What They Say:
Fast, hard-hitting, and intense, rugby is the sport where anyone can shine! First year Kenji Gion has never played, but after a run-in with Sumiaki Iwashimizu, a tall and hesitant first year, he’s ready to prove he has what it takes-despite his lack of height. But can this mismatched duo fit in on an already struggling team? They’ll have to get it together and go all out!
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo while the English language dub gets a 5.1 boost, both of which are encoded using the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. The show is one that works a fairly standard stereo design to it with the action mostly feeling like it hits the center channel with the way the player interact with each other in up close and intense ways. The 5.1 side has a bit more impact to some of these scenes but both tracks handles it very well. The game itself is done up nicely with how it moves across the screen and you can get a good feel for it through here with the back and forth as the ball moves. The general dialogue side of the show is more straightforward, though there are some fun moments of yelling that make out well with both tracks. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular 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 thirteen episodes are spread across two discs with nine on the first and four on the second. Animated by Madhouse and TMS Entertainment, the series has a really great design to it as it provides a real world school setting that’s not too overly done but with a great focus on the characters and their designs, which goes for the muscular and well-built in a way that’s probably more for the adult players than a high school setting but works to provide the right feeling for the show. There’s some good color design to the show that comes across in a very clean and problem free way while the big action moments with the game play and practices is very fluid and really delivers a great sense of impact throughout it. It’s a great looking show with a clean and appealing transfer that brings the quality of the animation to life wonderfully.
The packaging design for this release brings us a slightly thicker than normal Blu-ray case to hold the discs for both formats and it comes with an o-card that replicates the case artwork. The artwork is appealing with the two new students taking up good positions and the team captain behind them while set against some traditional rugby designs and some plays setup alongside the left. The logo is decent but it’s just a kind of weird title to begin with so it never quite fits right, especially with the double exclamation marks. The back cover adds a little more character material and a couple of small shots from the show that are decent, but it mostly focuses on a pretty good summary of the premise and a couple of decent oversized taglines. The extras are clearly listed and the technical grid breaks down both formats cleanly and accurately. While there are no show related inserts included we do get artwork on the reverse side with more Japanese cover artwork that has different character pairings.
The menu design for this release goes for a static layout with the character cover artwork used across the discs. This works nicely as the color design is good and inviting with how bright it is and there’s some good details to all of it in the expanded form with the plays mapped out and the stripes themselves. With the navigation along the bottom, it’s quick and easy to setup and move through both as the main menu and the pop-up menu during playback. There’s not much to the release beyond the show itself and a few extras so it’s quick and easy with a nice layout that has some mild thematic elements that make out well because of the artwork used.
The extras included are the various versions of the opening and closing sequences, which is always welcome.
Based on the manga by Shiori Amase, All-Out is a twenty-five episode anime series that came from Madhouse and TMS Entertainment during the fall 2016 season. It ran for two consecutive seasons and this set has the first half of it. The manga itself began in 2013, making it a fairly recent property at the time the animation decision was made, and it’s up to twelve volumes since then while being serialized in Monthly Morning Two. Kodansha Comics picked it up for domestic release and is giving it the digital-first treatment before deciding about any print side. The show is one that I went into like many sports shows in that there are things I know about the sport but I’m not fully invested in it. Anime and manga are great for delivering some strong “niche” projects like this where it gets an almost A-list treatment so that fans of both the manga and the sport itself feel treated right. This one leans heavily on the realistic side with some minor dramatic effects and that makes for an engaging show.
The series works in a familiar way with an entrance ceremony where we’re introduced to Gion, a short and aggressive young man, and Sumiaki, the tall and somewhat more cautious type, almost timid but not quite. The two are your standard mismatched types with some minor history that helps to get them into the world of rugby in the school. It’s really Sumiaki that has the history here as he had some problems while playing in middle school that has kept him from wanting to join, something that comes up later in this half of the season that shows a fairly traumatic problem with some significant bullying in effect because of it, and that helps to flesh him out more than Gion. Gion, for the most part, is our standard blank slate character that the world of rugby is introduced to us through so we learn with him. I’m by no means a rugby expert as I only know a few small things but they do a solid job in presenting the education to the viewer through him and his excitement about is fairly infectious.
Of course, joining any existing team is not going to be easy even when they do the tryouts and open sessions to build the membership. The eam is lead by Sekizan, the captain who works closely with Hachioji, who himself got Sekizan into rugby during their early admittance a few years ago as well. That flashback, which also comes late in this half of the season, was welcome to show the kind of bond that formed between them and comes across as a kind of toned down instance of Gion and Sumiaki. The rest of the cast doesn’t get a whole ton of attention but there’s a problem member or two on the team that makes things difficult as they try to get underway. The series works this half pretty much as you’d expect with a lot of training, some amusing ways of training and building up body strength, and a few practice matches and games along the way while setting their sites on this sports’ version of the nationals.
Those who watch sports series will find plenty of familiar in the structure and setup so it’s just a different sport. This is the kind of series that keeps its focus largely on the sport with little time outside of it with social material or even school material for the most part. And female influence is even weaker than most with some very minor moments overall. What I do like that it does in this context is that we get the new coach that’s helping out, an older man who knows his stuff, seeing the potential in these boys and wanting to help them grow. But he’s also trying to help the actual team advisor on the staff that checked out on them a few years back when that group was just a bunch of screw off types. While it’s easy initially to write off the advisor because we’ve seen this path before, once we see what he went through and the awakening he has it’s actually very authentic and emotional, resonating in a very good way so that you’re rooting for this team to come together better and tighter because of it. The familiar is certainly there but exploring why he was like this and that it was a legitimate thing to write them off helps to separate it a good bit from the pack.
The first half of All Out!! does exactly what it needs to here in tried and true sports fashion. We don’t get a lot of who these character are outside of school or outside of rugby but that’s not the point. This is a journey of young men looking to become something and have something to work toward that requires them to really step up and become something more. Though there’s not a lot of character depth to dig into here overall with what it wants to focus on what we do get works well to draw us into the sport and the characters it wants to engage us with as they go on this journey. Funimation’s release is solid with a great looking encode, a fun dub, and a good package that does all it needs to. Fans will be pleased to own another sports series in their collection.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Openings, Clean Closing
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: February 20th, 2018
Running Time: 325 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.