What They Say:
Hino Akiharu lost his parents when he was young, and was adopted into his uncle’s family. When he noticed that his uncle is after his inheritance, he decides to enter the Hakureiryou boarding school. Akiharu is placed in the school’s new servant-training department, where students are taught to be maids and butlers. However, his delinquent appearance frightens the girls, who make up the majority of the students.
Unable to get along with his classmates, Akiharu meets his childhood girlfriend Saikyou Tomomi and finds himself stuck in the middle of the school’s bickering cliques!
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo as well as the new English language adaptation, both of which are encoded at 192kbps. The show has a fairly straightforward stereo mix where it uses the forward soundstage well when it comes to the action and overall sound effects. There’s enough fun comedy action in each episode to give it something to work with and it generally utilizes it well to make it enjoyable and stand out just enough. The dialogue side itself is fairly straightforward, but it too uses the soundstage well since we do get several characters on screen at any given time interacting with each other. The end result is a fun mix that comes across in a good, clean way that makes it engaging and problem free.
Originally airing in 2010, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The twelve episode run is spread across two discs evenly with six on each. Animated by Xebec, the show has a really, really, great look about it and the standard definition transfer captures it as well as it can. There are a lot of really great colors here, and flesh tones, that lets it stand out in a great way where there’s a solid richness to it. There’s no skimping when it comes to the animation quality of the show and that just helps to elevate its look overall. There’s a lot to like with the design of the show and the transfer brings out the colors, detail and fluidity of animation in a very good way.
The packaging for this release comes with a standard sized DVD case that holds the two discs inside against the interior walls. The cover artwork is great as we get both Tomomi and Selnia together in skimpy bathing suits with slight blushes to their face, making it clear that fanservice is the name of the game here. It’s pretty blatant and I approve of shows that make it clear what it wants to be about. The logo works with the colorful logo along the lower left which lets the character artwork stand out primarily. The back cover uses four quadrants of artwork across it with lots of fanservice shots of the cast that look great while also using the familiar artwork of several of the characters laid over it that’s almost like an illustration. We get a good strip along the bottom with shots from the show while the premise is well covered above it along with the episode count. The bottom has the usual pieces to it with a clean and accurate technical grid along with the production credits. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menu design for this release works really well with what it wants to do to set the tone. Both menus are laid out the same with the x’s in the background at different levels with different colors while the foreground has character artwork to the left while the logo dominates the right with the navigation under it. The character artwork is bright, colorful and very detailed as the first disc has Selnia while the second has Tomomi. The layout is simple and easy to use, but it’s bright, colorful and engaging in getting you into the mood of the series.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the light novel series by Tsukasa Kozuki, Ladies Versus Butlers is a twelve episode series that aired in the winter 2010 season. Animated by Xebec, Atsushi Otsuki directed it with scripts by Tsuyoshi Tamai. The show is one that really felt like it would have been licensed a few years before Media Blasters got it, but it kind of languished even though it felt like the right mix of fanservice, silliness, and fetishes that should connect with a lot of fans. The series ended up getting some streaming earlier this year with both the dub and the sub, but this was my first experience with it with this set. And I’m glad it was because the show is an absolute treat that just delighted me through and through.
The premise is one that’s fairly straightforward and familiar as we’re introduced to Akiharu, a pretty decent young man with a bit of a scoundrel look to him. He’s got the requisite sad past in having lost his parents and has been living with his uncle’s family. Since he doesn’t want to be a problem for them, he opts to try for a boarding school and ends up lucking out while also getting sponsored along the way by his childhood friend Tomomi, though he’s unaware of that at first. The school is an interesting one as he ends up in the specialty House Management side of it where the almost entirely female student body are made up of either proper young ladies in training or maids. Akiharu is the fourth man to be a part of the program as a butler and that means there’s a lot of uncertainty by the many women on campus since having men there just feels wrong and scary to them.
Akiharu does a decent job of settling in and it’s fun to watch him work through the process and really trying to find his way through the program as he wants to make something of himself in a useful way. Though there are three other guys with him, they’re mostly just background comedic support and perviness from time to time, though there are some hilarious moments to be had with them. The one that isn’t a minor character though is his roommate Kaoru, a quiet and intense young man that’s actually a young woman hiding her gender. This plays up the familiar story we’ve seen many times over the years where a child is sent off to a school pretending to be otherwise at the request of the family elder. There isn’t much given in the way of her backstory because that’s not important. The fun is in the oblivious nature of Akiharu towards her as he never realizes what she is, and the way that the two have to live together and how she does her best to avoid him yet get caught up in silly situations.
While that makes for a good subplot throughout the show and with some more specific stories later on, the main focus of the series is the rivalry between two of the “powerful” young women that are attending the school and how Akiharu ends up becoming a bit of a pawn for them. Tomomi is pretty amusing to watch as one of them because she’s got a real cruel streak to her that she loves to work with as you see how she views people as playthings in a way. It’s not quite evil in a sense, she’s not a “bad guy” or anything, but you’d want to be on her good side and even then be nervous. A lot of this is just who she is as we get a good look at her when she was younger with Akiharu and it’s made clear that she loved to torture him as a kid without thinking of the consequences – and she doesn’t care about them now either. With the way she bullied Akiharu, you really do have to feel for him.
To provide balance, the show has Tomomi’s rival with Selnia, daughter of the Flameheart family which has a strong position of wealth and clout. She’s a very buxom and proud young woman with blonde hair that stands out because it has the “drill”-like aspects to its design, which has Akiharu nicknaming her Drill. Naturally she doesn’t like that, but since he’s someone who treats her normally unlike others she ends up being drawn to him. Selnia has the tough role here of being outwardly harsh towards him since he’s of a lower station while being interested in him and competitive with Tomomi, who is just using him as a plaything. This results in Selnia doing things she normally wouldn’t while also getting caught up in plenty of awkward situations that requires her to be undressed. Considering that her first meeting with Akiharu has him falling on top of her with the whole squeeze thing going on, it’s no surprise that it’s a contentious relationship for the bulk of the show.
As one can expect, the bulk of the show is a lot of silliness with class levels, supporting characters causing trouble, school events and all the usual things that we get. Which at times are made worse by a dean that’s far more interested in games and silliness that adds its own comedy. But what helps separate it – in a very good way for me – is the fanservice. The series runs with this in a really great way because it embraces the nudity in all its glory without holding back. Yes, there are a lot of contrived situations that involves the characters getting naked or ending up being stripped down, including one young woman that has a penchant for just wanting to be naked more often than not. Selnia and her copious assets are often the target of all of this happening and her mixture of blushing but also being pleased by it, especially as she really does start falling for Akiharu, really makes it fun. In the end, though, I just really enjoy shows that embrace their nature like this rather than being coy as it has its own kind of freedom that just connects well.
Ladies Versus Butlers simply delighted me through and through. It’s a straightforward enough concept to be sure and the characters are not rich in depth or backstory, but they’re not intended to be. What we get here is a highly enjoyable romp with a group of kids in awkward situations that are trying to make the best of things. I really enjoyed the characters and the wackiness of some of the supporting ones that come into play and add color to the whole. The main characters dominate but shift around enough that it’s not a constant barrage of personalities as there’re a lot of different interactions. The best selling point is the animation itself with the designs and colors combined with the way it embraces its nudity and fanservice. It’s very blatant and I loved every single minute of it.
While writing the review, I did listen to the dub in the background (or foreground really with the monitor in front of me) and I did enjoy the dub with what it does, though the English language and some of the tonal changes were a bit off-putting at times and especially in comparison to the original actors, notably with Akiharu. I typically do not dig deep into the actual voice work for either language, but I did want to say that with the bulk of the female parts here they were all pretty fun to listen to and I didn’t have anything that felt like it detracted from it. My preferences continue to be on the Japanese side, though, and we tend to talk about the show more in terms of content than performances unless something is absolutely stellar. But knowing what went into this production and the coming together of new talent, I wanted to give an extra shot out to the roles of Amber Lee Connors as Tomomi and Carrie Savage as Selnia. Both I thought did a really solid job with their respective roles.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B+
Extras Grade: N/A
Released By: Media Blasters
Release Date: November 3rd, 2015
Running Time: 306 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic 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.