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Nyaruko: Crawling With Love! Season 1 Premium Collection Blu-ray Anime Review

10 min read

NyarkoYour sanity points won’t last when you realize these creatures of chaos are really cute girls.

What They Say:
Mahiro Yasaka finds his quiet life thrown into chaos when he’s attacked one night by a fearsome demon. Luckily for Mahiro, Nyaruko, the Crawling Chaos, has been sent by the Planetary Defense Agency to protect him. It turns out all of the creatures from Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos are in fact just aliens! Soon enough, Kuko, the Ravenous Chaos, and Hasuta, the Deity of Wind, have entwined themselves in Mahiro’s life as well.

Follow Mahiro and gang as they fight for their lives, learn about love, discover intergalactic video games, and perhaps even save the world!

Contains episodes 1-12

The Review:
Audio:
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track only in stereo using the uncompressed PCM format. The series is one that plays to the usual parody comedy stylings that are familiar where it uses the forward soundstage well but it’s primarily for various gags and their related sounds and some of the fast movements of the characters across the screen. There’s not a lot of depth to it in general as it’s fairly simple in that regard but we get some decent areas where it has some fun with the placement as everything moves quickly and with a sense of energy about it. The show is one where it’s the opening and closing sequences have the most warmth and fullness since they’re designed so differently but as a whole the work comes across very well with an engaging mix, clean dialogue throughout and no problems such as dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2012, the transfer for this twelve episode TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. It’s spread across two discs with nine on the first and three on the second, which is fairly common. Animated by Xebec, the show has a lot of very bright colors to it as it works with an appealing palette to draw you into it, giving it a lot of pop and vibrancy. It manages to hold all of this together well with no real issues with solidity and breakup as everything is smooth and clean. The overall look during playback is definitely a big positive as the show lets all the detail come out clearly without any issues such as line noise, cross coloration or aliasing throughout it. It’s a very clean looking transfer, cleaner than I expected based off of my previous simulcast experience with it, which results in a very strong looking presentation.

Packaging:
The premium edition packaging for this release is just as strong as previous releases and that’s a Very Good Thing. The heavy chipboard box holds the long hardcover book and two clear thin cases inside, though the cases were shrinkwrapped which is just annoying to deal with on top of the main package itself. One side gives us the main cast together with all of them standing alongside each other with all sorts of hearts, stars and dots spread for the background. With the yellow-green background, it’s an odd choice but one that works with all the other colors here to make it very eye-catching and fun to look at. The other side uses the same kind of color palette but does it as a sectioned collage of character images from the show with Nyaruko just off center in full proper color that gives it the right weight. It all comes together really well and make for a very appealing package.

Inside the box we get the pink hardcover book with more great artwork on it of the cast as it’s labeled as a PDA Handbook. The book we get is pretty expansive as it provides for twelve pages that covers each of the episodes and another twelve pages looking at character profiles and designs. It also gives us a couple of pages with conceptual sketch pieces and other little errata that makes up the design of the show. THere’s a lot of good stuff here and it just feels like it’s one that weighs more and has a better heft. The Blu-ray cases are done pretty nicely as well as they have different character configurations for each of the main panels with different colored checkered backgrounds that gives it a similar pop to the premium box itself. The back panels add in the episode breakdown by title and number along with the extras where needed as well as a small technical grid that covers everything clearly and accurately. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.

Menu:
The menu design for this release is one that works really well with the materials chosen and its simplicity. With the main focus of it being the still image of the main group of characters, placing them in front of the school yard interior with lots of greenery around definitely helps as it feels a bit more warm and inviting, a little more natural than an in-school image. The characters are naturally placed by importance and as they spread out it fills it up nicely without feeling like it’s crowded or overpopulated. The logo is kept to the upper corner with its cuteness that stands out against the greenery while the menu along the bottom, which doubles as the pop-up menu, is done with red and pink checks that works nicely with the simple selections that are placed on it. It’s easy to navigate overall and is problem free in getting around.

Extras:
The only extras on this release are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences as well as a couple of the original Japanese language trailers.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the light novel series by Manta Aisora that was illustrated by Koin, Nyaruko-san is a twelve episode series animated by Xebec that landed in 2012. The original work finished earlier this year in light novel form with fourteen volumes so the anime had plenty to work with when it was made and was done in an obviously open-ended enough way as we easily had a sequel season. This season here is one that came after the web anime series that ran before it, which is currently unlicensed, but it’s not necessary to this one in the slightest. What we get here basically launches things from scratch and just goes all out with its silliness, fanservice and the parodies that defines a good part of it.

With this being a harem style comedy, the male lead is in the form of Mahiro Yasaka, a pretty normal but fun guy who has his life turned upside down. His father gets a passing mention here and there, but the only family in his life is that of his mother. Yoriko, who looks young for her age of course, is one of those totally fun anime moms as we learn that she’s been a monster hunter since college, treating it as a part time job that her husband was glad to let her partake in. While Mahiro really doesn’t know anything about that at first, it’s easy to see some inherited abilities there that become useful when he ends up under the protection of a young woman named Nyaruko. Her arrival is one that starts the whole series of events as she’s come to protect him from a shadowy group of aliens that want to kill him for various reasons. That’s all simple and straightforward and you can see how her being part of the Planetary Defense Agency makes her the perfect choice for handling this.

The quirk comes in when we learn what kind of alien she really is. Taking a big cue from the works of H.P. Lovecraft, she reveals that she’s actually Nyarlathotep from the Cthulhu works of decades past, but she takes on the name Nyaruko since it’s easier to pronounce and she takes on the form of a cute girl since her true form would cause insanity. Other aliens have come down over the years as well and have been interpreted as those mysterious monsters, providing a fun explanation for them that has long made a certain sense in talking about gods and other supernatural elements. What makes all of this quite silly though is that aliens generally want to spend time on Earth because they crave the entertainment that comes from there, particularly from Japan, but it’s all strictly controlled. While Nyaruko has come here to do a job, her real motivation was to get her hands on a lot of goods and games that she’s going to have to smuggle home herself.

Thus begins the usual unusual relationship between Mahiro and Nyaruko that just grows and expands as more characters come into play. The actual threats that they face make up a couple of episodes early on which are amusing since it plays up the whole gods and monsters as game and culture obsessed aliens, but after that it just becomes more of a gag of the week kind of approach with an alien invader sometimes making an appearance. This does make for some fun moments though since you get some fun invasion plans, such as an alien that has decided that they’re going to steal everything for themselves and eliminate the world so that nobody else can have it. Some of the threats grow a bit larger than others but for the most part it’s all material that is resolved within the space of a single episode rather than a multi-episode adventure. In fact, the show avoids one of the usual traps of these kinds of series by not going for a big and serious storyline to finish out the season. It just has fun through and through.

Naturally, the thing that makes the show work is the cast of characters and the humor. With the cast, it’s focused a lot on the two leads as you’d expect, particularly since Nyaruko is intent on making Mahiro her own, but the others make for some good fun as well. Another of the classics arrives in the form of the fiery redhead Kuko who has a longstanding grudge with Nyaruko and she intends to win by making her her own. We also get a male alien in the form of the cute and girlish looking Hasuta who is a childhood friend of both of the girls and is the easily malleable type that is all about winning of Mahiro as well. The group is largely kept to this, along with a few humans along the way for some minor moments of fun, but this lets it avoid the problem of becoming too full of characters to deal with. Each of them is a fairly standard archetype but there’s a lot of enjoyment to it with the way they interact and the kind of wacky approach that they often take with it.

What also helps the show succeed is the humor that’s used. A lot of it is fairly standard wacky alien harem material to be sure, and it does that quite well because it has such a sense of whimsy about it, but it also does a lot of parodies. These are a bit heavier in the earlier part of the show, but they’re present throughout as they hit up shows like One Piece, Lupin and more with sight gags, turns of phrase and sometimes small story nods that lets it all come together. There’s a good sense of paying homage to these things more than just throwing them out there for laughs and it’s blended into the actual story itself in a good enough way that it feels natural. They also play some good general genre gags, including an episode where the gang gets thrust into a visual novel school adventure with Mahiro trying to survive without getting committed to anything – or having a bad end.

In Summary:
I had watched some of this series when it was first simulcast but it didn’t quite click for me for some reason/ Revisiting it now, a couple of years later and in marathon form, it’s definitely a show that I had a whole lot of fun with. The characters are simple and exist as the archetypes that they are but it runs with it in a great way that keeps the blending of the pieces together with a whole lot of fun. Mahiro’s kind of self aware with how weird all of this is and that he just has to kind of survive it for the moment and that lets him treat it almost as a kind of meta experience. While a lot of male leads are kind of hapless, he pushes back and provides some dominance at times to keep everyone from going too far – when he can. And that helps to give it a bit of balance that a lot of other shows are missing. This series hits all the right marks with solid execution, humor and fanservice. While it may not hit out of the park as a whole, it’s a fantastic release here that will delight fans. Definitely recommended.

Features:
Japanese 2.0 PCM Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing, Japanese Trailers

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

Released By: NIS America
Release Date: April 15th, 2014
MSRP: $64.99
Running Time: 288 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
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.

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