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Problem Children are Coming From Another World, Aren’t They? Complete Collection Anime DVD Review

5 min read

Problem Child DVD FlatBeen there, done that, bought the t-shirt, etc. etc.

What They Say:
On the world known as Little Garden, factions and communities compete for power via Gift Games, in which individuals with unusual abilities are set against each other. But where there are winners, there are also losers, and the group called the “No Names” has been so devastated in their conflicts with the Demon Lords that almost all of their 120 remaining members are still children! For surviving leaders Jin and Black Rabbit there seems to be only one hope: bring in outside recruits and gamble that their new abilities will somehow reverse the tide!

Of course, Earth-born Izayoi, Asuka and Yo don’t know any of this when they accept the invitation to come to Little Garden, nor do they know how dangerous the games actually are. Fortunately, all three are far more formidable than anyone can imagine. Still, before they can win the games, they’ll have to learn how to work together and with the other No Names, and time is rapidly running out!

The Review:

Audio:
The Blu-ray comes with two language tracks: English and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. English subtitles are also provided. The sound quality was fine with no issues with distortion or volume.

Video:
The ten episodes and single OVA are presented in 1080p in 16×9 aspect ratio, and it’s quite a pretty show. The action is clear and the colors pop right out of the screen.

Packaging:
The ten episodes and single OVA are spread out over two Blu-ray discs housed in a standard Blu-ray case. The front cover features Black Rabbit, Izayoi, Asuka, and Yō lying in a grass field, looking up at the viewer. The spine features a winking Black Rabbit and the show’s title, and the back cover features the standard show synopsis, credits, and Blu-ray specs as well as character art and stills from the series.

Menu:
Black Rabbit dominates the menu, winking at the audience and holding out a tophat. A chibi Black Rabbit emerges from the tophat in a puff of heart-shaped smoke clouds. The episode list pops out from the righthand side of the screen in a sort of pull down (pull side?) menu like on a computer. The menu for disc two features Asuka sitting at a table, a smile on her face and a finger held to her lip. The episode, language, and special features list pops out in a side menu just like on the first disc, only smaller because there are fewer episodes. The show’s main theme plays once and then the menu grows silent, which I like because it means that I don’t go mad listening to a six-to-ten second loop. It’s a fine, functional design.

Extras:
The Blu-ray comes with Problem Children Bumpers, TV Spots, Blu-ray Spots, Promo Video, Clean Op/Ed, and Trailers. I’m not an extras kind of guy, so there wasn’t much here for me to enjoy, but I did like that they included the bumpers and TV spots. Those were interesting, even if they didn’t provide much in the way of information on the production of the series.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
F. Scott Fitzgerald once said, “Start with a character and soon you’ll find you have a type. Start with a type and soon you’ll find you have nothing.” I couldn’t help but think about this quote while watching Problem Children Are Coming from Another World, Aren’t They? Only the quote doesn’t just apply to the characters—it applies to the story, the setting, and the entire premise. This is paint-by-numbers anime, much like Leviathan: The Last Defense, and I’ve seen enough anime in my life that I need more than just the novelty of the art form.

Izayoi, Asuka, and Yō are extraordinary children living extraordinarily dull lives. Each possess a fantastic power (called a “Gift”), but instead of making their lives better, it only serves to isolate them and run their lives. Perhaps this is why they accept the mysterious invitation that transports them to the world of Little Garden.

When they arrive, a woman with rabbit ears calling herself Black Rabbit greets them and gives them the lay of the land. Little Garden is a place full of wonders and games. People can be challenged to what are called “Gift Games” where they can win power, wealth—just about anything they can imagine—if they perform certain tasks. Various communities exist on Little Garden, and it turns out that Black Rabbit summoned the children so they could join the No Names, a group of losers so pathetic that they lost the right to even have a name. Black Rabbit hopes that the children’s power will help garner the No Names prestige and increase their position in Little Garden.

While there’s nothing specifically wrong with this title, it’s very much a been-there-done-that sort of affair. Powerful children are transported to a new place where they shake things up. Among them you see the trickster; the sweet, shy girl; the authoritarian rich girl with a heart of gold; and the fumbling authority figure. Throw in heaping spoonfuls of fanservice and you’ve got 99% of the anime being released right now. That’s not necessarily a terrible thing if you haven’t seen the other 99%, but when you have seen a good percentage of it, like me, then you need something more to grasp. The show needs to play with the formula, find the truth underlying it, or add some sort of personal touch to it.

That never really happens here. The closest it gets is how it plays with mythology, but—again—there are other animes out there that have done it better. The same could be said for the game motif. Shows like Phi-Brain mined that vein dry and Problem Children etc. etc. just picks up the little bits of ore that fell off the cart.

In Summary:
Problem Children Are Coming from Another World is that most dreaded of animes—the “meh.” The production values are high, and visually it’s a treat, but in terms of character, story, and worldbuilding, there just isn’t anything here to capture one’s imagination. It tries at times, but for the most part it comes off as very paint-by-numbers, making you want to watch other, better shows that play with these character tropes and ideas in more exciting and interesting ways. This is a definite skip.

Features:
English 2.0, Japanese 2.0, English subtitles, Problem Children Bumpers, TV Spot, Blu-ray Spots, Promo Video, Clean Opening & Closing Animation

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

Released By:Sentai Filmworks
Release Date:29 July 2014
MSRP:$69.98
Running Time:275 minutes
Video Encoding:1080p
Aspect Ratio:16×9

Review Equipment:
Panasonic Viera TH42PX50U 42” Plasma HDTV, Sony BPD-S3050 BluRay Player w/HDMI Connection

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