What They Say:
After the confrontation in Babel goes awry, Shun, Prince Emilio, and the ragtag team of rebels must face an even bigger problem than before. Without a king, the entire country is falling into chaos, and without a passage to the surface, Shun has no way home. It’s a treacherous journey back to the capital, where Pascal’s research uncovers the world’s dismal fate.
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 with smiles on their faces as they face opposite directions but with a great visual of the starry night behind them. 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.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The first half of Endride was something that I definitely appreciated on a certain level because original shows are still few and far between overall. They’re fun since they work a different sense of pacing in how they’re told and their goals can be achievable, especially unlike some shows that are dealing with overly long manga or light novel runs that are just scratching the surface of their stories. Endride, however, also struggled a bit because it felt a little too predictable and you could tell where a lot of things were going to go with it. I’m sure it also frustrated some of the audience because outside of Alicia and Shun’s mother, the number of female characters is pretty minimal and even those that we get barely qualify as supporting characters in a lot of ways. This is a male-heavy action series and doesn’t try to be anything but that.
With the way the first half ended with the king being dealt within a way that Demetrio didn’t set out to happen, the results of it are what’s going to unfold here. Babel has been proven to be broken, the kingdom has no ruler, and there’s a good bit of chaos as a lot of people are in a kind of free for all while the getting is good. A lot of folks are just trying to do the right thing of course but there are always those that will cause trouble. A good chunk of the first half of this season is the kind of second cour material that you expect where it’s not exactly listless but it’s moving through smaller stories showing what’s going on and how the group in its various factioned elements are handling it. Suffice to say there’s still tension, especially because of the fact that the mission overall caused a lot of this.
What helps to shake things up is an area that I wasn’t sure the series would tackle in having Shun find his way back to the surface world before the end of the series. And he gets to bring Emilio with him for the trip. This turns out to be a good bit of fun from the start, though I wish more time was spent on Emilio’s fish out of water experience and that he got to understand more of the surface world and what it’s like. He becomes far too at ease with it too quickly, though the same could be said of Shun as well, Just in that regard it was that you can imagine he grew up reading stories about such things in books or shows and could make the leap easier. I wanted more from Emilio that would help to smooth his path to becoming more understanding or aware of things in ways that he wasn’t.
That said, the trip to the surface world brings us to the true villain of the series, which is something that we knew was coming based on what we got from the king previously. Here, we get to see Shun reconnecting with his mother and how easily she accepts his being to another world by talking about rumors in archaeological circles over the years. Her connection to what’s going on is a bit deeper but it’s far more about what his father has been up to. Kazunobu Asanaga had found his way into Endora as a young man and had a significant account with the king and Emilio’s father when he was king, but it’s the turn on the story here as to how Kazunobu was the one that changed everything and sought to use the knowledge of Endora for his own goals. And, of course, the truth about Shun’s lineage comes to light and that changes a lot of things. Well, in perception at least because the show does largely just move forward.
The surface world arc is an interesting one overall with what it wants to do and I appreciated it since it shifted Delzaine out of the picture and kind of rehabilitated him a touch, all while making Emilio’s actual father a much darker and more difficult person to reconcile with. The problem is that Kazunobu just isn’t that compelling of an uber-villain and the reasons that he was doing everything simply didn’t register in a strong or meaningful way. He’s built up quite a lot in the surface world with his company but it felt like there as a whole curtain waiting to be pulled to the side to reveal something far darker and more sinister than what we got of him. That it all comes down to a confrontation between him and the cousins of Emilion and Shun is no surprise as it was always going to come down to this type of confrontation and with it playing out by a familiar script. But it just lacked that real weight that it needed to land it with that Kazunobu couldn’t bring to the character.
The back half of Endride does some fun things with its story and it brings everything full circle in a way that you’d expect. In a way, what really made this work better than I think it might have otherwise is that the end of it really is the end as they don’t leave it open-ended. Well, there’s always a way to do more but this series has a final feeling about it that I can appreciate as it’s something that a lot of series don’t do. It may be predictable at times throughout and I do wish that it had a more cohesive animation approach that would have given it more to work with but it also needed more to the characters as they’re very surface level for the most part. It’s a fairly standard boys action series and hits some good notes but with it being an original series I wanted more that showed us something creative and new.
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: August 29th, 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.