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Tsukiuta Complete Collection Blu-ray Anime Review

8 min read

Tsukiuta CoverThe battle of the bands takes all shapes and forms.

What They Say:
Shake it, love! Take to the stage with the beautiful boys of Six Gravity and Procellarum in a series filled with music, sweet dance moves, and even a bit of magic—at least that’s what Shun promises! Follow these two idol groups as they balance everything from school work to living under the same roof. Can they handle the pressures of stardom and sharing dorm space with their rivals?

The Review:
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track only in stereo encoded using the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. The series is one that makes out better in general than a lot of other shows simply because it has so much music that was mixed and designed elsewhere being plugged into it, so there’s a greater range with all the insert songs and having so many different ending pieces. The result is a show that definitely has a warm feeling to it with the music and the lighter areas with the dialogue come across well because of it. These are kept simpler with mostly just back and forth pieces without a lot of drama to be had for the most part and it has a good flow to it with some placement to be had here and there. The music is where the show shines and it does it very well here with a clean and clear problem-free design that will please fans.

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 thirteen episodes are spread across two discs with nine on the first and four on the second with plenty of room to work with. Animated by Studio Pierrot, the series has a really good design to it with bright colors, regular costume changes, and a good level of detail to the settings to give it a greater real-world feeling. The character designs, especially with some of the hair and eye colors, stands out well because of how vibrant they are and the quality of the encoding. The show also dabbles in the CG realm with some of the dance routine pieces where it feels like more of a game and these are handled well with a clean and crisp look and good fluidity as they move. The look of the show is very good overall and the encoding brings it to life just right that will delight fans.

The packaging for this release comes in a slightly thicker than standard Blu-ray case with the discs on hinges for both formats and an o-card that gives the artwork a slightly glossier look thanks to the cardstock. The front cover goes with a good illustration pieces of the two groups all blended together and it’s like a big pile of beautiful boys that will make fans grin wide. The background with its concert stage lighting works nicely but the logo is fairly simple and kind of weak. The back cover extends the concert lighting design and gives us a good summary of the premier and another look at the cast, this time in anime form. Shots from the show are included here as well as a clean look at the extras. The technical grid breaks things down for both formats clearly though one may miss the lack of an English dub if you’re just scanning it. While we don’t get any inserts there is artwork on the reverse side that showcases a great two-panel spread of the main cast in illustration form with lots of smiles.

The menus for this release are kept simple and a little sparse but nicely done as we get the static imagery using the front cover artwork. The illustrations come across as a little wispier and lighter here but it plays well with some nice detail and a kind of warmth to it that’s just right. The layout uses the expanded cover background design with the stage lighting and it works well to get you into the mode. The logo takes up a decent bit of space along the upper right and we get a fairly standard navigation block along the bottom that’s oversized for how little is there but it expands well when in the extras. With no language selection, it’s a minimal menu in general but everything is functional and easy to use both as the main menu and as the pop-up menu.

The extras for this release are copious in that we get the clean version of the opening sequence and all of the closing sequences as each episode has it’s own, making for a fun music video kind of experience to run through.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Kicking off initially as an audio drama/character CD series back in 2012, Tsukiuta moved further into the sprawling media franchise aspect a couple of years ago with some manga releases, this TV series, and two games that came out this year. With popular actors in the mix and some appealing character designs combined with built-in appeal from longtime fans and the accessibility of music even to those not watching the show, Tsukiuta is the kind of show that can be like an earworm. Idol shows like this are fairly regular and I’m long past being a huge fan of them (and, honestly, music in general regardless of origin) but there can be some interesting approaches over the years that keeps me coming back to check them out to see what they do.

Tsukiuta works a season-long storyline that’s largely in the background but is effective in pushing the characters where they need to be without it coming across as the grueling and soul-crushing venture that it’s far more likely to be. We’re introduced to two groups within the Tsukino Talen Production company with Gravity Six and Procellarum, both of which are male as the female groups are largely kept out of this project. Being part of the same agency means that there is a level of competitiveness to them but it’s not a cutthroat kind of deal. The show actually finishes off its first episode with the leads of both groups together on stage after a handshake event where they reveal that they’re planning a joint concert for the near future. That sets things in motion for some mildly competitive elements in that everyone wants to get better to ensure that their careers continue and because they enjoy it.

With a lot of material throughout the series, it all comes to a close with the final two episodes as the actual event is nearing. This is where it’s interesting in a different way as we see the two group leaders coming up with how the show should be done after approving the outline and the putting in their own creative touches. Some of it is fun as you see the managers and others getting a little wary, even if the big boss does sign off on it overall, but other areas made me cringe a bit, such as when Hajime from Gravity Six asks for a blank spot to be left during their set for a new song. Considering how much goes into each individual song from a staffing/production standpoint, leaving a blank spot just comes across in a cringey way, even if you know they’re just trying to play up a mystery. Too much looking at it from the real world! But that build up works to a season finale that involves almost the entire episode being performances that lets the bulk of the main cast get their individual attention. For those that are here for the music and the characters through it, each episode offers some music but this finale really serves it up big time.

As for everything in between? It’s a bit of a mix that actually had me starting off in a hopeful manner. The early episodes showcase the guys in different configurations dealing with real people, such as the boy in the opening episode begrudgingly going to the handshake event for his sick sister and ends up spending time with them out in the world for a while. There are a few similar things where they do real-world interactions that humanized them very well rather than the forced public events. We also got an amusing two-part retreat storyline that puts both groups on an island where a storm hits and they lose power and the ability to leave it. It’s nice to see them in a more casual mode here and doing something to figure out how to get back in touch with everyone and of the place even if it spreads a little thin the further along it gets. But mostly what frustrates is that just before the halfway mark it started focusing more on the guys and just their performance sides a bit and less on the interactions with fans and I was surprised how much it bothered me. That said, the episode with a crew following them throughout their day from when they wake up was definitely amusing as it felt like an EdTV variation that ends with one of them getting to shine in an anime production in the most comical of ways.

In Summary:
While Tsukiuta didn’t knock it out of the park for me it also didn’t bore me silly like some other shows in this genre have recently. With no affection for the music, I’m looking for interesting ideas and character arcs and this one has some potential but doesn’t quite go far enough. But what it does do it delights in, especially the early part, while later episodes have some fun moments. Fans of the music will love all the performances, especially the last episode, but also all of the closing sequences with their variation – which are thankfully done in clean form as well. Shows like this are still something of a hard sell outside of Japan and a few other areas but I’m glad they’re doing well enough to justify being done like this, and without a dub for understandable reasons (even if I miss when anime songs used to get dubbed). A well put together release that will make fans happy.

Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closings

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

Released By: Funimation
Release Date: September 5th, 2017
MSRP: $54.98
Running Time: 325 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 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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