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The Betrayal Knows My Name Complete Collection Anime DVD Review

9 min read

Betrayal Knows My Name CoverA long, slow, slog with pretty boys.

What They Say:
A soul reborn, a love that spans through time. Follow the bewitching tale of demons, magicm and undying bond. Gifted with a strange ability to see into the the troubles of others, kind-hearted Yuki Sakurai finds his life turned upside down the day a handsome stranger named Luka appears. A peculiar longing pulls Yuki towards him-is this the mysterious man from his dreams?

He’s left with questions but no time for answers as danger begins lurking around every corner. Evil beings appear, known as “Duras”, seeking the power that dwells within him. But the mystery of who he is, and who he once was, will bring everything crashing down around him. He has a choice: side with the Giou clan and their Zweilts-powerful duos who fight the Duras-or follow his beloved childhood friend down the path to humanity’s demise. Torn Between two sides, only Luka promises him loyalty, devotion, and protection against a world filled with secrets and betrayal.

The Review:
Audio:
The audio presentation for this series brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo only and it’s encoded at the basic 192kbps. Which is fine for the most part as the show is more dialogue oriented than action and it’s well conveyed with a center channel focus. The bigger moments, particularly toward the end, would make out better with a bit more impact and clarity of a higher bit rate, or a lossless presentation, but it’s not a make or break moment for it. These areas give it a bit more life and the final episodes in particular sell the show better but in general the release is a solid one in that it comes across cleanly and clearly with no problems such as dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2010, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The twenty-four episodes are spread evenly across four discs with six episodes per disc, giving it plenty of room to work with. Animated by JC Staff, the show has a solid enough look about it as it works with largely darker colors or more muted scenes which in turn let the more vibrant pieces, again, notably toward the end of the series, stand out all the more. The visual presentation isn’t a high end one but it’s not a bottom run either and you can imagine they worked it so that it would handle the two-cour approach while not breaking the bank. The encoding keeps it fairly clean looking with only some minor noise in the darker areas from the time to and that being the only real issue to be had with it.

Packaging:
The packaging for this release brings us a standard sized DVD case that’s clear which holds the four discs inside on hinges. The first press release also includes an o-card with it that replicates the cover artwork, which is definitely a plus as it comes across with better color and vibrancy compared to the paper insert. The pairing of the two leads works nicely set against the dark background while combined with the cross visual and the vibrancy of the moon. The more subtle red of the rose gives it a nice touch as well. The back cover goes for a simple reddish background that almost looks like a leather book and it has the premise done cleanly in a thin white font that’s readable but could be a bit more defined. The episode count and extras are clearly listed and we get some nice character artwork and some decent shots from the show. While no inserts are included we do get material on the reverse side where the left breaks down the episodes by numbers and title and the right has a different piece of character artwork to use as the main cover.

Menu:
The menus for this release work a simple but solid approach to set the tone as it has a split screen style with some smoothing that blends it together well. The left side features some good artwork, such as the front cover, that gives it some vibrancy and sets the mood well. The right breaks out the basic navigation with the minimal selections that you get from a show like this. It’s all easy to navigate and works well and I liked that we could actually turn the subtitles off for it through the menu, making it worthwhile in including the option.

Extras:
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)
Based on the manga Uragiri wa Boku no Namae o Shitteiru by Odagiri Hotaru, The Betrayal Knows My Name is a twenty-four episode series that aired in the spring and summer seasons of 2010. Animated by JC Staff, it was directed by Katsushi Sakurabi who cut his teeth on shows like Utena, Tsukihime and Shigofumi before this and recently worked on WIXOSS and Flying Witch. The original manga began in 2005 and is still ongoing with releases from Yen Press. With it being a monthly title there are only twelve volumes so far but they’re pretty solid books and the property is obviously well received to still be running after twelve years and to have a two-cour anime series produced for it.

One of the reasons I like writing the opening paragraph as a bit of background of the show is to provide some context to its origins and to remind myself that there are obviously fans of it. With as much manga as there is out there and even with upwards of sixty shows produced per season these days, the vast majority of manga don’t get anime adaptations and most are never really heard of by many. So for it to get treated as well as it did means it has to be recognized on some level. What I found most interesting with this show, almost from the opening sequence and throughout the first episode before feeling it in every episode, is that this is exactly the kind of show that if you’re of my age range in being into anime you would classify as a Media Blasters title that would have been picked up in the early part of the last decade. I could envision half a dozen series that I saw just like this fifteen years ago, which makes sense considering the age of the original manga when it started in 2005.

Even worse in a way as that everything about this felt like it would be ideal as a six episode OVA series from that period that might work if expanded to a twelve episode single cour show. Bringing it in at twenty-four episodes? I found myself losing track of the etherealness of the plot in the first two episodes as it didn’t define itself well. And that the more it progressed the more it felt like the nature of the lead changed and so much time was spent sitting around talking? That just made it a show that became a slog to get through. The general premise involves the idea that the world is going to end at some point because of how the ecological and sociological aspects of the world have changed. There are vague mentions of signs and portents of things to come but it’s not something that is woven into the fabric of the series. It’s an idea, a motivation, something that gives the characters something to align by or against, and little more than that.

Within this overall context we’re introduced to Yuki Giou, a teenager that’s been in an orphanage all his life and is about to age out of it. While a good kid with decent grades and a bland personality, he has no real prospects because of this. The core of his personality is one that makes him an easy target as he doesn’t want to be a burden on those that he knows but at the same time he’s making it clear he doesn’t want to be alone, which makes him human. What changes for him is when he meets a man named Zess, at least that’s his cover name, and is drawn into something that he can’t quite understand but feels like he’s familiar with. This gets more “complicated” when Yuki’s half-brother Takashiro arrives, a man that’s older than him, and claims to have been looking for him for years. And he and Zess are aligned against each other in the grand scheme of things and Yuki finds himself in the middle even as Zess takes on more and more ominous looking overtones, especially in what he wears that nearly crosses over into bondage fetish material.

Frankly, you can see how a lot of this is going to go when you introduce a lot of the supporting cast that stand around and talk a lot without really saying anything (they just needed to add tachyon particles to the mix, I think) and you bring in the Twilight Mansion where Yuki lives while trying to grapple with all these things being thrown at him. The problem is that this is all drawn out so much and without any real meat to it that it becomes so slow and dull that anything that happens is easily forgettable because it doesn’t amount to much. There’s a certain shoujo-ness about it to be sure, one of the aspects that I find unappealing about the genre while enjoying other pieces of it, and the show really embraces it. The long looks, the emotional moments, the panning of the camera with the flow of music and background elements. It’s all on point but it has no heart and soul to it. Even the top flight Japanese cast can’t do much to make it engaging on that level as they have so little to truly deliver beyond platitudes.

In Summary:
Six hundred minutes, twenty-four episodes, quite a few hours of material, and at the end of it I’m hard pressed to say much about it. It’s a lot of noise at times without any signal to latch onto. There are some great scenes in terms of visuals toward the end but that’s nothing in the grand scheme of it. This is a series that’s simply too long and too drawn out to work and without enough to carry through each episode, reminding me of a number of primetime series that get twenty-two hour-long episodes but have maybe half a dozen or just a bit more that actually mean anything. Funimation’s release is solid and I’m glad it was produced for the fans who wanted it as it wasn’t a show that was easily accessible before, but this is something that will be quickly forgotten by many, if thought of at all.

Features:
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing

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

Released By: Funimation
Release Date: February 28th, 2017
MSRP: $59.98
Running Time: 600 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic 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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