What They Say:
For years Kanade Kohinata has been considered a musical prodigy, but in her sophomore year of high school, the young violinist has found herself adrift and unable to regain her creative focus. All that changes, however, when childhood friend Ritsu Kisaragi insists that Kanade and his younger brother Kyouya, also a violinist, both transfer to the prestigious Seiso Academy, where Ritsu rules the orchestra club.
The introduction of two new violinists is certain to cause friction, however, as the super-competitive club is in contention for the National Championships, Kanade and Kyouya are going to find their skills pressed to the limit as they attempt to prove that they belong. And amidst the fire of competition, Kanade may find herself kindling more than just a passion for music, as a dozen different young men may be competing for her heart as well!
The audio presentation for this series brings us just the original Japanese language track in stereo encoded using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. The show makes fairly good use of the stereo design for it where the dialogue occasionally has some decent placement but the music has a very good full feeling to it with plenty of warmth for a stereo mix. Outside of the music, which does have a pretty regular presence as you’d expect, it’s a straightforward dialogue piece so there isn’t a lot of stretching going on throughout it. The various characters come across well with no pitch problems or distortions and when there are a few on screen at a time there is some decent placement of the voices to give it a little more feeling. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2014, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec The twelve episodes for this series are kept to just a single disc, which is made possible since it has just the one audio track and not a lot of high motion to it. The series has a very clean look to it with bright vibrant colors, owing to its gaming origins likely, and it translates well to the anime presentation. Uniforms and hair in particular are pretty attractive here The backgrounds have a good look as well, a bit more muted in general, and there’s a decent amount of detail when it comes to the overall design of the show that shows through well here, though it’s certainly towards the lower end. The show has a fairly average to somewhat low bitrate, but it’s not something that’s hugely problematic in that it distracts you from the show.
The packaging for this release is pretty good overall as we get a standard Blu-ray case to hold the single disc. The cover artwork is certainly one that blends well to the blue of the case as the background from the logo has some and it all blends more as it shifts to the golden yellows of the musical notes and the like. THe characters from the core group is what dominates here and they look good with some toned down colors and characters designs with some good detail to them that sells it nicely. THe logo feels a little too rich for what the show is as it kind of stands out in the wrong way, but it’s tied to the game so it’s not a surprise. The back cover is traditional as it draws the blue back along the top and bottom in a good way while also spreading two strips of shots from the show that adds a lot of variety and color. The premise is clean through the middle as it explains things well while we also get a good nod towards the episode count and what extras there are. The production credits are easy to read and the technical grid covers it all accurately. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menu design here goes for a nice and simple approach but with just enough class and elegance to give it the rich school feeling it needs. Split in half, the right side has a bright and colorful full piece of artwork with the main cast of characters and a few supporting types to fill it up and look engaging. The left side has the navigation with some good blue design work under it to class it up a bit. The navigation has a good script to it to give it some elegance as it breaks down the show by episode number and titles. With just the extras as the submenu there’s not a lot to do here so it’s easy to navigate and problem free both as a main menu and as a pop-up menu.
The only extras included are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.
After the general success of the first two-cour TV series back in 2009, it’s no surprise that with another game that La Corda d’Oro would be back. There are a lot of games in this series and it’s all a blur to me when you get down to it. I liked the first series well enough when Sentai Filmworks brought that out on DVD so I was glad to see this more current one, airing in the spring 2014 season, getting the Blu-ray release. It’s no surprise that it didn’t get a dub but getting it in high definition is a plus. Each property essentially stands on its own so you don’t need to know what came before to enjoy this one, though there are nods along the way (often given liner note subtitles) towards the previous series and some of the games as characters appear briefly.
The premise of the series is one that works well enough for those that enjoy competitive orchestral instrument material as we’re introduced to high school student Kanade, a young woman who has an immense amount of skill that hasn’t been properly unlocked. She was involved in a competition years ago where she was expected to be the best of them all but ended up quitting without performing due to an interaction that’s finally explored just at the end of the series. While she has skill she hasn’t found her path yet and is kind of listless with her music. That changes when her friend Kyoya’s brother ends up going to Seiso Academy and eventually convinces them both that they should go as well. The timing couldn’t be better as there’s the National Competition that’s put into play in order to determine who is the best in the country among the various elite schools.
What we end up with is a quartet that forms around Kanade as the sole female performer along with Kyoya, Ritsu and a couple of others that end up being less than important as it progresses. The group has to face the usual array of struggles in competition and confidence against the other schools, some of which are far crueler than one might imagine even in this highly competitive arena. Some of it makes sense when you add in familial relations that are involved and those adults that swoop in from time to time as one of their kids is involved as well. Throughout a lot of this we get some very, very, standard stories told and this is nowhere near a surprise simply because it’s working off of the video game origins that we’ve seen before. It wants to present these struggles and growth elements and it hits all the right marks for it, but it also falters a lot because there’s nothing original here. And, for me at least, it’s made worse by the fact that none of these characters are truly humanized as there is nothing to them outside of the performance and the mild infatuations they have to varying degrees with Kanade – an element that is thankfully underplayed rather than a driving force.
The stronger character story here is the one that isn’t really dealt with until the end as it involves the best of the best amid the competitions with Leiji. He’s scowling the whole time and weaves in and out of the show with a desire to crush Kanade because of a wrong she did to him years ago. In the cultural aspect and competitive aspect, what happened in the past certainly makes sense and I can really understand why Leiji is as intense as he is over at it. At the same time, the more it was revealed what happened the more you just wanted to smack him and tell him to grow up because he’s acting like the child he was ten years ago. And that doesn’t speak well for him and his position. Again, understandable that he wants to crush Kanade for how she treated him, but he holds onto this grudge in such a powerful and intense way that you can practically view him as a sociopath for it. You’d really want to put out a restraining order on him. The end problem is that this is not enough to carry though show, particularly since he’s just brooding and intense for all of it and she has no idea why until the end amid a bizarre kidnapping shenanigan that just devalues the show more.
This series has some nice moments to it as we see the various characters come together and learn to play in sync and harmony, elevating their performances and ability. I’m nowhere near any kind of music critic nor a musician, having done horribly in my own experiences over the years in trying to learn. I enjoyed the visual presentation of a lot of it and particular Seiso’s group performance in the final act and their growth throughout the series. But the characters themselves simply come across as weak video game characters and not well realized characters, which turns the whole thing superficial. It’s decently animated and has some good instrumental music to it, though it naturally reuses certain themes more than it should as one might expect, but it is a show that I’d say if you enjoy the games and the previous series you’ll enjoy this one.
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Content Grade: C+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B-
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: November 10th, 2015
Running Time: 300 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.