Wielding the tools of infamous criminals could have some serious side effects. Including a great haircut.
What They Say:
Kiri Haimura loves cutting hair. Actually, he doesn’t just love cutting hair, he obsesses over it and even has a special set of scissors he delights in using. But when his mane obsession for a bit of trim draws him to Iwai Mushanokoji, whose long hair has never been cut, he finds himself entangled in a situation no shears can hack him out of. You see, Iwai is heir to a strange curse that makes her hair impossible to cut. Or at least, it was until Kiri’s clippers take off a lock, thereby revealing that his scissors are cursed as well!
But now that she’s shorn free, Iwai has a slew of “murderers” after her, each armed with their own cursed implements and eager for the chance to kill the “Hair Queen.” And if that’s not enough to make Kiri wig out, it seems that many of them actually attend his own school! Will this evil crew cut in on Kiri’s Hair Queen, or will he snip their ambitions in the bud?
Contains episodes 1-13.
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track only in stereo encoded using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. The series is not one that has a lot of big action sequences but it does have some good brief ones along the way that ramps up the level of the show in a positive way. These close combat moments gives it a little more power and a little more impact as it plays out while hitting the directionality a little more. The bulk of the show tends to be a bit more dialogue based with some rather nice quiet moments that uses the ambiance well and to its advantage. This isn’t a show that’s going to stand out in a big way with what it does but it does it all very competently and without any issues. We didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2013, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The thirteen episodes are spread across two discs in a nine/four format that’s fairly standard when there’s thirteen episodes. Animated by Studio Gokumi, the series has a better look than I expected in a lot of ways as it works with a middle school age set but provides some good stuff for the character designs that almost feels like it’s an 80’s or 90’s throwback with the roundness of it all. The transfer captures the color vibrancy of the series very well and there’s a good bit of detail to be had throughout which gets a very clean look here that’s pretty much problem free. While there’s a touch of line noise in a few panning sequences and maybe a touch of nose in a few background pieces that are a bit darker, by and large this is a good looking release that will make the fans of it happy as it definitely looks better than a standard definition release.
The packaging for this release comes in a standard sized Blu-ray case the holds the two discs for the series against its interior walls. The front cover is a bit busy with all the characters that we have here, though it works nicely with the cross cut across it that adds a nice bit of style with the way it uses the logo through it and the relevant information about disc and episode counts. The character designs are nice here, it’s got a good bit of color but it also feels kind of dark in some places because of Iwai’s har. The back cover works a lot of red and white that gives it some nice pop, and reminds me a little of Sweeney Todd, it also covers all the bases well. We get some decent shots from the show, a nice pairing image of Kiri and Iwai and a solid summary of the premise, though the font makes me a little crosseyed the more I look at it. Special features are listed clearly as is the production credits grid. The technical grid once again covers everything well and we don’t get any inserts nor is there a reversible cover.
The menu design for this release is fairly simple and straightforward but there’s a minor quibble with it for me. The layout works the standard design where the left third has the navigation while the rest of it has some good looking design artwork of the characters, with the first being a really great shot of Kiri and Iwai together in an intense embrace as he cuts her hair. The navigation along the left has a big red field with black blocks where the episodes are listed which has shades of red, white and blue used for it and it’s all easy to navigate. The font is a bit awkward to read but the bigger problem for me is that it felt like it took up a lot of real estate on the screen. Not during the main menu but rather during the pop-up use of it. Some menus come across really well in how it practically blends into the theme of the show without being disruptive, but this one just felt like it dominated too much.
The only extras included here are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the manga by Tatsuhiko Hikagi which began in 2009 and has seven volumes as of this writing, The Severing Crime Edge is a thirteen episode series animated by Studio Gokumi. The show aired during the spring 2013 season and was one that certainly caught my eye for its unusual name but kept me away because I just couldn’t get into a show that involved cutting hair, killers and middle school kids. So getting into the show at this stage, being able to marathon it all, I have to admit that I can come away from it a bit impressed. It has its problems, or rather I have my problems with it, but part of that is just cultural. There’s such a usage of middle school kids in really difficult situations when it comes to sex and violence that it can be off-putting – even after all the years of shows that I’ve watched.
The series revolves around a pair of characters that meet in the first episode. Middle school student Kiri isn’t exactly a loner, but he’s a bit on the outside of things. He has a bad family history as his grandfather was an infamous mass murderer that killed some two hundred people with a pair of scissors. Kiri’s always been a bit off in his family as well because of that as he grew up wanting to cut hair but nobody in his family would let him do it because of that history, and because he had ended up with the tool that his grandfather had used. To make matters worse, he tried to do some apprenticing with a stylist nearby, whose daughter is in his grade as one of the popular girls, but that didn’t work out well either. What changes in Kiri’s life is the story about a mysterious house with a kind of supernatural story that’s on the outskirts of town, which he decides to go and visit to see himself because of his curiosity.
While the first meeting is comically scary in its own way, getting to meet the girl that lives there truly does change his life. Kiri has a kind of creepy look about him as he skulks about and when he asks to cut her incredibly long hair that just adds to it. But as he meets fellow middle school aged student Iwai, he learns that she has a curse placed on her that has her hair growing to this very long length after midnight every night, which is why she doesn’t go to school. To make matters worse, none of the attempts to cut her hair works which has in turn frustrated many people and has even had her father going off in the past to find a way to help her, only to not survive the trip. That’s all made her very reclusive and alone but with a desire to experience the life that she believes any middle school aged girl would want. And she actually gets the chance as it turns out that Kiri’s scissors can cut her hair.
Granted, her hair will grow back at midnight, but the two enter a slow relationship here over the course of the series over the intimacy of cutting hair that draws them together. It has a lot of tender and sweet moments to it as we see it unfold and while it could be utterly creepy, it instead manages to retain that sweet feeling. It takes time but they do get closer and closer and we see them becoming actual boyfriend and girlfriend as things get more serious towards the end, which is also good. Of course, it’s a middle school romance, but there’s a different kind of intimacy that comes from how they interact and you really have to like it with what it shows. The two face a number of challenges along the way, but there’s also this push to show that they have a good bond that isn’t broken by others trying to get in the way. And there isn’t a large pusht og et in the way but just a series of events that occurs which strains things because of the reality of their bigger situation.
That bigger situation is that the scissors that Kiri uses has a lot of the will of his ancestor, something that can take a controlling stake in him over time and with all the usage of it. As it turns out, there are a lot of people that have such tools that have been operating along the fringes of the world, which has been watched by a mysterious group known as Gossip that has been waiting for someone like Kiri. What he’s done in becoming close to Iwai is that he’s become her protector. And she needs one as she really is taking on the role of The Queen in this bigger story where if those that have these tools, Authors that hold the Goods, can manage to kill her, they can be granted a wish. What that wish is could be anything, and while you could think that they’d want to be free of their own Good and the problem that comes from it, it could also be a wish that frees them to really engage with it and cause a whole lot of carnage.
Through this setup, we get to meet a few people who themselves have Goods and succumb in different ways to their needs, which of course centers around different types of murder. And we get an introduction to Gossip as well, with Lady Violet Witchy that runs the thing and has her own larger goal when it comes to Iwai and Kiri. Kiri’s taking on the role of protector and bodyguard for Iwai certainly sets all this into motion, but there are a lot of things that have been waiting for this moment and seeing them all come to life once the opportunity is there definitely works well. There’s a lot of setup here for different things, but we also see some of the stakes that are involved with those that are playing in this game as there are deaths to be had here, kids that are twisted because of their involvement with the Goods and more. And, there’s also a healthy amount of time spent dealing with Kiri and Iwai’s relationship.
With a few character stories and action pieces mixed into it as the larger storyline comes into focus, The Severing Crime Edge works pretty well for what it wants to do. I like the characters and I like that it doesn’t draw out the situations too much, nor does it add a mini harem around Kiri to complicate things. There could be more time spent dealing with some of the supporting cast, but it’s working off the source manga so it can do only so much. The other problem with the manga aspect is that it has only so much to work off of. So much so that while we can see the bigger picture here as though from the first few chapters of a book, that’s all we get. And it can be a bit frustrating as there are some fun ideas here with the whole aspect of the tools that carry the weight of the evil that they were used for. But there’s no payoff there. The payoff is all about the Iwai and Kiri relationship as that gets really formalized across it and that does make it a fairly worthy journey.
I didn’t go into The Severing Crime Edge with a lot of enthusiasm as the show was kind of dismissed during its simulcast run and didn’t generate much discussion. While I have my issues with it as the age level of the kids and the situations they get in are just problematic in a lot of ways, the show as a whole has some good stuff to offer. Just pretend they’re a couple of years old so it’s not as disturbing in some ways. Coming into this tale and dealing with the idea of weapons of murder retaining that kind of sentiment and spirit is interesting and seeing how it impacts a lot of people that are caught up in it provides for some similarity but diversity as well. Focusing more on Iwai and Kiri as it progresses though, you get a kind of unusual relationship show that finds a decent pace that’s part of a much larger work that, in the end, we really only get to glimpse at. It does leave me feeling up for another season though to see what else it wants to do or to hold out a hope for the manga getting picked up to explore it more.
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: July 22nd, 2014
Running Time: 325 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.