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Shomin Sample Complete Collection Blu-ray Anime Review

9 min read

shomin-sample-dvd-bd-coverIt’s good to be the commoner.

What They Say:
When average student Kimito Kagurazaka is suddenly kidnapped by a hoard of burly men, the last place he expects to end up is the elite Seikein Girls’ School! Now, surrounded by beautiful but totally sheltered girls, Kimito must deal with being their ‘Shomin Sample’-an example commoner for the girls to observe and learn from. But what’s the catch? He has to trade in his thigh fetish for a faux love of muscled men if he wants to stay in this paradise…and keep his family jewels!

But being in a school filled with gorgeous elites isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Between the eccentric Aika, the proper Reiko, the ready-to-strip genius Hakua, and the dangerous samurai Karen, Kimito has his hands full of trouble. And these girls are dying for more than a sample of this commoner! Despite the jealous bickering, the outrageous scenarios, and more than a few compromising positions, Kimito and the girls will learn more from each other than they ever expected.

The Review:
Audio:
The audio presentation for this series brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo along with the English language dub in the same format, both of which are encoded using the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. The series has a few outlandish moments along the way, some of it by dialogue alone, but it’s mostly a kind of tame piece when you get down to it. There are some creative aspects at times with how it handles the dialogue and that results in some good bits of placement along the way, but this is largely a straightforward and solid mix design that doesn’t have to work too hard and delivers a good result. Dialogue itself is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any issues 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 episode series is spread across two discs with nine episodes on the first and three on the second plus about twenty minutes of extras. Animated by Silver Link, the show is one that’s definitely worth the high definition encode as there’s a lot to like in the character designs and backgrounds but also just the color work done here. This area really has some choices to it that helps to elevate the look of the show into something that’s glossy and appealing, complementing the material itself. It brings a better look to it that makes it more fun to watch because of the richness of it. The encoding handles everything well with solid colors throughout, smooth and fluid animation that delivers, and crisp and clean details that make it worth pausing and looking at closely.

Packaging:
The packaging for this release brings us the slightly thicker than normal Blu-ray case that holds the four discs from both formats on hinges. The packaging is also replicated with an o-card that has the same artwork design, which is good as it’s one of the better ones that features the five main girls across the front cover with an ornate high-end background to give it a really wonderfully detailed look. The character designs make it clear what kind of show it is and there’s some good color design with it overall to make it pop off the shelf. The back cover goes for a simple background of browns overall with a nice image of Aika along the left. The premise is well covered in the middle as are the extras while the right has a vibrant selection of fun shots from the show that even while small come across well. The bottom works the standard technical grid and production information in a clean and easy to read way, especially for the technical details so you knwow exactly what’s been done to encode it. No show related inserts are included but we get a bright orange reversible cover where the left has the episodes by number and title along with the extras while the right side has a cute image of Aika with a book.

Menu:
The menus for this release go simple but they at least use some good materials for it. Both discs use the same artwork which is a zoomed in and reworked front cover image that uses the same backdrop. It’s bright and colorful here and plays well to the vibrant logo along the right. The navigation strip along the bottom goes for the simple approach that feels like it really needs to be a small block instead of taking up almost the whole length of it, made more so when seen on a larger screen, but the technical aspects of it are solid and it’s easy to navigate both as the main menu and as the pop-up menu.

Extras:
The extras for this release are pretty good overall as we get a good mix. The English created piece is a new audio commentary track with the production team principles talking about it for the fifth episode. On the Japanese original side we get the clean opening and closing sequences plus the six OVA shorts. These range between three and five minutes each for the six that are here and while there are some heightened moments of sexuality they’re nowhere near as bad as I imagined they could be and, in fact, get a little dull the more they go on. But they’re definitely worth checking out as there are some fun jokes mixed into each of them.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the light novel series Ore ga Ojōsama Gakkō ni “Shomin Sanpuru” Toshite Rachirareta Ken by Takafumi Nanatsuki, Shomin Sample is a twelve episode anime series that aired in the fall 2015 season. Shortened to Shomin Sample, the project was directed by Masato Jinbo and came from Silver Link, giving us a very well-animated project that stands out for me with its color design. The property is one with those terribly long names that are frustrating when it comes to the light novel world, especially with the English translation of Shomin Sample: I Was Abducted by an Elite All-Girls School as a Sample Commoner. But it does make it clear exactly what the show is about and you have to give it some props for that at least.

The series focuses on Kimito, your standard high school guy who doesn’t have anything unique about him as he’s the everyman that the viewer can insert themselves into. His life is suddenly upended when some really muscular people show up at his school and whisks him away to Seikain, an all-girls school made up of girls that are part of elite families. They’re all pretty smart, they have plenty of social skills as needed to survive within those environments, but they’re also all really sheltered as they have no experience with the common citizen because of how they’ve been handled. What the school has found is because of this isolation they’re unable to function once they step outside of that environment and it’s proven to be problematic to say the least.

So the attempt, which some are naturally against, has them bringing in a typical commoner boy to ease them into the world that exists outside of their elite lives. With Kimito having nothing going for him beyond being normal, i.e. no special skills or sports to speak of, he’s ideal as he’s also pretty non-threatening. That doesn’t allay the fears of some students or faculty of course, but it makes it easy for the viewer to accept. For Kimito, he has to deal with people who really have little idea of how to do things, such as when they discover smartphones and how small and powerful they are, or the first taste and discovery of cup noodle where just adding water means there’s a meal to be made. It’s all the usual kinds of gags to be sure but they’re effective because of how sheltered they are that you can run with it well enough.

Naturally, the focus is kept small for the group that Kimito deals with, though we get some minor faculty moments and some random female students that are just in awe of what he knows from time to time. The core group has its pluses and minuses. The main one that’s pushed is Aika, the more childish of the core foursome that grows a strong connection with Kimito along the way as she becomes the most possessive. Her main competition in my mind is Reiko, a more polite and innocent type that’s blonde and buxom who feels like she complements Kimito more. To throw things into a mix is Karen, the one from a samurai family that’s serious and threatening toward Kimito but is ultimately drawn to him and through horoscope supposedly the ideal match. They’re fun in their archetypes but because they are that and little more you know exactly who they are and there are no surprises.

The only character I don’t care for is Hakua, who is apparently the same age as the others bit is very short and childlike in appearance, making her more like an elementary student. She spends a lot of her time naked, which is incredibly uncomfortable, and Kimito does his best to keep her on track and normal in a way as he doesn’t view her in the way that he might/does the other girls. She’s definitely gifted and marches to the beat of her own drum but really doesn’t offer anything to the show that I thought worked. She was more a distraction than anything else and made me fearful of the OVA shorts at first for what they might do without the constraints of broadcast. Thankfully, that doesn’t really come to pass.

Beyond her, the fun of the show involves the gang figuring out the commoner things that most people take for granted and the fanservice/sexuality of it all. This is more in the male gaze presentation of the characters but there are areas where it’s just embraced, such as Aika and Reiko ending up wearing nothing but bra and panties and falling onto each other before getting into a wrestling match. That doesn’t happen but other usual gaze elements are here and because of the animation style it really plays well and works, though thankfully it often doesn’t go as far as it could. It’s not really restrained but it feels like they could have been a whole lot more involved with it and the way it’s presented works in its favor. I enjoy fanservice shows a good deal so this one was a nice middle ground, though the Hakua material really made it uncomfortable at times.

In Summary:
I was kind of leery of Shomin Sample when it was first revealed as the covers for the light novels are kind of cringe inducing and some of the character elements really don’t work for me (and wouldn’t when I was a teenager either). Taking Hakua out of the equation, Shomin Sample is a lot of fun while also being a very simple show. There’s a minor “big” plot point toward the end with one of the girls being taken out of school to give it something serious to deal with but it avoids the overly dramatic stories that are done at the end of shows like this in an attempt to give it more weight. It’s a light, fluffy, silly, and fun little show with some great animation and designs that will make a lot of people happy overall. Funimation’s presentation is solid with a bilingual production, great encoding, and some good extras included in a tight little package.

Features:
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Episode 5 Commentary, Shomin Shorts (1-6), Textless Opening and Closing Songs

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

Released By: Funimation
Release Date: January 31st, 2017
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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