What They Say:
Suzaku High School has a big secret, one that punk Ryu Yamada finds himself tangled in after a literal run-in with honor student Urara Shiraishi. Through an accidental kiss the two find themselves in one bizarre body swap. And it becomes a trick they can’t help but use!
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo while the English language dub gets a 5.1 bump, both of which are encoded using the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. The show largely plays to standard high school comedy designs with its mix so there’s plenty of comedy based action back and forth across the forward soundstage that has some nice directionality at times. The 5.1 mix gives it a little more impact but it’s not going to be much different overall, just something that feels a bit louder and maybe with a touch more bass. The design of the show keeps things simple with the characters largely kept toward the center and speaking from there but we get a couple of good thought process pieces along the way that come across well. Placement is decent where needed and overall it’s a solid sounding mix for both tracks with no dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2015, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. Animated by Liden Films, the twelve episodes are spread across two discs with nine on the first and three on the second. A show like this where it’s focused on the fanservice in a big way really needs a good budget and design work to make the fans feel it and it’s definitely on screen as we get some really nicely detailed outfits throughout, and especially as needed, and the fanservice itself definitely has a high-quality feeling about it. Colors are strong throughout with only a few areas of gradients being visible in the source during some sunset scenes. I really liked the look of the show and the encoding brings it to life very well with lots of vibrant moments and some very fluid and problem free high-motion scenes along the way. It’s definitely something that I’m glad got the home video treatment and fans of it will be pleased by it.
The packaging design for this release has a slightly thicker than normal Blu-ray case to hold the four discs from both formats on hinges while also including an o-card with it. The artwork for both is the same but the o-card has a bit more color vibrancy to it because of the cardstock but not by much. The front cover is a nice one with all the main cast of witches together with their hats on and Yamada hidden along the upper left. It’s a decent piece even if it puts one in center position that I don’t think really warrants it. The back cover goes for a white background with a nice shot of Yamada and Shiraishi together that fades nicely. It delves into the series premise well while listing the episode count and extras clearly. The shots from the show are too small to be useful and we get the usual round of production credits and a technical grid that covers both formats cleanly and accurately. No show related inserts are included but we do get artwork on the reverse side with the left featuring a cute cast shot and the episode breakdown while the right has a familiar key visual of the main cast.
The menu design for this release keeps things simple with a static image that splits things mostly evenly. The right side brings us a good character visual for both discs while the left side goes for a flat block off-white color with the logo spread across it in orange at a slight angle, leaving a lot of empty space. The navigation along the bottom goes for an orange block just over the white section that’s quick and easy to use as there’s not much to the release outside of the show itself. It’s really the character key visual work that make sit all work as the logo is just an ugly one in general and the placement of it is weak at best. The language and episode selection is a breeze to use both as the main menu and as the pop-up menu.
The only extras included with this release are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the manga of the same name, this series aired in the spring 2015 season and ran for twelve episodes as animated by Liden Films. The show had some built-in popularity when it appeared since Crunchyroll was bringing over the manga and we had Kodansha Comics bringing it out in print as well as other digital distributors. The manga itself from Miki Yoshikawa kicked off in 2012 and finished in 2017 where in those five years it brought out twenty-eight volumes as serialized in Weekly Shonen Magazine. Suffice to say, the property had an audience and I’ll say that the anime adaptation delivered a great looking and very fun adaptation that left me wishing they had produced more – while also glad that the adaptation has a real sense of closure about it.
The show works a familiar enough harem-style structure in that we know there’ll be seven witches and they’ll be introduced over the course of the series and that’ll start to stack up over time to the point where some get more attention than others. Its primary focus is on Yamada, a second-year high school student who is struggling because he falls into the delinquent category because of past acts and is on the outside looking in outside of one friend that he got along with but ended up drifting away from. His life takes a strange turn, however, when in the stairwell pushing past the quiet but very studious Shiraishi he ends up falling backward into the predictable tumble that leads to an awkward kiss. The problem, however, is that it lead to the two of them swapping bodies.
The flurry of initial events are fun in the discovery phase of this and it draws in others with Miyamura, another young man that Yamada gets along with, and Itou, the supernatural studies fan that’s all in favor of how this group ends up reforming the club devoted to that in order to get a safe space to explore this body swapping ability. The first six or so episodes handles this well and really plays with the ideas while getting us to know Yamada and Shiraishi better than the others but also introducing us to more of the school design with the student council and other issues. What we discover is that there are seven witches (boys and girls) in the school and each have their own distinct power. It’s at this phase that I fell in love with the show because it took its time in using just the body swapping for these first six episodes before revealing that Yamada’s ability is that of copying someone else’s ability by kissing the witch. It’s Shiraishi that has the body swap power and he’s just been taking advantage of that.
That naturally leads to more complications as they begin to figure out who the other witches are, particularly upon the discovery that if all seven come together they can make a wish that will come true in a ceremony. This brings in more of the witches and some underlying story material with the student council president and his plans for the school but it works the primary material with the fun of the cast as Yamada and the rest discover the other witches and invariably find ways to help them. It is a familiar tale in that they’re all mostly loners in different ways, retreating to small groups rather than being part of larger ones, and they have different secrets that he discovers and does his best to help with. Which is why he’s not a real delinquent but just someone who ended up in that position because of bad luck. Yamada has a lot of fun with this from time to time but he also largely does try to do the right thing and just finds himself in awkward positions that results in shenanigans.
Long time anime fans know the structure of a project like this and that since it is just a fraction of the material produced in the manga it will get only so far. But over the course of it, the show does a great job of introducing everyone and giving them enough of a story to feel well-realized and set the connections that will come together as it gets “more serious” for the final few episodes so that it has some weight to it. Normally, I detest when a show tries to do that in the last couple of episodes but it works well here as it was seeded into the overall concept of the seven witches and that there’s something they can do if they’re all together. But it also worked better than it should have because the first half of it keeps things smaller to a degree, both in character and abilities, and it presents us a story that’s more about Yamada and Shiraishi than anything else. And that makes their relationship work as it progresses since they’re given the time to explore the abilities and be together in that way.
Of course, the other thing that lets this series work as well as it does is the fanservice side of it. Some shows just can’t do it right and it just becomes too much but Yamada-kun finds a pretty good balance. The original creator wanted to explore some of that gender understanding aspect in switching bodies and while it doesn’t dig into it as much as I’d like (honestly, hentai stories work it better because they’re less beholden to things) we do get some good story ideas out of it with what everyone is going through and some playfulness in terms of physical attributes. But the show works a lot of sexy comedy along the way with great costumes, lots of flirtatious elements, and the kind of sexy romp material that I was hoping that it would have. It’s not overplayed like some shows but it’s not so restrained that it loses the kind of edge it needs to really draw in the fans that want it to be more than just subtle or a little risque.
I really enjoyed this show a lot more than I expected I would. I was partially dreading it because sexy comedies fall flat far too often and this one has so much material in manga form that I was expecting an open-ended piece. There’s room for plenty more but I really liked that it essentially told one story and gave it closure here, which makes it great for repeat viewings. I loved the visuals, character designs, fanservice, and sexuality of it all and I really enjoyed the characters, even if they are just archetypes, because the cast for both languages made that come alive in all the right ways. Definitely a very fun show that has been long overdue for a release.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Content Grade: A-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: January 9th, 2018
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.