What They Say:
In the future, the world is divided into hundreds of warring nations that fight with advanced technology known as Objects. With the capacity to annihilate an opposing militia in seconds, these massive weapons have turned battles between men into warfare between machines. The world is locked in an arms race that is until two rookie soldiers, Qwenthur Barbotage and Havia Winchell, manage to take down an enemy Object with nothing more than their wits. But their achievement earns no rest. Now the government wants to deploy them around the world on more impossible missions!
Fortunately, they won’t go at it alone. On their side is a first-generation Object piloted by the beautiful Milinda Brantini, and their fiery commanding officer, Frolaytia Capistrano. While Havia avoids discipline from Frolaytia’s heeled boots, Qwenther finds himself rescuing Milinda from a tight spot or two. Together, their team takes on unforeseen enemies including those among their ranks.
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo along with the newly created English language mix which is also in stereo, both of which are encoded using the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. The show is one that makes out well with the stereo mix as it has a pretty solid design about it to handle the action and effects that comes from all of it. It’s a solidly military style show with some good craft design to it and that’s treated authentically enough within the design which works across the forward soundstage in a clean way with some useful placement at times. The dialogue side of the show is a bit more subdued more often than not but it’s also handled well with moving around as needed and handling both the bigger moments and the quieter dialogue sequences.
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 nine on the first and three on the second. Animated by JC Staff, the show has a really nice visual design to it with some great color work, especially in the blues and whites that we get in some of the starker sequences, that showcases the details of the backgrounds. The blending with the CG modeling is good throughout and about as expected for a work from this time where it’s free of problems such as noise or breakup. The character animation is clean and smooth throughout and the encoding brings it all to life with well done color saturation and no problems such as line noise or anything else of note.
The packaging for this release comes with a slightly thicker than normal Blu-ray case that has an o-card that replicates the artwork from the case. The front cover works the familiar key visual that has the two sides of the Object with Milinda along the bottom looking intense while the top has our non-pilot characters standing outside of it which has a really neat feeling to it with the industrial aspects of it. The logo through the middle with the black behind it helps to smooth the two out as best as it can as a split like this simply feels a bit odd in general. The back cover gives us a nice piece of character pairing artwork along the left while the right has the premise broken down well, all of which is set to a simple black background. The extras are clearly listed and the technical grid along the bottom breaks it all out for both formats in a clean and clear way with accurate information. The reverse side artwork is pretty nice as well as it’s a two panel vertical image of Milinda from the Japanese cover.
The extras for this release are pretty good as we get the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences, an audio commentary for the ninth episodes, and a very fun video commentary on the second disc for the sixth episode with three of the voice actors having a lot of fun talking about the show.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the light novel series by Kazumi Kamachi and illustrated by Ryo Nagi, Heavy Object is a twenty-four episode anime adaptation that aired in 2015 into 2016 and was animated by JC Staff. The original light novels are still ongoing with eleven produced so far and there’s been a few small manga runs alongside it as well. Kamachi certainly has the ability to get new anime works produced after how his work on A Certain Magical Index and A Certain Scientific Railgun went over with fans, but Heavy Object isn’t like those series in most ways outside of the actual structural piece. And that’s something that’s actually a weakness here whereas it’s a strength in those series.
The premise for this world is that everything has shattered from the 200 or so nations we have today to a “stained glass fracture’ view of the world after the introduction of massive war machines known as Objects. While there is some variety to the design, these are basically hugely powerful mobile weapon units that cause massive amounts of destruction and are invulnerable to attack by conventional means. Because of their appearance on the world stage it brought everything to small disputes as one Object could roll over an entire nation and we now have various feudalistic states existing. Some are in better shape than others but in the end it’s the average person who has suffered the most, caught up amid the destruction with no way to impact anything. Things are so bad that soldiers, tanks, and fighter jets are now essentially worthless and you mostly just have token armies at this point.
Structurally, the show works around the mini-arcs concept where we get two or three episode arcs plus a standalone episode along the way. These are things that I like in certain types of series because it allows for clearer demarcation of events and a sense of finality in a sense with certain types of stories instead of it being done as a one-off episode or just seemingly endless. With the structure we get here we have stories that place us in Alaska, Oceana, Antarctica and more. This provides for different locales for the animation team to work with, which they handle well, and also an opportunity to change up things for the characters with different regional uniforms and different types of military craft and bases. There’s some real enjoyment in how that comes together through the animation team as they get to build this world visually.
The downside is that the building of this world through the story doesn’t come across well. I like the concept that we get for it but it’s hard to figure out how it all exists and operates in a kind of real sense, which is frustrating on the worldbuilding side. While we have a seemingly endless number of smaller nations that exist now, kingdoms and the like, there are four main coalitions that exist. But these are more abstract than anything else and even after watching the show I’m hard pressed to say which coalition our main characters are from. There’s a vagueness to it all, including why the fighting is going on, as it seems to just be that our instincts for this cannot be curbed and it will go on no matter the fallout and cost of it. We even get a moment where the eyes are focused toward the skies as there’s apparent a colony of wealthy elites that vacation on the moon that becomes targeted. It’s kind of out of the blue, which I don’t mind, but it provides more context in that brief bit that ends up being more tantalizing than useful that it becomes frustrating.
When it comes to the characters, this is even a bit dicier. While the promotion will have you thinking that it’s focused on Milinda as the Object pilot it’s really about Qwenthur and Havia, two young military cadets that are serving as engineers and soldiers for the Object that Milinda pilots. We do get some material with Milinda throughout and a bit from her perspective but the bulk of it is on these two young men who come from different backgrounds and are trying to figure out how to survive beyond all of this within their home nation state. I like both of these guys and they are kind of “accidental” soldiers who end up advancing because of right place, right time moments where they luck out in what they do, but there’s not enough here to make them feel real enough – especially on top of the vagueness of the world design itself and trying to figure out their place within it. And that’s really how the series feels as a whole; an interesting concept, some intriguing designs, but not enough to make it feel real enough of grounded enough to become fully engaged in. It’s the kind of work where you suspect that the light novel itself is able to really make it feel like more but it’s hard to translate into an ongoing series like this.
Having enjoyed Kamachi’s other works that have been adapted into anime form, I went into Heavy Object a bit wary simply because I know the structure and style he uses can make for a difficult adaptation in some ways. This release has some good things going for it but isn’t able in this first half to fully capitalize on it in a way that really makes it engaging. It’s attempting to be grounded but feels too ethereal in its connections to really pull it off when it needs to feel far more grim and grimy. Funimation’s release is definitely well put together and it has some fun extras to it, especially the video commentary, that will make fans of the property pleased by their purchase and addition of it to their shelf.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Episode 6 Video Commentary, Episode 9 Commentary, Textless Song
Content Grade: C+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: November 29th, 2016
Running Time: 300 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.