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Mashiroiro Symphony ~ The Color of Lovers Anime DVD Review

9 min read

Going to a new school introduces one young man to a symphony of possibilities.

What They Say:
When boys suddenly get into places where they’ve never been allowed before, some girls tend to get upset. So when the decision is made to merge the elite Yuihime Girls’ Private Academy and the coeducational Kagamidai Private Academy, everyone wants to take extra care in bringing the two Privates together. Therefore, rather than just sticking the Kagamida boys into the Yuihime girls all at once, a plan is concocted in which a group of test males will be inserted into the Girls’ Private Academy first.

Thus it is that poor young Shingo finds himself being thrown as a sacrificial lamb to the lionesses of Yuihime, who aren’t exactly waiting for him with open arms. Will Shingo manage to survive the estrogen soaked death pit that is Yuihime? Can the girls learn to be more receptive to the boys? And just how long until something involving panties will cause emotions to flare, sparks to fly, and the war between the sexes to explode?

Contains episodes 1-12.

The Review:
Audio:
The audio presentation for this release contains only the original Japanese mix in stereo encoded at 224kbps. The show has a simple mix to it as it’s largely dialogue based as there’s nothing really here in terms of expressive action, but it does flesh things out a bit more with the music score that’s blended in well throughout it. With the show featuring a varying configuration of characters across the forward soundstage at any time, it works well with placement though there’s little use for depth to it all. The music gives it all a warmer and richer feeling but the dialogue is decent throughout. We didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2011, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The twelve episode series is spread across two discs with six evenly on each while a third disc has all the extras. The series is one that has a bright color palette to it with lots of vibrant elements in the character designs and rich backgrounds. Being a dating-sim game come to life, there’s definitely the traditional feeling to it with the detailed designs for the school costumes and the look of it overall and the transfer captures it well. Colors are generally solid and clean with only a bit of noise in some places while being free of cross coloration and line noise. It’s an appealing looking transfer just from the color design alone.

Packaging:
The packaging for this release is very good as we get the three discs inside a standard sized keepcase with a hinge to hold everything. The cover artwork puts all its assets right there on the front with the five main girls in their uniforms, full of detail and plenty of smiles. With very good colors, the show lets you know exactly what you’re getting into here without any misdirection. The back cover works with pinks, blues and whites to give us something soft that ups the ante as we get two of the girls in various states of undress on either side with the fairly lengthy summary between them. There are a few shots from the show brought in through two small strips and we get a good, clean listing of the extras that are included here. The production credits are small but easy to read and the technical grid lays everything out clearly and accurately. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.

Menu:
The menu design for the show is straightforward with its design but it looks good and hits the right notes overall. With a blue and white emphasis, the left side features the breakdown of episode numbers and titles with the cursor fitting in with the snowflake style theme. The right third of the screen is given over to the character artwork which is definitely colorful and detailed. With no language options here and the extras all on the third disc, submenu navigation is non-existent and what we do have works smoothly and without problem.

Extras:
The extras for this release are all kept on a third disc so as to not impact space issues. The first extra is the Another Story piece which is a 15 minute run that gives us a visual novel CG style approach to one of the relationship configurations. It’s not bad, but it didn’t really grab me all that much. Another piece is the cute Ange and Sakuno five minute story that does simple animation to have the two of them just being silly for a bit. Inui gets similar treatment in her own special that runs about the same as we get introduced to her home life and family when she takes Shingo the cat there. The five character songs are included on a submenu which are cute music videos and we also get the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the PC game of the same name that debuted in 2009 and had a PSP version launch in 2011 before the series began, Mashiroiro Symphony is a twelve episode series that plays fairly well with a familiar concept. Dating-sim games, especially eroge visual novel types, are commonly adapted to more TV friendly form all the time and this series does the transition well with a nice minor twist or two along the way that makes it more enjoyable, though it still doesn’t reach a really high level. It’s also true to some of its eroge origins in that we get plenty of nudity, at least above the waist, from the main girls while not whiting away the nipples, something that some shows do their best to soften to strange effect.

The series takes place in the town of Kagamidai, a place where there’s a distinctive class nature about it when it comes to the residents. While there’s the Old District which has wealth and upper class all about it, there’s the New District where you have the more workaday people living. Unfortunately, the school there has been closed down and the students are being integrated into the Old District school, the Yuihime Private Academy. Which means there’s a small amount of boys that will be going to the school now as well, something that quite a few girls are against. It’s a fairly forced concept with how it’s handled here, but the end results are decent in that you get some mild tensions that populates the story since many of these girls have never had boys in their lives for the most part.

The main character for the series is Shingo Uryu, a high schools student who serves as the nice everyman kind of kid that makes it easy to like and get behind. There’s nothing really unique about him, no personality trail or activity that makes him stand out, but he is a nice guy. Along with his sister Sakuno, who pretty much is the picture of bland zero personality, The two are an amusing pair as they do live together without any parents in the picture and deal with all the chores of it well. Even better is that, at least in this anime incarnation, there’s no sister or brother complex stuff going on here. Sakuno’s fairly mild in the show overall, only offering up a few choice bits here and there along the way without any real impact.

With the school that they and a few others we get to know going to the new school, there’s some fun integration material that takes place. The director is fine with it but many of the girls are not. Teachers are few and far between at best. The general focus is on some of those like class reps and others that come into it. The initial one that causes the most trouble is Airi, the daughter of the director and the one most against the integration. She’s smart, beautiful and definitely unfriendly when it comes to boys. But as time goes on, Shingo manages to win her over in a fairly good way by just being normal and doing things that come naturally when in these situations. The two actually manage to get fairly close and you can easily see how the relationship will progress from there.

And in the middle of watching all of this, I have to admit that I started to wish that more shows would take chances with the secondary characters and really making them primary when you get down to it. When the show shifts to dealing with Miu, a quiet girl in the same grade who runs an unofficial club called the Nuko Club. It’s an interesting club that has its own private clubhouse on the school grounds where she takes care of stray or wounded animals that come into her life. She’s ably helped by Inui, a fiery and protective readheaded girl, so she gets very defensive when Shingo comes into Miu’s life in a bigger way, especially when the club is threatened by its unofficial status and needs to start getting members to keep functioning. Shingo obviously spearheads all of this and it gets him closer and closer to her, something that Inui doesn’t like and really struggles with.

Which is why I was surprised that Airi got shifted to secondary position for most of the second half and never really came back around to being the lead character. You could tell from early on that she and Shingo were likely destined for each other with predictable writing, but I like that he ended up getting closer to Miu instead and gets to know her quite well. It takes a bit before that reveal is really made, but there’s enough of it that goes on that you actually like the pairing and feel a little sad that they won’t go there when they suddenly do. And it’s actually a good bit of fun since they’re so happy with each other that they can barely contain it, both inside and outside of school. A good bit of the focus is also given to Inui with her own interest in both of them to different degrees that needs to be dealt with.

The show does play with other characters to varying degrees as well, including an unwelcome turn with Ange. Actually named Angelica, she’s grown up wanting to be a maid like her mother who is working in England now. Ange’s got the kind of personality that’s just annoying and she’s intent on treating everything in her life like a maid, which makes her a terribly one-note character. She has some cute bits along the way and she takes up with Sakuno and Shingo in their home for awhile to be their maid, but it’s the weakest arc of the series overall and the character that made me cringe the most.

In Summary:
Mashiroiro Symphony is a fairly traditional eroge visual novel adapted to anime form with many choices about which girls could be chosen. I rather felt it was predictable as it got going after the initial setup was introduced but if shifted gears nicely along the way with who Shingo became interested in and it didn’t pull back to go with the usually expected lead. The series has a good visual design to it that hews to the source material so fans of the games and the manga spinoffs will likely be pleased by it. It’s a decent show that does some good things, has some absolutely adorable cats but doesn’t quite manage to really distinguish itself in a big way. It’s a fun show overall that definitely shows its origins.

Features:
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing, Character Songs, Specials

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

Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: December 4th, 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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