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Castle Town Dandelion Complete Collection Blu-ray Anime Review

10 min read

Castle Town Dandelion CoverEvery country should be run by a kid still in school.

What They Say:
The Sakuradas are a perfectly normal family living in a perfectly normal apartment. Except that their father happens to be a king, making them all royalty. And they’re watched by over 200 surveillance cameras and are kind of their own reality show! There’s also the fact that each sibling has their own special power.

Ok, maybe they’re not so normal after all!

The nine Sakurada siblings have a common goal to become king! But only one can hold the throne, so they must compete to win the hearts and votes of their people. For one year, they’ll campaign their hardest and prove who is most fit to be king. That means making speeches, showing off their special skills, and even becomingpop idols?! But campaigning is easier for some than others. Especially with powers like transportation, creating clones, or even materializing anything you want! But for middle sister Akane, even the power to control gravity won’t be enough to help her. Between the constant surveillance and embarrassing situations galore, Akane has a long way to go to prove she’s a worthy candidate.

Only one super-powered sibling can take the throne! Who will win the crown?

The Review:
Audio:
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo alongside a newly created English language dub done as a 5.1 mix, both of which are encoded using the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. The series is one that works a pretty good balance of what it has to do as it is mostly dialogue focused but has some fun with super powers and action sequences that lets it stand out more than other similar series without that element. It’s through there that we get a bit more directionality and impact at times and that gives it a greater sense overall. There’s also some fun in trying to pinpoint some of the placement of characters when a lot of the sibling are together and seeing how well it’s done in both mixes. Overall, it’s a good mix that achieves what it needs to, especially in the opening and closing sequences that sound great, 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 using the AVC codec. The twelve episodes are spread across two discs with ten on the first and two on the second – though the disc silkscreening has it listed as a nine/three breakdown. Animated by Production IMS, the show has a really great look about it with what it does as it’s bright and colorful with some strong character designs that are distinctive without the whole production going into something overly lavish. It’s not simply but it creates the illusion of simple with a bright and outgoing world that’s almost like an old school cartoon strip in some ways. There’s a good richness to what we get and the transfer captures it well as the colors are solid throughout, there’s no noise during panning sequences, and the flow of the animation is smooth and problem free. It may not be the most striking looking series in a way but it is one that you see more of the quality the more you dig into it and the encoding does it well.

Packaging:
The packaging for this release comes in a slightly thicker than normal Blu-ray case that holds the four discs on hinges from the two formats that it contains while being wrapped in an o-card. The o-card replicates the cover artwork from the case itself well while having a bit more oomph to it in terms of brightness and pop. It’s a busy cover with shots the country in the background over the pink layer itself while around the edges we get the surveillance system. That’s all focused on the characters within as we get the nine sibling showing off aspects of their personality and looking cute. It’s a busy cover but one that works to grab the eye and hold it as you take in everything. The back cover works a mostly solid pink background where we get a character piece of three of the sisters along the right in their uniforms while the bulk of it is given over to the white block that breaks down the summary of the premise. It’s pretty detailed and covers a lot but gives you a good idea of the range of characters. The extras are clearly listed but the shots from the show are so tiny as to be pretty useless overall in helping a casual consumer make a purchasing decision. The remainder is given over to the technical grid that breaks it all down clearly with white text and gridwork on the pink that’s very easy to read. While there are no inserts with this release we do get artwork on the reverse side that has a nice image of the whole family at home on the right while the left panel does an episode breakdown by title and number along with the extras.

Menu:
The menu for this release goes with the simple is best approach as it has a static menu that utilizes elements from the packaging itself. While I do wish for a bit more creativity, it’s certainly better than some of the basic low rent kind of menus we’ve seen elsewhere in the past. What we get here is the bold pink background dominating as a solid piece while the right side has the character artwork from the front cover taking most of the attention. It’s vivid and colorful with all its variety here so it’s definitely a good piece. THe logo is kept just to the left of it with the black text on white and they use the same design for the menu navigation along the bottom, which functions well as a pop-up menu during playback too.

Extras:
The extras for this release are fairly standard as we get the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences done up. We also get some original material with a couple of newly produced English language commentaries by the cast that’s fun to listen to as they talk about their characters and roles within the series.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the manga series Jokamachi no Dandelion that began in 2012 from Ayumu Kasuga, Castle Town Dandelion is a twelve episode anime series that aired in the summer of 2015 from Produciton IMS. THe original manga is a slow moving seinen piece that runs in Manga Time Kirara Miracle and is just at three volumes so far, but that doesn’t really impact the show as it works a particular angle. In fact, the show spends its time over the course of several months as part of a year long story that the main cast is involved in. Admittedly, shows with casts this expansive are ones that I tend to not connect well with as they follow a certain structure, but Castle Town Dandelion managed to be fairly fun overall with its approach.

Taking place in a small fictional country that feels like a pleasing blend of upscale European and Japan, it’s ruled by the Sakurada family. The current king is getting ready to retire at a surprisingly young age and since it’s passed down within the family they have something of a competition in regards to it. He and his wife have nine children, bless her body, and because of the amount of surveillance that exists in the country – and a 24/7 network that covers the immensely popular and diverse Sakurada family, the citizens get to elect the one they want from the next generation. It is in essence a popularity poll because there’s precious little dialogue in terms of platforms and positions but it works well enough as a good bit of character fun.

Interestingly, each of the kids have a special power that they can use which is unique and helps them in their varied goals to become (or not become) the next ruler. The main focus, but not exclusive focus, is on Akane, the fourth child of the family that is the ultimate middle child. She doesn’t want to rule, she hates the surveillance that’s on them all the time, and she hates using her power of controlling gravity because everytime she goes up in the air the cameras are like massive panty shot catchers. She wants to help people and do the right thing, as she’s the strong sense of justice type, but she really just wants to exist. Unfortunately, she has a big fan club in and out of school and struggles to find her place in all of this. There’s a cute bit where she takes on the masked but obvious superhero identity of Scarlet Bloom, but this is late in the show and not fully realized beyond a single story mission.

Each episode essentially works two stories, which is about right since this was a four-panel strip originally and an expansion to a full-length show is dicey. There’s a good bit of focus on various characters and configurations within the family, though I was frustrated with some of the younger kids being included in the whole election thing since it’s just nonsensical in this day and age (and at times in the past) to put in a ten year old as ruler. The little kids are mostly cute at this stage in how they do things, though some are more serious than others, but a lot of what we get are just seeing how these children across the board interact with citizens of the country and discover and learn what’s going on. It’s not deep in this regard, though just being out of the huge castle and amid the common folk is a plus, but full on engagement through school and other social situations is a plus. The parents may not be the best in the world in some ways but there’s a really good family bond that’s throughout this as it avoids the infighting element as well.

While a decent bit of attention is paid to how the citizens view them, their rankings and polling at times and other fluff in regards to the election, we do get to know Akane fairly well and some minor but interesting things on the rest through the various interactions. For me, it was the character of Shu that stood out the most overall as the eldest brother and the second oldest of the kids. He’s pretty humble but oblivious to certain things and has to deal with simply being known by everyone and the awkwardness that comes with it. What’s welcome is that we see him coming across Hana, a childhood classmate who left town and just recently came back. He seemingly doesn’t recognize her at first and the two have a slow background relationship that builds in a really neat way and I definitely enjoyed seeing how involved she became in complementing the difficult parts of his life in a way that enriches her and bonds them together more.

In Summary:
I had no idea what to expect going into this series and it’s one that’s certainly light and fluffy but not of the kind that a lot may find “offensive” in a way. It’s not overly cloying or full of ethereal wishy washy moments. It’s a fun look at an odd family in a unique situation in modern times and how they deal with it. It plays to the fascination of a number of people living in democracies towards monarchies with a really rose colored lens yet it manages to charm. And a big part of that is that it does shift the focus across the cast, weaving throughout them, and not making the central character of Akane critical to every story or even involved in it. With some really nice design ideas and color elements to it, a fun cast of characters and some silly situations – and even some amusing fanservice – it’s a charmer that may have not reach a large audience but will definitely have some strong fans to it.

Features:
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Audio Commentaries, Textless Opening Song ”Ring Ring Rainbow!!”, Textless Closing Song ”Honey’ Come!!”

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

Released By: Funimation
Release Date: November 15th, 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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