What They Say:
Narumi Inoue has a problem with the new girl in school. It’s not that Hibiki Amami is impolite or a bully… it’s just that she sees, speaks with, and befriends ghosts!
Now, it’s at the point that when Amami’s around, Inoue sometimes sees them too, spelling disaster for a girl who’s terrified of anything supernatural. However, Amami’s genuine kindness makes it hard for Inoue to ignore her, especially when her friends Kyoko, Kana, and Makoto, as well as the other students, have accepted Amami’s habit of talking to thin air and walking around invisible obstacles.
With gentle coaxing (and the knowledge that her departed grandmother is watching over her), Inoue finds herself immersed in Amami’s strange, otherworldly adventures. Fulfilling the last wishes of the dead might not be a normal after-school activity, but at least they’ll always know why the ghost crossed to the other side in RE-KAN!
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track only and it’s in stereo encoded using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. The series is one that works the forward soundstage well as the dialogue is well placed thanks to the ghosts and the sound effects are a bit more pronounced because of them as well. Dialogue itself is moved around well when needed and there are some bigger moments that come from it that are crisp and clear as well. The score for the series is decent but mostly fades to the background while the opening and closing sequences have a good bit of warmth and feeling about them that’s appealing. The show moves smoothly through its audio design and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2015, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The thirteen episodes are spread across two discs with nine on the first and four on the second. Animated by Pierrot, the show has a pretty good visual design about it and a very pleasing color palette that has some good pop of color without being overdone. The mixture of the real world settings and the inclusion of the ghosts gives it a nice bit of balance and the details for both work very well. The backgrounds have a good bit of detail to them while the character designs are better than average to some degree and that gives it all a bit more weight. Colors are solid throughout and we didn’t have any problems with solid color fields in either the foreground or background.
The packaging design for this release brings us a standard sized Blu-ray case the holds the two discs inside against the interior walls. The front cover avoids the standard key visual that we usually saw with this show and has a fun piece with the core group of characters with some ghosts floating about in the foreground and background. The location doesn’t get all that much but the focus is on the characters and their active nature, which highlights their personalities well from their expressions. The logo is kept simple and works nice with a ghost-like element to it as well. The back cover has a kind of ethereal feeling to it with the softer colors and the nice image of Amami along the top left. The premise is covered well and the shots from the show are decent but are a bit all over the map. The breakdown of the episode, disc, and extras is well handled overall so you can tell what’s here without looking hard. Production information breaks down things smoothly while the technical grid continues to be one of the strengths it usually is in listing everything clearly so you know how it’s put together. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menus for this release go pretty simple with a big feeling about it as it has a kind of standard halfway split where the key visual artwork is along the left, which is colorful and details, while the right goes for purple swirls in the background with the navigation overlaid on top of it. This one goes for big chunky blocks with the episode numbers while the titles are more traditional inside in purple on white. It’s easy to navigate around in and works well as both a main menu and pop-up menu, though it takes up a decent chunk of space overall. Everything works problem free on both discs which is the main selling point, of course.
The only extras included here are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences, which are kept to the second disc.
Based on the four-panel manga by Hinako Seta, Re-Kan! is a thirteen episode TV series that aired in the spring 2015 season. Animated by Pierrot, the show was one that was largely invisible during the time it aired as there were a lot of very big shows at that time. Which is unfortunate because this is one of those quiet little gems that just hits a sweet spot, especially for me. The original manga kicked off back in 2010 and has six volumes to its name so there’s a decent bit of conceptual and character material to work with and Masashi Kudo brought it to life well as the director working off of Takahashi Aoshima’s scripts. Re-Kan is essentially one of those under the radar series that develops a decent little following when it should have gotten a bit more attention overall.
The premise is familiar enough as we’re introduced to Hibiki Amami, a high school girl who has a sixth sense (hence the series name) as she can see and interact with ghosts. This has her coming across as a bit addle minded at times, a little scattershot in how she deals with other people, but the crux of it is that Amami is a pretty nice girl that just wants to help. The spirits she interacts with aren’t mean or vengeful and there’s nothing really bad in the series that happens beyond her becoming a bit serious when the focus shifts to her departed mother and her own sixth sense being called into question. That’s not until near the end, as usual, and instead leaves the bulk of the series to your usual interactions with fellow students and friends along with some quirks with ghosts.
And realistically, that works better than it should since these are very familiar things. I mean, we get the culture festival episode, time at the beach, new year’s eve, valentine’s day, some Christmas material. All the cliches are here and they’re a decent focus when they hit, but it’s at least more about the characters than the forced event itself. Some shows feel like they lean on the event material like this more than they should but here it’s often a very light touch, more to set the mood and time period and to show the progress of time. Which is important as Amami’s initial problem is that she has no friends. She ends up becoming friends with Narumi Inoue very early on, even though Inoue really hates scary things, and the two have a kind of interesting friction filled relationship because of that. A lot of it feels like Inoue kind of just tolerates Amami but she ends up caring for her a good bit and the concern grows over time, enough so that she’s able to handle her fears pretty well.
The cast expands with a few other girls, some of whom do get some time to expand on just a bit, as well as some very fun ghosts that are invisible for the early episodes before we start seeing them through the phones and then more plainly in the situations. These are terribly familiar creatures to be sure, such as Hanako-san from the toilet and group of kids whose shadows play in the sunset a lot, but we also get the fun of the Roll Call Samurai that makes sure Amami is always accounted for when she’s late. And there’s even Ero-neko, the pervy cate that’s all about seeing girls panties. Some of these are developed a bit more than others, some interact a bit more than others as well, and there’s some decent material that comes from it, whether it’s the Kogal spirit or the relatives that pop in from time to time – including a really sweet bit with Amami in how she helps Inoue with her grandmother.
What kind of won me over a bit with this show compared to some other ones of a similar nature is that it actually manages to not play to the fanservice – even with Ero-neko. There are no heavy gratuitous shots of skin, pervy angles from which the camera is placed, skimpy outfits or heavily unbuttoned ones. Yes, there are characters who actually have decent sized breasts but they’re not dominating factors and it’s not a topic of discussion that dominates. The show isn’t playing chaste but rather just a bit more realistic. Combine this with the lack of relationship drama or attempts to pair up characters and all of that and you get something that focuses on a group of friends, the ghosts, and just the kind of oddness that comes from it. I’m a big fan of fanservice and sexuality with shows for a number of reasons but there are a lot of shows that are better off without it, and this is one of them.
I had no idea what to expect with Re-Kan prior to starting it since it made such little impact when it was simulcast and disappeared from view. What I got was a show that charmed me pretty well, had me liking the characters – and the ghosts, which is rare! – and just enjoying the simplicity and humor of it all even as it worked through familiar setups. The execution is better than one might expect and the animation is very appealing with what it does across the board. Sentai’s release hits all the right notes, sans a dub for obvious reasons, and fans of the property will like what they get here and those looking to try something a little different will have plenty to enjoy as well.
Japanese DTS-HD MA 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: October 4th, 2016
Running Time: 325 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.