Sent to live with her grandmother in the country, Tamaki discovers that she’s part a very deep lineage.
What They Say:
Every girl dreams of being an enchanted princess, but how many stop to think about all the grim and horrible things that happen in fairy tales? That’s a lesson Tamaki learns all too graphically when she’s attacked on the way to her grandmother’s house by creatures she thought only existed in myths! Fortunately, she’s rescued by an extraordinary young man: one who’s not only part demon, but her future classmate as well, and one of the protectors that Tamaki will need if she’s going to fulfill her destiny as a Tamayori princess. A destiny that no one’s bothered to tell her she’s inherited until now!
If it wasn’t bad enough to learn that every plan she’s had for the future has to change, to top it all off Tamaki still has to start attending a new high school as well! The new girl in school will have to learn how to deal with some very, very old-school-type problems in a hurry.
Contains episodes 1-13.
The audio presentation for this release brings us a pair of audio tracks with the original Japanese track and the new English dub both done using the lossless DTS-HD MA codec. The show is one that works the dialogue side well because it’s layered with some good incidental music to make it fairly atmospheric and that leaves the forward soundstage sounding quite good. It’s the kind of show where the quiet scenes can add a lot to things because of the shift to the subtle music along the way. The series works well with dialogue placement and directionality across several instances but it also does a solid job with the action. Though not as huge a part of the show as it could be, it’s an area that definitely shines well when it hits as it has a really good sense of impact and bass to drive home the way it works. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2012, the transfer for this thirteen episode 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 nine episodes on the first and four on the second. The series, coming from JC Staff, was one that really drew me in during its simulcast run and it looks even better here with the colors, depth and vibrancy of so many scenes. The backgrounds are just gorgeous here in so many areas to build atmosphere and it works well because it feels so detailed and striking, drawing you into it all the more. The transfer brings it all to life in a great way here, balancing those quiet and near static scenes with the really well choreographed action scenes that are very fluid and beautifully animated.
The packaging for this release comes in a standard sized Blu-ray case with two discs inside that are held against the interior walls. The case doesn’t work too badly with the artwork here, giving it a touch more lightness to it than the DVD case with its blue. The front cover works nicely as we get the fie main men of the series together with mostly headshots of them while it has a darker framing around it that blends the two backgrounds together of the various leaves of fall. It’s a good looking cover overall even if it doesn’t feature the lead character in the slightest. The back cover uses the same darker reds and oranges with a few leaves scattered across it and it’s kind of surprising how easy it is to read the premise over it. We get a small shot of Tamaki here and a good selection of shots from the show that highlights the design of it well. The special features are listed clearly and the production credits are easy to read. The technical grid along the bottom is solid as it lists everything cleanly and clearly. Now show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menu design for this release riffs nicely off of the cover as it uses the red background style where it takes up two thirds of the screen on the right where it’s a fairly bland background that lets the character artwork in the foreground stand out of the characters hanging out together. The left side has the standard downward list of episodes by name and number which are quick and easy to navigate. It also doubles as the pop-up menu and tracks which episode you’re on during playback, something that I continue to like a lot. The layout in general is quick and easy to use and the discs default to English with sign/song subtitles.
The only extras on this release are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences which can be found on the second disc.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based off of the visual novel of the same name, Hiiro no Kakera is a two season series with this collection featuring the first season. Games to anime isn’t quite the problem it once was since they used to be just fighting games made into anime, but with more hentai games getting clean versions and the variety of story driven visual novel games getting adapted, there’s plenty of material to work with. And often these shows come with built in fanbases because of it since it’s a chance to see their favorite game in a new form. Some are winners and some aren’t, but there’s generally something worth at least checking out since many of them have a reputation to live up to when made.
With Hiiro no Kakera, we get the reverse harem kind of series where we’re introduced to high school student Tamaki, who has come from Tokyo at the request of her grandmother to live there. Leaving her parents behind, she’s surprised to learn that the real reason her grandmother wanted her there is because she’s a part of a long line of women in the family that are known as the Tamayori Princess. The shrine has an ages old story to it, but it’s not one that’s told as a story to Tamaki but rather something real as she’s had instances in the past where she’s seen supernatural things. The shrine is part of something that has existed for a long time as a way to seal in quite a lot of old gods and the like, ones that have become shells of themselves, and something ancient known as the Onikimaru. Unfortunately for Tamaki, her reason for being called here is that the seals are weakening and they need the power she has, that’s not awakened yet, in order to ensure the end of the world doesn’t happen.
Tamaki doesn’t have to face this alone though as there are a group of five guardians that are set to protect her from any threats. It starts off with just four as the fifth shows up a few episodes later, but we mostly get a group of high school guys who are committed to protecting her. She gravitates rather naturally towards Takuma, and he’s kind of unusual in the group itself as not only does have have supernatural blood in his veins like the rest, he’s hiding the secret that he has an oni inside of him which is where he derives his power from. There’s a slow build towards a relationship here for the pair, one that doesn’t really achieve much in this season until towards the end, but even that’s muted. Yet you can’t help but to see that the two definitely have a connection and that runs through the show in a small but steady way.
While the show has the threat of the gods and all themselves, there’s also another group that has prodded against the Tamayori Princess over the ages to try and find a way to get the Onikimaru. Known as Logos, we see them a few times in this season as they start breaking down the various seals in order to achieve their goals. Like and group of bad guys, they’re pretty varied in appearance and powers, and some creepy aspects to them, but they’re also lead by a child named Aria who makes it clear why they want the Onikimaru. While it has the power to destroy the world, they feel that it should be used to do things to change the world rather than just sit there idle and unused. It makes a certain amount of sense and there’s an interesting pivot across the show with how Tamaki deals with them, attempting negotiation along the way rather than just outright treating them as bad guys. It makes for a nice change, especially since she doesn’t let it go on for too long as she starts to understand more of the scale of the problem they’re facing as the lengthy history comes to light. Everything builds in a good way here and the set has a fairly decent end point, though it is just the middle of the story as a whole.
I enjoyed Hiiro no Kakera when I first saw it on a weekly basis, though there are slow parts to it. It has a pretty standard pacing for a show like this and plays up the usual tropes of a show about one woman with several attendant men that are set to protect her. But it also works the familiar storyline well with a kind of polish to it that hits some very good notes along the way because of the skill of those involved. The action is solid, there are some nice quirks to how it unfolds and it’s got a gorgeous look about it that really hit the sweet spot for me. Though I felt a bit less engaged while seeing it over the course of thirteen weeks, spending a day with the show made me appreciate it all the more in seeing how the storylines slowly come together and the way some of those subplots that are here are set up for the second season. Sentai Filmworks gave this a really great looking presentation here and with it being in high definition – which it definitely deserved – and a dub, it’s a show worth checking out that will please the fans of it and draw in more.
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: April 16th, 2013
Running Time: 325 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.