What They Say:
In part 2 of the absurd comedy series, Saiki Kusuo is your typical 16-year-old high school student, except for one thing—he’s got psychic powers. It’s really not as great as it sounds, though. High school isn’t making things easy, and 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 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 series is 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 Kusuo and Hairo 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 get a fun selection of shots from the show as well. The case artwork gives us a shot of Kusuo and Teruhashi together and we get artwork on the reverse side with a heavy magenta block with the logo and a full panel image of Kusuo. 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 final episode getting an English language commentary from the team.
The first half of this season was a real surprise to me after being completed turned off the show after the initial confusing simulcast of it with daily episodes that culminated in a weekly block put together. Getting into the show in this form, a more traditional packaging of it, got me to really enjoy the zany comedy and all its simple weirdness that reminded me more of a show out of the 80’s or early 90’s than anything else. With a huge amount of material to draw from with the manga and plenty of things to tweak and nudge with its adapted into anime form, the show found a sweet spot that other works aren’t currently occupying and it made me quite the surprising fan of it.
Yet, as much as I enjoyed the first half of this season I knew better than to barrel right into the second one because of diminishing returns with any comedy, especially in a marathon session. With a few other shows watched between, even a week felt like it reduced my enjoyment overall, particularly since it was past the setup phase and more into just the comedy and weirdness itself. This half of the season does introduce some new things that work well, such as Kusuo’s grandparents when the family goes to visit. It’s amusing since they don’t go often and the grandparents don’t know what Kusuo, but Kusuo knows all about them. Or, more specifically, his grandfather that comes across as gruff and angry but is really just a tsundere type toward his daughter in ways that walk right up to the line of creepy and dares itself to go further. It’s fun to watch how Kusuo’s father handles the constant beratement but also the reveal to them of what Kusuo really is and their inability to really get it. It’s a good addition to the series.
Not so good is the introduction of Kusuo’s older brother who is studying in London. Kuusuke is a genius in his own right and is working on all sorts of ways to beat him since he’s never been able to. It’s over the top comedy in a series that’s primed for it but so much of it just falls flat that it was very hard to get into. A lot of that is on Kuusuke himself as he feels like even more of a cliche than most of the other characters but it’s also the way everything goes so big so quickly, including his plan to bring over several of Kusuo’s friends in order to really put the screws to him. It’s not something that comes together well and it doesn’t do Kuusuke any favors. On the plus side, their parents are there which is always fun and seeing them essentially going on some dates in the city is definitely cute.
The gags for the season are all over the map as you’d expect and there’s always fun to many of them. The general ideas are there when it comes to the core of who the characters are and we don’t get much in the way of new introductions to shake things up yet but rather a push toward some minor exploration and expansion of the existing humor. Kusuo is almost always at the center of it, even as an observer, and it works well to ramp things up. I particularly like how he ends up planning his summer break to be alone to do his own thing for a while but through some accidental moments ends up agreeing to a range of things that fills up his entire summer. That means lots of trips, group events, and club retreats that explores the other characters more than anything else. And it works because slowly but surely his attempts at just being average and unnoticed ends up earning him a lot of friends.
That’s what makes the later material here work so well as the group plans a birthday party surprise for Kusuo. Though he’s done his best to be out of the way an uninvolved he’s very much a part of this group that has formed. And while it frustrates him more often than not, we see plenty of moments where he’s helping them out and wanting to do right by them without them even knowing. And that shows a softening to him that was not there at the start of the series when he would orchestrate everything to be completely out of the way. He’s still not all in or gung-ho about it but what he does here is pretty good and seeing the way everyone did so much to try and make a fun surprise party for him has him doing his best in his own way to make sure that they enjoy it even if it’s not his own thing.
The second half of the first season didn’t hold up quite as well for me as I had hoped, even with pushing a gap between the sets so that it didn’t all blur together. Comedy/gag series can be difficult to marathon simply because it all becomes a bit much but Saiki at least has a whole lot of variety to it so that it’s constantly changing what it’s doing and which characters it’s involving. There’s a lot of fun to be had with this show and this set does a lot of good stuff while also evolving the cast into friends without Saiki realizing it. I’m glad it spent more time on the parents and introducing the grandparents and just running with so many weird situations and solid physical comedy. A lot of this reminds me of the anime shows I got in the early days when it comes to comedy and that works very well in delivering laughs in a way that other current shows simply aren’t doing. Definitely worth checking out.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Episode 24 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
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.