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We Without Wings Complete Collection Limited Edition Blu-ray Anime Review

9 min read

We Without Wings
We Without Wings
Facing dire consequences, one young man copes in the only way that he can.

What They Say:
Timid Takashi wants to escape to an alternate world where he is a heralded knight, but is held back by thoughts of his younger sister and his girlfriend. Part-timer and all-around upbeat guy Shuusuke has a disastrous first encounter with a woman who turns out to be his new co-worker. Handyman Hayato is a hard-boiled loner who has random encounters with two gangs and a girl with a uniform fetish. Throw in plenty of fan-service, random humor, an alternate medieval world, and your narrator DJ Condor, and you get We Without Wings – Under the Innocent Sky.

This limited edition includes a chipboard artbox.

Contains episodes 1-12 plus episode 00.

The Review:
The audio presentation for this release is pretty straightforward and relatively simple as we get the original Japanese language track in stereo with a new English language track done up in 5.1, both of which used the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. The series is one that is pretty much dialogue and antic based so it doesn’t work the channels all that well and a lot of it feels center channel based. There’s some good movement across the stage at different times when it comes to placement and occasionally a bit of depth, but the majority of the time it doesn’t do all that much. The music cues are decent throughout and the opening and closing sequences stand out the most. The mix and its design serves the material though and the end result is a good sounding piece that doesn’t have any dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Originally airing in 2011, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twelve episode series plus OVA is spread across the two discs with nine on the first and four on the second. Animated by Nomad, the transfer for the show is pretty good here as it has some very detailed designs throughout and some great looking character designs with a lot of pop to the color. This definitely gives the show a strong look, especially with all the detail given to the strong fanservice moments, but there’s also some gradients to be had in a number of places. This doesn’t come from the encoding but rather the animation style itself. Beyond that though, the series looks good with little in the way of noise and no visible cross coloration of line noise.

The packaging for this release comes in both a regular and limited edition form. The limited edition gives us a heavy chipboard box that holds two Blu-ray cases inside. The front of the box gives us a look at several of the core girls in their various school uniforms with a lot of feathers floating around. There’s a good bit of feathers all around, which ties into the logo well enough, and it’s certainly appealing though the front cover looks a little low resolution. The back cover gives us an angelic look at the four girls against the same background but in white outfits and good smiles. The background color is the main downside to the set in a way here as it’s just too subdued and doesn’t feel like it sells the vibrancy of the show at all.

Inside the case we get the two Blu-ray cases where each of them does a different pairing of characters in school uniforms along the front, using the same background and plenty of feathers again. Each case holds their respective discs, with the first volumes of the DVD and Blu-ray in one and the second in the other. The back covers do a similar overall design where we get three of the girls together in the same kind of uniforms, one with the maids and the other with cat style outfits. They’re all very cute covers overall and definitely highlights the appeal of the girls in the series. Each disc has artwork on the reverse side where it breaks down the episodes by disc/format with numbers and titles. The artwork for each is really strong with some big fanservice that definitely makes it fun to reverse and have on the outside. If you like that kind of thing.

The menu design for this release is pretty nice overall with what it does as it’s mostly just a series of clips through a bluish/purple filter. The clips certainly show off the characters well enough with their designs, but it’s the rest of it that I liked. The center has the logo through it which is simple but effective while the navigation strip along the bottom uses the wings logo from the front cover, which also comes up during playback. It’s a bit of a big pop-up, but it fits with the show well enough and I like how it looks. The layout is simple and easy to use with submenus loading quickly and changing things on the fly is problem free.

The extras for this release are mostly simple but there’s some good stuff here for English language fans as there’s a couple of commentary tracks by the production team and cast. 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 visual novel game Oretachi ni Tsubasa wa Nai that was released in 2009, and definitely an eroge game for the PC, We, Without Wings is a series directed by Shinji Ushiro with Takamitsu Kouno serving as the script supervisor on it with studio Nomad providing the animation production. You can get a feel for part of the series from the opening couple of minutes where it has a TV that shows a variety of images across it that are fanservice oriented, but it doesn’t feel like it’s something you can really put your finger on right away because of how it unfolds from there, with a sort of in your face approach due to the boombox that’s used. I had watched this show when it was simulcast by FUNimation and I barely made it to the fifth episode before I dropped it after giving it several D and F grades.

Because of the nature of the series, to talk about it, I really have to just spoil the whole thing. So if you don’t want to know much, you can skip to the summary from here.

Got it? Ok.

The series revolves around a young man named Takashi Haneda who has a real problem. A very serious problem, which occurred after problems with his parents, and more directly his mother, ten years prior that cause him to retreat into himself. Because of the psychological shattering that went on because of it, his mind essentially fractured and he ended up creating different personalities that take over for him most of the time. Each of the personalities are distinct enough and have their own quirks, but there’s also the aspect where he based some of it on a videogame he used to play, an RPG. That has Takashi believing that he belongs in that world where he’s a nice guy and completely needed by so many people and is intent on rescuing the princess that’s in this world. This provides the show with the chance to show off some fun fantasy scenes, but it amounts to a few minutes out of most of the series. What we usually see of the real Takashi is him sitting in a purgatory style world where he’s watching life on a TV set that shows all the things that he really wants out of life.

What the show wants to do is show how Takashi in all his other forms handles everything while keeping the truth from him since he’s living in his own fantasy world. Each of them lives separate lives, where one is a “Fixer”, another works as a waiter and so forth. They each have different friends and relationships that exist, but there is some crossover as well that comes into play. There are a few that know all of the different personalities, but they either aren’t sure what’s going on or don’t realize the serious issue that’s going on here. What makes the show difficult is that for the first seven or so episodes, it only hints that these various personalities are the same person. There are seeming interactions between them in the real world which makes you think they’re all distinct people, but it moves in such a choppy way that you can’t be completely sure. When I watched it as a simulcast, it proved to be incredibly frustrating because the episodes for most of it really aren’t about anything significant. It’s the various personalities – which are all certainly distinct – trying to get through their days. The fixer is helping a girl find her bike through many of the episodes, the shy guy is trying to deal with being a waiter and we also get the pieces going on with Takashi that throws it all off in a strange way. You know something is wrong, something is completely off, that when it all does finally reveal itself, it thankfully makes sense. But it doesn’t make it hugely interesting either because the reveal comes so much later in it and you find yourself thinking for most of the show that nothing makes sense.

That in itself could be bad enough, but the series also goes in another direction that’s actually quite uncomfortable, especially in the first few episodes. There’s some great looking character designs here but they take the fanservice into the start of hentai levels with it. The groping that goes on makes me cringe, the kind of panty shots are just uncomfortable and pandering in a bad way and the verbal abuse that comes into play at times makes it even more uncomfortable. There’s even a child-character that dresses all goth-loli on us and has a constant need it seems to show her underwear to the men of the series. And she doesn’t wear what’s appropriate for what you’re guessing is her age (she’s obviously supposed to be older than she looks), as it’s all way, way too sexual. It just kept making me uncomfortable, both in my previous experience and here. While there are shows I don’t mind watching with other people that have fanservice, this one is a series that I’d never actually do that with.

In Summary:
We, Without Wings is a show that I fully admit that I’m surprised FUNimation licensed. With the general reaction it got back in 2011, the crudeness of a lot of it and the way the story unfolds, it doesn’t come across as an easy sell. And it’s not a show that will grab people looking for something complicated because it’s so infused with awkward sexuality. Watching it in marathon form over the course of a day – and making it to the end for the first time – it does make a lot of things clear. But it’s also a show where I think the ending should have been provided at the beginning and focused more on the journey itself. The opening episodes were the hardest to get through and it does soften itself as it goes on, but it also ends with an OVA, which for a series like that, is just a scary concept when it’s freed from the restraints of broadcast. That was bundled with one of the game re-releases and it shows since what’s in it with hot springs, baths and more has far more cringe worthy material than it should.

Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Commentary for Episodes 4 & 8, Textless Opening, Textless Closings

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

Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: October 8th, 2013
MSRP: $64.98
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P 3D HDTV, Sony PlayStation 3 via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.