While the kids cope with the difficulties of being a teenager, larger forces are arrayed against them that will tear them apart.
What They Say:
The care and feeding of a pet girl is something only those with the most dogged determination should attempt, but Sorata Kanda never really had a choice in the matter. Tasked with keeping the acclaimed but highly dysfunctional and unfocused artist Mashiro Shiina from forgetting to eat, brush her hair, or wear clothes, it’s been a long, slow battle to get to the point where he’s reached a general understanding of her extreme quirks. Which doesn’t mean that Mashiro doesn’t still walk out of the dorm half-naked. It’s just that Sorata now understands that it’s going to happen.
Unfortunately, the whys, wherefores, and how-tos of comprehending the opposite sex aren’t going so well on other fronts. Misaki’s attempts to escalate her campaign to win Jin’s affections take a disastrous turn, and Nanami’s going to have to learn to come to terms with her feelings for Sorata while adjusting to the third wheel that is Mashiro. And then there’s still Sorata’s “problem” of picking up cats that he’s not supposed to keep.
Contains episodes 13-24.
The audio presentation for this release contains only the original Japanese language track in stereo encoded using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. Another of the sub-only Blu-ray releases from Sentai Filmworks, it’s essentially treated the same as all other releases in that it handles the material well and conveys it properly. The series is largely dialogue driven and that works well across the forward soundstage as we do get some solid placement at times with some scenes and there’s occasionally a bit of depth as well, though that’s less of an issue. The show has a few bigger moments during some key scenes and with the videogame that comes into play, but mostly it’s a standard school mix that’s nicely done. 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 twelve episode section of the 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 on the first and three on the second, which also includes a lengthy extra as well. Animated by JC Staff, the series has a great look to it as they really worked some of the more atmospheric moments in a way that draws you in easily with lush colors and some great stage setting as well. With a few different settings and some really great artwork used in various scenes due to the way Mashiro is all about her artwork and manga, there’s a lush feeling that translates well here through the transfer. The colors are solid and clean with no noise or breakup and detail comes through beautifully. Definitely a visual pleaser across the board here.
The packaging for this release comes in a standard sized Blu-ray case that holds the two discs against the interior walls. The front cover is spot on as we get the three main characters/triangle of the series in their school uniforms in an illustration style with some great background colors to drive it all to good effect. The character designs are nicely detailed and the colors highlights it nicely. The logo is kept simple but it has the right kinds of colors and pop to it to stand out. The back cover uses the same colors in different areas with a kind of sketchbook feeling to it where we get some good shots from the show and a clear listing of the number of episodes and discs. The extras are clearly listed and we get a good breakdown of the production credits and the technical grid, which lays it all out in an easy to read and accurate fashion. The design of it is fairly standard but it stands out and grabs your attention in the right way. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menu design for the show works with some of the expected colors that definitely paints a pretty picture as we get the different pieces of character artwork in the center while the background is a line work piece of the exterior of Sakura Hall. The first has Sorata’s younger sister while the second has a few of the main cast of characters together. The black and pink of it all definitely works nicely and sets the right mood, especially along with the colors of the logo. The right side has the navigation strip that also doubles as the pop-up menu where we get the same mix of colors with a few lighter areas with the episodes by titles and numbers. All the extras are on the second disc and are easy to access and we don’t get a language submenu, though you can turn the subtitles off on the fly.
The extras for this release are a bit simpler compared to the first collection as we get the usual pieces with the clean opening and closings as well as the extended web previews similar to what we had before. We also get a brief collection of the Japanese CD commercial spots as well.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The first half of The Pet Girl of Sakurasou lost a lot of people during its initial broadcast because it had a familiar feeling and the general premise at the start turned others away. Heck, the name of the series turned people away from it. But like many who had kept watching, you ended up discovering a show that was a lot more interesting and engaging than you would have expected since it wasn’t focused entirely on relationships. That was definitely part of it and the quirks of Mashiro obviously took up plenty of time, but it was also about people who have a lot of motivation, ambition and dreams they’re trying to achieve, and finding ways of doing that with each others help. Building towards the festival with the game showcase that they did, we saw the Sakura Hall kids really come together and while it was a bit outlandish in some ways, it worked well with what it was really trying to do in showing how they’re all a family.
With the second half of the series, it takes a lot of that and works a similar angle in a way but it turns more towards the the core characters emotional side and relationship side, largely due to an external force that’s being applied. For Sorata, his progress with his game is definitely moving along for him as he’s up for the presentation, which is a big achievement right there. Everyone’s help has carried him forward to this and they’re all helping him with getting ready for the presentation as well. Watching him go through the effort and preparation gives Sorata a chance to grow some and we get the payoff of seeing him do a part of his presentation. His whole adventure with the game, moving past the presentation and into the actual development side is done with a light touch overall in order to just be a storyline rather than something detailed, but it brings out the big piece of the puzzle here for Sorata in that he’s finally, firmly on his path of his dream.
What really becomes interesting is seeing how Sorata copes with things while they’re moving ahead in a positive way but also when it all starts to fall apart. He’s attempting to externalize it somewhat since his frustration, fear and anger all dialing up pretty high but there’s also that fact that he feels so badly about himself and his abilities when compared to Mashiro. She’s progressed so far with her ability and without what seems like any real obstacles in his mind that to him it feels like she’s so far ahead of him that he’ll never catch up and that being an ordinary person there’s no way he should even think about it. He’s looking for excuses to be sure, but his breakdown on it and how he takes it out on her is definitely well done since she pushes back in her own way to make him realize that he’s viewing her in the wrong way. Mashiro may not talk in depth about things at times, but when she does it really has a lot of meaning to it and that gets Sorata to understand himself better.
There’s some good character drama that comes from this and what we get as the relationship between Sorata and Mashiro finally shakes things out with Nanami as well, which sees her going through her own career trajectory that’s facing its own obstacles as well, which feeds on what was going on in the first half of the series. We even get some decent little bits for Jin and Misaki where her past comes up a bit that provides for a fun little subplot. But the big drama of this half of the series is the threat of Sakura Hall being closed, which has a lightly dealt with aspect regarding Mashiro that the board gets trapped into dealing with. Mashiro’s skill is something that a lot of people just don’t want to see squandered on manga and it’s what motivates them to try and get her away from the group in Sakura Hall that they think are corrupting her.
This changes the atmosphere of the show a lot as the residents of Sakura Hall are trying to do all they can to get the place saved since it’s now slotted for demolition. There’s a lot of emotions to it and it’s interesting to see how the third years that are a part of it really take it worse in a way since they see their friends being the ones who won’t get the full experience. We get a lot of good stuff about Misaki as she ended up becoming a part of the place and her relationship with Sorata in particular when he came there. There’s a lot of little angles it follows and the cast as a whole has a lot going on, especially with Mashiro as she eventually realizes that she’s the reason the place is being taken down, as well as her own problems when it comes to Sorata since that figures into things as well.
There’s a lot to like with the show and the way it focuses so well on the characters and works them through a number of difficult situations. But what impressed me the most with the show is that when it hits the graduation phase, where it has to wrap up a few different things, we get Misaki taking the stage and giving one of the best graduation speeches I think I’ve seen not just in anime but in TV shows in general. While Misaki has had her own story throughout the show, it was a smaller one in comparison to the rest but she really drives home at the heart of the series here by talking about what Sakura Hall means and what everyone there means to her. It’s a pretty inspiring and heartwarming piece overall but it also has its fun moments, not only in what she says but how the adults deal with it as well since it wasn’t an expected event. While not the real close of the series since there’s an epilogue piece, it’s definitely one of the best moments of the season.
The Pet Girl of Sakurasou is a series that could have gone any number of bad ways after those first few episodes, but the first season progressed well and focused on the characters in a strong way while playing to larger themes. The second season here advances all of that very well with what it does, challenging Sorata in particular with his problems and his placement of Mashiro on a pedestal while not realizing just how much he’s hurting her with his obliviousness or lack of making things clear with her and Nanami. There’s a lot of very good resolution and closure here in many ways while still having more than enough open for more as it has a kind of real-life aspect to it in a way. Over the course of the series I grew to care about the characters during the simulcast run and revisiting in marathon form here with the larger themes made clearer it clicks all the better and becomes even more appealing. A surprising show that definitely needed the high definition treatment that’s well put together here.
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Japanese CD Spots, Extended Previews, Clean Opening Animation, Clean Closing Animation
Content Grade: A-
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: A-
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: March 11th, 2014
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.