Magic, science and mystery combine with copious amounts of fanservice.
What They Say:
After saving a fairy-tale kingdom, Akatsuki returns to the real world with Miu, the busty daughter of the defeated Demon King. It’s one hell of a happy ending until they’re forced to enroll at a school for magic users. There, Akatsuki can’t keep his hands off the girls, Miu’s constantly ballooning measurements make her a walking wardrobe malfunction, and someone is always plotting against them.
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo as well as the English language adaptation in 5.1, both of which are encoded with the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. The series works a good blend of action and dialogue/school material that keeps it active without being too much so. The action side of the series has its strong moments, more so in the 5.1 mix where it has a louder and stronger impact, as it uses the forward soundstage well with the various creatures and attacks ranging across the screen. There’s some decent bass to it at times but it’s still fairly well a standard show. The dialogue side of the series is solid but mostly unexceptional as it plays out as there is some directionality and placement but it doesn’t do all that much when you get down to it. It’s done well but it won’t leave you feeling like they did something solid here. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any issues with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2012, the transfer for this twelve episode series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The episodes are spread across two discs with nine on the first and three on the second as is standard process. Animated by ARMS, the show definitely has a good look to it throughout in terms of the designs and backgrounds where there’s a good bit of detail and some very appealing colors. Having come off of the low quality simulcast, it’s like night and day and it has a very good look here. Colors have a good range here while maintaining a solid approach for the majority of it where it’s appropriate and the more fluid animation sequences definitely come across very well. It may not be the most standout show out there, but the transfer captures the look of ir pretty well.
The limited edition packaging for this release is pretty nice overall as we get a heavy chipboard box that holds the two Blu-ray sized cases inside. The front cover artwork uses the familiar image from a lot of the promotion during its broadcast of the main cast that shows off the designs and uniforms nicely. Unlike the promotional image which used a lush blue sky, we get a yellow background here with some magic sigil designs in it with a thin black border holding it all together, which does work nicely. The back of the box uses the same overall design for it but gives us much larger images of Akatsuki and Miu from the final arc of the set where she gets to wear something even skimpier.
Inside the box we get the two Blu-ray cases where it uses the same yellow background and black border which works fairly well against the blue of the case. The two volumes bring in more of the characters where the first one gives us Akatsuki and Miu again in their school uniforms while the second has Kuzuha and Izumi together that looks quite good. The back covers use the same yellow background but just goes with text as we get the breakdown of episodes by format so you know what’s in that particular case. Each case has additional artwork on the reverse side where it has some great illustration work that shows off Miu on one in a very seductive manner while the other has Kuzuha in a swimsuit lounging around. No show related inserts are included with this release.
The menu design for this release is a fairly standard one for FUNimation in that we get the majority of the screen give over to clips from the show. It sets the mood well enough with the colors and the movement of it that keeps it moving and showing off the characters and some of the situations. The logo is kept to the upper left side which looks good as it’s all in black with a white border while the volume numbering is kept to the right. The navigation strip along the bottom is done small and in yellow with black text that’s easy to read. Even better is that when you go into the episode breakdown section, the text there is a lot larger than normal and is much easier to read on larger screens. Submenus load quickly and it’s easy to navigate. Unfortunately, the language tracks are locked so you can only choose the audio from the menu which will keep the subtitles locked for that particular track.
The extras for this release are pretty good as we get a nice range of materials here that will please both sides of fans. For the English language crowd, we get two commentary tracks from the production team with the actors talking about their roles and the show itself. On the second disc, we get the more Japanese centric extras with the clean opening and closing sequences that are always welcome. We also get the six short episodes that were created for the Japanese home video release that clocks in at twenty-three minutes total, providing some comical moments and plenty of fanservice that adds little more than just a lot of fun.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the light novels from Tetsuto Uesu that have some eleven volumes released so far since it began in 2010, Aesthetica of a Rogue Hero is a new anime series from Arms. The series launched just after a new manga adaptation began back in early 2012 to help cross promote each other and the original novels as well. Which may be a requirement because the opening episode feels like it’s really missing something in making it all connect and come together. It’s the kind of episode where after watching it all, you struggle to really say what it’s all about, though you can point to its high points in good looking animation and character designs with plenty of fanservice. And unfortunately, that really sets the tone for the series as a whole.
The show introduces us to a young man named Akatsuki who is able to travel to different worlds for adventure and the like. We end up seeing him at the end of one in the world of Alyzard where it resulted in some roguish moments involving a princess, which is why he’s intent on getting out of that world and back to his own with quite a laugh. During his time there, he ended up killing the Dark Lord and was asked to spirit his daughter away to Earth in order to protect her from the fallout. Unfortunately or fortunately for him, the girl named Miu is a pink haired beauty that’s not quite sure how she’ll fit in when she gets there. There’s some nods made in a news bit about the way people are disappearing and only some of them are coming back, but there’s a distinct feeling of a lack of grounding with it all. It is interesting that we learn that people have crossed, been abducted or just disappeared over time and those that do manage to come back often lose most of their memories.
Those that do this kind of crossing are brought into one of many places spread across the countries of the world called BABEL. Akatsuki and Miu are transferred into JPN BABEL where they get to readjust to the world, practice their abilities and for the overall organization that keeps track of them to see how they’ll fit into the world. While the people who cross over are normal humans when they start, they can end up in places like Alyzard where there’s magic and other abilities and they retain them when they come back to Earth. That makes them valuable and has advanced a lot of things in the world. But it also provides for some competitive elements as well since people with power will want to use it. But there’s also the top layer of the organization that’s profiling those that come back for their own purposes. Which is not covered in this series, which really does come across as an opening chapter to a larger storyline.
While there is this larger storyline that’s woven slowly into the series and hits some seriously awkward moments in the last couple of episodes as Alyzard gets involved once again, the majority of the show is all about the core characters in a competitive school setting. Filled with copious amounts of fanservice. Miu is pretty uncertain about the world and being brought in as she is, she’s forced into play the role of Akatsuki’s lost younger sister. That keeps them close, but he has an odd feeling about him as he kind of toys with her a lot, especially sexually, in order to try and loosen her up so that she can start coming across as more normal. Or what qualifies as normal here. Miu takes awhile to really come out of her shell and it only really happens after she starts to connect with a couple of other girls in their class, Kuzuha and Izumi, and even then it’s simply because Akatsuki really messed with them. One of his special skills is the ability to swipe girls panties without them realizing it, a trick he learned to survive in Alyzard. So it’s no surprise that a few girls rally together and end up forming a team of sorts with Akatsuki at the same time, since he is so particularly skilled and the competitive nature makes that important.
There’s a lot of familiar things across the set as we get Akatsuki settling into the place and establishing himself as the power player there, which is a welcome change in some ways since he puts down the bullies easily and finds his real sparring partner early on, which excites him. The action is fairly regular for the most part, though not in every episode, and that has some very good moments to it since it’s so varied and seemingly without any real rules to it. But the show also spends a lot of its time on the fanservice, which is probably the larger draw, especially since the home video release is uncensored compared to the simulcast. Miu gets put into a lot of awkward positions, from a beach episode to another one that has Akatsuki taking her bra shopping that takes up almost the entire thing. It’s kind of weird in some ways but it’s also quite amusing as well in a way that I can’t quite put my finger on.
Aesthetica of a Rogue Hero left me feeling very cold towards it as it progressed during the simulcast because it didn’t feel like it knew which story it wanted to tell and that it was just an opening chapter rather than really telling its own story. With the show in marathon form here, it does come together a lot better than I expected as it moves from scene to scene in a way that flows well, even if it does feel rather shallow in many ways. And that keeps coming back to the way that the real story is kept in the wings. It also doesn’t help that the supporting cast really is paper thin – at least in terms of story and who they are. But it also has a kind of happy go lucky aspect to it, especially from Akatsuki since he’s got that approach of knowing the truth of it all, a confidence to it and the way that he’s kind of just playing at things. With no prospect of more, Aesthetica of a Rogue Hero is a look at a larger property that’s still going on and is obviously incomplete, but tells its origin story fairly well while still making you want more. Which is something Japanese fans can get at least through the novels.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, English Commentary Tracks, Clean Opening, Clean Closing, Six Bonus Shorts
Content Grade: B-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B+
Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: December 17th, 2013
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 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.