What They Say:
Finding the last of the Kinship Ore has become Lute’s top priority! However, both Dr. Manelger and Cheval continue to cause problems for the group, and as the legend of Redan unfolds, Blighted monsters remain a constant threat. The power of Kinship is a guiding force in Lute’s fight against the Black Blight, and the tail end of a long, fun-filled adventure comes to a head!
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo while the English language track gets a 5.1 boost, both of which are encoded using the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. The show makes good use of its sound design with how it operates as there’s some good directionality across it with the way the action plays out and a lot of the dialogue follows along with that. The use of the monsters certainly adds to the creativity of placement on screen with flying scenes and lots of things running around between them and the characters themselves. The score for the series gives it plenty of life as well and the combination of all of these elements work really well to make it an active and engaging design. It’s a good solid pair of tracks and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in the fall of 2016 before finishing up in the spring of 2018, the twelve episodes for this set are presented in their original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twelve episodes are spread across two discs with nine on the first and three on the second. Animated by David Production, the show has a really great look to it where it’s very detailed, very fluid with much of what it does in the quality of the animation, and some great colors. The CG aspects of the monsters is something that’s certainly different from the rest of the show so it always has that mild element of not fitting exactly, especially since the colors feel more vibrant with them, but it fits in context to the show itself as something almost otherworldly. The encoding for the release gives us a really strong looking show that you wouldn’t normally expect for something based on a game like this but it just comes across in a great way with solid colors, a clean look, and just something special.
The packaging for this release is done with a slightly thicker than normal Blu-ray case as it holds discs for both formats in it on hinges but unlike past volumes, it does not come with an o-card that uses the same artwork on it as the case. With a picnic setting for this volume, we get something that’s definitely lighter than the previous volume and has a nice sense of fun about it with everyone together and enjoying some good food. The back cover uses a lot of its space for a great big visual from the show with Avinia that gives us some brightness and kind of life it needs. We get a small summary of the premise against a white background below it as well as the simple listing of the extras and the always simple but clean breakdown of the technical side for both formats. While there are no show related inserts with this release we do get a great two-panel spread on the reverse side with more character artwork that’s colorful and stands out wonderfully.
The menus for this release are simple but well done as we get the same static image for each disc that uses the cover artwork well to show off its detail and colors. The character and monster designs brought into it dominate nicely to add in more detail to the design. The logo takes up a lot of real estate overall but it’s a big one to begin with and the colors work well to stand out and really draw you into it. The navigation strip for it is kept along the bottom with a basic dark blue with white text that’s easy to navigate as both the main menu and as the pop-up menu during playback.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The first season of Monster Hunter Stories Ride On wraps up with this set and as of this writing there’s still that massive amount of uncertainty in the mix. The first season finished up in September 2017 and the second season started just after that but it ended up not being licensed for simulcast for unknown reasons and no home video pickup for the remaining episodes through seventy-five have hit. So, for all intents and purposes at this point, this is the end of the show for now. And quite honestly that’s not a bad thing. While the epilogue gives us a nod toward the dangers that come there is a good sense of finality about the events in the here and now that you can move on from the show feeling pretty good about it overall.
The journey in these episodes is fairly well done as it unfolds and gives us a pretty straightforward run with what it is it wants to do. There’s a continuing push toward dealing with the blight as it stands but it keeps things in a very human way here. Lute and the rest have their journey and they move along it well but the early part for me is more interesting in what Cheval is doing. His intensity is growing in terms of dealing with the problem that already separated him from Lute and the others but we see how it’s becoming even worse for him. So much so that the two friends that have journeyed with him have reached their limit in what they can actually handle when it comes to him. Cheval’s anger is pronounced and that it’s driven these last two allies away shows just how far gone he is since usually these are the types there for the whole journey that provide a little humanity at the end.
It doesn’t take long for Cheval to fall in with Mengelare as that journey continues to look for the Kinshop Stone and what he wants to birth from that. It’s not an easy relationship between the two men as there’s easy distrust and Cheval’s anger is still what’s driving him as it progresses. When Cheval later on ends up in some one on one time in a field with Lute as the story plays out it felt like a scene out of The Walking Dead. You wouldn’t put it past Cheval to put down Lute after all that happened. Not that it does happen but it’s made clear just how Cheval is at this point and they keep holding onto that until it hits this point and the first cracks start coming through that will allow them to bring things back to something resembling normality by the end of the season. Which is welcome since Cheval and Lute are fun to watch playing off each other and I really cringed at the sequence where Cheval even threatened to end his own monstie.
There’s some good time spent with Lute and the others as they try to unravel what’s going on and all signs eventually point to a lost location called Celione where they may find the stone that they’re looking for. It’s not exactly a team-up event but the party bulks up a bit and it ends up throwing them exactly against Cheval and Mengelare as one would expect. The problem is that this area was lost and sealed ages ago because of what resides there and bringing the blight to the world through the creature there, an immensely powerful one, isn’t exactly the smartest thing to open. There’s a couple of nice layers to explore within it for those far more invested than I in the series but what we get is a strong showcase that brings out a great look at the action side of the series. There’s a lot of good material throughout the run but this goes bigger and with higher stakes here in a way that definitely clicks better, especially since the Black Dread has one of the more imposing looks to it. That it all ends up well really isn’t a surprise but it has a sense that it could have gone in some other ways since there’s a lot of time left with the whole second season.
Monster hunter Stories has been a mixed bag for me since the start but the basics are definitely solid here once again. This is not the show that you’d expect considering its origins as there’s a really rich design to it, a slower pace with engaging stories for the kids that doesn’t fall to simple cliches, and just a bigger approach in general. It’s not episodic and it does move the characters through arcs where they’re changing and growing up. It has a bigger feeling here as more of the past comes to the surface and we see just what kind of threat they have to face at the end and how they have to work together to do it. While the show as a whole just may not be for me I’m fairly impressed by it and hope that the second season gets its issues resolved for the fans.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language
Content Grade: B-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: N/A
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: October 9th, 2018
Running Time: 300 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.