What They Say:
Based off the hit game comes a new series about the danger lurking in the otaku heaven of Akihabara. Bugged Ones—creatures with the ability to take over anyone they bite—seek their prey in this anime fan’s paradise. When Tamotsu Denkigai encounters one, he nearly loses his life until the mysterious Matome Mayonaka revives him! Now part vampire, he forms a group to protect the streets of Akiba.
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo while the English language track gets a 5.1 bump, both of which are encoded using the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. The show works a fairly standard mix here where there’s a good balance of action and dialogue. The action side works the semi-magical girl approach of sorts with lots of people running around and the craziness of the opponents which can overwhelm a scene. This plays more toward a full stage feeling rather than a lot of directionality but there are some fun moments for that as well. The dialogue side plays with placement a bit more but even that’s somewhat subdued in a way because it feels like most of the time everyone is louder than usual and not quite yelling but close to that. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2017, 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 Gonzo, the show has a very vibrant look to it with a lot of attention to detail in the backgrounds. With it taking place in Akihabara it touches on a ton of things that fans that go there will pick up on and lots of little references which holds up well with all of that detail. The series works some very busy sequences in terms of action as it runs all over the place between the two sides and people caught up in the middle and this comes across really well with the vibrant colors and high motion sequences. There’s a good solid feel throughout it that works in the shows favor with the more cartoonish approach at times rather than something designed to be realistic, at least with the character animation.
The packaging for this release comes in a slightly thicker than usual Blu-ray case that holds the four discs for both formats. The set comes with an o-card that replicates the case artwork but with more vibrant colors and without the wrinkle of the plastic. The key visual used here has its share of awkward poses and body realism to it but it showcases the core four characters well and touches very lightly on Akihabara itself, which is surprising as you’d imagine they’d embrace it more. The back cover goes with blue stripes for the background and it plays well to the red strip along the top and the yellow tagline text. The bulk of it is given over to the summary of the premise, which is done in white text, and it has four decent sized shots along the right that highlights the locations a bit better. The extras are clearly listed while the technical grid breaks down both formats accurately and cleanly. While there’s no show related inserts with the set we do get artwork on the reverse side that has a two-panel close-up of the main cast together.
The menu design goes for a simpler approach with this release as we get static menus for both Blu-ray discs where it’s filled with a lot of color thanks to the character designs before even talking about the backgrounds. Those go for bold colors combined with the red of the navigation stripe along the bottom. The layout is simple but easy to get around in and it makes for quick and easy setup and access both as the main menu and as the navigation stripe as the pop-up menu during regular playback. It may not be a big active menu but with the music and colors it all comes together very well to draw you in and set the mood even if a clip based one would have had more energy.
The extras for this release are certainly fun as dub fans get some audio commentary material to dig into about the show from the English production side while we also get the clean version of the opening sequence. There isn’t one for the ending sequence as the episodes changes up who sings it regularly and ties it to them so it would likely be a music rights issue. We also get a small selection of promos and commercials for the show.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Originally airing in the winter 2017 season, Akiba’s Trip is a thirteen episode series based on the video game series of the same name. The project was animated by Gonzo and certainly got some attention before it aired but never seemed to garner a lot of attention. I’ve seen a lot of shows that dabble in Akihabara from time to time with their characters but few actually set up shop there. The show is one that I suspect will work better for people when viewed in small batches rather than marathoned because it essentially gives us a magical girl harem with a leading male where each episode tackles some particular genre or fetish. That can be overload as it works through them all while largely resetting things back to the established normal before the next episode. And, naturally, it all goes big and serious for the last episode or two in order to give it a big bonding moment of predictability.
The premise is simple in that we’re introduced to Tamotsu, your standard otaku that’s enjoying his time shopping in Akihabara since it’s fairly nearby. The teen knows his stuff and really gets into some of the things he finds there that are rare and unique but he does face a little competition for it. What he doesn’t know is that the woman who tries to get a figure that they both want is actually part of a small group that’s fighting back against a creeping evil in the district known as the Bugged Ones. These creatures are your basic flunkie types that cause trouble in the area that are lead by a higher class version named Halzos. We’re introduced to Matome who is one of those and discover that many in her particular class don’t want to cause trouble but would rather live in harmony and enjoy things like Akihabara together. You can see where this is going?
When Tamotsu gets caught up in a fight and actually dies amid it, Matome brings him back to life by giving him a bit of her power, which now makes him like her in that he’s all powered up and capable of doing a lot of things to fight back. The problem is that he can’t leave Akihabara as there’s a containment wall keeping all of those Bugged Ones in there. His sister Niwaka helps him to cover with their parents by talking about him getting live-in work in the district that will keep him busy and Tamotsu ends up moving in with Matome and Arisa, a blonde otaku from overseas that’s totally into cosplay who uses her copious assets to good effect. Round the group out with Tasujin, a professor from India that looks incredibly young, and you’ve got a decent team for what becomes known as Electric Mayonnaise.
What the show does once setting up this group and getting Tamotsu settled is to basically work the theme of the week kind of episodic run. There may be touches of the larger storyline here once in a while but it’s very weak with weak overall opponents in the mix as well. That’s because the shoe wants to focus on celebrating the diversity of the Akihabara and what it represents. Which is why we get episodes focused on ham radio operators, wrestling moments, a maid/butler cafe episode, card game battles, regular video game battles with Street Fighter II footage used, and naturally a good bit of idol material along the way as well as the midsummer festival gets underway. There’s a lot of things that get run through here and I can imagine that on an isolated weekly basis that they’d be fun. I had fun with several of them at the start once the foundations got set and the show moved forward. But when you marathon it over a day it just piles up and you realize there’s not a lot of there to be had. Which is fun in weekly form for simple comedy. But if you’re looking for something to have a big connective thread, this is a weak one for that.
There’s a lot to like with Akiba’s Pass and how it operates, notably in the whole stripping down the Bugged Ones in order to turn people back to normal. That’s the big gag as the show gets underway but it gets pushed to the background for a lot of the show after that as it wants to spend more of its time with the theme of the week. The themes are fun and the execution is solid but from a marathoning perspective I just felt a bit ground down by the end as it follows the familiar pattern of lots of standalone episodes with loose connections (and the standard tease of a potential relationship between the leads) before it gets serious and things return to a kind of status quo. Funimation put together a good release here with a few extras and a dub in a clean and sharp looking package with a great encode. Fans of the show will be pleased but with new viewers, I’d really suggest spacing this one out.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing, Audio Commentary
Content Grade: C+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: February 13th, 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.