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Battle Girls: Time Paradox Complete Collection Anime DVD Review

13 min read

Battle Girls - Time Paradox Blu-ray
Battle Girls – Time Paradox Blu-ray
She was never in time for classes.
She was never in time for walking home after school.
And then one day Hide Yoshino wasn’t in her own time -or even world- at all.

What They Say:
Yoshino Hide (nickname Hideyoshi) is your average, everyday teenager, interested only in fashion, snacks, and her afterschool free time. She’s destined to fail her next history test without some sort of miraculous intervention, so she stops by the local shrine to offer up a prayer or two to any deity that might be listening. Her prayers are interrupted by a mysterious blue light that engulfs her and leaves Hideyoshi stranded in a strange new world that appears to be feudal Japan. All the inhabitants of this world, however, including feudal warlord Oda Nobunaga, are women! Now Hideyoshi finds herself on a quest to gather the pieces of the Crimson Armor and help Nobunaga conquer the land!

The Review:
The release of this television series contains two language options for the presentation of the material- English and Japanese- and both tracks are present in a 2.0 stereo mix. For the purpose of this review the Japanese track was selected and it is presented on the disc with no dropouts or distortions noted while the dialogue comes through clearly even amidst various action sounds that can be quite loud in places. There isn’t a ton of directionality to the material which kind of plays into a sense that the material is smaller than it should be, even if there isn’t really a good objective reason to point to in making that assessment. This creates a track that is solid but not stellar in any regard which feels kind of like its lead character in that it does enough to get by but it doesn’t particularly excel or standout from others in the process.

Originally airing in the spring/early summer of Japan’s 2011 television season, Battle girls: Time Paradox is presented here in its original 16:9 aspect ratio complete with an anamorphic encode. The series is one that uses an animation style that walks a fine line between one that aims for a more lived in and kind of toned down approach to its color palate though it does use brighter colors a bit sparingly throughout as well. For this release Sentai Filmworks places 13 episodes on three discs which probably helps the visuals, but it is hard to say how successful this is as there are a number of issues that show up in the presentation.

Present on the discs is a level of fine noise that is usually moderate as well as instances of blocking, aliasing, some ghosting, a bit of banding, occasional background bleed through of foreground characters, along with some dot crawl and haloing present on occasions. The visuals also are present in a way that leads to the visuals feeling a little soft as well and overall is an OK but again not standout presentation.

The packaging for the release houses three discs in a regular DVD sized case that includes a hinge which has space for a disc on either side while the final disc is stored in the back of the inside of the case. The cover features this series version of Oda Nobunaga front and center in her minimal combat clothes with Hide Yoshino looking like she is leaping up on or perhaps over Nobunaga’s back- though a close look shows that the position is tenuous at best as Nobunaga’s arm is behind Hide’s head and Hide is positioned too far to the image’s right side to be practical for anything other than an image shot as any real use of that positioning is going to leave at least one member of the party in serious pain- while the background uses a very colorful pattern of mostly flowers and leaves.

The back cover uses a reddish pink and white pattern with eight stills placed at the top surrounding a black white space that is made to resemble a Japanese scroll where the series copy is written with an image of Nobunaga looking particularly fierce (and again about half dressed) on the left while the series version of Date Masamune is present on the right and the bottom cover space is reserved for technical information and copyright information. Each DVD label gets a different pairing of characters in the series with some making a bit more sense than others as to how well the pair fits together in terms of their relationship in series with each other.

The menus are fairly basic in mechanics in that they use static images of characters with the main menus featuring artwork that shows off different characters from the series which look like it lifts images from the series itself (or possibly publicity artwork) for their source. The Main Menu also lists the options selectable horizontally across the bottom of the screen which take up about half the screen while the disc’s Language Option and Special Features (where applicable) are listed underneath the episode listings while a portion of the themes play for background music on all the menu screens. The menus themselves are on the simplistic yet effective side and they are quick to respond to changes in selection while they also respond promptly to whatever option was chosen and they have large indicators to signify which option is highlighted it uses a bright heart that surround the heart which is placed on top of the episode numbers on the main screen while a small speaker with waves indicates which audio track is currently selected.

The only extra present on the release is the almost industry standard clean open and closing animation.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Hide Yoshino -or as her friends call her, Hideyoshi (after the Japanese historical figure)- is very much a girl that feels like the product of her current era. Hide has problems getting to school as her small size and ability to space out at the wrong time tend to have her swept away in the bustling normal commute of office workers and which always has her arriving late to class, a situation that her two best friends are well aware of…unfortunately so is her teacher Masamune-Sensei. Also unfortunately for Hide her time spent in class seems to produce not a whole lot better result than her punctuality and she finds herself being chastised by Masamune after school in what seems to be a regular pattern- though this time Masamune levels a new threat: if Hide doesn’t get her act together and improve her school performance, Hide is going to find her free time occupied by supplemental classes until summer.

As Hide walks home the looming horror of more school hangs over her head as it threatens to undercut the things in her life that make up the core of her interests- texting friends, surfing the web for information on her favorite idols, reading magazines, listening to late night radio programs and eating late night snacks. While struggling with her impending doom Hide makes her way home when she overhears a man leaving a shrine exclaim his luck after getting a very favorable fortune from there and Hide decides that maybe the gods can save her from her hobby limiting fate as no one else (including Hide herself) really seems to believe she is going to be able to straighten up and avoid it on her own.

After Hide gets her fortune and a charm to put on her cell phone she decides she should offer a prayer to the gods as well, though due to her inability to plan much ahead the sum total of her allowance left is a whole 1 Yen (very roughly 1 cent) and she attempts to make a bargain with whatever god may be listening to consider this meager offering a down payment until she receives her allowance again in the next month. But instead of being able to go home things go awry as the Yen coin falls out of the prayer box and as Hide tries to claim it she sees a strange blue light from within the shrine and when her bag bumps the door it attracts the attention of the woman in front of the light and Hide then sets off a chain reaction as she slips on a errant pachinko ball and trips into the woman causing the spell looking effort to go astray as the light envelops the pair.

Hide wakes to find herself in the Sengoku era (though it takes her more than a little while to figure it out and believe it to e true) as she finds herself running into a familiar face who claims not to know Hide in the midst of an out of control village fire and worse the two are almost instantly surrounded by a group of sword wielding woman. As things are looking incredible dangerous a woman with long red hair tied in a pony tail and eyes that seem to match the flames around her appears and she dispatches the attackers with an incredible blast that comes from her plunging her large sword into the ground. When Hide introduces herself as Hideyoshi the red hair woman takes a liking to her name and brings Hide back to her castle.

As Hide tries to figure out how to get home from this cosplay obsessed group it slowly dawns on her that she isn’t just surrounded by some extremely dedicated fanatics but instead she isn’t in any place she recognizes. It isn’t helped when the red haired woman introduces herself as Oda Nobunaga and the familiar face is addressed as Akechi Mitsuhide, a pair of names that even Hide with her horrible grades recognizes as famous figures from history- and which both her memory and the history book that she still has with her tell her should be old men and definitely not young and rather attractive women.

Hideyoshi discovers that despite the impossibility of her situation she is indeed in some strange version of the history that Date-sensei has been trying to teach her and she starts to use her flexibility (or ditzyness possibly) to adapt and just go along with Nobunaga’s plan to collect all the pieces of a fabled set of armor -known as Crimson Armor- to conquer the land. As she travels though she is going to run into some very strange things that show this world isn’t the one she came from, but it may just be that even with these differences (and a couple other familiar faces) part of the history she never learned may be about to repeat. Is it possible that Hideyoshi is just the right girl in the right place at the right time to cause this Sengoku period to turn out different than the one that is in her ancestral past or will she somehow wind up being the source of one of the most stunning events from that period which will cost these new friends dearly?

Battle Girls: Time Paradox first saw life as a pachinko game series that proved popular enough to get a full 13 episode anime adaptation and while the series doesn’t feel like it owes a lot to those pachinko origins and while two places which both play a bit of an important role reference this, neither calls enough attention to themselves that if one doesn’t know the series origin they would necessarily pick up on it nor does not knowing this effect how things play out for the audience. What the series does do however is assume that the viewer has more than a little passing acquaintance with the romanticized period of Japanese history commonly known as Sengoku and the historical figures- or at least the popular interpretations of such- that have grown over the centuries and become more than a slight fade in Japanese pop culture in the last few.

This creates a bit of an issue (and it did for me) if one isn’t really up on the source material as more than a little of the series premise and hook plays off the idea of the famous Sengoku generals and major figures being transformed into women who largely appear to hold many similarities to their real world male basis. The upshot of this is that some of the characters don’t get a lot of introduction or material to really flesh them out and it creates a situation where it feels some of the interactions between characters are written to show off how the characters in this series react to each other compared to other interpretations but which doesn’t go out of its way to make sure that an unfamiliar audience will catch a good deal of the point of the series.

This situation may be more than a little ironic when one considers that this series main character Hideyoshi would be one of these people who wouldn’t be able to follow some of the subtlety and unstated interactions given her lack of knowledge of history and some of the key events of the era as well- as far as the series assumes history was set anyway- and so she probably wouldn’t get any more out of these changes either. The series probably could have used with some translator notes for its US release to help with some of this in addition to the fact that the series uses some Japanese concepts such a ‘tsundere’ which also assumes anyone watching (at least in Japanese) knows what this term means already.

I also found this series may be one of the most dependent on the viewer’s mood to enjoy that I have seen in quite some time as my initial watch had me struggling to work through the material as it hit me as dry, clichéd and poorly paced with certain ideas rushed through and too many characters presented to build a consistent and engaging narrative. Fortunately I gave the series a watch again a fair amount of time later and I found that my opinion changed somewhat in a number of places, though not all of them. Hideyoshi still feels a bit empty as a character while also being an enigma from a narrative perspective as it is difficult to say just what function she is intended to play as on some level she is a self-insert type of character but one that feels rather weak as she is often as much a source of humor in her inability to do a lot (including remember major historical moments) while on the other hand using what would probably be considered a high social IQ to solve problems that appear around her to help unite people.

It isn’t just Hideyoshi that suffers either as very few members of the cast really getting a chance to grow and develop or even sometimes be much more than a character who needs to appear because of the popular interpretation and who may be given a bit of a twist or quirk to make them memorable to the audience already familiar with the character through other means. When added to the sometimes slow pace and time spent that feels like it isn’t advancing a plot it isn’t hard for me to see just what it was about the series that left me cold the first go round.

With that all said though the re-watch gave me a new perspective on the characters which allowed me to enjoy what the story presented even if I don’t have a lot more knowledge than I did before about the setting and characters. What I saw the second time was a slow build of the series eventual antagonist that I missed the first time out of frustration with how the series appeared to me at that time. That isn’t to say that all the flaws magically vanished as they were still noticeable but somehow having an idea where things were going to go let me watch for some of the smaller character building moment as well as appreciate some of the moments that the first go round didn’t click with me.

It didn’t take a re-watch for me to appreciate some of the moments I did during the first go round though as the series has a few absolutely fantastic scenes that gave me the desire to take another chance with the whole production just in case my ill perception of the series was something resulting more from my mood rather than just the series itself. To that end I found I still loved one episode in particular that dealt with a bit of ghost story lore as well as I still loved the 11th and 12th episodes which increased with the different vantage point I had the second go round as the slow build finally leads to the big pay off. Battle Girls: Time Paradox still doesn’t hit me as anything approaching an unmissable title but it is fun with some nice moments and unlike my previous assessment it now feels like a series that I will look to obtain on Blu Ray down the line, though more because I want to have titles I rather like on that format more than out of a feeling it will look so much better on the format though I still have that hope.

In Summary:
Battle Girl: Time Paradox is a better than average (though not by a lot) example of the kind of stories that tend to appear when an idea or setting nestles into public consciousness and becomes a trend as its setting in the Sengoku era isn’t going to alone make it stand out over the last few years. What the series does attempt to do is change all of the major players up by casting them all as young woman and giving many of them a slightly different way of going about their quest to unite a severely divided from the various fiefdoms that exist(ed) into a single country under one ruler. Outside of the idea of making all the characters (except for one dog) woman the show relies greatly on a lot of the tropes, characters and pop culture takes on the era that have come before which robs the show of the ability to become really special but it does do a couple of things rather well and most of the rest is at least competent, leaving a show that probably won’t wow most but which can be a pleasant and occasionally rewarding way to spend some time.

Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing

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

Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: February 26th, 2013
MSRP: $59.98
Running Time: 325 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Samsung 50″ Plasma HDTV, Denon AVR-790 Receiver with 5.1 Sony Surround Sound Speakers, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080.

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