What They Say:
After getting dumped on Christmas day, high school boy and hopeless romantic Natsuki Hashiba crosses paths with Anna, an aloof girl in a Santa outfit passing out tissues. For him it’s love at first sight, for her… not so much. With help from his best friends—a playboy, an otaku, and a nice guy with a sadistic streak—Natsuki sets out to win Anna’s heart and heal his own heartbreak along the way.
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track only done up in stereo using the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. The show is largely focused on dialogue with a couple of minor pieces here and there with action elements so it uses the stereo design well with some basic movement across the forward soundstage. The layout is one that works well with placement as the group and its various configurations move back and forth with the dialogue and how they laugh, talk, and argue – and sometimes shout. It’s not the kind of show that will generate a lot out of its audio design but it’s well-handled with the design and it comes across clean and clear with the music elements adding some welcome warmth and detail to it.
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 set is split with eighteen episodes on the first disc and the remaining episodes on the second disc where the episodes are roughly eleven minutes or so in running times. That keeps it fairly close to a standard twelve episode run with a little extra time to it thanks to the double number of opening and closing sequences. Animated by Production Reed, I really liked the look of this show with its character designs as it takes in the original manga shojo elements but smooth things out a bit while retaining that lighter and almost wispy element in some ways. The characters have a good bit of detail to them and the real world backgrounds use a light touch with the colors rather than something rich and dramatic which helps to keep it feel a little more ground and not overly dramatic. The encoding deals with all of this in the right ways with a clean and problem free look whether it’s bright and busy or with some of the darker moments where the colors maintain a solid feeling.
The packaging for this release comes in a slightly thicker than normal Blu-ray case the holds the four discs for both formats on hinges. The set comes with an o-card for the first pressing that uses different artwork from the case itself. The o-card has a nice image of the four guys together set against the fence with the touch of a rainbow in the cloudy sky behind them. It’s bright and colorful though I could have done without the rainbow block around the complete series text. The back cover goes for a light notebook style approach with a nice script font with the rainbow colors feeling natural here in its layout. The episode count is a bit deceptive due to the running time and we get a good selection of shots from the show as well. The bottom lists the extras (trailers? Bzzt! Not actually included) while also providing for some of the production information and an accurate technical grid for both formats. While there are no show related inserts the case artwork is a nice one of the main eight characters together along a set of stairs while the reverse side shows off more character artwork pieces.
The menus for this release work a simple approach with static images for each disc that shows off the cast, such as the front cover using the slipcover artwork to good effect with a bland off-white background. The pink navigation strip runs along the whole length of the bottom and the font is a nice one with its script format to get around the selections. The navigation works well as both the main menu and the pop-up menu during playback and episode selection is a breeze since it’s kept to just the number without trying to use any episode titles considering how many episodes there are.
Sadly, there are no extras, not even clean opening and closing sequences, as Funimation did not have clean materials with the show to work with.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the manga by Minami Mizuno, Rainbow Days is a twenty-four episode series that aired in the winter and spring seasons of 2016. The show clocks in at about eleven minutes an episode and uses that time well so it doesn’t drag out a particular episode’s story, making for tighter and more engaging stories coupled with an actual run of progress in terms of relationships and interactions that makes it compelling. The original manga, serialized in Bessatsu Margaret, kicked off in 2012 and has thirteen volumes produced so far and has me hopeful that it’ll get picked up sometime. This series was one I saw during its simulcast and it just delighted me from week to week with what it did, working actual character growth in a way that few series do in general.
The premise is straightforward enough as its primary focus is on four high school guys that are pretty good friends. They’re diverse in personality and while there may be plenty of obvious elements to that it’s how they interact that makes it work. The kind of back and forth and the way they joke with each other is fun and playful with each of those instances revealing more about them. The central character is that of Natsuki, a young man who starts the series off on Christmas where he’s dumped by his girlfriend. That leaves him out in public and upset only to be greeted by an angel in the form of Anna, a fellow classmate of his that he hadn’t noticed before. She’s working in handing out tissues for the holidays but he takes it as a sign and is just smitten with her. So when he discovers that she’s from the same school his pursuit begins. That’s the central threat to the series because his connection with her, which is wonderfully executed throughout the courtship that ensues, draws in his friends and her friends as well.
While I really like the sweet nature of what we get with these two, the relationship that won me over the most was that between his friend Tomoya and her friend Mari. Tomoya’s the player type to be sure, suave and confident, whereas Mari is really interesting in that she’s protective of her friend and completely uninterested in boys. At first it might seem that her love of Anna is truly romantic and potential sexual, but it’s just a deep love of friends and that kind of romantic love without the sexual component. She’s had issues in her past that keep her from boys related to her brother but Tomoya is slowly drawn to her. Mari’s gruff and angry side combined with being protective of Anna and her time with Anna has her pushing back at Natsuki regularly with Tomoya catching a lot of it. This is a slow burn kind of relationship that slowly takes place over the course of the series but it’s the one that felt like it was the most earned.
The other relationships that get underway aren’t quite as developed but are both vastly interesting to watch play out. Keiichi’s the athlete of the group that works hard at it but is also just naturally gifted. His interests play out in a few ways and when he goes after a certain someone’s sister it definitely makes for some problematic moments, but these are the kind of real world things that most shows play for laughs or outrageousness but ends up being dealt with more seriously here as a true matter of the heart. What I really liked is what they did with the “smart one” of the group with Tsuyoshi as the series starts off with him having a girlfriend instead of them all being single in the moment. Yukiko is an amusing character that’s set apart from both groups and has some great observer styled moments from time to time but it’s really just the kind of easy banter and the way these two interact with each other that delights because it feels like a real relationship as opposed to what someone who has never been in one thinks it would be, which is the case with way too many manga propertie written by people who haven’t experienced much in the way of life.
A lot of the show in terms of structure works through familiar events without going too far down the cliche path. The series takes place over the course of a year, starting with the Christmas event for Natsuki and ending with another Christmas where his relationship with Anna takes center stage as miscommunications and misunderstandings play out. But wrapped within that year of stories and familiar school events and range of supporting characters that float in and out we really get to know this cast of characters. Though it’s made up of what you could call eight primary characters it’s actually a bit smaller than that with what it wants to focus on. But that size of cast means that we get a lot of observations from these characters that nudge things forward and they interact on their own outside of the leads, giving it a richer series of events because it’s not so singly focused on just the Natsuki and Anna story even as it’s the prime motivator for how so many things unfold.
Rainbow Days delighted me when I watched it weekly over two seasons and that’s just reinforced in watching it play out in a marathon session over a day. I really like these characters and the dynamics that we get from it, especially as they feel more flawed and are struggling with different things while wanting to find love or be involved in different ways. The various types of relationships are all treated seriously and the dynamics between them and then the group as a whole makes for some solid emotional beats to be hit and some amusing bits as well. Sadly, the series didn’t warrant an English language dub produced for it but I’m just glad that it found its way to home video so that it could be enjoyed and owned by those that found it to work for them. Definitely recommended for those looking for a good relationship series that’s not focused just on a single pairing.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: N/a
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: August 22nd, 2017
Running Time: 312 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.