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[email protected] Complete Collection Blu-ray Anime Review

9 min read

Sasami Blu-rayIf you had the power of God, what would you do? Sleep. Sleep a lot.

What They Say:
Sasami Tsukuyomi is a hikikomori, someone who’s become so withdrawn socially that they refuse to leave home for weeks and even months at a time. Fortunately for Sasami, her brother Kamiomi teaches at the high school Sasami should be attending; and with her “Brother Surveillance Tool,” which lets her view the outside world via her computer, she’s trying to adjust to interfacing with people again. What her computer mainly does, however, is allow her to spy on her brother’s interactions with the three very odd Yagami sisters, who inexplicably seem to have had their ages reversed and have various types of “interest” in Kamiomi. And then things start to get really weird…Magical powers? Everything turning into chocolate? Is life via the web warping Sasami’s brain, or is it the universe that’s going crazy? Sasami may have to take off her pajamas and go out into the “real” world to set things straight in [email protected]!

The Review:
Audio:
This release is only available in Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 with English subtitles available. The sound is well balanced, meaning that no one sound unnecessarily overpowers another. Considering that the show revolves around the actions of gods and those with god like powers, a lot of unique sound effects are made use of. You’ll hear every crash, explosion, and otherworldly encounter. The soundtrack is relatively muted during scenes heavy on dialogue but explodes into some great high octane tracks during more exciting scenes. If you pay attention, you can hear a lot of different genres at use that are usually complimentary to what is happening on screen.

Video:
Sasami-san plays in beautiful 1080p High Definition in 1:78:1 widescreen. There were no noticeable video errors or small hiccups during the time I took to watch the show. The animation is crisp and detailed most of the time though frames sometimes drop when there is a ton happening on screen. Whatever small problems rise from that are made up for in spades by the general artistic style of the show. Sasami-san uses a collection of beautiful colors to make the unique designs of each character pop. Backgrounds range from being practically non-existent to being incredibly beautiful and interesting depending on what mood the show is trying to create. A lot of the images created are wonderful to look at and are complimented by their clean and crisp presentation.

Packaging:
The Blu-r Ray release features the same cover art of Sasami and the Yagami sisters present on the DVD box. On the back is a small write up for the series that really only summarizes the first episode. Along with that is an image of Sasami and several small boxed images of scenes from the show. There are other boxes showing things like a music icon and a pencil icon. I assume they were trying to recreate the feeling of a computer interface like what Sasami uses throughout the show. Everything looks good and cute, consisting of bright colors like green, pink, and blue. All twelve episodes of this release are on one disc with the same image of Sasami we see on the back of the box. This is great for convenience though I can see how some would want more art to look at.

Menu:
The menu system shares the same look and style as the box itself. To the right side is a static image of the Sasami and Yagami sisters picture that was used as the box art. The track played while you navigate menus is the opening song for the show. The left side has all episodes listed in order that can be picked individually. The option you hover over is highlighted green with a mouse cursor which ties into the computer theme present on the back of the Blu-ray box. Overall, I would say it is a competent menu that does everything it is supposed to. It’s not spectacular in any way, but it does what it needs to do in a fast and convenient manner.

Extras:
The extras on this release are pretty basic. I always appreciate the textless opening and endings when they are provided. Other than that we get trailers for other anime available from Sentai Filmworks. I would have personally preferred if there was a little bit more like maybe something centered on the gods present within the show. That would have enhanced the viewing experience and given us something besides what we expect from a release these days.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
[email protected] is a show I never got around to watching during its original simulcast run. The name is a cluster of confusion and none of the summary write-ups come close to explaining the actual show. Now that I’ve taken the time to watch it for the purpose of review, I can say that I enjoyed it for the most part.

Sasami is a hikikomori who lives alone with her face hiding brother Kamiomi, who is a teacher at the local school. Sasami uses her computer to spy on Kamiomi and experience normal life through his interactions at the school with the three Yagami sisters. What we the viewer find out is that Sasami and her brother have anything but a “normal” life. Turns out, Sasami was trained at the Tsukuyomi Shrine to be the priestess who inherited the power of Amaterasu the sun god. This means that the entire universe reacts to Sasami’s wishes, whether good or bad. To keep things from going out of control, the three Yagami sisters are there. Tsurugi, the oldest, is the actual Amaterasu who decided to give her power to the humans out of convenience. Kagami, the middle sister, is a robot crafted from the image of Tsurugi. Finally, we have the youngest sister, Tama, who is to take over the power of Amaterasu when she is ready.

Sasami-san is broken up into three distinguishable arcs. The first arc serves as an introduction to our characters and the implications of godhood. Sasami’s wishes bring out a lot of creative scenarios for the show to work with. In the first episode, we find out that Sasami passed her powers over to her brother who wants nothing more than to receive chocolates from his little sister on Valentine’s Day. This leads to the world literally being engulfed by chocolate and the Yagami sisters having to fight a chocolate dragon. Through the first four episodes, this is the type of thing you can expect; constant creativity and fast pace. I found it to be very funny and I had a constant goofy smile glued to my face. Personally, I was reminded of the Kyousougiga ONA except Sasami-san made a lot more sense.

After an introductory arc that takes us from chocolate dragons to MMOs and UFOs, we move into a much slower second arc revolving around Sasami and her mother. Along with being slower, this arc is much darker and emotional. Sasami’s mother wants her daughter to quit living her peaceful life and to go back and perform her duties as a priestess. Obviously, this isn’t going to fly with Sasami who is perfectly content with her current life. Everything isn’t as it seems though. Her mother felt so betrayed by her daughter abandoning her duty that she literally came back from the dead to come get her. As a creepy zombie lady, Sasami’s mother goes through some twisted personality changes. I felt this arc was almost an entirely different show than what I first experienced. Fortunately, it is still very well done. One of the shows biggest achievements is its ability to balance tones. One moment it can be quirky and at the next it will take a sudden turn for the worst while keeping an adequate feeling of flow. We get to explore Sasami’s history and relationship with her mom in some sweet and even touching ways. This is the only relationship in the show that feels properly fleshed out and the story line is better for it.

What we have here is a battle of good intentions between the two that helps bring the theme of the show to light; the definition of “trying your best.” Sasami thinks that humans no longer have to carry the burden of godhood and can give it back to the more capable. Her mother is tied strictly to her sense of duty and personal meaning. I think these are interesting concepts to explore and using the two’s relationship to explore it is genuinely good writing. This is also the only moment of the show where we momentarily get to see the incestuous history of the Tsukuyomi Shrine taken seriously during one of Sasami’s most helpless moments. To be able to balance all these topics at once is impressive and the reason why the sudden tonal shift after episode 4 doesn’t really bother me. Despite being nothing like the first arc, I think it succeeds due to the narrative weight and darker tone.

Finally, we have an arc that I don’t have many nice things to say about. We are introduced to our final villain of the show, Jou Edogawa. She is the student council present with a…well….interesting secret I won’t spoil. She also just so happens to be the leader of the Aharabaki villain that has showed up off and on during the series. Like Sasami’s mother, she isn’t really a villain despite the initial threat she poses. Most of the arc we get here is the show’s attempt to deepen the relationship between Sasami and Kagami. The problem with that is most of the growth they experience feels unearned due to the lack of screen time and a larger issue with the character in the show. I found that our cast is really fun to watch interact and take action when they are given a plot to navigate through. When the show slows down to a halt like it does in the couple of episodes before the end, it suffers for it. The characters alone are what we have all seen before. Much of their personalities fall flat when they have to carry a plot line alone.

In the context of the first two arcs, with all the interesting stories to tell, they are a blast to watch. That’s what we needed more of. Instead, Sasami and Kagami navigate through whatever vague relationship they share in a manner that I didn’t find particularly satisfying. It doesn’t help that these events take place at a hot spring resort at a beach during festival time. Considering that the humor here doesn’t hit the mark either, the show latches on to way to many cliches all at once. After we get past that however, we get a series finale that is actually quite exciting and well done. We get to see our main cast go up against other gods and see what a clash like that would look like. It’s pretty cool. It could have been much better though if it had happened sooner and lasted longer rather than the rushed feel it left me with. Despite it’s flaws, I found it to be an okay ending to the show.

In Summary:
Overall, [email protected] is a show that mostly accomplishes what it set out to do. It’s creative when it wants to be and meaningful when it wants to be. When the plot is moving, Sasami-san is one of the most entertaining shows out there. I can’t see many people being disappointed with what the show has to offer in either it’s first arc or the second one. What hurts is the characters can fall flat when they aren’t fully engaged in the larger plot. Personal moments at times can feel unearned because of this and the show sadly dumps all of these issues on us at the very end. Despite that, I think Sasami-san is a wonderful little show and is definitely worth your time for 12 episodes. Hopefully, you can appreciate the creativity and beautiful moments as much as I did.

Features:
Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, English Subtitles, Textless Opening/Closing, Promotional Video & Commercial Collection

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

Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: October 6th, 2015
MSRP: $59.98
Running Time: 300 minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1:78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Samsung UN46H6201AF 46-Inch 1080p LED HDTV with a Samsung BD-JM57C Blu-Ray player connected via HDMI

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