What They Say:
Junichi Nagase was a real delinquent in middle school; one nasty enough that he earned the nickname “Geno Killer.” It’s by this less than flattering epithet that Yuuhi Katagiri first comes to know him when he rescues her from two thugs one evening. Needless to say, both are stunned when not only does Yuuhi find herself transferred into the same high school class as “the Killer,” but that shock grows into outright stupefaction when Yuuhi shows up at Junichi’s house with the mind-blowing announcement that she’s supposed to move in with him!
It seems that they’re engaged, and since this is the first that Junichi and his younger sister Minato have first heard of the arranged marriage set up by their parents, it’s an idea that’s going to take a little getting used to.
The audio presentation for Akasaka is pretty straightforward with just the original Japanese language track in stereo encoded at 224kbps. While a lot of high school romantic comedy type shows have a decent mix to them where it balances things out well, Akasaka comes across rather bland overall, even during the action sequences that are included in each episode that’s essentially unrelated to the majority of the show. The bulk of the series is simple dialogue pieces that has little in the way of action directionality or placement and even less when it comes to depth to it. The dialogue, music and what few sound effects there are comes across alright but it’s a largely unmemorable mix overall. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in the fall of 2008, 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 series and OVA is spread over two discs with six episodes on the first and seven on the second. The show isn’t one that has all that detailed of a look and, in fact, has a fairly strong budget feel about it which results in a lack of overall animation for a lot of it. While it may not be a strong show, the transfer is decent as the colors look good, what detail there is comes across well and it’s minimal with the background noise when it comes to certain building interiors and some of the darker blue skies. Cross coloration is thankfully absent, but some of the panning scenes do introduce a bit of line noise.
This two disc set is presented in a standard sized keepcase with some cover art that shows it to be a pretty basic show. The front cover has the pairing of Yuuhi and Minato together, arm in arm in their school uniforms, set against a mixture of blue and white that’s actually nice. The characters have a decent look and the logo along the bottom ties it all together really nicely with its colors. But something about it just feels like it’s giving off the vibe of a subpar show. In particular, this is the kind of show that either needed a translation of the title (The Hill Dyed Rose Madder) or to be called something else altogether as it really doesn’t flow well or have any kind of hook to it. To the majority of people looking at it, it’s just a jumble of Japanese words. There are shows you can get away with it with, but this isn’t one of them. The back cover uses the same kinds of colors with a lot of white space for the summary to draw you into it. The character artwork looks good and there’s a small set of shots from the show that does a decent job of highlighting the visual design of it. The technical grid covers everything well and it’s all accurately listed. No show related material is included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menu design for this release is pretty simple as it uses the blues and whites from the cover to have a rundown along the left, at a slight angle of course, of the episode numbers and titles. The right side uses character artwork of the main cast on both discs to good effect as they have a nice level of detail to their designs and the colors pop well. The release doesn’t have all that much to it outside of the show and the couple of extras and credits, so menu navigation is simple and easy to use. With it being a monolingual release, language setup is a non-issue as is player presets.
The only extras included with this release are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences which can be found on the first disc.
Based on the adult visual novel of the same name which has had a light novel and manga adaptation as well, Akasaka is a twelve episode series plus OVA that deals with the awkwardness of certain social situations for a group of high school kids. School-based series are a dime a dozen with so many out there, but they each have to find their own hook in order to really draw you in. Akasaka tries that by having an awkward and unexpected engagement happen between the two lead characters and use that as the momentum. Unfortunately, the show has such an awkward start and the engagement occurs in an unnatural way which cuts it off at the knees before it gets a chance to roll. Even worse is that the supposed female lead of Yuuhi turns out to be a fairly unappealing character overall.
Akasaka has a number of characters to it but it really comes down to the core three with a few that are a little important in addition to them. The main focus is on Jun, a high school guy who has a reputation that’s been following him since middle school where he has the name of the Geno Killer as he used to be something of a brawler. Or that the fight that he was in got exaggerated which is why he continues to play it down. He lives with his sister Minato and their parents are off in the world for business. We see them regularly in small scenes in each episode as they’re seemingly spies of some sort that are on dangerous but easy to accomplish missions. They do have a larger purpose in a small way, but it takes awhile before you get a feel for them and until then their scenes are more curious distractions than anything else.
Where Jun’s life takes an unfortunate turn is when he comes across a young woman named Yuuhi who was being accosted by a couple of guys. They’re dismissive of him first but when they realize who he is, they’re all deferential to him and bolt. This gets Yuuhi, who comes from a really wealthy family, to want to find out more about him. That causes her to enroll in his school which lands her in his class no less. That sets quite the uproar when everyone finds out that she’s been looking for him. She does strike up something of a friendship with Karen who also comes from wealth though Yuuhi tries to keep it a secret who her family is from most people.
Jun’s unsure how to deal with all of that but one of the things that come to mind is that he thinks he should kiss her in order to make sure there’s nothing there. Unfortunately for Jun, Yuuhi takes this very seriously since it’s her first kiss that he’s stole and to her it means they’re now engaged. Which then has her moving in with him and his sister while trying to figure out if he’s a good guy or a bad guy based on the way he’s been acting since she first met him. Since it’s just him and his sister living there, things naturally go in that direction and there’s a real adversarial stance that Yuuhi takes with Jun which confuses him even more. He’s sort of interested in her but sort of not and Yuuhi goes real back and forth with it herself.
Akasaka spends a lot of its time going through the normal kinds of events that you see in a high school series of this nature. You have school festivals, trips and all the usual misunderstandings that come into play. Some of the events come from Karen as she does things like throwing a party at her house which has all the girls getting all dolled up and then having to cook the meal for the very large party at hand since the head chef falls ill. Add in some not quite so real dates that turn into real ones along the way and Akasaka covers all the bases. The familiarity of the story isn’t all that bad when you get down to it and the kinds of things that happen in each of the episodes are almost things that need to happen in most series, especially considering its game origins.
Akasaka has a very odd feeling to it outside of all of these story ideas. The relationship between Yuuhi and Jun never actually connects since Jun doesn’t have enough of a personality to be interesting and Yuuhi’s unfriendly personality makes her unpleasant to deal with most of the time, especially as she swings back and forth with how she feels about him. What makes it more awkward is that there’s some supposed subtext going on between Jun and Minato that everyone sees but those two. Minato actually jokes at one point that she’s adopted to Yuuhi when the two are in the bath together, but it’s a toss-away gag that lets you in on the secret early on. When the show starts down the path of making Jun choose between Yuuhi and Minato, with Jun completely believing it’s his sister, it just feels completely wrong in what it’s doing.
What doesn’t help the show much either is the animation itself. It’s a fairly budget show with some basic character designs that don’t really stand out that well. There’s a very basic look to the backgrounds which doesn’t personalize it much and a lot of it seems kind of empty in a way as well. The characters are alright overall, but there’s not much that really lets them stand out on their own. There isn’t a lot going on here with really fluid animation since it’s all standard high school romantic comedy kind of material so it doesn’t stretch itself much either and I don’t think it would be able to at all either. It’s not horrible, but it’s a pretty basic budget production that doesn’t have its own personality to stand out with.
Akasaka is a show that definitely shows its gaming roots, but what its biggest problem turns out to be is that it doesn’t exactly have all that interesting of a story to tell. None of the characters are all that interesting and the situations are fairly well forced throughout. It’s the kind of show where even at twelve episodes, each one is largely forgettable after you see it. What isn’t forgettable is the OVA that’s included which actually calls itself a hardcore OVA as it puts all of the characters on a beach resort and proceeds to really raunch it up. It’s actually pretty impressive the level of dirtiness that’s used here, but it also shows just how bland the main show is. Akasaka is one of those rather disposable shows that doesn’t have a lot gong for it beyond being competent at best. It’s a show that’s a hard sell in general and the lengthy title doesn’t help it either, even if it doesn’t translate well into English.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Content Grade: B-
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: B
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: March 8th, 2011
Running Time: 325 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.