What They Say:
Buntarou Hojo has a gift for envisioning plots and scenarios in his head, but when it comes to imagining a story for his own life, he has a bad case of writer’s block. Writing scripts for his high school’s drama department has given him a temporary outlet, but when school ends, what’s next? Just when Buntarou’s future seems its bleakest, classmate Sayuki Kuroda asks him to write for her bishoujo video game development group.
Suddenly, all the pieces start to fall together, but as Buntarou and Sayuki recruit more girls (and one romantically challenged guy), they’ll find that the path through the wasteland of life is filled with more twists than any game. Expect the unexpected as making a computer-simulated romance becomes a real-world drama!
The audio presentation for this series brings us the original Japanese language track only in stereo encoded using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. The series is one that’s largely dialogue based with little in the way of action but it has its nice moments here and there, such as when we see the voice tracks recorded for the game and some of the interactions around that element. For the most part, however, the show is straightforward stereo design material that has more of a full feeling about it than anything else. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2016, 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 Project No. 9, the show is one that works a good look overall with a clean and appealing modern world that captures the look of school, socializing, and shopping about as well as you could expect. Combined with appealing character designs that aren’t overly complex and some smooth animation to carry it all through with and you get a show that ticks all the right boxes when it comes to its look. The encoding brings it to life well with solid colors throughout, smooth animation in the busier sequences, and a great palette and overall sense of detail to stand out nicely.
The packaging design for this release brings us a standard sized Blu-ray case with the two discs held against the interior walls. The front cover works with the familiar key visual of the core group standing together along the rooftop of the school. It shows off the designs well and the colors are pretty good as well. The back cover is a bit brighter with a white background on grid paper for part of it where the summary of the premise is and also the breakdown of the discs extras. We get some decent character artwork to the left and a decent run of shots from the show along the bottom that highlights the variety of the cast. The production and technical blocks along the bottom lay everything out in a clear and easy to read way and we don’t get any inserts or reversible artwork with this set.
The menus for this release are most definitely function and problem free but they’re pretty underwhelming even for static menus. What we get here is a soft blue polka dot style background where the left side features some character artwork that feels out of place and just doesn’t connect well. The right side has the navigation which is done up in pinks and blues with white mixed into it and it’s pretty easy to read and navigate both as the main menu and the pop-up menu during playback. It’s fully functional and problem free but it’s also pretty bland.
The only extras included with this release are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Known as Shōjotachi wa Kōya o Mezasu in its original release, Girls Beyond the Wasteland arrived as part of the winter 2016 season and came out ahead of the March 2016 release of the visual novel. New games with supporting anime adaptations to complement it have been popping up more and more the last few years and studio Project No. 9 did a solid job in bringing this one to life and making sure that it didn’t feel like you were missing a lot, or anything, if you didn’t play the game either. It’s pretty standalone overall and that’s certainly something that’s appealing after dealing with some other shows that I’ve had to deal with over the last few years.
The series revolves around the central figure of Buntaro Hojo, a high school student that is your typical everyman as the game itself is seen through his eyes. Here, he’s a friendly and studious young man that has gained a good reputation for his work in adapting various works for the drama club so that the club has strong material to work with. We see his most recent project being brought to life at the start of the series and that’s what draws in Sayuki Kuroda to his orbit. She’s been watching him for some time and has decided that he’s the one that she needs to get her bishoujo game project off the ground by coming up with the original scenario for it. That’s naturally a very different thing from adapting another story and it takes a bit of convincing early on to get him on board and there’s some natural uncertainty about his ability and skill over the course of the series.
Having seen a few shows revolving around this concept in the last few years as well, there aren’t a lot in the way of surprises here. Sayuki draws in a few other people to the project which is standard fare material in shows like this, such as Buntaro’s longtime friend in Yuka that sees a chance at doing some voice acting in the game to Teruha, a young woman who’s good at programming and design. The addition of Uguisi is the cute part early on as she’s a doujinshi artist that prefers to do hentai things but is drawn in to handle the designs here as she’s well known on the Pixi sight. We also get another guy into the mix with Atomu but outside of some mild frustration moments here and there in the show he doesn’t offer much, taking on the role of assistant director in order to just do various chores and jobs along the way.
The series works well to detail the progress of the game with everyone working through their specific skill sets and bringing it to life, but this is the kind of thing where it’s kind of by rote in a way, very familiar if you’ve seen this kind of show before. It’s executed well enough but it suffers from the main problem that so many anime series do at this point in that the characters exist solely for the moment. They have no real pasts, no lives beyond what we see them doing in service of the game, and only a minor glimmer of their future from time to time based on what the game might lead them to upon completion. There are fun moments throughout and the progress they make in creating the game is solid so that if it’s your first time seeing something like this it will work well. And I was glad that the beach episode didn’t hit until the sixth episode and it was a fun one that helped to bond the group together after spending time drawing everyone into it. But mostly the show is simply a very familiar one, albeit one well executed.
Girls Beyond the Wasteland works a familiar idea in a competent and solid way but it sticks within the confines of the familiar too much for my tastes. The production is solid with appealing animation and character designs and a good sense of self overall to bring it together. The game isn’t as well inserted into the show as it could be to make it connect for the viewer but they do a decent but overall. Sentai’s release is about what you’d expect with a clean and appealing look and the basic extras all wrapped up in a solid but familiar package. Fans of the show will be pleased to own it, though I would have loved to have seen it dubbed, and it’s the kind of show that will have a decent following about it, especially if you got into the game itself as well.
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Content Grade: C+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: C+
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: April 4th, 2017
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.