What They Say:
Matoi Sumeragi’s mother disappeared 10 years ago, she’s just moved in with her Police officer father, and all she wants is to lead a quiet, normal life. Unfortunately, fate has other plans, and when Matoi’s friend Yuma’s family shrine is attacked, Yuma’s attempts to invoke an old spell goes wrong, transforming Matoi into a super-powered Exorcist!
Suddenly Matoi’s in the middle of the battle between good and evil, dealing with secret agencies, keeping her father from finding out about her double life and, worst of all, coping with the fact that when the power in her God Cloak runs out, it leaves her naked, no matter where she is! This is so not cool! She didn’t want the job, but now she’s stuck with it and life is about to get far, far too exciting!
The audio presentation for this series brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. With no English language dub produced, sadly, the show has a pretty good mix where the action has some nice depth and impact as it plays out and uses the forward soundstage well for moving around the creatures, magics, and various dialogue elements as it plays out. There’s a good life to these things in these sequences and combined with a solid score it definitely comes together well. The dialogue side is more straightforward in general during the rest of the show with standard placement and not a lot of creativity but it serves the design of the show itself well and the material comes through in a clean and clear format.
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 and OVA are spread across two discs with nine on the first and four on the second which is also where the bonus materials are. Animated by White Fox, the show has a really great look about it with sharp character designs, some very fluid action sequences, a great color palette used that brings it to life, and some engaging backgrounds that add some good weight to it all. The encoding keeps the fluid animation sequences strong while the colors are solid throughout with no signs of gradients or other problems. I really liked the look of the show and it has some good pop and vibrancy here without going over the top with it.
The packaging for this release comes in a standard sized Blu-ray case with both discs held against the interior walls. The front cover gives us a nice piece of the three main women of the series together in their transformation outfits where they’re smiling and having fun as they’re set against some red and white background pieces that plays to the shrine elements. The logo is eye-catching with the red and white with a dash of green but it’s the character artwork that sells it here in a good way. The back cover carries this background theme through it and that makes it busy, especially on top of all the other things here. The Matoi character artwork is nice but it adds more business to it and doing up the summary of the premise with a red background and adding in green for the tagline just accents that all the more. The variety of colors from the shots from the show just builds on that and makes me wish this went for a less busy approach with more white space overall. The extras are clearly listed as are the episodes while the technical grid breaks down what’s involved here in a clean and easy to read way. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menus for this release are quite nice as we get the cover elements in lighter form with more green and white for much of it while the navigation itself along the left goes for the red and white. The navigation is solid and easy to use while working well both as the main menu piece and as the pop-up menu during playback. What really works is that each disc has its own piece of artwork through the bulk of it with some great background material and character pieces that goes for a longer and wider view so that more characters are there and it’s not just a reworking of cover artwork. It’s new and appealing, feeling fresh and its own thing instead of just a quick and easy reworking.
The extras for this release are pretty nice with what we get as the familiar pieces are here with the clean opening and closing sequences as well as the promos and commercials. We also get a “bonus episode” that’s essentially a recap episode of events that’s cute and fun and good to have even if it doesn’t add too much overall. It’s fun to see it from Yuma’s point of view.
Part of the fall 2016 season, Matoi the Sacred Slayer was an original anime series from White Fox that set Masayuki Sakoi to direct it based on the scripts by Yosuke Kuroda. The show was one that didn’t get a lot of attention overall and even going by the promos that I dealt with prior to broadcast it didn’t really capture my attention much as just another generic magical girl fighting monsters kind of thing. So when the show arrived in full like this, complete with a pretty amusing post-series OVA that plays up the Ghostbusters side of things well, I was very pleasantly surprised by it. I won’t say it’s a fantastic show that does all kinds of new things but what it does do here is execute some familiar things in a strong and competent way that actually has a good sense of fun about it all as well.
The show focuses on Matoi, a junior high school girl who works at the Tenman shrine to make ends meet a bit. Her father is a detective that lives with her as her mother disappeared long ago. Matoi’s a pretty happy and well-adjusted kid who’s friends with Yuma, next in line for the shrine maiden position and someone who knows all the things about what’s expected of her. So when the pair are attacked by some strange creature on the shrine grounds it’s Yuma that steps into action to draw on spiritual powers to save them. That doesn’t quite work as it ends up activating what’s really in Matoi and she becomes the magical girl of the series. It’s kind of wonky at first but the charm of both Yuma and Matoi pull it off and seeing them both on the same page quickly and trying to figure out the surreal situation is just right. What makes it weirdly amusing is that Matoi’s father sees the transformed Matoi and realizes she looks exactly like Matoi’s mother, which gets disturbing at first but paints a picture of a man that lost the true love of his life and is just shocked when it seems like she came back.
What the series does is largely familiar, there’s no denying that, as we learn about the Nights that are appearing in our dimension from time to time as part of some larger plan. Yes, that’s all dealt with in the last few episodes where it goes naturally big and world ending in nature, but prior to that we get some good clean fun of Matoi working to deal with the low level creatures she’s exposed to while seeding the larger plot. Matoi’s essentially someonw who has the ability to bond with the other side of what the Nights are and use that power to defend and protect and there are others like that. One of those that gets more involved is Clarus, a slightly older girl who arrives in the area while trying to deal with some of the Nights herself. Suffice to say, she, Yuma, and Matoi make for an amusing team after some distrust and uncertainty, particularly since Clarus is the stone faced and serious type.
The fun of discovering this world works very well, especially with good character designs and solid animation that feels like it has some style to it without going crazy over the top, made this show a charmer for me. We do get some familiar tropes of course, such as the arrival of a woman named Haruka that’s been investigating the Nights for a while and gets to play up the being a buxom blonde thing that befriends the kids, and a twist or two with some of the support characters in a really good way that I didn’t expect at first, and there’s also just a lot of fun to be had with the whole beach experience where the fanservice is played up a lot. But it avoids playing up the fanservice elsewhere to its benefit as it had me far more interested in the character material and the action as we start to understand more of what the Nights are, what they want, and how they need to be dealt with. Yes, it’s a familiar structure and familiar elements overall, but the show worked far better than I expected and it has the kind of polish to it that is very pleasing.
Matoi the Sacred Slayer may be a familiar series and there’s really no denying that but it’s also one that’s just really well done. The show tells a complete story here with enough of an opening for more and it caps it off with an OVA that delivers some great laughs right out of the gate and shows that you may not always want what you wish for. With strong production qualities, great designs, and a good sense of fun, this is a show that may work for the jaded magical girl viewer and I lament that it didn’t do well enough to warrant a dub as it could have been a lot of fun. The release is solid beyond that with a good looking encoding, some very fun extras, and strong visuals for the menu that sets the mood well. I enjoyed this a lot more than I expected to.
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Japanese Commercials and Promos, Bonus Episode, Clean Opening and Closing Animations
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: September 19th, 2017
Running Time: 325 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.