What They Say:
Once known as the Black Master Swordsman, Kanata Age has fallen in favor with the people of Misutogan after a harrowed battle against the Devil Beetles. Deemed a traitor, he has earned the scorn of his peers and classmates. Kanata is happy enough to fade into the background, until one day he is asked to become the teacher of Fireteam E601 aka the F’ed up Fireteam.
Rico Flamel, Lecty Eisenach, and Misora Whitale make up E601 and have yet to see a single victory. But it’s hard to work together when your team is made up of a self-proclaimed goddess, a coward, and an incapable leader. Not to mention when they mistake him for a pervert. But, Kanata must take these three failures and turn them into winners. Will they trust the man known as a traitor? Or is there more to his story that he just forgot to mention?
The audio presentation for this series brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo while the English mix gets a 5.1 boost, both of which are encoded with the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. Though the series has a good bit of action to it throughout, it’s primarily dialogue based with what it wants to do and it handles that side of it well. The show generally keeps to just a couple of characters at a time and that means it doesn’t have to stretch itself much in what it needs to do. There’s mild placement from time to time and some decent movement across the forward soundstage as warranted but it’s not exceptional or anything. The action side picks up a bit since there’s flying about and the like but it’s also fairly standard in a lot of ways, serving the animation well but not really stepping up to something strong. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout 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 twelve episodes and OVA are spread across two discs with nine on the first and four on the second. Animated by Diomedéa, the show has a decent enough look to it but not one that’s overly detailed or colored to a high degree. There’s a simplicity to the color design that doesn’t quite paint it as a budget show but angles in that direction. The locations have some decent detail to them with the backgrounds and the animation is generally solid if unexceptional in what it does. The action sequences are kind of basic but the animation captures it well and the encoding does right by it with a solid and problem free presentation that’s better handled than the streaming was.
The packaging for this release is done up with a slightly thicker than normal Blu-ray case that holds the four discs on hinges inside and comes with an o-card. The o-card replicates the case artwork and is the familiar key visual of our four main characters together against the simple blue sky background. It doesn’t tell you a lot though you get a good look at the designs and weapons that lets you infer plenty. It’s a clean and colorful piece that’s certainly eye-catching, which is important. The back cover carries the same kind of background but covers most of it up with an opaque white piece through the middle that brings out the premise for the show without any fresh artwork. We do get a few shots from the show along the bottom but they’re small and largely ineffective. The technical grid along the bottom covers what’s involved with both formats in a clean and clear way and we also get a solid breakdown of what extras are included. While there are no inserts included with the release we do get a full two-panel spread on the reverse side that brings out five of the girls together in all their colorful glory.
The extras for this release are a bit standard but welcome across the board. The clean versions of the opening and closing are included and we get a good selection of the promos and commercials for the Japanese run as well. Additionally, the first disc has two English commentary tracks from the cast that they have some fun with. The extras also list the OVA in there but it’s not what I’d really call an extra in a sense. It’s a light and simple story that doesn’t play heavy to the fanservice as it works a side story that doesn’t really add much of anything in the long run, unless you like chicks.
Originally known as Kūsen Madōshi Kōhosei no Kyōkan, Sky Wizards Academy is a twelve episode TV series and single OVA that aired in the summer 2015 anime season. The show is based on the light novels from Yu Moroboshi that are illustrated by Mikuhiro Amami and have some eleven volumes out since it debuted in the summer of 2013. It also generated a slowly running manga that kicked off in 2014 to help pave some interest for the show the following summer. The series found itself simulcast by Funimation when it came out but it didn’t get a lot of notice amid a large slate of other shows but it did thankfully get a home video release for its fans.
The premise behind the series isn’t explored in depth in the show but it’s an interesting one as the world has been given over to some sort of race of insects known as Devil Beetles. There’s a mix of magic and technology to them that allows them to attack from time to time but they function more as a background threat to the most part rather than a truly active opponent for the characters. Because of how these creatures overran the world, mankind fled to the skies with floating cities on rocks. The focus here is on one of those cities known as Mistgun, which is an academy city for sky wizards that are trained to fight these creatures. Not that there’s a true seriousness to it in the way that you’d expect from people facing the end of the world as it’s more like “life goes on and I guess we’ll keep training” kind of mindset. With the world ravaged below, those above have seemingly fallen into a kind of complacency that this is simply how it is now.
Within this we’re introduced to a young man named Kanata Age, someone who is exceptionally skilled and was the ace of the fireteam known as S128. Kanata had a dangerous mission that he was one that he did finish but it ended up changing him and he’s now found himself reassigned to teaching others. And not just any others but rather the worst of the worst of Mistgun with E601, a fireteam that has had dozens and dozens of consecutive defeats. Kanata’s the genius type that comes in and through his own particular methods helps those teammates to discover what it is that they’re capable of – if they can trust him and work together. Of course, Kanata also gets a bit of an “accidental” reputation as a pervert so that just slows down the whole trust exercise early on.
The E601 team is certainly the familiar worst of the worst with the most potential to win it all in the academy tournament. It’s ostensibly lead by Misora, our redhaired young woman who is the only one of the three that we really spend any time getting to know her past since she’s a second generation sky wizard who lost her mother to battle. She’s working to master the magic cannon that she inherited which means it’s something that Kanata can help with. To contrast her we get Rico, a gifted young woman who is so full of herself she simply needs to be reassigned since she talks about herself in the third person as a goddess of the academy. And in the middle we get Lecty, a cute blonde haired type that’s cautious but outgoing which means she’s ideal to get special training by being sent to work as a waitress in a maid cafe to help boost her overall abilities.
With all of this in mind and a couple of other very minor subplots and a slowly drawn out irregular tournament that kicks off just past the halfway mark, Sky Wizards Academy is a terribly familiar show. We’ve seen this general grouping before, though it’s nice that Kanata isn’t an active member of the E601 team during the actual fights, and there’s so little here to latch onto in regards to characters having any character that it’s simply superficial. Misora gets the most time, which is basically an episode’s worth when you get down to it, while Lecty is underdeveloped and Rico is presented as so cold and aloof that what little effort they put in to humanize her – by basically telling her she’s the key member of the group – doesn’t do anything to make any of the characters likable.
So, throw in some sequences with the girls getting changed, Kanata stumbling in from time to time or accidental gropage, and a number of sequences with the girls railing against him for slights perceived and real and you’ve got a show. The show handles the tournament material well when it does showcase it, and I’m glad it doesn’t turn into that for six episodes straight, but it also doesn’t give it the weight it needs considering how the girls turn things around as you’d expect, climbing up the charts faster than anyone else. The series is one that is simply familiar, which of course is what you can say about the majority of light novels unfortunately, and the adaptation hews close to the source without breaking out and attempting to make it something more. Which is par for the course, unfortunately.
I was certainly curious about this show going into it since it had so little buzz in general. Sometimes you can find some real gems in the middle of these kinds of series because it does do something unique or neat. Unfortunately, Sky Wizards Academy is a paint by the numbers series with a minor nudge or two that I liked, notably with Kanata’s position, but doesn’t stretch itself in the slightest. It’s a competently put together series and the kind of easy to access and engage with one for newer viewers to the medium where they can see it as fresh and new compared to what they’ve experienced. For those that are deep down the anime hole, well, you’ve seen it before and you’ll see it again. I’m glad Funimation gave it a home video release though since streaming isn’t forever and every show has its fans.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Episode 1 Commentary, Episode 7 Commentary, Promotional Videos, Commercials, Textless Opening Song ”D.O.B.”, Textless Closing Song ”Hallelujah”, U.S. Trailer, Trailers
Content Grade: C+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: November 8th, 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.