What They Say:
Takeru and his Leadership Committee comrades are the last line of defense when it comes to ridding Tenbei Academy of mischievous Maken users. But saving all these succulent student bodies from a hoard of hocus pocus hornballs is no easy trick. Not when there’s a pervy creeper pinning bras to the bulletin board, a magical feline turning coed cuties into irresistible sex kittens, and a must-see manga fest where the costumes get mysteriously shrunken down to scandalous sizes! Through it all, Takeru keeps his mind on the mammaries – and the mammaries on his mind – as the luscious ladies of the Leadership Committee prove that their magic is breast in class!
The audio presentation for the show is fairly standard for Funimation in that we get the original Japanese language track in stereo while the English mix gets bumped up to a 5.1, both of which are encoded in the lossless Dolby TrueHD codec. The show is one that is really quite busy and active throughout, both with dialogue and with the action side of events. When the dialogue is running, there’s often enough characters on screen to make it fairly engaging across the forward soundstage. When it shifts to the action, it definitely works well to make for a strong mix since the impact hits well and there’s a good dynamic to it all. The English mix adds a bit more bass to things and the rear channels get some effects to it, but your mileage may vary depending on your setup. The show has a lot going for it with what it has to offer and definitely a lot to like.
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 ten episodes plus OVA episodes are spread across two discs with eight on the first and three on the second, which is also where all the extras are as well. While AIC animated the first season, Xebec is up to bat this time around and largely capture the same look Similar to the first season, there’s a really good bit of vibrancy to it and the colors are fantastic with a solid feeling throughout them. It’s a show that definitely stands out in this regard but there’s also a good bit of detail to be had as well as you dig into it and see some of the backgrounds and character designs. There’s a good bit of variety to the character designs and the show as a whole is very bold looking, which translates quite well here to make it an eye-catching looking series.
The packaging design for this release goes for a simpler approach than the limited edition release we had for the first season as it’s a slightly thicker than normal Blu-ray case that holds the four discs for the two formats inside. The o-card for the release mirrors the artwork on the case itself, though the cardboard aspect gives it a lot better color definition. The front cover goes with a fun image of most of the main girls here with Haruko taking center stage as she dominates in size, though Takeru is amusing as it looks like he’s climbing out from between her legs with the way the cast winds around. The logo is colorful and similar to the first season with the additional subtitle to it, all of which is wrapped in a nice set of side strips. The back cover works in bright colors as well and has several shots from the show that highlights the fanservice – but avoids putting any new character artwork into play. The premise is covered clearly as are the extras and we get a clean technical grid that breaks down both formats very easily. No show related inserts are included and the reverse side doesn’t provide any artwork either, just carrying over the cross coloring from the sides of the covers.
The menu design for Maken-Ki is the type that certainly works well enough for this kind of show but is also one that doesn’t show a lot of heavy lifting done to design it. With a simple navigation bar set along the lower center of the screen, we get the basic selections that are easy to navigate and quick to load. It’s done with blues and pinks that certainly pops and looks good when placed against the animation itself. The rest of the screen uses clips from the show that blend into each other nicely as we get some good character moments as well as a lot of action and fanservice that sets the mood right. It’s not exactly something that stands out or uses some great static artwork or anything, but it fits for the show. Submenus load quickly and we didn’t have any issues getting around during normal usage or through the pop-up menu.
The extras for this release are a bit weaker than the first season since there aren’t any shorts to included, but we get some good stuff. The clean opening and closings are included, a new round of promotional videos and commercials, as well as two new English language commentaries for a couple of episodes.
After a far too fun of a season back in 2011, Maken-Ki! took a few years before coming back for another season. With the original manga from Hiromitsu Takeda still ongoing, currently in Monthly Dragon Age, there are now some fourteen volumes of it out there. This season didn’t get quite the same size order as the first as the main show is just ten episodes, but we did get an OVA with it as well which really, really, embraces the fanservice side of things. And really, that’s what I want out of Maken-Ki. The first season set up the basics of the show well enough with the setting, the abilities, and the character dynamics, so this season just goes right into actually simply having fun. There are stories to be sure with what’s going on here but it’s all in service of the fanservice itself. And while I do thoroughly enjoy my serious shows, I also love series like this that just embrace what they are and run with it in a big way.
What this season wants to do is really just get it all out there even more. We had plenty of nudity in the first season, at least on the home video side of things, and this one just takes it up a few notches. What helps is that the show doesn’t skimp when it comes to animating it all. They know that the appeal is in high-quality titillation, not the cheap junk kind of approach that you get in a lot of hentai. They obviously won’t go fully hentai here but damn if they really push the boundaries a bit with the sexuality. And pushing those boundaries is also the appeal with it because we do have so many shows that play coy and cute with it. When you get a show that not only provides some incredibly well-designed lingerie and underwear but lets it be a part of the show as long as it does here as opposed to a quick glimpse, you know you’re dealing with people that enjoy this kind of material as much as you do.
The main focus is still on Takeru and his attempts to work through the school year while being close with a whole lot of women – even if some of them don’t want him to be. At its core, it’s about the relationship between him and Haruko as the two really are quite right for each other. I enjoy the other incidental pairings that get underway with Takeru so we get the variety to it, but a good part of me would like to see a series of him and Haruko actually dating and exploring what it would be like without the kinds of restrictions they place on themselves here. He’s cautious with all the girls to some degree since he knows he’ll get a beating if he goes too far and Haruko really is trying to stay untouched in her own way. But at the same time, she really is coming to the understanding of how much she desires him and wants to take that to the next level but ends up very conflicted about it all.
The stories are familiar as it moves along, with the Maken abilities adding their own spice. We run the range from a lingerie thief in the opening episode to a festival later on that involves cosplay, manga, and doujinshi circles that go awry. They actually do a lot of great costuming here that I didn’t expect considering how dicey that can be at times. One of my favorite episodes involves Aki’s mother getting both Aki and Takeru onto a private island alone for an entire episode as she believes the two should be together based on what she was hearing. This leads to all the usual uncomfortable moments when it comes to bodily functions, and Aki is in skimpy outfits far too often considering the position imbalance, but they really just have so much fun with it as he tries to do his best to be on the right side with so much temptation in front of him. Temptation that he’s literally chained to with about a foot between them. Watching that strain play out with her own obliviousness at times just makes it all the more amusing.
Another episode really runs with some fun material as we get some time in which all the girls are turned into catgirls with actual tails and ears, which leads to Takeru and Kengo being in absolute heaven. This lets the show play with the familiar trope in a big way because the guys don’t get changed and the girls take on a whole lot of the attributes. My favorite episode here is the OVA though as we get the gang on an island for a training camp and through the usual nonsensical reasons Takeru ends up getting changed into a girl. This is the rare episode where things are handled right as his freakout is natural, such as his exclamation over discovering the disappearance of his balls, and then the discovery of what his body actually feels like. That he gets into some really deep self-discovery is fantastic, especially since it wears him out in a huge way.
It naturally leads to him getting closer to the other girls as he presents himself as Takeru’s cousin Takeko, and because it’s an OVA it’s pretty much non-stop nudity. When it gets worse as the girls get drunk along the way with all sorts of hilarious awful sexual games in the mix, Takeru really just goes with the flow and ends up in all sorts of compromising positions while also getting one hell of a meal along the way. It’s the kind of OVA that doesn’t hold back and again embraces it completely – and in a way that even the TV version couldn’t do. It’s a simple premise, Takeru turns into a girl, that we’ve seen other shows do before. I can’t think of any off the top of my head that embraces it as wholeheartedly as this one did, though.
Call it a guilty pleasure if you want. I won’t. Maken-Ki is pure pleasure from top to bottom. It sets out to be a pervy trip that doesn’t hold back and in a sea of series that feel like they’re being too safe these days, even when they’re attempting to push the envelope, this one sails right past them and just embraces itself – and everyone else – along the way. It’s not a wide audience show to be sure but those that connect with it and what it wants to do will absolutely delight in it from top the bottom and everywhere in between. I know I did!
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Episode Commentaries, Commercials, Promotional Video, Textless Opening Song – ”Cherish”, Textless Closing Song – ”Reach for Light”
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B-
Extras Grade: A- (for the effort of the translators and timers!)
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: April 12th, 2016
Running Time: 275 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.