What They Say:
Many months have passed since the Yokohama Disturbance and the massive battle that ensued. Now, the spring season is almost upon them. Tatsuya, the “irregular” elder brother, and Miyuki, his brilliant younger sister, realize that their first year at Magic High School is about to end. The siblings and their friends decide to spend spring break relaxing at a private villa on Ogasawara Island. Tatsuya and the others make the most of their brief vacation until a young girl named Kokoa appears before them. The mysterious young girl who escaped from a naval base tells Tatsuya her one wish.
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track only with it in 5.1 and encoded using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. A lot of the film is made up of dialogue so it has only so much to work with there to stand out but the bigger sequences with the action that are mixed in and much of the third act helps to give it some really good life. It’s in these areas that it gets to really go big in dealing with the forward soundstage and its spatiality while also throwing some decent sounds to the rear channels as well. Dialogue gets a couple of minor moments playing with that but for the most part it focuses on the forward soundstage and works some good placement and depth throughout there with how the scenes are arranged. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally in theaters in 2017, the transfer for this film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. Animated by 8-Bit, the series has just as strong a look as the TV series did which was one that I really liked. Here, it steps outside of the familiar confines of the school and that gives it a slightly different feeling because of the lack of uniforms and the cleanliness of what that situation had. The various settings look great as it looks lived-in and part of the real world while the cast has a strong design about them with plenty of detail and an array of costumes that lets various personalities show off in new ways. The encoding is a strong one with a high bit rate that lets it capture all the detail in crisp clarity while the color design retains its rich feeling and solidity to it when it comes to the darker areas, especially in the third act. It’s a great encoding that will delight fans of the film with how well it presents it.
The packaging for this release brings us a standard-sized clear Blu-ray case where we get a nice soft slipcover to hold it in. The slipcover goes for some really appealing illustration artwork of the main cast of characters for the film on the main side with a silver embossed element that classes it up nicely. The back of the slipcover goes for a more subdued approach with an action sequence that lets its focus be on the summary of the premises, production and technical information, and what extras there are along with the setup and extras. Within the slipcover we get the clear case that uses anime style artwork with a big cast grouping for the visual while the back of it uses a collage style approach that’s muted like the back of the slipcover is as well. There aren’t any inserts in the case nor artwork on the reverse side but we do get a nice small selection of quality postcards included as a pack-in bonus.
The menu design for this release is a little bit of a mixed bag. I like that it works an array of hexagon visuals floating throughout it with lots of fun images from the film to set the ton as it’s set against some dark blue background material. What makes it awkward is that there’s no consistent logo piece to it, which isn’t too awful but still not a great thing, and the menu navigation along the bottom goes for a black on darker blue small stripe that’s just too small even on a larger screen setup. The navigation works well overall in terms of functionality but the style for it makes it harder to read and not as accessible as it should be. It functions well as both the main menu and the pop-up menu with quick access and load times.
The extras for this release are pretty simple as we just get some of the trailers and commercials used to promote the project.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
It took three years after the TV series ended for a theatrical film to be released and we essentially have the same pattern in terms of when the domestic releases hit for the TV show and this one. I enjoyed the TV series for this property back in 2015 a lot more than I expected but it has been three years since those started coming out and while I remember some of the broad strokes of it with what it was done and the tone, I don’t remember too much of it. The film, which takes place between the tenth and eleventh volumes of the light novel series, is a one-off adventure that doesn’t even keep us in the familiar environments, so we get some of the familiar cast mixing with new cast in non-school outfits which complicates matters all the more. The movie is fun and interesting but it’s one that I think really needs the viewer to either be a strong fan or a re-watch of the series first to get back into the right groove for it.
The premise has some of our familiar characters enjoying finishing their first year off at the school and doing some spring break material, which has them on Ogasawara Island where we get to see Miyuki in a cute swimsuit that Tatsuya picked out for her. The creepy level of this pairing continues and I’m actually weirdly delighted by that. The small scenes of them together on the island are fun because we see the silly games that they’re not exactly on top of, such as the watermelon smashing, and the baseline kind of fanservice that the film wants to employ because, well, it must. The TV series has its moments but is pretty restrained overall with a lot of things implied. Here, they get to cut loose a bit more early on because the rest of the film is going to be serious stuff that Tatsuya is drawn into with others providing some supporting roles as it progresses.
While there are twists and turns, some of which work and some of which don’t land as well as they could, the general idea here is that some force is using what looks like magic in an intriguing way that’s essentially threatening the planet. The ability to somehow manipulate asteroids out in space, altering their course, and sending them hutling towards the Earth? The early panic is well played in how it could impact a lot of regions and just how unprepared governments are for such events since it hadn’t really been imagined on that level yet.I like the way it deals with the potential for scale here in abilities and the havoc that can be caused as it really does alter how world governments would operate and the need for a lot more clarity on how it handles those with these abilities. It’s also no surprise that Tatsuya is brought in to help with te situation as we see more incidents starting to ramp up and the need for him to be involved due to his power level in stopping one of the incoming asteroids.
What the film wants to do is to engage in smaller levels with interesting characters, such as Lina being brought in and used to try and deal with events, forcing her to work with both Tatsuya and Miyuki in the third act, as well as some of the other forces that are using this situation for their own goals. I like the visual of how all of this plays out but it never felt like those orchestrating this were presented with enough background and meat to really feel a part of things as opposed to just a background element to set the stage for the finale. There’s an interesting subplot with a new character named Kokoa that’s part of what’s going on and the experiments she’s involved with that really should launch its own storyline to really dig into but again, everything feels like it’s in service to setting up that third act than having a real meaning of its own.
The Girl Who Calls the Stars isn’t a bad movie by any stretch but I suspect it’ll connect more for those that are very invested in few shows or are reading through the light novels than someone like me that consumes as much shows as I do. I really enjoyed the TV series as it came out in its arcs but it’s been three years and there’s just superficial memories now. The film here works a traditional three-act design and there are fun moments in all of them but the real payoff is in the third act with the action and showing the scale of what it is Tatsuya can do, which is half the point of the property in general sometimes I think. Aniplex USA put together a great little package here that will please fans as it delivers a great looking and sounding show that puts a little more Irregular into our lives.
Japanese DTS-HD MA 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Trailers, Commercials
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: C
Released By: Aniplex USA
Release Date: July 10th, 2018
Running Time: 89 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.