What They Say:
Get ready for a madcap round of dueling duets as Haruka and the members of the all-male vocal group ST☆RISH find themselves broken down into smaller teams of two! It’s part of a plan to help the budding boy band become the star singing attraction at the famous Triple S sports festival, but Haruka and the boys can’t help but wonder if being divided into Cross Units won’t end up making them cross with each other instead. It doesn’t help that the festival’s current top pick is the band made up of ST☆RISH’s own senior supervisors, QUARTET NIGHT!
No matter what motivations their manager Saotome Shining might have for playing mix-and-match with these golden-throated gents, their future is ultimately going to be determined by their loyalty to each other and Haruka’s ability to convert everything into song. Music is the most extreme sport and the competition is on in UTA NO PRINCE-SAMA REVOLUTIONS!
The audio presentation for this release brings us only the original Japanese language track in stereo using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. While I do want to see as many shows dubbed as possible, shows like this unfortunately hit too small of a market most of the time and are hard to sustain – especially as there are two additional seasons to it. The show does make out very well here with what it has since it’s a mostly dialogue driven piece punctuated by some strong musical performances in both the vocals and instrumentals which allows it to shine with the format used. There’s a real warmth and richness to the musical moments that you find yourself really appreciating the differences between a 2.3mbps audio track and a 192kbps track. Dialogue is generally well done here as it’s mostly just the cast standing around talking with some emotional moments where beyond that it’s just the principal who bounces around the stage with his dialogue. Everything comes across clean and clear and has a strong finished feeling to it that’s free of dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2015, the transfer for this thirteen episode TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The show is spread across two discs with nine on the first and four on the second. Animated by A-1 Pictures, it has a really striking look to it overall with what it offers with the detail of the characters and their designs and the fluidity of the animation in the big dance and song numbers. There’s a distinctive look to the character designs and their colors with the eyes, which can be disconcerting at first, but the whole thing is just striking from top to bottom and the transfer captures it beautifully. The content of the show is something that may not be to a lot of general fans liking, but A-1 Pictures put in a top notch effort here and the payoff is definitely strong with what we get as it’s a beautiful looking series.
The packaging for this release comes in a standard sized Blu-ray case where the cover artwork uses the yellows and blues heavily that blends nicely into the cover itself. The logo kept along the bottom has a fun little design quality about it even while being at an angle as it uses blues and whites. The bulk of the cover is given over to the characters whose expressions are bright and full of performance types which really gives it a lot of shine, especially with all the pop designs used. They’re all nicely designed here with some good detail and color definition that makes it stand out while hitting the kind of notes that will attract the target audience. The back cover uses mostly the same colors with a little purple drawn into it to give it a slightly busier feeling. There’s a cute tagline with it and we get the breakdown of what’s included and the extras along the top. The shots from the show round out both sides with a good look to them and we get a decent premise that dominates the center aspect of it while not giving away too much. The production credits cover both sides of the equation well and the technical grid lists all the details accurately and cleanly. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The extras for this release are a bit meager but they’re the minimum that I always hope for with the clean opening and closing sequences.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the first season landing in 2011 and doing quite well and a second season in 2013, the spring 2015 season saw the debut of the third season of Uta no Prince-sama. I enjoyed the first two seasons well enough but could already see the whole diminishing returns aspect of it. The structure and framework of it all is terribly familiar and there’s positives to be had with that but if you’re not in it for the music it just becomes a more problematic work. And, quite frankly, my Japanese music fan days are long, long, behind me. I can appreciate it for what it is but i got into the show in its first season for the characters along with the spectacle. The spectacle is still largely there, albeit reduced, while the character and story side has dropped down more and more. And with this season essentially being a part one thing even more so.
With this season, the show focuses on an end goal that will be the next season with the upcoming SSS event where there are a lot of groups that are performing in it. STARISH naturally wants to be a part of it, especially after their recent gains in popularity and fans, but there’s the obvious in that their headmaster has a whole other plan for them. The goal, here, is simply “revolution” in the most basic sense by the headmaster. It’s not really broken out in what he means by it but the intent is to shake up STARISH with “cross units” that they put together that has them all split into different groups and undergoing a range of jobs and training in order to become better than they are. The group hopes to bring it all together and show the headmaster that they really do have what it takes to participate in SSS so they go along with everything and obviously learn a whole lt along the way as well.
With Haruka working with everyone from time to time, either to offer support or work on lyrics as she knows all of them so well, we also get some competitive elements because of QUARTET NIGHT’s involvement and their being slotted for the SSS event already. So there’s motivation and having Haruka on their side, even when she can’t be, means a whole lot to them. The breakouts into the cross units aren’t exactly anything that really stands out because we’ve seen this in the previous seasons in how they all work and train. The problem for me is that the show is so ill focused on actual character material and instead on stereotypes without any depth that they’re all fairly bland characters. The audience that really enjoys the show knows them by their songs and what they evoke through there, but having lost my love for Japanese music like this quite a few years ago it’s not something that resonates.
That said, the show does deliver on its intention and there’s a lot to like in how the various configurations work and the challenges they face, from freestyle moments to commercial pieces and other competitive elements. The variety is there but there’s no character connection for me which, along with the music not landing right, means it just feels very padded and drawn out. When we do get to the actual concert material toward the end with the SSS concert getting underway, there’s plenty of fun and tense moments with the headmaster and an eyeroll inducing surprise return of another group that sets up things for the next season. The music is what really drives this show and there is a lot of it with inserts songs for each episode. That in turn drives a lot of CD sales and event tickets but doesn’t do anything for me as a viewer.
The third season of Uta no Prince-sama goes where it has to go and that proves to be the most frustrating thing. Reworking the style and structure of the previous two seasons with the “shakeup” that they do here isn’t original and doesn’t feel like it offers anything new unless you’re totally into the music, which I am not. That will color your view depending on what you’re looking for but I simply find myself becoming less interested in the franchise as it goes on. Which is unfortunate as I quite liked the first season and I really enjoy the visuals, character designs, and the overall animation quality that delivers something great for the fans that do enjoy it. It’s just not holding up with story or character material at all for me.
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing.
Content Grade: C
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: February 21st, 2017
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.