What They Say:
There once was a teen named Kosaku. Who was… mildly obsessed with an idol. He mailed her some veggies – to keep her bod healthy – and, SURPRISE, she showed up at agriculture school! Now that Ringo (the pop artist formerly known as Yuka) is a student at Tamo Agricultural High School, she’s ready to ho, sow, and plow her way to the top! But first she has to learn… pretty much everything about farming. On top of that, Kosaku’s best friend, Minori, is waaaaaay jelly of his friendship with Ringo on account of her not-so-hidden feelings for him, and seeds of rivalry begin to sprout between the two. And the biggest mystery still remains: What’s a world famous pop star doing at an agricultural high school? Find out in the complete series of No-Rin!
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo along with the new English language track done up in 5.1 form. Both are encoded using the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec and are problem free from that perspective as they’re both clean and clear and present the source material well. The show largely works a standard comedy approach with a fair bit of dialogue, some louder and more explosive moments of dialogue, and the usual range of wacky hijinks along the way to give it all a little boost. The show isn’t one that goes overly big or anything, but it works well within the context of what it wants to do and be. There are some fun moments of silly action directionality and big dialogue moments, but it’s also all mostly standard are and it’s well presented here in a way that should please fans when you get down to it.
Originally airing in 2014, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twelve episodes for this season are spread across two discs with eight on the first and four on the second. Animated by Silver Link, No-Rin certainly has a good look about it as it captures the agricultural side well. The colors have a lot of pop and some great lushness in many scenes and the details for that side of it is really good as well, giving life to the animals, plants, veggies and more. The character animation is pretty good, though some of it – such as with Minori – felt like it was intentionally animated a bit softer in design and color, but it works well with what they’re trying to go with. The show has some high motion sequences to it where things get very busy and the transfer captures it well and without problems. Though the show isn’t truly distinctive in its design, the transfer captures the brightness and life of it well and it comes across clean and engaging.
The packaging design for this release brings us a standard sized Blu-ray case with an o-card that nicely changes things up from what’s inside. The o-card gives us a bright and outgoing Yuka in her idol mode set against a green and white polka dot background that has an array of fruits and veggies strewn across it. The case artwork does the same design but has agri-student Ringo there with a shy look about her. The back covers are the same as we get more of the veggies along with a strip of bright and fun shots from the show along the left and some cute chibi material along the top. The middle has the logo and a good breakdown of what the show is about in concise form as well as the extras. The remainder is standard fare material with the technical grid and some basic information related to that. While the release doesn’t have any inserts included with it, we do get artwork on the reverse side that shows off the two female leads in bikinis cavorting with veggies of their choice.
The menu design for this release is fairly standard fare as we get a variety of fun and colorful clips playing in the background, including some amusing near-nudity, that certainly sets the tone well. Which is exactly what you want out of a menu when you’ve got it looping before setting it up and getting ready to watch. tHe logo is bright and pink in the middle with the cute vegetable elements to it while the navigation itself is along the bottom with a pink on white that works better than it should. The layout is easy to navigate and everything looks good both as a top level menu and as the pop-up menu during regular playback to find out where you are in the disc.
The extras for this release are pretty good across the board as the original material side brings us the promos and commercials for the show’s broadcast as well as the clean opening and closing sequences. New to the set are a pair of episode commentaries from the English language production team and cast that we get on the first disc.
Based on the light novel series written by Shirow Shiratori with illustrations by Kippu, No-Rin is a twelve episode anime series that originally aired in the winter 2014 season. The original light novels are still going strong after kicking off back in 2011 as there are eleven volumes so far and more in the works. It’s managed a trio of manga spinoff and adaptation material that has gone well overall and works to expand the overall franchise aspect of it all. The anime adaptation itself comes from Silver Link and the show received a pretty fun dub overall here, one that in some ways works better than the original Japanese language for me if only in that it has a little extra pervy feeling about it with some of the character interactions. It’s not like it’s a different show, but the tone and inflection can make a decent enough difference.
The series revolves around a group of students at the Tamo Agriculture School and the things they get into while working their trade. I do like when shows narrow on a focus type school as opposed to the general curriculum because you can get some diversity and interesting things to deal with, such as the art based schools and these kinds of schools. It’s a welcome change from the norm and when you watch a lot of shows a little deviation can go a long way. Though we do get a few additional players in the mix here, some that are more fun than others, the show really is just focused on its core trio and their romantic triangle. The problem is that the triangle itself is more in their minds than reality and you end up not finding any of the pairings all that interesting, which in turn dilutes that whole side of the show. One that feels like it’s supposed to be bigger than it is but doesn’t quite gel right.
The central focus of the triangle is that of Kosaku, a second-year student at the school that has come here alongside his childhood friend Minori. Both are from a really rural area that’s landlocked, so they’re not really familiar with a lot of things. The school itself is really just a big farm itself in a sense so this place doesn’t exactly expand their understanding of the world, but they’re getting a solid education. Minori is all about getting closer to Kosaku but she’s run into the problem for a while now in that he’s just interested in the idol Yuka Kusakabe. He’s totally otaku-smitten with her to the exclusion of all else. So when she retires suddenly and disappears from the entertainment world, he’s crushed and despondent. The only thing that saves him is the arrival of a new student in the form of Ringo Kinoshita. Ringo, of course, is Yuka and is looking to become an agriculture student , though the reason why she wants to do this really never comes together in a compelling way.
Ringo’s arrival certainly upsets the balance of what’s going on here as one might expect as Minori is instantly jealous and Kosaku is all about trying to figure out if she really is Yuka (it takes just a few minutes) and then to get closer to her. The problem with all of this runs in a couple of different directions. First, Ringo has absolutely zero personality. Once she leaves behind the bright and bubble Yuka personality, she’s essentially a piece of plywood here. And she seemingly has near zero interest in Kosaku because she’s here to get an agriculture education – again, we don’t truly know why in a compelling way. She’s a complete newbie to it all which makes it even more problematic. As it all goes on she does start to show some interest in Kosaku but it’s so minimal that it doesn’t make it compelling in the slightest, especially as Kosaku himself has so little personality. The only time Ringo comes across as interesting is when she’s ready to butcher the wacky/pervy teacher named Becky that is constantly getting in some digs at her.
Even more problematic for me is the whole Minori and Kosaku dynamic. Minori’s got the standard childhood friend romantic crush thing going here and she’s wanting to build a real life with him doing the farming, baby making, and all that jazz. You can understand it, particularly since they were the only ones their age back in their hometown. The problem is that Kosaku is not only so very interested in the unreality of Yuka but also that he has no interest in Minori. I never felt like there was a below the surface interest on his part toward Minori and that in turn makes her obsession with him and her competition with Ringo fall all the more flat. The triangle that exists here because of all of this is like one without any legs that work at all and it’s just all over the map. I sorta like the characters as individuals with what they do, but the important part of the triangle dynamic just doesn’t work in the slightest. And that in turn just undercuts everything.
No-Rin has some fun throughout because it does get all pervy at times and there’s some embracing of it in relation to fruits and veggies that work well. The show is one that has its bright spots and fun interactions, but it’s also one that works better by not being marathoned. It also really doesn’t utilize its location and setting well to enhance the storyline. I wasn’t expecting Silver Spoon or anything, but the agri-school aspect tended to fall off faster and faster each episode and didn’t feel like an integral enough part of the series as a whole, resulting in it being more a trapping than anything else. The show has a good look to it and there are small gags and bits that i liked along the way, and if it hadn’t bothered with the romantic component – or given it more weight and feeling instead – I probably would have enjoyed it more. It’s a show with potential that isn’t sure how to pull it out.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Episode Commentaries, Promotional Videos, Commercial Collection, Textless Opening “Himitsu no Doa kara Ai ni Kite”, Textless Closing “Mo-Gi-Ta-Te ? Fruit Girls”
Content Grade: C
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B+
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: February 23rd, 2016
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.