What They Say:
When a crystal warps Shun Asanaga into a world deep beneath Earth’s surface, he confronts the moody Prince Emilio who is hellbent on killing the king. Just when the two seem perfectly at odds, Shun discovers an incredible power and winds up on a dangerous journey with a ragtag team of rebels. Seeking a portal between worlds, will the prince finally get his revenge, and will Shun find a way home?
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo as well as the English language dub, both of which are using the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. The series works a good mix of material with plenty of dialogue but also a strong helping of action throughout. This comes in the form of a range of things due to the variety of weapons and the kinds of magics employed here and it definitely works well across the forward soundstage with some nice placement and impact alongside the directionality in the bigger movements. The dialogue itself follows a similar approach as needed but is otherwise fairly straightforward and serves the material well. 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 in a standard nine/three layout that gives it plenty of space to work with. Animated by Brain’s Base, the show has a bright and colorful look as it places us in this other world where there’s a lot going on. The color palette is of the more vibrant type, not going for realism but more of a superficial digital kind of approach that works well for it. The characters aren’t completely minimal but they keep things simple and effective for the most part and the color design accents that. The encoding captures the look of the backgrounds with its detail well and there’s a good smoothness to the more fluid sequences of action throughout. It’s a good looking release that will please most but it’s also the kind of show where it’s design stands out with its colors so that things feel more distinct and not as blended as they could be.
The packaging design for this release is a slightly thicker than normal Blu-ray case that holds the four discs from both formats on hinges. The first pressing of the set comes with an o-card that replicates the case artwork, just a touch brighter looking thanks to the better cardstock. The front cover uses the familiar key visual of the two leads as the worlds they come from bend behind them and it’s one that works nicely both for how it does the bending but also because it makes it clear exactly what kind of show you’re getting in terms of designs. The back cover goes for a lush green background with a hint of the world within there while on top of that we get a good fantasy design block where the premise is covered as are a few shots from the show that are so tiny as to be near pointless. The episode count is clear as are the extras while the remainder of the cover lists out the technical information for both formats cleanly and clearly. No show related inserts are included but we do get artwork on the reverse side that brings out two more pieces of Japanese cast cover artwork.
The menu design for this release goes for the simpler approach to things with static images uses for both discs. Using the artwork from the front cover works nicely as it zooms in a bit and places it center-left while moving the logo to the right. The artwork is decent and I like the background that’s used but it’s the blending of the sea greens along the right under the logo that works the best. The navigation strip along the bottom has the basics that you’d expect since it’s a minimal disc with no audio commentary extras for the first volume and everything loads quickly and easily both as the main menu and as the pop-up menu during playback.
The only extras included here are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.
Endride is an original anime series from Bandai Visual that landed in the spring and summer 2016 season that ran for twenty-four episodes total. Funimation’s brought the first twelve episodes out in this set that also got a simuldub when it ran. Animated by Brain’s Base and with Keiji Gotoh on board to direct based on the scripts by Toko Machida, the show is one that feels like it should work well and does – if it was a late 90’s series. Original projects generally get an extra bit of attention because you can’t be sure what they’ll bring in and they’re not confined by trying to adapt faithfully the original in terms of pacing and structure. But Endride just wasn’t well-received in Japan and fairly early in its home video release run it shifted from singles to box sets in an effort to stave off the bleeding there.
That said, every show must stand on its own and not on its sales record because what some people find to be awful others can derive a great amount of enjoyment from. And I partake in a good deal of trash TV that I enjoy. Endride is a series that has some things that I like in that while we’re getting the familiar transported to another world storyline it’s not just another harem storyline. In fact, the initial character in all of this with Shun ends up feeling like a supporting character most of the time to me. Shun’s a decent kid who has a love of crystals in a big way and has always dreams of going to another world and being the big hero. So when exactly that happens with a special crystal that he gets his hands on he naturally just wants to get the hell out of there and back to his mother as he’s worried about her and what she must be going through.
Shun’s dropped into the world of Endora where it’s a quasi-fantasy kind of world where some people are able to bring out weapons by thinking about it and returning them to nothing in the same way. Shun’s nicely gifted in this, though he doesn’t come across as a savior type. What complicates things for him is that he ends up falling in with Emilio, a young man slightly older than him that’s on a quest for vengeance to take down the King of Endora in Delzaine. Emilio’s the prince of Endora but his father isn’t his actual father but rather the man that killed his father and took over the kingdom. Delzaine is working some sort of crazy plan that he won’t even tell his own people about that involves building the tower of Babel for nefarious purposes. Emilio’s just intent on killing Delzaine while Shun realizes through Emilio’s friend Pascal that Babel may be his way to get back to the real world/surface world outside of the gem.
What ensues is a standard journey show where Emilio and Shun have to learn about each other along the way, teach each other important things about how to live, and do their best to survive and reach their goal. It’s a familiar enough plot where the trappings are what will make it work or not. First, I do appreciate that it’s not a harem show where they build up a lot of women to work alongside them. We get one with Alicia that’s a part of the initial group and another one takes on a bit of importance briefly further on, but for the most part it’s definitely a male oriented show in this regard. Another area that I like is the introduction of the Zoozians, basically semi-animal-like humanoids that have been oppressed here forever because they’re stronger but fewer in numbers so they essentially became a kind of slave labor. We see how Emilio is trying to sway a large group of them to his concept of ending Delzaine, but that’s complicated by a group of revolutionaries that he’s also aligned with that are thinking long term and want Delzaine to surrender so they can establish what happens afterward better.
These are interesting ideas and there are some fun little twists along the way that we get, especially on Delzaine’s side with some of those that work for him. But mostly what we get is a standard first half of a two-cour series that’s all about the journey. The setup is straightforward and it moves along a predictable path with Emilio taking the lead and the viewer through Shun getting a very minimal view of how this world works, which is always frustrating since so many problems can be cleared up so you could have better material to deal with just by having a few minutes of conversation. Both for the characters and the viewer, but it’s instead just kept to being simple. The first half of the series in this set has its moments and I like the action, even if it doesn’t feel like it has a really solid set of internal logic rules with how the more magical elements work, but it is very predictable.
Endride is the kind of series that I can imagine a lot of new to anime fans discovering and enjoying and having a good bit of fun with it, as they should. But it’s the kind of series for the more experienced viewer where it’ll be frustrating because it has decent ideas but works mediocre execution, one where you already realize it’ll work better in half the time based on what we’ve got here so far. Funimation’s release brings the show out in good form as it looks good and sounds good which is where it counts. Those hoping for some original extras in audio commentaries are going to be disappointed, and there’s nothing of note here from the Japanese side either.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Content Grade: C
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: May 30th, 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.