What They Say:
Kitahoro High’s second term is coming to a close. After dealing with dark rumors and finally confronting her inner emotions, Sawako knows the feelings she holds for Kazehaya are romantic in nature. She has grown more confident thanks to the true friends by her side, but will they be able to remain together even when school is out? Will she be able to tell Kazehaya how she feels?
Contains episodes 13-24
Please Note: The technical portions of this release covers the BD side of the DVD/BD combo release.
The audio presentation for this release is just in its original Japanese as no dub was created for ti and we get a Linear PCM stereo track for it encoded at 1.5mbps. It’s a solid track that captures the design of the show very well since it’s mostly dialogue based with some cute music cues and a few acting out moments to give it a bit of fun and life. The opening and closing sequences are the strongest parts of it simply because of the larger, full sound that comes from the design of it, but the show itself is no slouch either, especially with some great incidental music and all sorts of background sound effects to make it a lived in world at key times. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2009, 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 eight on the first and four on the second and it generally has a bitrate that’s in the high twenties and low thirties. The transfer looks really great overall as it captures the soft look that a lot of scenes have and the overall beauty of the slice of life piece that it is while handling all the cute shoujo moments just right. The color design is really good and watching this on a large screen with the high bitrate just shows a whole lot of impressive looking work that creates such an engaging atmosphere. There’s nothing to see in the way of braekup or noise in the backgrounds as it has a wonderfully solid feel throughout.
The premium edition release of Kimi ni Todoke is another solid high quality presentation from NIS America. The heavy chipboard box is fantastic with its soft, pale colors for the background with the falling petals that set against the soft yellow background. The main focus is on the character artwork that has the full length shots of the five main characters with varied expressions but definitely an appealing look to it. And unlike what we’d get on a keepcase, having it this size really drives home the visual design all the more, making it richer and more engaging. The back cover uses the same background but it’s not all that visible as it’s covered with almost ornament like globes throughout it that shows off wonderful scenes from this set that has a holiday feel to it. It’s much more varied in its colors but it works quite well. Inside the box we get the long hardcover book, entitled “Our Memories” and it fills that role well. It gives each episode two pages through which there’s a lot of shots from the show done with text from Sawako’s perspective that’s really fun to read. There’s also a couple of good pages given to just the backgrounds and general set pieces with the scenery that really highlights the work put into it..
Of course, we also get a pair of clear thinpak keepcases that holds both the Blu-ary and DVD releases spread across them against the interior sides. The first volume has a great pairing of Kazehaya with Sawako while the second volume puts the really nice pairing of Chizuru and Ryu together with her big grin standing out. The back covers use different scenery shots to set the mood right while having a small piece of paper that lists the episodes and which discs they can be found in. The technical grid along the bottom is very nicely laid out with both the BD and DVD technical information in a clear and concise way that handles both formats just right. No show related inserts are included nor are there reversible covers.
The menu has a nice, simple and effective menu design as it goes with something that’s girlish but also a little generic as well, but playing to the strengths of the way Sawako wants to be. Done as a bit of a scrapbook page, the background has a mixture of paper designs to it that are appealing while over it there are multiple pictures that are taped. The pictures are various clips from the show that goes over different aspects of the characters and cast overall so it’s not all just focused on the two primary characters. The navigation strip along the bottom fits in well with some cute colors that matches the scrapbook pages and is easy and straightforward to navigate. The navigation strip also doubles as the pop-up menu so it blends in nicely with the show.
The only extras included with this set are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences which are in high definition.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The first half of this season won me over a lot with its more realistic portrayal of young love in a high school setting. Well, more realistic in that we didn’t have massive amounts of overacting, lots of out of character moments and completely annoying supporting cast members that really offered nothing that helped the show. What we got was a group of characters with some mild quirks, interesting connections to each other and dealing with the struggles of their age and feelings. The most outlandish thing really was Sawako’s connection to the Sadako character but even that was softened enough and dealt with early enough on so that it wasn’t a constant gag or gimmick.
With this set of episodes, it covers a few different stories but spreads them into manageable arcs while working through the underlying plots with each other. If there’s a downside to this set, it’s that the sixteenth episode is a recap episode. Recaps aren’t bad and can often be fun, but the downside here is that it isn’t included. It’s just skipped over and even the preview if there was one at the end of episode fifteen isn’t included. I’m not a fan of recap episodes but I’m less o fa fan of any content being excised from a set. And with this recap being told supposedly from Pin’s point of view, I’m even more disappointed about it since I can imagine that might be pretty fun.
That said, what is included here is the main story and it deals with a lot of really good ground. The initial arc that kicks off this set handles things better than I expected as it works through the fallout from what Kurumi has been up to with the rumors about Sawako and her friends and how it spiraled out of control. So much so that even Pin got confused at one point and thought Kurumi was interested in him. It’s done with the right amount of emotion in order to drive home the intense feelings they all have, not just about Kazehaya himself, but the kinds of internal issues about themselves that are at play. Getting a better look at what’s been involved with her interest in Kazehaya and what happened in middle school shows a young woman with some real issues that need to be dealt with, especially as it’s impacting how she’s dealing with everyone in this school now.
One of the draws for me in the first set was that as Sawako befriended Yano and Chizuru, we got to see them fairly well fleshed out and become real friends over a few episodes rather than an instant turn. We also got to see some of their problems being explored, notably with Chizuru and the way things were going with Ryu. With them playing the whole childhood friends thing, it was easy to see the way the two were into each other though unable to really express it. From how Chizuru would spend time and think about him to the distant nature of Ryu that certainly fits him but also hints at where he would like to go. It’s so blatant that even Sawako can see it and she does a little bit to help nudge them along in her own way.
When things actually progress here, it’s definitely not what you’d expect. Having her go through the process of getting Ryu a present for his birthday, going with Sawako even, you can feel her enthusiasm for it and what it means to her. But when the event gets close and we discover that Ryu’s older brother Toru is coming home, it’s revealed how he’s the real man of her dreams and that she has largely viewed Ryu as family. Understanding what’s really motivated her causes you to view what happened before in a very different way and to see the truth of it, both from her perspective and how Ryu has viewed it. Both certainly come across more interesting here and it leads to some far more engaging discussions between the two and others as it unfolds, providing a storyline that’s just as compelling as the main one.
Not that the story of Sawako and Kazehaya is weak, but it is a bit slower in its own way because the two are very much dancing around their feelings. A lot of it comes early on when dealing with Kurumi as Kurumi challenges Sawako to really understand what’s at stake. Their story gets some good time early on with the way they’re circling each other so wide, but it gets put on the back burner in the middle. When it returns to them at the end in full, it’s more focused on the way Sawako’s friends try to nudge them closer together again. They’ve all grown so close to her in this set, from meeting her parents to spending time at her place, shopping with her and more. So they want to be involved in making sure she doesn’t miss her chance and as it plays out on her birthday, with Kazehaya not knowing it, it says so much about the characters and that makes the whole experience very satisfying.
With the first half of the series really winning me over, it’s a bit hard for the second half to compete, especially since it does shift gears a bit and the focus is a bit less on Sawako and Kazehaya. But at the same time, that’s a positive for it since it does some good, positive and interesting expansion on the supporting cast with Ryu and Chizuru. The stories here work well to build on what came before and it achieves the expected results at the end, but as much as I do enjoy the natural progression of the hesitant leads that we do have, I do wish things had moved a little further a bit earlier so that it can look at more of what they can grow into and become. In the end, Kimi ni Todoke is an example of a very, very good real world style romantic dramedy that hits all the right notes with ease and doesn’t just go for the easy way to do things. Very recommended.
Japanese PCM 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Content Grade: A-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: a
Menu Grade: B+
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: NIS America
Release Date: April 10th, 2012
Running Time: 272 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
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.