With the ability to talk to the dead, one college student finds out that his past is not what he thought it was.
What They Say:
Haruka Ozawa’s sophomore year is getting seriously scary. One of her friends is possessed, another has committed suicide, and Haruka could be the next one to flunk the still-breathing test. So what’s her only way out of this potentially lethal dead end? Yakumo Saito, an enigmatic student born with a mysterious red eye that allows him to see and communicate with the dead. But the deceased don’t always desist and some killers are more than ready to kill again to keep dead men from telling any more tales.
That doesn’t stop Haruka’s knack for digging up buried secrets, and there’s even more evidence of bodies being exhumed by both Yakumo’s police contact and an investigative journalist with a newly made corpse in her closet! Can this pair of anything but normal paranormal detectives solve the ultimate dead case files, or will they end up in cold storage themselves?
Contains episodes 1-13.
The audio presentation for this release brings us only the original Japanese language track as the show was never done with an English dub. We get the original track in stereo encoded using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec, which sets in the 1.5mbps range, which is certainly better than the 224kbps DVD presentation we had. That said, the series is not one that really has a lot of material to stretch itself with. The show has a little bit of action from time to time over the course of it, but mostly it’s dialogue and atmosphere/mood based more than anything else. The dialogue is well placed and has a good sense about it as there are plenty of moments where it hits things up well. There isn’t a lot of depth to it at times but a few moments do sneak in and it comes across well. The action sequences aren’t long or overly intense but they convey the material for what it is and it stands out in comparison to all the conversational pieces. 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 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 with nine on the first and four on the second. Animated by Bee Train, the show has a decent look to it overall with its designs and backgrounds and I liked what the DVD presentation had, but there’s a lot more to like here. The show is one that largely works in dark areas and there’s more definition to it here, more detail and depth that lets it feel more dimensional and spacious in many places. It also helps that the darker colors are a lot more solid than the standard definition transfer we’d seen previously. There are some vibrant areas to be had from time to time with certain key areas, but a lot of it works a kind of real world approach to its design, color and detail and overall it works well. This is definitely a good bump up over what we had before.
The packaging for this release comes in a standard sized Blu-ray case that holds both discs against the interior walls. The front cover almost has an illustration look about it with the two leads in near full body shots posing which is pretty nicely done since it’s not another pair of high school or middle school kids. There’s some edge darkness about it that’s appealing as well for setting the tone along with the mostly muted look to all of it. The back cover is fairly traditional with a few shots along the top that highlights the characters while another piece down the bottom adds a bit more darkness to things. The shows premise is made pretty clear with a white background strip that has the two leads on either end that’s pretty nice as well since Haruka is all dolled up. The shows features, episode count and disc count is all clearly listed as well. The bottom is filled out with all the usual things laid out in a clear and accurate fashion with the production credits and the technical grid. There’s no reversible cover here nor are there any show related inserts.
The menu design for this release definitely works nicely, especially since it feels like it has more light applied to it while using familiar pieces. The layout is standard as we get a 50/50 split with the cover artwork along the left for the first disc and it has a bright light on it compared to what the actual cover artwork looks like. It definitely changes the tone of things, but it’s also good to see more of the detail that’s lost in the shadows of the cover artwork. The right side has a bit of the psychic imagery side as its background piece while the navigation strip features the episodes by number and title with good use of red, black and purple to draw it out in a colorful and engaging way that feels like it fits the tone of the show. The logo is nicely placed as well along the middle lower quadrant where it’s prominent but not blocking in a big way.
The only extras for this release, included on the second volume, 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 novel series by Manabu Kaminaga that began back in 2004 and has eight primary novels since then and a slew of spinoff novels and manga, Psychic Detective Yakumo is a thirteen episode series aired by Bee Train. The show is a pretty straightforward detective piece in a way but it has an overall story to it that’s dealt with bit by bit in the background until it becomes a foreground focus. While there isn’t a lot to really separate the work here from a lot of others as it has some standard similarities, it has a good bonus from the get go in that the two lead characters that we get to deal with here are both in college, which helps to avoid the high school or even middle school shenanigans that get old after awhile.
The series revolves around a fairly reclusive university student named Yakumo who has some psychic ability, though he uses the knowledge people have of him and it to engage in a bit of grifting here and there. With a red left eye, Yakumo has the ability to see and converse with the dead. This has him providing some ideas as to what he thinks the dead are, mostly just leftover clusters of the people that died that are stuck in the area they’re at, but he’s the type that makes it clear he’s not doing exorcisms or the like. Instead, he prefers to just see what the problem is, figure out the human connection and move on from there. He’s a fairly cynical guy to begin with and his experience with people only reinforces it. With a nature that keeps people at bay, he’s got no real friends outside of a police detective that works with him in a way to deal with some of the stranger cases out there.
What starts to change things for him a bit is the arrival of Haruka, a fellow student at the college who has her own run-in with the supernatural when she and a group of friends went into a particular part of an abandoned school and they’re all starting to die off. There’s obviously a real world cause behind it, but she manages to draw him into it and then to other things that she starts to see and hear about once exposed to the supernatural world and what Haruka is actually capable of. She’s also obviously interested in him as there’s always that kind of subtext to things, but the more she’s exposed to him the more she realizes that there’s something very interesting about him and his background. But obviously Yakumo is one that plays things close to the vest and doesn’t reveal all that much about himself.
The series does about as you’d expect for a good chunk of the first few episodes by going through a series of supernatural instances where Haruka draws in Yakumo and she starts to see more of who he is and the connections he has, such as the police detective stereotype where he’s just worn down but does good work that keeps him a valued member in his own way. We also get to see Yakumo’s uncle Isshin who handles a local shrine where he lives with his wife and young daughter, who has her own issues that adds a little bit of charm to things. Isshin is a pretty key player to the series in a way as he provides a look for Haruka at Yakumo’s family and background, from not knowing who his father is to the way at the age of ten his mother went nuts and tried to kill him, which is when he was saved by the detective who has taken an interest in him ever since. It’s a good bit of layering that comes to light along the way and helps to humanize Yakumo and makes it a lot easier to see why she falls for him all the more.
Psychic Detective Yakumo works a larger storyline into it as well as there are some hidden characters that start showing up more as it progresses where they’re watching Yakumo and manipulating situations to their own ends. It’s a fairly linear plot overall as it involves Yakumo’s past and there are a few minor twists to it, but the execution left me a little less than enthralled with it because of how it drags it out a bit too much and doesn’t really come across in a cohesive way. You can see how the plot will unfold from those early moments and when you get the background on Yakumo and his family, it’s almost by the numbers in a way. But as it does have its interesting moments, it doesn’t become compelling because you can see it all coming and there are no real surprises to it. It’s decent when you get down to it but memorable isn’t a word that you’ll likely assocaite with it.
Psychic Detective Yakumo is part of a familiar mold of series with what it wants to accomplish, but it tries to set itself apart a bit by going with college age students and a slimmer cast overall. While Yakumo is you standard dark and cynical guy who is just trying to get through the day in a way, I rather liked the way Haruka brought some light to it without being over the top in her interest in him. The stronger players as it unfolds and as you look at the show as a whole is the way Yakumo’s uncle figures into it and the detective and his family.
With this release, we get a pretty decent upgrade all around here with the core values of why you’d want to go with this format. The audio presentation is certainly cleaner and more appealing to those that can listen to it in lossless form, though it’s not a show that will jump out with what it does. Visually, the high definition transfer certainly brings out more detail, better depth with the darker colors and overall a cleaner transfer and that’s a big plus. Sadly, there isn’t anything new with the extras and it’s the same cover artwork, but that’s to be expected. In the end, with some interesting stories of the dead making their way into it and a few stories that do keep you rather engaged, Psychic Detective Yakumo is a solid effort, if an unmemorable one for the long term.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Content Grade: B-
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: C+
Packaging Grade: B-
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: September 30th, 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.