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Someday’s Dreamers II Sora Complete Collection Anime DVD Review

9 min read

When a young mage comes to Tokyo from Hokkaido, it’s a whole new world as she becomes certified.

What They Say:
Get ready for a second magical journey to the world of Someday’s Dreamers, where spellcasting is a profession that requires both the proper training AND a license. It’s to get that license and fulfill a promise made to her late father that young Suzuki Sora has made the long journey from her distant home in the countryside town of Biei to the big city of Tokyo. It’s a daunting challenge, but she’s got a little bit of talent, a charming personality and, most important of all, the promise of an internship!

What Sora isn’t expecting, however, is how different life in the city will be, especially the people themselves. While she gets along with the ascerbic Asagi, Kuroda, and the timid Hiyori, she’s completely confused with the mysterious boy Gouta. Yet, as a result of their internships, they keep ending up in the same situations and slowly learning to understand more about each other than they ever imagined possible.

Contains episodes 1-12.

The Review:
Audio:
The audio presentation for this series is basic and familiar as we get the original Japanese language in stereo encoded at 192kbps. The series has a few “big” moments to it but they’re minor overall as it mostly focuses on the use of the magic. The majority of this is dealing in the dialogue and that’s rather basic stuff since it’s just the characters talking, almost never with raised voices, so it doesn’t stretch much and just captures the feel as you’d expect. There’s a decent bit of warmth and realness to it at times that’s engaging, especially because of the animation style, so it complements it well. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in the summer of 2008, the transfer for this twelve episode series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The show is spread evenly over both discs with six on each so there’s a decent bit of space for each set of episodes. While the first season was animated by JC Staff, this one is done by Hal Maker and they took a different approach. The show has a good, distinctive set of character designs here but they did nearly all of the backgrounds as photographs of real places that were shaded at times with digital coloring to bring it all together. It’s something that definitely makes the show look rich, detailed and very lived in, since it is, but it also introduces a fair bit of noise at times with some of them, especially the blander backgrounds where you can see a lot of noise and blocking. While I like the background usage like this sometimes, it just feels overdone here and actually was rather distracting at times since you were looking more at the highly detailed settings instead of paying attention to the show.

Packaging:
The packaging for this release is pretty much the norm here as we get a standard sized keepcase with a hinge inside that holds one of the discs while the other is against the interior wall. The front cover has a really great illustration piece that has Sora and Gota together leaning against the tree. It’s very earthy in tone with a certain lightness to it that really makes it hugely appealing. The back cover mirrors the previous release as well with a light white background where the left half has a sizable plot concept inside a partial circle that’s pretty nicely done. The right gives us the lead pair together while we also get a number of shots from the show. The discs extras are clearly listed and the production information along the bottom is easy to read. The technical grid covers everything in a very clean fashion and with no errors. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.

Menu:
The menu design for this release is quite nice as it’s similar to the previous season but just has a bright and more alive feeling about it. The right side has the curved listed that holds the navigation by episode number which includes the episode title. The majority of the menu along the left of that is filled with bright blue skies, clouds and character artwork. The first disc in particular has a really good image of Sora in her sundress with a hat as the sun shines down that really looks great. Submenus load quickly and everything is easy to get to. With it being a monolingual release, it defaults to subtitles on obviously but they can be turned off on the fly.

Extras:
The series has a good mix of extras that goes a bit beyond the norm. While we get the basics in the clean opening and closing sequences but we also get the Japanese promo video. The really fun little piece that we get is a trailer for the live action movie. Hopefully this will get picked up someday so we have everything.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After the short run original manga series by Norie Yamada, she followed it up with a five volume separate series Spellbound and then began in 2008 with Summer Skies, aka this Sora season. That series is still ongoing and has some differences from the anime, mostly in some quirks of the main characters magic. This season isn’t exactly a sequel to what original series but just more stories told in the same world with different characters. While JC Staff handled the animation for the first series, Hal Maker steps in here for this one and does an admirable job with it, providing some similarities to the original while putting its own stamp in it, largely with the heavy use of photographs for the backgrounds that are tweaked and recolored.

This series focuses on a sixteen year old girl named Sora who hails from Biei in Hokkaido. She’s been accepted to mage training in Tokyo and has to leave her agrarian life with her mother and grandfather that she lives with. It’s beautiful country and slow lifestyle there that’s just rich in color and she loves it there but craves to see what Tokyo is like. We get a full episode of her finishing her time there before she heads to the big city as we see how close she is to her family and the way she uses magic in order to help her friend get a boyfriend. It’s soft, sweet and paints a very good picture of how Sora is, so you know that she really is just Hokkaido going to Tokyo. So when we do see her there, she has lots of wonder with it all, a little confusion but puts up a good approach and just enjoys the experience of a lifetime.

Sora’s hope to become a mage is pretty decent fare here, though there are some changes from how we saw it done before. Sora’s come to be an apprentice so she has a place to stay with an experienced mage who also does training with another mage there. While we had a similar setup in the previous series, this one also introduces some actual classes as well within the Bureau of Magic with others that have come. They have to go through several weeks of classes and take a few tests before they’re approved while also working as apprentices to go on field jobs where they perform magic with their seniors. It all ties together rather nicely and gives us a more involved view of the process where you feel more of the history, legal and practical applications of magic are actually being taught. There’s appeal to the master/apprentice side, but this feels a bit more formal.

The advantage to the show is that it places Sora with a number of other people and we get a small group of five or so that become friends and hang out. One of them is the other one being apprenticed where she lives, a young man named Gota who only just learned that he was of mage lineage and can barely use his powers. He’s a pretty quiet type but you can see the kind of bond that can be drawn there between him and Sora, especially since they both come from quieter lifestyles overall as he’s one that would prefer to surf and be out on the waves. The show does tend to focus on these two more than the others, but they all get a little time and growth that shows who they are and what they want out of life. It’s mellow, laid back and very relaxing in how it explores all over this over the course of the series.

The stories are certainly familiar as Sora goes out and deals with some magic requests along with her master. These give us some clue as to her level of power and the depth of her commitment but also her lack of understanding about adults and the nature of their requests. As it goes on, it’s not a surprise since she can’t connect with the way that their erquests aer answered but not quite in the way that she thinks they wanted them to be since she lacks the world and life experience to really know what it all means. She has that simple view of things and tends to feel that her magic ends up just causing more pain than anything else. It’s an earnest approach on her part but it says a lot about her as well.

Because of the nature of the series, it does pretty much have that laid back feeling about that draws you in but doesn’t quite excite. That’s not a bad thing though as a show like this is all about drawing you into the characters and the situation they’re in. I like the relaxed atmosphere, the way that Sora gets to explore the city herself and with others but also an extended piece with her and Gota at Enoshima where she gets closer to him and takes in another view of life and the world. I also like that with Sora, we get someone with a very different issue in her life that doesn’t come into play until much later in the series and adds a new twist to it, which also makes it so that when you rewatch the series, it gives it a far different feel. And it definitely provides a contrast to the series we had before.

In Summary:
Someday’s Dreamers: Sora isn’t just a replay of the first series and that’s a big plus in its favor. It takes the third manga series concept and runs with it well but continuing to expand the universe that we saw in that first series with a new cast and setting. The expansion on how the young mages are trained, going beyond just apprentices, was definitely a big improvement and made this more of an ensemble cast series. Sora is still the lead though and watching her story is one that really feels like it comes full circle here. She’s an enjoyable character that brings a good look at this world from a different angle and the big thing for me was that it wasn’t a replay of what came before, either in story design or the characters. I hadn’t even known this series was created until it got licensed, so I’m quite glad to get a chance to see it.

Features:
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing, Japanese Promo, Live Action Movie Trailer

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

Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: October 16th, 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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