What They Say:
Leicester Maycraft leads a charmed life. His parents are nobility and he spends his days crafting inventions and questing alongside his friends in Clan Oasis. It also doesn’t hurt that every pretty girl in town is in love with him, including the Duke’s daughter, Carina Verriti. Life couldn’t possibly get any better. Until it does.
Energy from a supernatural meteor shower awakens the adorable automaton, Minette, who imprints on Leicester as her “papa”. Just like that, Leicester’s entourage of beautiful girls goes from flattering to ridiculous. Joined by Sacred Knight Chelsea Arcot and automaton artisan Agnes Boulange, Clan Oasis sets out to discover Minette’s origin. But all work and no play isn’t exactly what these adventurers have in mind.
They’ll get around to solving the mystery – when they’re not performing oddball quests or hanging out at the beach!
The audio presentation for this release is pretty much as expected as we get only the original Japanese language track in stereo encoded at 192kbps. The series is one that is largely dialogue and situational based where there’s not a lot going on with action, but it does have those moments from time to time and more so in the last couple of episodes. With the dialogue, it’s going for a standard and simple forward soundstage layout with a lot of dialogue coming through the center channel more than anything, but it has a few moments of directionality here and there that gives it a little more punch. The action sequences are where things are stepped up a bit as there’s more directionality there for both the sound effects and the dialogue but it’s nothing that will knock your socks off. The dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2010, the transfer for this twelve episode series and OVA is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The series is spread across three discs with four episodes per volume while the third has the OVA as a bonus piece. Each volume has a few extras to it as well but it largely has a good bit of space to work with. Animated by AIC, the color design and detail here is really appealing and with the general simplicity of the motion and not a lot going on for much of it, it’s able to maintain a good look with an average bit rate. The colors are really appealing throughout and I love the look of the show, which the transfer captures nicely. It’s got a few areas with some light noise in the backgrounds which is normal for most shows to some degree but beyond that there’s little to complain about as the atmosphere of the show comes across nicely with vibrant colors and a real sense of bounce to it.
The packaging for this release brings out a very, very busy work that’s very colorful and definitely appealing to its audience as we get the core group of girls all together in a larger group with lots of smiles and generally a good look at the kind of style that it has. With the yellow background with the zip tone throughout it, it’s bright, colorful and yes, too busy, but it hits the right look and definitely catches your eye. THe logo is kept simple and kind of small along the bottom, almost blending into everything else, but the focus here is on the character artwork and that’s definitely the right way to look at it. The back cover uses the same background design and adds a bit more character artwork along the left that’s bigger while giving the right over to a length breakdown of the premise of the series. Add in the extras breakdown and you know exactly what you’re getting with it. The technical grid is a bit small along the bottom but it lists all the details juts right and is easy to be sure what’s available on the disc. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menu design for this series works the cover artwork in a really good way as the yell ziptone background has a lot of pop to it and each disc has a different piece of character artwork along the right, which differs from the cover artwork pieces so it’s not just a reworking of that. The left side uses the block of white like the back cover and provides for a good play all button, scene access submenu and then a breakdown of all the extras available on that disc. It’s quick to navigate and definitely looks good while being something that certainly sets the tone for the series with its bright, upbeat and colorful look.
The release has a nice selection of extras to it, especially if you do consider the OVA an extra. There’s the usual suspects here in the always welcome clean opening and closing sequences and we get some good promotional videos along the way as well. A nice inclusion are some of the commercials for the Blu-ray series release as well as the OVAs which you usually don’t see. The big extra included is obviously the OVA and that brings together a bunch of silly shorts that just have fun with the characters and the world and is definitely a good way to polish off the set because it’s so absolutely fluffy. The other piece that’s included here across each of the discs are the bathtime together pieces, which uses 3DCG cel shaded material to provide each of the girls doing some silly time in the bath that runs about two minutes or so each. It’s so utterly empty and devoid of any meaning and it actually made me feel creepy considering some of the characters appearances that I just kept cringing as they went on.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the 2009 PC game Shukufuku no Campanella, which then went on to get a PSP adaptation, Blessing of the Campanella is a twelve episode series that had a single episode OVA followup that’s essentially your standard harem show with some light fantasy elements to it and a bit of action to tie it all together. In a lot of ways, it reminded me fully of Shining Hearts with its structure and how the animation itself is presented, and for some folks that may be all that you really need to know about it as a determinant as to whether you want to watch it or not. Animated by AIC, it was directed by Shinji Ushiro who did a solid piece years ago with Straight Jacket and has a lot of episode directorial work behind him. So it’s certainly a competent production across the board.
The series is a light fantasy one in that it has that kind of simple village life that’s out there but it’s progressed enough that there are big cities in places and even trains, which just feels off in this particular world. The focus is on the city of Ert’Aria, which is like a small but beautiful island that’s just connected to the coast and is full of life and happy people. It’s what you’d expect from any fantasy style RPG game in the kinds of shops and the kinds of people that live there. The main focus is on the Oasis Clan, a jack of all trades kind of guild that goes on quests and jobs for the residents that need things done. It’s populated by a number of cute girls, some of whom are directly doing things for the clan and others like Chelsea, one of the Holy Knights who is close to them and gets involved in various activities. There’s also an incredibly youthful mother that gets involved from time to time named Shelley as she’s always looking for ways to torment her son Leicester.
The series provides a decent launching point as many people are coming to Ert’Aria in order to celebrate the meteor shower event that comes every seven years as part of a festival. That has the various characters and their job and representations getting involved in all sorts of things, but because they’re all close with people of Oasis clan, they end up there. And the main bond that draws them in is that Leicester is usually there, working for the clan as their engineer as well as being a solid swordsman when needed for various quests they go on. He’s the epitome of the male lead in that he’s very handsome, very friendly and has a number of useful skills as well as being of a proper personality that makes it easy to get along with him. Though he’s not exactly filled with depth or personality that means anything, it’s easy to see why the girls gravitate towards him since he treats them all so well.
With the meteor showing setting things off, it helps in that when everyone goes to watch it at the church, the arrival of the meteors causes a rise in the magical energy of the world, the El, to give life to a particular automata that exists there in the form of a cute girl named Minette. With her “waking up” from this, she ends up connecting with Leicester and starts calling him papa, which makes for some competition with the other girls, but they’re all so friendly that it doesn’t really rise to the level of real jealousy. Minette becomes a big part of the Oasis clan as they take her in and she lives with Leicester and ends up learning about the various characters, their trades and what it is to be a part of the clan with the quests. She has a more important role as it goes on, but that’s pretty much to be expected. Her coming to life is a sign of changes going on in the world as the El energy is causing all sorts of problems, including cause some gem-like containers of energy to transform into monsters that need to be dealt with. This provides some minor distractions during a couple of the quests but mostly a lot of events just lightly and minimally paint the picture of how the world is changing until it reaches a critical stage in the finale.
While this does populate a lot of the show with the quests and events, a whole lot of the show is just the harem style things that go on as the girls in various configurations spend time with Leicester. And a lot of the time they spend alone involves them either bathing, getting dressed, getting undressed or just changing clothes for the heck of it. It’s not a constant stream of cheesecake and fanservice, but when it does hit it, well, it does it with really good style because it is working with some appealing character designs. And what works for me, at least in a certain context, is that since they’re regularly changing clothes, it means we’re not seeing the same outfit over and over throughout it. Well, we do, but they change it often enough for a couple of scenes that it does make a difference. Some of the nudity aspects may be uncomfortable at times as the ages are always questionable though obviously played the right way, but it’s just so simple and blunt that it’s hard to take it seriously with what it’s doing.
Blessing of the Campanella sets out what it intends to do by providing a relatively harmless little harem series that works the fanservice in a big way without, weirdly enough, being obnoxious about it. So many shows just go for the bounce and the poses, and we do get a bit of that here, but it actually manages to feel restrained in some ways and even kind of erotic based on the detail of the outfits and the way it’s presented. There is an actual story here that’s played throughout it with the way the world is coping with a problem and it goes big towards the end, but it doesn’t really draw you in for the most part because it’s so minimal throughout and it’s just there to provide a way to tie it all together. If they had skipped the last two episodes and just went to the OVA, I don’t think anyone would have really noticed or been clamoring for closure. While it is a light show in most ways, I will admit that I did enjoy it in its own way because it’s just so appealing to watch in terms of designs, colors and the presentation of it. It’s the kind of harmless world you’d love to spend time in because it’s like a vacation from anything serious or difficult that you’d have to face. This collection brings it all together with some solid extras and a strong presentation, making it an easy pickup for fans and those that love to immerse themselves into this kind of world.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening and Closing, Promotional Videos, U.S. Trailer, Commercials, Bathtime Specials
Content Grade: C
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B+
Released By: Lucky Penny Entertainment
Release Date: February 4th, 2014
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
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.