What They Say:
Tomoki’s life was normal until a wish-granting angelic android named Ikaros fell from the sky and started calling him master. Things got even crazier when Ikaros’s fellow android, Nymph, came fluttering down to join the fun. With the winged vixens adjusting to life on Earth, you’d think Tomoki’s dream of a peaceful existence might finally be coming true – but you’d be wrong! With his teenage impulses and dirty mind, Tomoki’s wishes are causing more chaos than ever before. Plus, there’s a curvy new android on the scene: Astraea. She definitely looks as angelic as Ikaros and Nymph, but there’s a chance this beautiful blonde newcomer is up to no good!
The release of this television series contains two language options with the Japanese track having a 2.0 mix while the English one gets a boost with a 5.1 mix. For the purpose of this review the Japanese track was selected and it is a solid representation of stereo tracks as it splits the dialogue and other sounds nicely in such a way as to give a decent illusion of depth and overall the track has a very nice balance to it. The track also works well to provide directionality as it also covers the low sounding effects, the more quiet ones as well as the higher pitched ones in a way that provides a nice balance. This is good as the series is one where the track has a lot of space to cover between some of the quiet contemplative moments and the extreme frenetic ones that occur which could easily have been an issue.
Originally airing on Japanese television late in the 2010 season, Heaven’s Lost Property is presented here in its original 1:78.1 widescreen ratio and is given an anamorphic encode. The series animation itself uses some solid and impressive action at points as well as stylized characters to reinforce the humor. The various elements are presented well overall even if the picture itself is a bit soft which helps set a mood for the series when combined with often its more pastel palette. The DVD video encode itself contains noise, a not insignificant amount of dot crawl that sometimes overwhelms sections of the screen, banding, aliasing, some screen light level flickers, some almost moiré like moments as well as a bit of ghosting. These elements have the power to combine and serve as a major distraction at times while at other times they are minor enough that they are likely to be (mostly) overlooked by almost all but the most ardent or sensitive video aficionado or those actively hunting for issues.
The release of the second season of Heaven’s Lost Property kicks off like many of FUNimation’s first printings of television series of late with a limited edition release that features a thick chipboard art box. Probably owing to the original release specs where the release was to include the series on both DVD and since cancelled Blu Ray the box set is wide enough to contain two standard DVD cases. The image on the one side of the box contains a collection of images from the series that include new cast member Astraea in a thin robe from one of the episodes while Nymph is in a skimpy wizard type outfit and Sohara wears a kimono that is being spun like in a risqué feudal drama while a number of appropriately dressed Tomoki’s accompany the girls, though this image appears twice elsewhere in the set. While attractive this image is missing the more provocative image of all- but more on that with the insert box- and the cover also includes a playful image of Mikako at the bottom. The back image uses a collage like look that features Tomoki dishing out a bit of SD punishment on Astraea as a number of other members from the cast are present in some cameo like shots as well-though one only can see this image if they remove the shrink-wrap as FUNimation uses a sticker over the shrink-wrap to show off the copy for the series as well as 6 still and an image of a pensive Ikaros with a whole bunch SD (mostly Tomoki) figures underneath the copy while Tomoki, Ikaros and Nymph get some SD masked wrestling love on the top of the box.
The DVD case itself is a standard sized clear case that has an extra flipper insert so that the discs don’t have to overlap. The images for the cover are rather on the suggestive side with some cosplay and suggestive poses present, a theme which carries over to the other side as FUNimation provides a reverse cover featuring two of the series other girls also in similar situations or dressed up. The images n the DVDs aren’t terribly fanservicey as each contains an image similar to the Ikaros found on the art boxes back sticker on the right upper third of the disc. To her left are black and white images from the series that use a number of SD character moments from the series while the bottom third or so of the disc contains a light blue banner with the series title and disc number. In place of the now missing second DVD sized case FUNimation includes a cardboard placeholder box that contains the same image from the front of the art box which wraps around the box, though the image also includes one of Sohara in a skimpy light bondage looking outfit missing from the art box. Inside the box are four art cards, one of which has an image taken from the series, one which could have been from there as well and another two which go a bit beyond what the series usually pushes despite its “MA” rating.
For the release FUNimation chose to go with a static image approach to all the menus across the set and makes heavy use of the light blue color that permeates the packaging as it is used for the bottom bar on the screen for most screens or for the entire background in a couple. As to the individual discs and images, Disc 1 uses the same image of on the bonus cardboard filler/postcard box with Astraea in a thin robe from one of the episodes while Nymph is in a skimpy wizard type outfit and Sohara has a double placement, once in a kimono that is being spun like in a risqué feudal drama and one in a rather revealing bondage like outfit from the first episode while a number of appropriately dressed Tomoki’s accompany the girls for the main menu. The Episode select screen is equally busy as it contains images of various members of the cast in outfits worn during the various episodes contained as does the language screen, though it has a bit less cosplay and more secondary characters than the other menus while the Extra’s screen uses sort of super deformed images of some characters and items in the series for color.
Disc 2 uses continues the busy nature of the images as it uses an image of Nymph fighting from one of the episodes as well as some of the comedic effects from that episode while an eating Ikaros has been added to the bottom just over the bar with the title and options. The Episode Menu on the other hand goes back to a collage like feel as it includes Ikaros in a sundress carrying flowers and two other characters in bikinis, though the violence they promise from either facial expressions or carried weapons may be more eye catching than their exposed bodies. The language menu presents a glamorous shot of the cast in a kind of “V” formation with Tomoko up front as the main girls are behind her in similar garb while Sugata and one other character balance out the “V” and an image of Mikako and a new character loom over them. The Extras menu closes things out with an SD image of Ikaros placing a pair of panties over her head in such a way as they become a mask with the eyes visible through the leg holes that is also used on the top panel of the art box. All of the menu screens use a musical track for their background and the menu choices themselves appear in white across the discs with the currently highlighted option being shown to have a blueish grey color. The menus are quick to respond to selection changes and they implement those chosen with a very minimum of lag.
For the release of the second season FUNimation has gone beyond the existing materials they received from Japan and has created a pair of commentary tracks that will likely delight fans of the English dub. In addition to this FUNimation includes clean openings and closings as well. Normally the inclusion of a clean open and closing is something that is almost standard but in the case of this series that turns out to be an exception. The series uses a pair of openings (one used for the first episode then another used throughout the rest of the series run) as well as eleven different closing themes complete with unique animation.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based off a manga series by Suu Minazuki which started in publication 2007, the original television version of Heaven’s Lost Property (original Japanese title Sora no Otoshimono) started airing in the last quarter of Japan’s 2009 TV series. This series follows the (mis)adventures of Tomoki Sakurai, a young high school man who suddenly finds himself seriously over his head when a winged being known as an Angeloid named Ikaros falls from the sky practically on him and changed his life. Suddenly in the wake of this he had access to both tremendous new powers thanks to cards she has but also tremendous new enemies who are dispatched to retrieve Ikaros. Thanks to a bit of help from some friends Tomoki manages to convert one of the beings, Nymph, into an ally and together they managed to stay together and regain a measure of peace for themselves by the end of the events shown there.
But that was then, and today will kick off a brand new series of adventures, investigations and perversions which fans of the first season have come to expect. As Tomoki attempts to fulfill his whims again in this new series those around him will also seek their own motivations- be they answers to the previous events, the true calling of their heart or simply an outlet for their own twisted vision of fun. This group also has to deal with the fact though that Tomoki has made a very powerful enemy who has a multiple of weapons at hand and who wants Ikaros captured (or at least her power source) and who has more than a passing fancy at seeing Tomoki dead.
Events of the current series begin much like the previous as Tomoki wakes from a dream where he has seen the winged woman from his dreams that has appeared after a pronounced absence to warn Tomoki that he needs to watch out for an angel. After a fairly typical start that includes both some of the perverted humor the series embraced and a brief reintroduction to the setting Tomoki finds himself in with his allies (?) in the New World Discovery Club, the idea is raised of using some of the futuristic technology from the world that the Angeloids come from (called Synapse) to visit Tomoki’s dreams.
After some false starts the group arrives in his dreams and Sugata discovers that somehow or another Tomoki’s dreams have been connected to Synapse as they arrive in front of a pillar with writing that none of them can read. The cast except for Sugata largely forget about this soon though as shortly Tomoki’s prophetic dream comes true and another Angeloid, Astraea, falls into his life. This time the Angeloid is the one whose close combat skills are the highest of all the Angeloids and whose master has targeted Tomoki for death. Luckily for Tomoki though Angeloids can only be gifted in two of three areas and Astraea’s balance for combat makes her more than a bit of an idiot.
With this trouble seemingly averted the cast is free to indulge themselves in their various pursuits as this new threat isn’t much of one, and in fact Astraea winds up getting dragged into their usual patterns as often as not when she isn’t trying to avoid dying of starvation herself. But the halcyon days won’t last forever as Sugata’s exploration of Synapse may portend some incredible revelations about the true nature of the world, but even more dangerously for Tomoki, Ikaros and Nymph’s former master has a brand new weapon which may be even more powerful than the other Angeloids. Now even the discovery of the woman in Tomoki’s dreams may not be able to help the cast when Heaven’s newest weapon goes to war- and when it does will this new threat signal the end for Tomoki and his friends’ peaceful days?
The series returns to the characters from the original series after a year’s time and the viewer find that events pick up in much the same place they left off. Tomoki is still a letch who often finds his plans backfiring, often with a punch line (literally) delivered by an enraged Sohara, Ikaros is still a powerhouse character who is a bit slow on picking up certain things in relation to Tomoki’s perversions, Nymph is a seemingly confused young woman who is now also mourning the loss of her wings, Sugata is still obsessed with the New World and the student body president Mikako is still one of the scariest forces around. From this starting point the series then takes the somewhat familiar route of adding a new character early on in the form of Astraea, who in theory should add a new element but in practice brings in some rather well worn- perhaps even to the point of being all but worn out- clichés as she poorly goes about her task.
The thing is that the series barely feels at times like it has made many steps forward as it reuses some of the same jokes as before, though at times it at least re-skins them so it doesn’t look like the exact same thing one has seen before though this doesn’t hide the somewhat repetitive nature of some events. Added to that some of the jokes actually seem to completely disregard any sense of time as this series works in two summer festivals for gags- which complete with the summer gag from the previous series should now have most the group almost out of high school and the older members already having graduated- yet the series doesn’t address this as it takes a more whimsical idea of doing what it wants and ignoring elements that would get in the way as often as not. This flaw might work in a series that is played simply for gags but Heaven’s Lost Property at times aims for more than being “just” one that runs on gags as it also aims to introduce both some drama as well as some sci-fi elements which can add an additional layer to the pile of events and concepts the viewer simply has to accept to immerse themselves in this series world.
It is in the discord between some of the humor and the dramatic/sci-fi elements that the series seems to run screaming into a brick wall however. While the two elements aren’t mutually exclusive by any means and they can work very well when synchronized it seems like somewhere along the line the writing team split up into separate camps that each focused on a particular focus and that there wasn’t a lot of blending done to try to make a more cohesive overall effort. Because of that the series has some seemingly wild swings in mood and focus that may play better in a week to week format in giving fans adventures of the characters, but in shorter time span which home video makes easier it takes what might otherwise could have been a thrill ride with some smooth ups and downs that may elicit excitement and instead makes for a feel closer to some rather extreme turbulence where the ups and downs are less thrilling and more uncomfortable in their abrupt nature as the series somewhat erratically moves from its beginning to end with some wild and pronounced changes in direction and tone at times from episode to episode.
The thing is that there are plenty of basic elements here to create any number of types of stories which would appeal to a variety of fans but the lack of a consistent approach to the material- or even the appearance of an overall single director’s vision to smooth some the edges together so they don’t stand as rough when placed together- just doesn’t seem to be present. The material often feels like a “too many cooks” approach where so much is added that any individual flavor that the recipe might have been trying to create is lost and what one gets is a series of dishes that have common elements but which just don’t have the best symmetry when placed on the same table. This lack of consistency is a bit of a shame as there are some fun characters here but they just don’t really have as much chance to standout in the material -and at times they seem to be dragged along for the ride almost like a type of scenery that has to be present- rather than coming across as an organic and natural part of events or even the driving force behind events that they probably should be.
Returning to the world of Heaven’s Lost Property drops the viewer back into a very familiar place as the characters are still the same mix of outrageous, perverse and stupid as before and even the introduction of some new characters can’t change that, though it can increase the levels of such events somewhat. For those who loved the first series it will present the same elements they came to love while those who disliked the series will also likely find themselves in the same place they last were when it comes to what they get out of the series. While the characters may be the same and with many of their reactions also falling into similar patterns the story will try to advance some of the hinted at otherworldly elements that were previously established as mysteries will deepen and a new threat that may be beyond the casts’ ability to deal with appears. If one is looking for some rather perverse humor (though probably not as extreme as FUNimation’s “MA” rating might lead one to expect) with more than a little sci-fi underpinning then it may be in their best interest to not wait for an Angeloid to fall out of the sky on them but to make haste to acquire a little piece of Heaven through their own efforts.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Commentary for Episodes 4 & 9, Textless Opening Songs, Textless Closing Songs
Content Grade: B-
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: B-
Packaging Grade: A
Menu Grade: B-
Extras Grade: A-
Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: April 17th, 2012
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Samsung 50″ Plasma HDTV, Denon AVR-790 Receiver with 5.1 Sony Surround Sound Speakers, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080.