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World Break Aria Of Curse For A Holy Swordsman Blu-ray Anime Review

10 min read

World Break CoverTo save the future we must reconnect with the past!

What They Say:
Moroha Haimura of World Break isn’t your typical teenager. In fact, he’s quite unique compared to his fellow classmates at the high-profile Akane Academy. Along with other gifted students, he trains as a “Savior” where he will learn to harness his special inherited mystical powers from a former life.

However, unlike his peers, Moroha not only has one past life, but two! This means he can command both the Dark Arts of spell magic and the Light Arts of the body itself. Because of his rare talents, he quickly climbs the ranks to join the “Strikers,” an elite group of Saviors at the academy. With the other Strikers at his side, Moroha must protect the fate of the world against giant, evil beasts—all while juggling the hearts of the jiggly girls constantly vying for his affection. With each battle, Moroha learns more and more about his two heroic past lives and the powers hidden within.

The Review:
Audio:
The audio presentation for this series brings us the original Japanese language track in its stereo form while the new English dub gets a 5.1 bump, both of which are presented in the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. The show works a pretty good mix to it as there’s a lot of action throughout it that lets it flex its muscles a bit in this rea. The range of magic and skills used with the combat is pretty good while the fantasy-era creatures have their own pluses as well. There’s a good bit of impact with a number of scenes with the bass and in general it moves across the soundstage well to engage with what’s going on. The dialogue side is pretty solid as well as we often get a few people at a time in a place going at it and both tracks handle this well with what it does when it moves around or plays with distance and spacing. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2015, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p with the AVC codec. The twelve episodes are spread across two discs with nine on the first and three on the second. Animated by Diomedea, the series has a really good look about it with the color tone that uses the vibrancy to its advantage, from the magic to the hair and the flesh tones as well. The series may not have a ton of detail and some of the CG work may be a bit shaky, but there’s certainly an appeal to how it looks as it has a lot of pop to it. And, with all that fanservice, the quality is definitely put into the production there. The transfer captures the look of the show well and while it may not stand out compared to some really high quality productions the actual result is really solid and well done.

Packaging:
The packaging for this release is done with a standard sized Blu-ray case that holds both formats inside on hinges while also coming with an o-card. That replicates the artwork from the case itself though there’s a touch more vibrancy to it thanks to the different material used. The front cover works with a familiar key visual that has the bulk of the main cast of girls around it while also, in a somewhat rare move, including not only the lead male with Moroha but also including a smaller image of Edward toward the back. It doesn’t even play up the fanservice all that much which is kind of surprising. The back cover provides a little more sexuality with the two lead female characters in their classic garb that blends into the indistinct blue background while the left side breaks down the summary of the premise in a good way. It’s clean and easy to read with the color choices and it breaks out the extras well too. The row of shots from the show along the bottom are decent enough but small enough to not matter and we get an easy to read technical grid that details both formats in an easy to read form. While there are no show related inserts with this release we do get artwork on the reverse side with Elena getting the left panel to herself and a pair of other girls on the right side.

Menu:
Another area that reinforces the “get it done” kind of release that this feels like is the menu as we don’t get clips or music playing along but rather static screens. And we don’t get different backgrounds for each disc either but rather the same one. It’s a decent one that uses the blue background from the cover and places upper body shots of the main trio together with a good look of seriousness to them. The detail is nicely done and it has the color to stand out well, especially with the golden yellow logo offset to the upper right. The navigation strip along the bottom uses a slightly different shade of blue and has the text done in a kind of fun little white font that works well both as the main menu and as the pop-up menu during playback. Everything works and is fully function but just lacks that little extra oomph we see with most releases.

Extras:
The extras for this release are fairly straightforward but welcome as we get the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences, which are pretty good in and of themselves, and two minutes worth of TV spots promoting the series. Sadly, this series did not warrant any commentary tracks.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the light novel series written by Akamitsu Awamura and illustrated by Refeia, World Break: Aria of Curse for a Holy Swordsman is a twelve episode series that aired in the winter 2015 season as animated by Diomedea. The light novels, which are ongoing as of this writing, began in 2012 and are fourteen in number and with a slow moving manga adaptation going on as well. The GA Bunko series is one that has done well overall and it was little surprise when the anime was announced. The property works as a good blending of ideas but is also one that doesn’t really dig into or explore the rich possibilities that we get from it, which is a little frustrating. Hence it being a light novel, I assume.

world-break-episode-01The premise is straightforward enough as in this world like our but with a few big differences we’re introduced to Akane Academy in Japan, one of several places around the world that teaches students known as Saviors. These are people who have a big connection to their pasts with awakened memories of lives previously lived, often just the one that’s important to the fight against Metaphysicals. These are just strange monsters from another dimension that pop up here and there (not monsters of the week, thankfully), and those past lives offer help in working to defeat them. Saviors have magical abilities that they have to master as well as weapons they can conjure up in order to fight them. They’re pretty big and we get a few dragon-like ones as well that helps to explain away some myths and legends.

The concept is one that’s easily accessible and we get to work our way into it by the arrival of a new Savior student named Moroha Haimura. Moroha’s a kind of tired slacker to some degree that’s just into all of this because of the potential for having his basic needs met for survival. With him sleeping through the opening ceremonies it’s surprise that a fellow student named Satsuki gives him grief over it. The twist though is that the two shared a strong past together in another life as they were brother and sister. And now her love for her brother, which she feels greatly along with other memories that surface, can now be explored in non-creepy ways since they’re not related in this life. It’s an interesting idea that doesn’t get anywhere near the actual exploration that it could in favor of quick gags from time to time. Satsuki’s your bubbly type that’s insecure about herself but totally devoted to the brother that was in the form of Moroha. Moroha, for his part, is an interesting case as he’s able to remember two different past lives and that increases the interest in him by the adults. So much so that he’s later fast tracked into the S-rank level because of what he can draw upon and his obviously legendary past life.

World Break Header 6-15It’s no surprise that he’s got such power behind him because he’s the lead character and that’s how that goes. That past also connects him with another student named Shizuno as she’s the Witch of the Netherworld that he dealt with in that past life as well, resulting in him freeing her from bonds back then and that bond now transferred onto him. She’s naturally the opposite of Satsuki in a lot of ways as she’s more serious and has a larger busy, though Satsuki’s not bad off in this area herself. The two have an obvious competition that grows over Moroha as time goes on, both of them working a different approach to expressing themselves toward him, and it works well enough since there’s some variety to it as we get the characters present forms as well as their past forms. These connections get touched upon and while there are things to like with both, it’s Shizuno’s that shines more just because she has a more interesting past as opposed to being just a sister like Satsuki was.

Would you be surprised that there are more girls, some a little younger, some a little older, that come into the mix as well? Variety is the spice of life with action/comedy/fanservice series like this and there’s certainly predictability there. But it’s well done as it’s fleshed out because of the past lives that are touched upon and the variety of abilities and skills that come into play, some with welcome problems such as the principal whose teleportation power can only be used once a day. What becomes interesting about the show in a way is that the Metaphysicals themselves are used somewhat minimally as opposed to being a monster of the week series and when they do arrive they’re fairly big and almost outlandish at times, such as the island-sized one that roams across the landscape. These creatures have a huge impact to be sure but they also lack some resonance because there is no actual villain in the season (though perhaps later books cover that?). So while there’s a threat it’s just sort of there and to be dealt with from time to time rather than being the driving force behind the show.

Seiken Tsukai no World BreakA lot of the tension and fighting within the show comes from other members of the Academy that are jockeying for position or take a dislike to a new student like Moroha doing so well and being so important – and gaining as many girls after him as he does. There are some fun exploratory fights with powers here but also some training pieces to determine just how far he can go at the moment in figuring out his rank. The show introduces a Russian character for a while as well as the leader of the academy there sees him as a threat and is seeking to either control or eliminate him. There are some good fights with the setup for that but I actually like that Moroha, in his growing confidence that’s fueled by his past life, instead opts to take the fight to this woman, The Terror, directly as a kind of personal war so that it doesn’t involve the academy. It’s a familiar tactic but it’s executed so well and with some big action sequences that it works really well as the true final act of the series as opposed to the seemingly tacked on fight against the Metaphysicals.

In Summary:
It’s easy to write off World Break as just another light novel anime adaptation with no substance to it. There are a lot of things that could be explored with these past lives and connections and how it impacts the kids psychologically but that’s not what it wants to focus on. It’s a light and fast moving series but one that really works well as the characters are a whole lot of fun, the designs are pretty appealing, and the mixture of elements here with the magic, the slightly near-future setting, and a focus on threats by other people as opposed to the Metaphysicals hit a certain sweet spot for me. I couldn’t remember a thing about the series prior to watching it in marathon form here but I came away from it with a pretty positive feeling and would love to see more of the novels adapted as it was simply well executed here.

Features:
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Textless Opening Song – Hi no Ito Rinne no GEMINI, Textless Closing Song – Magna Idea, TV Spot Collection

Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B-
Extras Grade: B-

Released By: Funimation
Release Date: August 2nd, 2016
MSRP: $64.98
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
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.

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