A fun show that just can’t decide what it wants to be.
What They Say:
The world is about to be turned upside down for Hajime Murata. First, a strange alien ship appears over Tokyo, and then a mysterious new transfer student arrives at his school wearing an ancient school uniform. His name is Muryou; and with his arrival, everything begins to change. Students suddenly begin to display amazing psychic powers, a giant white guardian keeps appearing in the skies over the city to fight off gigantic alien creatures, and men with threatening weapons are haunting the shadows of the school grounds. With all these strange events taking place around him, Hajime is determined to figure out the truth about a world he thought he already knew. This is his story: a tale of aliens and humans, starships and spies, and friends who are often more than they appear. Join Hajime as he uncovers the mystery of Shingu: Secret of the Stellar Wars!
For this viewing I listened to the English language track in Dolby Digital 2.0. There is also a Japanese language track in Dolby Digital 2.0, and English language subtitles. The sound quality is good, although there was no directionality.
The video quality was excellent on this transfer. The colors were sharp, and everything was clear and bright.
Shingu is packaged in a standard Litebox. The show is spread out over five disks with the first four overlayed on top of each other on the inside of the front cover and an insert. The final disk sits alone on the inside of the back cover. The front cover features the characters Hajime, Muryou, Kyouichi, Naiyuta, Hachiyou, Shun, and Harumi against a stellar background. The title of the show is written above them. The spine continues the black, stellar theme. Written in yellow font is the show’s title and at the bottom are the logos for Nozomi and RightStuf! The back cover finishes the stellar theme. The show’s summary takes up the majority of the top of the back with Japanese letters (I don’t know enough to say whether it’s Kanji, katakana, or hiragana) scrolls from the top to the bottom on the left side. Beneath the summary stand Setsuna, Hajime, Futaba, Naiyuta, and Muryou. The technical information is given in a white box at the bottom next to the UPC code. While I can’t say I’m a fan of overlaying disks, it is better than a stackpack, so I won’t complain too much. Overall, it’s a good package that doesn’t take up too much space and features a nice design.
Each menu features two of the characters from the show against a blue and white background. The title is prominently displayed in the upper right-hand corner and under that are the menu uptions: Play, Episodes, Setup, and Bonus. The text is black and stands out well from the background and a Galactic Federation symbol hovers beside the option being chosen, so there is no confusion as to what is being picked. The show’s main theme is played in the background on a forty second loop. It’s a good, simple design.
The extras on this set were good, if unspectacular. The Line Art Galleries in particular were quite fun as they showed off the design evolution of the show.
Hajime is a typical high school student living in decidedly untypical times. An alien spaceship appears above Tokyo, only to be driven away by a giant white guardian. The next day a new boy transfers to school. His name is Muryou, and while he is very nice, he’s also a little strange. For one thing, he wears an ancient school uniform! Muryou’s arrival is as much a catalyst for the upending of Hajime’s life as the knowledge that aliens exist. He soon learns that a handful of his classmates are the power behind the white guardian, Shingu, and that other members of the school are protectors tasked with the job of protecting them. He also learns that Earth is a protected area—a sort of galactic preserve or national park watched over by the Galactic Federation which operates under a strict no-interference policy. If not for the power of Shingu, the Earth would be defenseless, but, paradoxically, this power is what draws many alien races to the planet. The balance between the Earth and the Galactic Federation has existed for generations, but now, with the existence of aliens made public knowledge and the world’s governments becoming involved, the question of whether or not to include Earth fully into the Federation (and if the Earth even wants that) is finally broached.
Shingu is a title that really doesn’t know what it wants to be. It’s very entertaining, but it can’t decide whether it wants to be a light-hearted tale about superpowered teens attending high school, or an intergalactic drama full of action-packed space fights. What’s interesting is that it does both of these stories very well, but it never fully brings them together to form a cohesive tale. When it switches gears it does so abruptly and jarringly and it takes time for the viewer to change his or her expectations.
This could be the kiss of death for a title, but what saves Shingu is its light touch. This is not a show that takes itself seriously, and that makes up for a great deal of tonal inconsistencies. One of my favorite parts of the show is when Hajime will turn to the camera to say something to the audience. Often when this happens his sister, Futaba, or somebody else, will be shown watching him and remarking on how weird he is. There’s no real reason for this breaking of the fourth wall, but it’s cute and it tells the viewer, “Relax, this is all in good fun.”
Ultimately, Shingu is a show that relies more on character and setting than plot, and as long as that’s kept in mind, it’s great fun. There were many times during the middle of the series where I was convinced that the writers had forgotten about the overall story arc, but I was also okay with that because the episodes were still enjoyable. I liked Hajime’s breaking of the fourth wall, Muryou’s innocent honesty, and Setsuna’s meddling. I even enjoyed Naiyuta’s attitude once I got used to it.
Shingu is a title that doesn’t know what it wants to be. Part high-school comedy about superpowered teens, and part outer space action drama, the show doesn’t switch gears as much as lurches. However, the overall experience was fun because of the lighthearted attitude it took to itself and the charm of the characters and setting. Taken for what it intends to be, this is a fun title, which is sometimes all one needs. Recommended.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Character Bios, Line Art Galleries, Original Production Notes, Textless Opening
Content Grade: B-
Audio Grade: A
Video Grade: A
Menu Grade: A
Extras Grade: B
Released By: Right Stuf
Release Date: March 12, 2013
Running Time: 650 minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 4:3
Panasonic Viera TH42PX50U 42” Plasma HDTV, Sony BPD-S3050 BluRay Player w/HDMI Connection