What They Say:
The contest to become the opening group for Triple S may have been shaken up by the arrival of the now seven-member group HEAVENS, but QUARTET NIGHT generously declines to take advantage of the decision in their favor… as long as the other two bands agree to an unexpected new phase of the competition!
Are the other two rival groups ready for a new series of cross-band duets, with each song pairing one member of STARISH and one member of HEAVENS? Will Haruka be up to writing yet another round of spectacular songs? It’s time to pick up the tempo and sing to the balconies as the musical one-upmanship only gets wilder!
The audio presentation for this release brings us only the original Japanese language track in stereo using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. While I do want to see as many shows dubbed as possible, shows like this unfortunately hit too small of a market most of the time and are hard to sustain – especially as there are two additional seasons to it. The show does make out very well here with what it has since it’s a mostly dialogue driven piece punctuated by some strong musical performances in both the vocals and instrumentals which allows it to shine with the format used. There’s a real warmth and richness to the musical moments that you find yourself really appreciating the differences between a 2.3mbps audio track and a 192kbps track. Dialogue is generally well done here as it’s mostly just the cast standing around talking with some emotional moments where beyond that it’s just the principal who bounces around the stage with his dialogue. Everything comes across clean and clear and has a strong finished feeling to it that’s free of dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2016, the transfer for this thirteen episode TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The show is spread across two discs with nine on the first and four on the second. Animated by A-1 Pictures, it has a really striking look to it overall with what it offers with the detail of the characters and their designs and the fluidity of the animation in the big dance and song numbers. There’s a distinctive look to the character designs and their colors with the eyes, which can be disconcerting at first, but the whole thing is just striking from top to bottom and the transfer captures it beautifully. The content of the show is something that may not be to a lot of general fans liking, but A-1 Pictures put in a top notch effort here and the payoff is definitely strong with what we get as it’s a beautiful looking series.
The packaging for this release comes in a standard sized Blu-ray case where the cover artwork uses the whites, pinks, and blues heavily that blends nicely into the cover itself. The logo kept along the middle has a fun little design quality about it even while being at an angle as it uses blues and whites with a pinch of pink. The bulk of the cover is given over to the characters whose expressions are bright and full of performance types which really gives it a lot of shine, especially with all the pop designs used. They’re all nicely designed here with some good detail and color definition that makes it stand out while hitting the kind of notes that will attract the target audience. The back cover uses mostly the same colors with a little purple drawn into it to give it a slightly busier feeling. There’s a cute tagline with it and we get the breakdown of what’s included and the extras along the top. The shots from the show round out both sides with a good look to them and we get a decent premise that dominates the center aspect of it while not giving away too much. The production credits cover both sides of the equation well and the technical grid lists all the details accurately and cleanly. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The extras for this release are a bit meager but they’re the minimum that I always hope for with the clean opening and closing sequences.
Coming a bit over a year after the third season landed, Uta no Prince-sama came back for its fourth season in the fall of 2016. With that marking five years since the show got underway and a ton of home video and CD sales along with a whole host of merchandise and concert material, the property continues to be very popular. And it’s something that I’m glad that it is even though the music has zero impact on me, having been worn to a nub with the heavy use of music based shows for many years now. That side of the show doesn’t do a thing for me at this point, though fans essentially get a two to three-minute performance piece at the end of each episode as well as the big final act segment, and that leaves me with latching onto the characters. Which, admittedly, aren’t all that easy to connect with anymore.
What I do get a lot of enjoyment out of is the animation itself. While I know the eye design is something that bugs a lot of people it was something that I liked a lot from the start and the overall production quality. That shines through here in this season throughout with what the cast has to do, the cast designs themselves, and the big concert number. I even really liked the almost obnoxious costume design that we get in the big finale with the hats and everything else associated with it. That said, I far, far, preferred their stripped down version afterward with just t-shirts and pants with their band names on it. The quality of the production values here hasn’t been in question in past seasons and it’s not here either, which makes this a delight to watch just from that perspective.
What is this season about? The way events played out with QUARTET NIGHT winning the event but declining to partake in it, a new showdown is underway for the SSS event that will come later. In order to get everything together for that, it’s decided that the groups must combine together to perform songs as written by Haruka to see who will do it the bets. This gives Haruka a reason to be involved in the series as she writes to their personalities and styles while the guys get to push themselves by dealing with people that they’re not exactly on best terms with. Done as a series of duets, we essentially get that for most of the season where the two are paired together and a range of things happen before they do finally come together in unison and sing. That happens for nearly all of it except for an issue with Otoya along the way that spills into a second episode.
The duets are what they are and I’m sure the fans love seeing STARISH and HEAVENS perform together in this breakout sessions like this. The non-music side plays with different things, such as TV show appearances, celebrity sports events, and some other bits along the way that are largely forgettable but serve to build a bond between the two that will perform. The problem I ran into as a casual viewer of the show is that in the now eight years that I’ve been watching this franchise I’ve lost track completely of who is who in terms of backstory and what makes them who they are. So I can’t tell if it’s in line with what has come before (presumably it is) and if it really changes anything with what they may reveal along the way in some cases. Otoya’s arc with its two-episode stint gives us a bit more to work with when it comes down to what he struggles with, but it’s all just moving pieces until we get the drama before the big concert and the concert itself – just like past seasons.
While I was never the target demographic for this series it is one that I’ve enjoyed a good bit overall. The problem is that the longer it goes on and essentially repeats the same thing with minor deviations each time the less interesting it gets because it doesn’t feel like there’s any progress or a real and achievable end goal for it. At the same time, it’s what’s working for the bulk of fans going by the sales and the number of CDs that get churned out. Sentai continues to do well by the show with both formats offered and a strong encoding to bring it to life but little beyond that – which is expected. This isn’t a show that will gain much by a dub existing and just add more complications. I suspect for fans that this season largely works well but it’s continuing my feelings from the previous season in that I wish it was offering more meat to it.
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing.
Content Grade: C
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: April 3rd, 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.