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The Disastrous Life Of Saiki K Part 1 Blu-ray Anime Review

9 min read

It’s not easy being able to essentially alter the world to your whims.

What They Say:
Saiki Kusuo is your typical 16-year-old high school student, except for one thing—he’s got psychic powers. Incredible ones. In fact, he’s so powerful, he could probably rule the world if he wanted to. Don’t be mistaken though, it’s really not as great as it sounds. After all, you wouldn’t want to hear the weird things people think or all the spoilers they know! And surprise parties? Forget about ’em.

No, this psychic genius is all about keeping a low profile. But high school isn’t about to let that happen. His quirky classmates and embarrassing parents just can’t leave him alone! He’s got the world at his fingertips, but the one thing he’ll never get…is a break.

The Review:
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo along with the English language dub that gets a 5.1 boost, both of which are encoded with the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. The show is one that plays to standard comedy conventions so the stereo design is one that doesn’t have to stretch itself all that much. It does get to play with some fun things, however, such as the psychic/telepathic moments and some wonky sounds for various effects so it all has some playfulness to it. There isn’t a lot of noticeable directionality through the series but it does have its moments where it works it just enough to accentuate a scene. While the opening and closings give us the bigger musical moments, the instrumental side of it works pretty well and adds a nice little bit of additional warmth to the show. Overall, it’s a solid show that comes across cleanly and clearly without any problems during playback.

Originally airing in 2016, the transfer for this TV serie sis presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twelve episodes of this series are spread across two discs in a nine/three format. Animated by JC Staff, the series has a simpler animation design to it that may feel a bit cheap in some ways but works for the kind of material it’s adapting and allows it to run longer by not being a high-budget kind of production. It’s a solid looking show that hits the right theme for a comedy and the encoding captures this basic look in a good way with vibrant colors as needed and a smooth feeling when it comes to the higher motion sequences. The colors throughout maintain a very clean and solid look to them and that works well when you have standout vibrant areas like Saiki’s hair. The show may not be one that will have you raving about animation quality but the encoding captures the look of it spot on and without any problems.

The packaging for this release comes in a slightly thicker than standard sized Blu-ray case with an o-card slipcover that replicates the case style with different artwork. Which isn’t a good thing as these kinds of covers drive my eyes nuts. The psychedelic color design as it focuses on Kusou and Riki together in all kinds of wonky positions catches the eye to be sure and it’s also something that really does work because of the nature of the designs and just the look of the title character as it almost distracts you from it. The logo adds to the craziness and I’m amused by the oversized Funimation Digital Copy logo along the lower right as it’s far, far, too big. The back cover goes for a lot of magenta and yellow as it breaks down the premise with a little suggested purchasing power to it and we gert a fun selection of shots from the show as well. The case artwork gives us a shot of Kusou and Shun together and we get artwork on the reverse side with a heavy magenta block with the logo and a full panel image of Kusou. Frankly, the packaging works for the show but it leaves me with something approaching a migraine if I look at it too long.

The menu design for this release keeps things simple as it takes the psychedelic design from the cover and applies that here as a static menu with character artwork. It’s bright, colorful, and I couldn’t keep it on long without feeling a little bit ill. The navigation stripe along the bottom goes for the bright magenta with small text that makes it even more fun to navigate, but everything does work smoothly and without problems. The layout is standard fare material and everything hits the necessary functionality both as a main menu and as a pop-up menu during playback.

The extras for this release are a bit minimal as the only Japanese ones are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences. We also get an original extra here with the first episode getting an English language commentary from the team.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the manga by Shuichi Aso, The Disastrous Life of Saiki K is a twenty-four episode season that originally aired during the summer of 2016. THe original manga began back in 2012 in Weekly Shonen Jump and has twenty-three volumes to its name, which means a whole lot of content to draw from. When the show was first simulcast I had tried it out but it was structured in a way that really didn’t work well for me. It was done as short-form episodes with new ones coming out daily that were then compiled into a regular length episode. Daily anime was more than I was interested in and I didn’t want to deal with the compiled episodes knowing a season set was going to be coming down the line as well. And at the time this started things were not made that clear as to how it was being presented, so it was easy to suddenly be overwhelmed by the number of episodes there were.

The premise of the series is one that’s fun but it just crams too much into things at the start before getting a bit looser and freer with what it wants to do. Kusuo Saiki is a high school student who was born a psychic that showed abilities from very early on, such as talking at two weeks old, walking young, and doing a host of other things. While the usual thing may be research or doctors, his parents are the kind of silly types that were just delighted by it and hid it while enjoying a strange life that came from having a child that they could communicate with from almost the start. For Kusuo, he’s spent his time ensuring that nobody knows that he’s like this because he prefers a quiet and simple life. When you’re hyper aware of everyone around you thanks to telepathy, you’re always on guard and always adjusting what you do in order to keep interactions minimal. His best skill, in the end, is his ability to keep distant and come across as average.

Which is hard to believe considering the pink hair, the antenna, and the glasses. But it’s explored in interesting ways throughout these episodes as we learn how he used his abilities over the years to influence and reshape the world so that it’s normal. That let more colorful hairstyles become the norm and people see his antenna as fashion choices or they barely register at all. We even see this happen in the moment when a fellow student is caught by a teacher working an afterschool job and he feels bad about it, thinking that it shouldn’t be like that, and the nature of the school rules change to accomodate that without anyone batting an eye. Realistically, Kusuo is operating on God Mode but doing his best to play as a regular play as often as he can, only using his powers to achieve that outside of some accidental moments ot in areas of his general survival. You really do feel bad for him in a lot of ways.

Kusuo’s life in dealing with these things is definitely fun for the viewer to watch unfold, though one can imagine in reality it would simply be overwhelmingly demanding to the point of breaking. We’re introduced to a decent run of characters, including his wacky parents, that populates his days. Riki is someone he kind of keeps close because the guy is fairly dense in most ways and that makes it easy for Kusuo as there’s not much to read, giving him a blank. Shun’s someone who’s convinced of a conspiracy group in the school called Dark Reunion causing troubles that’s outlandish and comical. And we get a range of other guys that pop in and out as needed for the short-form gag stories that we get. The female side is a bit lighter but has its moments, such as the beautiful Kokomi that everyone is after and she’s after Kusuo because he’s the one that doesn’t react to her. He also has to fend off advances from Chiyo, a fellow student who has a huge crush on him and dreams of him romantically, which he gets exposed to thanks to the telepathy. It’s amusing to see how he has to handle both of them while doing his best to not alter reality at the same time.

The nature of the show with how it’s structured is difficult to break down because it’s filled with short stories.The twelve episodes here have something like sixty stories to them overall and while there are a couple of two-part pieces along the way, they’re not things that you break down. It’s more of the overall vibe as we understand how Kusuo survives in this world and the things he’s done to alter it. It’s fun watching him avoid others in order to get home to watch his favorite shows – TV is unpredictable to him unlike people because he can’t read their minds. But we also get weirdness long the way as he can do full body transformation and can also speak telepathically with animals, which leads to an amusing piece with cats. But he’s unable to read bugs minds and they freak him out so he’s deathly afraid of them, which is comical since he escapes by teleportation to a remote island in order to get away. There are so many quick hit little bits that it does pull together well but it really does become a blur if you marathon it.

In Summary:
I really, really, did not like The Disastrous Life Of Saiki K when I was first exposed to the simulcast because it felt like a mess that just pushed me away. And that had me wary of getting into the home video releases as well, particularly with packaging and menu choices that gave me a headache. The show itself, however, is utterly delightful, wacky, and strangely old school in a lot of ways that I know I’ve been missing for some time. It’s not high-quality animation or trying to be as something with more robust high-end designs would make this a far different and more difficult show to work with. But this has the right kind of “cheapness” about it to work in the best ways for the most laughs. It’s a rough start with the first couple of episodes to get into the rhythm of it but once past that it’s firing on all cylinders and loads up lots of laughs.

Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Episode 1 Commentary, Textless Opening & Closing Songs

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

Released By: Funimation
Release Date: December 26th, 2017
MSRP: $64.98
Running Time: 300 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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