What They Say:
Yuki Akamatsu desperately needs to work on his social interactions”at least according to the 2nd Newspaper Club president. And by that, she means getting him a girlfriend! After a barrage of personal insults, she assigns him to work the Life Counseling section of the paper. Yuki has no idea what this really means for him until he meets the three cuties responsible for providing advice. Rino Endo specializes in the sciences, Fumi Kujo covers humanities, while Izumi Suzuki handles the world of sports”and snacks! Unfortunately, these three girls cannot agree on anything. Which means Yuki has to keep them on track and guide them to the answers that will help their classmates in need. Can he survive the onslaught of their boisterous personalities and compromising positions a plenty? There’s only so much a teenage boy can take!
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo using the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. The series has a few moments where there’s a mild standing out moment or two with some of the silliness, but it is for the most part a fairly straightforward dialogue oriented show. The cast spends a lot of its time sitting around the club table talking and doing the same in other places, so it doesn’t stretch itself much. But it does handle things well with it being in a clean and clear lossless presentation where there’s some nice placement from time to time and some depth as well where needed. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
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 thirteen episodes are spread across two discs in a nine/four format. Animated by studio Feel, the show has a good look about it where it uses a little softer color palette design that goes with more neutral colors for the locations and non-vibrant colors for hair and costume design. This keeps it feeling a little more mellow overall and the effect is generally a positive one that lets it stand out in its own way. The animation is nicely detailed without going too far and the busier sequences come across well. A lot of it is, as said, the cast standing or sitting around, so it works movement with the camera well and the end result is a very clean and problem free show that doesn’t stand out all that much but gets the job done.
The packaging design for this release comes in a standard sized Blu-ray cast that has an o-card with it that replicates the artwork of the case. The o-card gives it a slight boost in the color quality as it’s a touch brighter, but it’s also fairly reflective of the show design. We get a nice piece with three of the leads together in the foreground while the background has our single male character within the newspaper itself, which is done in a nice sepia tone. The logo is kept simple with that, though the burst of pink is nice, and the earth tones in the background helps to tie things together without it feeling too busy. The back cover works a bulletin board approach that’s really nicely done with its design and layout with everything pinner, such as the row of pictures on the right to the pages on the left with the premise and the extras, which are a taped on addition. Everything is well covered and dealt with and the technical grid breaks it all down cleanly and with no problems. There are no inserts included with the release but we do get a good piece of artwork on the reverse side that does the front cover image in full across the two panels.
Keeping with the theme of reusing things to keep it simple, the menu design uses the same elements as the front cover but rearranges them a little. The three girls are the dominant feature here, slightly off to the right, while the newspaper is shifted to the left background so that the series logo is used in that way. The navigation along the bottom uses the bulletin board aspect from the back cover and it’s a nice way to tie it all together while feeling like it’s in-theme enough to connect. Moving through the menus is a breeze as we had no problems there either as the main menu or as the pop-up menu during playback.
The only extras here are the clean versions of the opening and two closing sequences.
Based on the light novel series of the same name, Jinsei is a thirteen episode series that aired during the summer 2014 anime season. Funimation simulcast it back then but didn’t exercise their home video rights for a while, eventually bringing it out as we see it here as a subtitled-only release. Which, at least, are optional so that fans can watch without subtitles if they want. Often shows like this are simply passed over and lost and while I may not be a fan I’m glad that those who are have an opportunity to own it since streaming isn’t forever. The original work comes from writer Ougyo Kawagish and that ran for ten light novels that began in 2012 and ended in 2015 from Gagaga Bunko. Certainly not a shabby run at all and it even generated a three-volume manga series.
Jinsei is a series that is, unfortunately, far too familiar. It’s a series where after watching the five hours that it contains across the two discs here that I find myself with very little to truly say about it because it is that superficial. The focus is on a group of students that are part of a Second Newspaper at their school that’s looking to get away from the problems of the main newspaper. Through Fumi, they end up taking on the additional duties of being a “life consulting” service that’s essentially an advice service thing for students in the school. We’ve seen that play out before so there’s nothing original here and it really is just pushed right from the opening minute down this path before we get to know any of the characters. The group starts off small but expands as it goes on, but the problem is that none of the characters really stand out all that much since it’s only about what they’re doing at the school for the other students.
The group has a familiar layer of archetypes as there’s the brainy girl with glasses that’s more of a leading character than she realizes, the attractive and bouncy girl, the flat-chested girl, and the supporting girls who play minor roles but are even less memorable. To provide a little variety we also get Yuki Akamatsu, the main character and only male in the group. He’s trying to just go along to get along when it comes to everything that happens and he’s mostly able to do that. His main intent here is to just be more involved in things as a way of helping his own social interactions, something he’s struggled with, but that’s not really even a plot point. Frankly, when you have a show that has the group/club doing a beach/retreat episode by the fourth episode, you’ve run out of ideas and there’s not a lot to work with here.
And really, I’m truly hard pressed to say much about the stories because they’re all so light and superficial, such as one of the girls dealing with her overprotective grandfather, another that involves the advice box being set on fire and figuring out how that happened, and some mild competition from the main newspaper club that’s looking to simply shut them down. Most of the stories are contained within one episode but a little bit bleeds over from time to time. But it’s all so empty and a lot of that is simply because there’s no connection to these characters. They exist solely to service the story and aren’t fleshed out people on their own. There’s barely any mention of their lives beyond the school, such as family, there’s barely any mention of their own studies and what they’re into in regards to that, and they have no social lives beyond the club itself either. The cuts away the bulk of who these characters are and when it’s focused solely on interactions within the club, with some very mild fanservice from time to time to change things up, there’s almost nothing to connect with here.
Watching Jinsei just reminded me of shows that did this concept a whole lot better that haven’t been picked up, such as Sket Dance. That ran five times as long and never missed out on ideas to adapt or ways to work the characters. Jinsei has a simple enough concept that can be applied in a lot of ways but it’s sadly devoid of anything to humanize it and make it accessible and engaging to the viewer. With most shows I can find something of interest, a character or a plot point or even just the animation, as a way to get into the groove of it and work from there. But this series just left me feeling the same at the end as at the beginning in that there’s nothing memorable here at all. It’s well put together technically and I’m definitely glad that the fans of it can own it in high definition, but it simply didn’t do a thing for me.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Content Grade: C-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Funimation
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.