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Eromanga Sensei Volume 1 Blu-ray Anime Review

8 min read

Ecchi!

What They Say:
Masamune Izumi is a high school student who professionally writes light novels. Sagiri Izumi is a shut-in who never leaves her room. One year ago, they became siblings when their parents married one another.

However, one day, Masamune discovers a shocking twist—the artist “Eromanga Sensei,” who has been drawing illustrations for his novels, is none other than Sagiri. His cute little shut-in of a sister, who has been living under his roof, is using an obscene pen name and drawing lewd illustrations. But there’s no way his little sister could be this dirty?!

The Review:
Audio:
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo in the PCM format that gives us an uncompressed take on the show. No English language dub was produced for this release unfortunately but what we do get is a pretty solid if standard stereo mix here. It’s a dialogue-driven work that doesn’t go for big or thrilling moments but it uses the forward soundstage well for when there’s movement and some good comedy moments across it while there’s also good placement when it comes to depth of scenes as well. The score is definitely something that makes out well here with the uncompressed format as it has some good warmth to it. But with the series being pretty much all about the dialogue it comes down to that and it’s problem free throughout, making it a clean and clear mix to enjoy.

Video:
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 six episodes of this set are spread across two discs with three episodes per disc. Animated by A-1 Pictures, the high bit rate here works to the shows favor because there’s a lot of good detail to be had throughout it and some great colors that really shine with vibrancy. The character animation and designs are very appealing with how they’re handled and the encoding brings it all to life in a really great way. The vibrancy really hits a sweet note here with what it does and the shading and layering just makes it look like a very rich show. The smoothness of the animation is also strong in a lot of scenes and the end result is a crisp and clean encoding that will delight fans with how great it looks.

Packaging:
The packaging for this release comes in a thin slipcover style design that has a cute image of our two leads together with a white background and the logo done up in green. It provides a good look at the designs of the show and some of its more unusual elements, such as the bunny ears, but it kind of obscures on the ages a bit. The back cover gives us another look at Sagiri while laying out the premise clearly and doing up the sets features in a blue-green on white that’s easy to read but could be problematic for some. The cover also runs through the technical information cleanly so you know how it’s all set up. The clear Blu-ray case inside uses the artwork from the back of the slipcover in full against white that looks nice as it plays up the innocence. The back gives us a look at Elf in one of her more expressive outfits as she smiles broadly while looking pleased with herself and with some nice detail to it. The reverse side also gives us a nice looking two-panel spread look at Sagiri’s room. The pack-in extras are a bit light for this one as we just get a full-color booklet that breaks down the characters with lots of shots and text details about them.

Extras:
The extras for this release are pretty straightforward as we get the previews for the episodes, some of the promos and commercials, and the clean versions of the opening and closings that change up throughout the episodes.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the light novels by Tsukasa Fushimi, Eromanga Sensei is a twelve episode anime series of which we get the first half here. The light novels began in 2013 and have nine volumes as of this writing and was the follow-up after Fushimi finished the Oreimo series. There’s obviously some familiar themes, or the feeling of ideas, between the series because it dabbles in the area where ages are problematic. That will make this series uncomfortable for many for various reasons and that’s wholly justified for them. I’m certainly not a fan of how this thing sexualizes things but it at least felt like a lot of it wasn’t a constant in your face element and it played in other areas more often than not. With A-1 Pictures animating it, the whole thing looks great and that just complicates it even more.

The show focuses on Masamune Izumi, who starts at fourteen and is struggling with his life in a big way because during junior high he ended up winning an award for a light novel series that he wrote. He’s trying to figure out what to do next and is having no real luck in doing so and it’s stressing him out completely. A year before the series starts his life gets even more complicated with the arrival of Sagiri, who is apparently his sister he’s meeting for the first time and now living with him and the absentee adult(s). In a way that only works in these instances, Sagiri restricts herself to her room for a full year and he never sees her, though he helps by doing laundry and bringing food to her door because that’s what family does. It’s plainly ridiculous on several levels but that’s the setup that we get to roll with.

Where the problem comes in is that while watching a webcast from a popular eromanga artist online, he realizes that as they’re stripping down in the middle of it, not realizing they left the camera on, that it’s the room next to his and that it’s Sagiri. That forces him into her life and begins to open up the two worlds that they exist in. What makes the relationship dynamic even more complicated was that Sagiri, unbeknownst to him, was the one handling the art on his light novels. So they have a weird working relationship already and then he realizes that it’s this twelve-year-old girl that’s actually handling all this perverted material. And she can only illustrate what she knows in person, which means a lot of shots and angles were done through her way of seeing herself through mirrors and pictures taken in her room. Uncomfortable doesn’t begin to describe part of it.

The show builds up a decent little supporting cast around it as we get a friend Sagiri slowly makes through school with Megumi, who’s amusing a little on the ecchi side herself, but we also get an extended addition with Elf Yamada. A year younger than Masamune, she begins to track down who Sagiri because of the clues in that webcast and sets others to help. While it’s kept secret she does figure it all out and ends up moving in next door to them because she sees Masamune as a challenger to her. She’s a light novelist herself with a couple million units moved and it’s obvious that she has an interest in him as time progresses on. She’s a bit hard to take seriously because she’s over the top in a kind of wealthy way but also the whole lolita outfit side of things just left me chuckling. The other character that I do like that doesn’t get enough time here is Tomoe, who works at the bookstore that Masamune visits. She’s got a pretty fun feeling about her but also a layer of seriousness that just delights.

With this being just the first half of the season we don’t get a lot in the way of actual story progress. It’s all about the layered introduction of the main cast and getting past that initial discovery phase that really brings Masamune and Sagiri together. Thankfully, it doesn’t really feel, at least to me, like they’re painting them two of them into a thing but it does have to deal with the weirdness of Sagiri’s age and all the fanservice that comes from it and the things she illustrates. There’s some basic amusement that comes into it with contests that happen, a competition that gets underway, and Masamune starting to learn more about Elf that could lead, along with knowing who Sagiri is now, to him figuring out the next novel series that he’ll end up writing. But we also get the fanservice goofiness such as Masamune having to bring in Megumi to give her a better idea of how to illustrate someone with a larger chest size. That takes on some decidedly weird moments with how it’s set up and how it unfolds – when you remember just how old these kids are.

In Summary:
Just like with Oreimo, there are things to enjoy here and things that will make you cringe. It’s the kind of work that you regularly have to say “only in Japan… “ and not feel entirely sure that you’re comfortable with it. I absolutely adore the visuals for it as A-1 Pictures just delivers when it comes to the animation quality and the color design. It’s all very well put together, flows right, and the packaging and encode delivers a pretty solid product for fans of it. I don’t think it’s quite as bad as some of the initial promotion for it made it out to be be back when it first came out but it’s not without its problems either. I can see a lot of fun things to work with here if only the ages had been just a bit different and I didn’t feel quite so skeevy watching parts of it.

Features:
Japanese 2.0 PCM Language, English Subtitles, Web previews, trailers and commercials, textless ending (from Ep. 1), textless opening and ending (from Ep. 2-7)

Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-

Released By: Aniplex USA
Release Date: June 12th, 2018
MSRP: $64.98
Running Time: 140 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
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.




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