the hidden powers lurking beneath her ample assets. Minato fits the bill, and now he’s caught in the middle of a supernatural slugfest in which voluptuous vixens take turns beating each others’ clothes off!

Contains episodes 1-12 plus the Kusano’s First Shopping Trip OVA.

The Review:
Audio:
The audio presentation for this release mirrors the basic idea of the previous DVD edition but gives us two lossless Dolby TrueHD tracks to work with. We get the original Japanese track in stereo while the English mix is of the 5.1 variety. The stereo mix is pretty solid throughout as it handles the directionality well when needed during the action sequences. And those make up a good portion of the series so having them come across well is a definite plus. The action ranges from fast running scenes with a lot of effects and a good deal of impact with hand to hand combat. Dialogue is well handled as well with a bit of directionality hitting at times though mostly it’s a center stage affair for the most part. The English mix essentially takes all of it up a few notches with volume and clarity but it doesn’t stand out in a huge way overall. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and there were no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2008, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p as an SD remastered version rather than a native HD transfer. The show is spread across two discs in a eight/four format with a few extras minutes allocated to the OVA on the second disc as well. The series has a good clean look to it with lots of bright colors and some very vibrant moments when it comes to certain Sekirei aspects. The show has a fairly average bitrate that’s spent in the mid twenties but it’s not a show where a lot of additional detail is going to surface through the high definition presentation. What the additional bitrate does is to smooth out some of the minor issues we had before with the noise in the backgrounds and the colors themselves as they do have a bit more pop here, but only selected colors when you get down to it. The show does look a bit softer than the second season does but it’s the kind of thing you want out of an SD remaster in that it does clean things up a bit. It’s not a huge improvement but it does bring some things to the table.

Packaging:
With this release bringing out the Blu-ray version of the season for the first time after the DVD was released, it’s set to fit into the second season box more than anything else, so we get the slipcover that’s DVD sized that holds the Blu-ray case that has all the discs. The slipcover is bright and outgoing and lets you know exactly what it’s about as it has Musubi in an action pose with her fighting gloves and a big smile that you notice after you see her breasts bouncing through the air in front of her. It’s bright and bold and it stands out in a very eye-catching way. The back cover carries some darker blues to it that lets Musubi’s serious style character artwork along the right to stand out nicely. There’s a fair bit of text here, spaced well so that it can be minimal and yet fill things up well enough, that covers the basic premise of it and the fun of it all. A good selection of shots from the show are included as well as a good listing of what’s included and the discs extras. Production information fills out the remaining space at the bottom of the back while the actual bottom of the slipcover has the technical information.

Inside we get a standard size Blu-ray case that holds all the DVD and Blu-ray discs with a good hinge inside. Unlike the previous DVD only edition release which used different artwork inside, the cover for this case mirrors the slipcover so there aren’t any differences. There is artwork on the reverse side though which is welcome as the left side breaks down the episode by format with numbers and titles while the right side features a look at some of the main cast of characters.

Menu:
The main menu design for the release is very simple and kind of surprising in a way. While it gives over the majority of the screen to bouncy and sexy clips, it’s behind a strong blue filter with a huge pinkish logo in the middle of it all so you don’t see much of it. It hints at it to be sure but it’s pretty weak and kind of defeats the point. The logo looks good but it’s huge which is a bit of a distraction as well. The navigation along the bottom keeps it very simple as well, doubling as the pop-up menu, with just the main selections and a bit of ornament to top it off and give it a little bit of style. The submenus are quick and easy to use and navigation is a breeze but language setup is locked as you can’t turn subtitles on or off; they’re locked on for the Japanese track and only sign/song subtitles are available with the English dub.

Extras:
The extras are a bit minimal overall but there’s a good piece in here. We get the clean opening and closing sequences but we also get a ten minute OVA that’s all about the fun as the girls try to make Ku feel more included by having her involved in the shopping race. It’s short and fun and it works very well to tighten up a small bit of story into the main arc.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the manga of the same name by Sakurako Gokurakuin, Sekirei is a twelve episode series that originally appeared in the seinen magazine young Gangan from Square Enix. The manga is still ongoing and this series, which ran in 2008, has a second season kicking off in the summer of 2010. Ten volumes of the manga have been produced so it looks like there’s some material to work with, though I wouldn’t be surprised at some padding.

The series revolves around a young man named Minato, who as you can tell from every bit of promotional text about the show, has failed his college entrance exams only to have something more interesting fall into his lap in the form of a very busy young woman named Musubi. She’s being chased by some rather angry women in skimpy outfits that want to do her harm, so she blazes off and takes Minato with her. Where she promptly changes and shows that she has no issue in showing off her rather sizable cleavage, complete with nipples, to a complete stranger. It’s an awkward but not unfamiliar meeting of people as the two eventually do exchange introductions once things die down a bit.

Musubi seems fairly typical here at first as she’s all about the eating, able to pack away ten meals for one person (I suspect she stocks the food up in those massive breasts) but wants to do right by Minato in order to repay him. She’s very happy to have met him since he’s exactly what she’s looking for in something called an Ashikabi. Apparently it’s something that involves a guy fondling her breasts, which makes Minato a touch uncomfortable for all of a minute before he remembers himself. Musubi’s having a mixture of luck overall since falling into his lap as she’s gotten on well with him, but she’s still being sought out by the other two women who want to take her down before she has a chance to awaken. Yet every touch with Minato seems to push her close to awakening, and she has no choice but to take it all the way in order to protect both of them.

When I had seen the first episode months prior to this release, it really didn’t appeal to me and I didn’t follow through with it, figuring that I’d end up watching the season of a whole and perhaps it would be more interesting in that form. And it definitely proved to be true. While the show opens kind of awkwardly with a fighting style Ah! My Goddess in a way, once it gets rolling and sets Minato and Musubi on the path to knowing each other and understanding the Sekirei plan, the layers are better revealed. This season focuses more on phase one of the plan, which is getting the various Sekirei to be engaged by the Ashikabi that are out there so that the real adventure can begin. And while it may seem like a tease, it actually does work well in that we get a fairly concise first chapter here to a larger story of 108 Sekirei that are far more than they seem.

While the show does start with Minato and Musubi, the cast expands quickly when they end up in their new home with a dorm apartment that takes in unusual people. What isn’t a surprise is that Minato is essentially a large magnet for a number of Sekirei who find themselves drawn to him. That the cast grows and that more women fill the series is no surprise at all. There comes a shift, with the introduction of Tsukiumi, in that the girls realize that they’re taking on the role of wives to Minato and that introduces some more competition among them. Though they all get along fairly well, there’s a lot of fun to be had with the way it all comes together. The girls have their own layers to them and Minato’s nice guy personality may grate at times, but it’s the kind of wimpish male lead that is the standard and they make the most of it.

Sekirei’s animation is done by Seven Arcs and it has a good look to it with a lot of fluidity to the action scenes and characters that have good designs to them. This isn’t a high school show so we don’t have a lot of the basic stereotypes of that and they run well here with the slightly older characters, doing the college age range which gives them a bit more to work with. Nothing here really comes off badly and while there isn’t anything that jumps off the screen, it’s all competent and well done. What is amusing is that it goes the distance with the fanservice as there’s plenty of upper body nudity. Instead of making it so that you’re just teased, you get full on nipples which while overt and just going for the shock value at first, it ends up being a rather fun element to the show. It’s easy to be derisive about this part of the show, but if it gets you to watch and actually enjoy the rest of it, it’s worth it.

In Summary:
My original experience with Sekirei in streaming form didn’t go over well but I found myself enjoying the show a lot when it came to the DVD release. Going back to this season after seeing the second season shows some of the changes in the production side of it in Japan, but there’s still plenty of charm to be had here. Sekirei is a very familiar story to be sure, and it goes through a lot of the standard routines to get to the point, but it has enough moments that helps it stand out as well. Everything here is focused on the fun and action of women beating the snot out of each other in service to a larger game that’s largely undefined, but there are moments where we get some tantalizing clues as to what the Sekirei are and what the mad plan is all about. While the high definition presentation isn’t a huge upgrade over what we had before, it does offer some minor improvements as well as consistent packaging for those that got in on the second season as well. This is a fun little show and definitely one of the better guilty pleasures I’ve had in the last couple of years..

Features:
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Textless Opening Song, Textless Closing Song

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

Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: April 10th, 2012
MSRP: $49.98
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Wides

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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