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In Search of the Lost Future Complete Collection Blu-ray Anime Review

10 min read

In Search of the Lost Future CoverA tragic event leads to desperate actions.

What They Say:
A series of increasingly strange events have been reported at Uchihama Academy’s soon-to-be-replaced aging school building. When the student council grows concerned about the spectral encounters, puzzling sleep disorders, and bizarre mishaps, they enlist the aid of the Astronomy Club to crack the case before it’s too late.

One evening after school, club member Sou Akiyama is rocked by a sudden earthquake and an encounter with a beautiful and mysterious naked girl who appears to know him even though he has no recollection of ever meeting her. The next day, the very same girl arrives at his school as a transfer student who’s interested in joining the Astronomy Club. In the blink of an eye, Sou’s fate along with the fates of all the girls in his club begin to change in very dramatic and mysterious ways.

The Review:
Audio:
The audio presentation for this release is done with just the original Japanese language track in stereo using the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. The show is one that is pretty much just dialogue oriented for the majority of it and that’s well handled. With it mostly being the kids standing or sitting around talking at different points in various rooms, there’s some mild placement and depth to be had but nothing that’s worked too seriously or hard. The few mild moments where things go a bit bigger are alright in a general sense but they tend to be subsumed by the music score itself which is where things swell a bit. There’s some good warmth and richness to the score along with the opening and closing sequences that helps to drive it home just a bit more. But overall this is a fairly standard mix that gets the job done, and effectively, so there are no real issues to be had here.

Video:
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 standard nine/four format. Animated by studio Feel, there’s some nice design elements to the show and a clean color palette that makes it engaging, and I do like the costume design for the cast. But it’s also a show that doesn’t go the distance to really stand out and comes across as just about average or ever just so slightly above average with its animation quality. The transfer brings it to life well with a clean color design that has its moments of vibrancy, but it’s not the richest slate of colors used either. What it does is effective for the material and largely left us pleased by it though in the end it’s an unremarkable but solid visual presentation.

Packaging:
The packaging for this release comes in a standard sized Blu-ray case with an o-card around it that replicates the cover artwork. The o-card definitely gives it a little more color and brightness that helps to catch the eye a bit. The central image is a familiar key visual of the four main girls in the foreground while the boys are off to the lower left, almost invisible at this point, as they all stand in front of the school as the sun sets. It’s a good image mixed with the darkness and the kind of mood and atmosphere that it’s trying to invoke to create the right kind of feeling about it. The logo is kept simple and it replicates the French aspect of it as well, which is a nice touch. The back cover gives us a small image of Kaori and Yui along the right with rich detail and color while the left breaks down the summary of the premise in a clean way against a mostly dark blue background. The extras are clearly listed and we get some decent sized small shots from the show as well. The technical grid works out well in breaking down both formats as well as the white text on the deep blue background is pretty easy to read. While there are no inserts included we do get artwork on the reverse side where the left side features the episodes by number and title and the right expands on the back cover image to a full panel, letting us get a really good look at the design and sexuality about it.

Menu:
The menus for this release work a pretty simple as expected approach with a static image, such as Kaori and Yui standing side by side on the first disc, where it’s set against a sprawling skyline at sunset that gives it a lot of color and richness. The blending with the character animation just doesn’t got it as it’s so layered as to feel really out of place. The navigation along the bottom works a large blue band that you can see through lightly where the selections are along the right which are easy to access and move about as there’s not too much here in general. It’s a clean layout and one that functions well as both a pop-up and main menu, but there’s just not much to it.

Extras:
The only extras included with this release are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Known as Ushinawareta Mirai o Motomete in Japan, this twelve episode TV series and OVA originally aired in the fall of 2014, coming some four years after the visual novel game itself came out from Trumple. The game spawned a manga at the time and another one in late 2014 while the OVA that’s in this set came in the summer of 2015, which likely helped nudge this release back just a bit so that Funimation could include everything. Which is a welcome thing because the more complete a set the better it is for the fans. The show didn’t generate much dialogue when it aired and it looks like viewings were low, hence it being a subtitled-only DVD/BD set. That’s never a detractor for me, however, because sometimes you can find undiscovered gems this way.

The premise for the show is fairly straightforward and there’s a lot familiarity to it that may be off-putting to long time anime viewers. The series focuses on the astronomy club at Uchihama Academy where we’ve got two guys and three girls that are members. It’s a fairly fun club that does actually dabble in astronomy, unlike most clubs in various series, but they also get a bit caught up from time to time in dispensing justice across the campus with some of the more problematic clubs. This isn’t a focal point but rather just some color to the club and I appreciate that it’s not just a sole focus kind of thing. I’m just still kind of surprised that we have a series where the club is actually pursued as we see them talk from time to time about various aspects of astronomy and even do some night time viewings with telescopes as well. It’s a small thing but it works to separate itself from the pack.

At its core, the focus is on Sou and Kaori as these childhood friends are on the cusp of something more and the rest of the club are kind of nudging them along so that they can all move forward – including Airi, who seems to have some level of feelings for Sou. The opening episode does a nice job of establishing the club and the characters, including the criminally underused Kenny, before it goes for the gut punch of having Kaori confess her feelings to Sou. She doesn’t want him to respond right away since he’s kind of surprised, having never really thought of her that way since they’ve known each other forever, but there’s definitely something more to his feelings than he realizes. It’s a good if familiar sequence that then puts us in the position of watching Kaori getting smooshed by a bus later that afternoon while walking home.

Killing off your main character within the first episode usually makes it clear what kind of show it is, especially when coming from a visual novel. That the show puts itself into repeat mode so it can try to figure out how to deal with is no surprise nor is the introduction of a naked young woman named Yui that drops in out of nowhere two weeks prior to the death event. Yui seemingly knows Sou’s name but little else and it’s no surprise that she ends up becoming a big part of the group over the next two weeks leading up to the date when Kaori will die. It’s easy to see where this will go, right? I mean, we even have scenes where the teacher is talking about quantum cats, which is like beating you over the head with a clue by four to make it clear. While the details don’t arrive until the final four or so episodes, we know that Yui is here to try and change things to save Kaori, but we have to go through half a dozen episodes of showing various aspects of the two week period and the way that Yui becomes very embedded within the group. It’s familiar and well executed, but it’s also just that, very familiar.

There’s plenty to like with this group so getting to know everyone and the dynamic, which again is fun because they’re actual club members participating in the activity, and it’s not just one dude. That changes the dynamic so much that it feels revolutionary even though it’s not. Watching the back and forth as we see Kaori coming to wanting to tell Sou about her feelings and struggling with that combined with the way that Sou seems drawn to Yui makes things nicely complicated as it progresses and you do look for the changes in the timeline because of this new path/repeat performance. Thankfully, the show doesn’t want to put us through this regularly so we don’t get to experience Kaori’s’ death repeatedly, only coming again once later on in a big way, and that helps to ease things a bit and focus more on the how and why of everything and the panic from Yui as she realizes her mission and tries to save her while coping with all the variations.

Where the show does succeed for me in some ways is what it does toward the end arc by actually taking us to the future and showing us what happens years down the line to these characters in coping with Kaori’s death. It naturally does lead into what’s happening in the “present” as you’d expect, but seeing these characters actually aged up into adults is a plus. Admittedly, it’s more with Sou than the girls because they don’t look too much different, even in height or general physique, but it’s something that doesn’t feel like they’re playing at being older but just being shown as a part of this slice of time. Sou’s the best and worst of it because of what he’s coping with and we get to fill in most of the blanks on it simply because they can spend only so much on it. The reasonings are obvious and it’s played well to show him as driven but in a realistic way as he takes the time to think things through and figure it out rather than just making him a montage sequence of actionable events in his quest to save Kaori in the past.

In Summary:
In Search of the Lost Future isn’t a bad show in the slightest and it has some neat moments with what it is that it does in trying to achieve its goals. At the same time, you can see its origins in the visual novel realm pretty plainly and that keeps it from really going out in a big way combined with the slightly better than average animation. It’s the kind of show that would have worked better with a tighter six episode OVA style or even a theatrical event than this. The show does some fun stuff with the characters and works the emotional side well and it mostly keeps things serious with a few lighter moments. The OVA digs into the ghost storyline subplot in a fun way but it also serves as the main fanservice piece since we get the gang at the beach for a while, which means lots of seventeen year old girls in thongs and revealing swimsuits being all self conscious about it. That’s what OVAs are made for, isn’t it?

Features:
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing

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

Released By: Funimation
Release Date: October 25th, 2016
MSRP: $54.98
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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