What They Say:
Mari Hayase is on a mission to go back in time and meet eight of the most prominent scientists and inventors in history. With the help of her two friends Waka Mizuki and Jun Mizuki she’ll find herself up close and personal with famous figures like Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, and so many more! What’s her purpose and mission? Hopefully not getting stuck in the past!
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo only as no English language dub was produced for it. Encoded at 192kbps, the show is fairly standard here with what it does as it’s a simple forward soundstage design that doesn’t have to extend itself much. There’s a decent bit of action/effects in the show so that it has some directionality as needed and it handles the time travel elements well enough, but it is mostly just a dialogue driven series with lots of exploration of science. The keeps it fairly simple but there’s some nice placement from time to time and it has a range of sound effects to work with. But in the end it’s all about the dialogue and that’s clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during playback.
Originally airing in 2016, the transfer for this TV series is in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. It’s spread across two discs with seven on the first and five on the second. Animated by WAO World, the show has a fairly simple design that fits in with the approach that was taken as it’s an educational show. It’s not a high end design but it has a lot of the standards of most anime with a simplicity that lets it work. Colors are generally solid throughout with no problems outside of some minor noise here and there while details hold up well. I don’t see too many DVDs at this point so my view is a bit skewed but it comes across as a solidly put together release with its encoding so that fans of the show will be as pleased as they can be with a standard definition project.
The packaging for this release comes in a standard sized DVD case that’s clear and has an o-card that replicates the case artwork. The front cover is the familiar key visual with the two main girls in movement with Shun behind them while the background brings us the pendant with images of the men whose lives they’ll impact. With the ringing effect in the background giving it a bit more impact, it’s a good looking cover that shows exactly what the designs are like and what to expect. The back cover has a few shots from the show along the bottom and a different look at the pendant through key artwork. The premise is well covered here while the extras are broken out cleanly. The technical grid breaks down the rest. The set doesn’t have any inserts and the reverse side of the cover is a mostly solid red background.
The only extras included are the clean opening and closing sequences.
One of the things you often miss out on when you’re single and without kids is just how much educational TV there is. It’s very, very, easy to write a lot of it off and for good reason but when you have kids and you watch it, you see just how much of an impact it has. We tend to see little of this brought over but there are a few that get streamed and even fewer that get licensed. Time Travel Girl is a twelve episode series that aired during the summer season from studio WAO World and it is, essentially, an educational show about science that involves time travel. The show got a simulcast when it came out with Funimation handling it but it’s no surprise that it didn’t get a dub and that it’s a DVD-only release. Good content is good content though and that’s what we have to look at here.
First, let me just preface the rest of this by saying I’ve long forgotten most of my science education and that it was done at a very different time. So these dramatized events are what they are and I’m not going to talk about how realistic it is. That’s mostly because a lot of these breakthroughs that happen only seem to happen because a cute Japanese girl shows up with knowledge of the future and accidentally helps put things on the right path. Now, there’s a sort of darker subplot that creeps in and becomes part of the last couple of episodes, but it’s negligible overall and is just designed to up the tension a bit. Most of what we get are the characters time traveling and fixing things along the way. There are definitely interesting people from history to meet here but it’s also frustrating because it’s kept to a kind of limited pool instead of really reaching out, particularly with girls as the leads and only meeting famous male inventors and scientists when we know history is a whole lot richer. It’s a very one-sided presentation in the line of “history is written by the victors” mindset.
The show focuses on second-year student Mari, a young woman who lives with her mother and younger sister while wishing that her father were there. He ended up going off on some journey three years ago but has been out of touch since. Mari’s best friend is Waka, a fairly standard girl in anime type who is a bit brash and rough in some ways and is totally focused on her interest in a boy named Futa that doesn’t really go anywhere. Waka’s instrumental as her older brother Shun is key to things as Mari, when visiting Waka and in Shun’s room, touches a book that he had gotten previously from Mari’s father. The combination of touching that and the pendant that she has from her father has her tripping through time. Shun’s role is a bit bigger as he knows things about her father and his work and involvement with Mikage, the bad guy of the series who wants to take advantage of the time travel machinery that exists.
What ends up happening is that Mari – and later Waka with her – end up traveling through time and getting involved with a range of people that are close to discovering something, close to giving up, or just needing that extra little push. There’s some time paradox stuff that’s a little frustrating and Mari is very open about her origins that kind of makes you wince even more, but you have to remember that the primary objective of the show is twofold – to entertain and to educate. Mari’s helpful nature here in getting these basic understandings of her time out in the open here fits in with many educational shows on American TV that I’ve seen over the years as well. You have to put yourself into “entertainment mode” with this and understand that it’s objective is to educate in the way that it opens up a young mind to the various fields and concepts that it’s exposing the young viewers to.
The series works a mix of single episodes and two-part pieces with more “complex” stories and they’re fun in who they do deal with. The time with a young Ben Franklin is almost comical in how they present him as a player of sorts and I liked what we get with Faraday, though the problem in most of these stories is that it becomes more about Mari than anything else. Delving into Morse was definitely fun and I liked the Alexander Graham Bell bits as well as Eidson. All the stories bring us some interesting tidbits to what they were involved in and the impact later on in the world but it also just hits so much goofy material that you have to laugh, especially when we get the use of camera phones and tablets to show what their work will eventually help create.
Time Travel Girl is what it is and that’s something we don’t see over here often. Educational anime can be done well and this one does get involved in some fun things at times but it struggles with the how of it and some of the choices that it made. It’s a budget show but it looks as it should for its target audience and I do like largely what it tries to expose the viewers to. Some of the story elements are forced at times and I can envision half a dozen ways to work the concept better, but again, it is what it is. It really kept reminding me of the 1982 series Voyagers! more than anything else, though I know it’s not really similar.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Textless Opening and Closing Songs
Content Grade: C
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: January 2nd, 2018
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic 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.