What They Say:
As if by fate, anime newbie Minoa Asagaya is thrust headfirst into co-founding her school’s new anime club. Unfamiliar with the culture yet eager to learn, she’s getting a crash course in all things otaku! But with the student council hellbent on dismantling their organization and a dark presence lurking behind closed doors, participating in the club might be a lot harder than it sounds!
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo along with an English dub that gets a 5.1 boost. Both tracks are encoded using the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec which delivers well on the sound design for the show. It’s a pretty active mix with a lot going on because of the nature of it as opposed to your slice of life show you might think it is. It’s pretty active across the forward soundstage while the 5.1 mix adds a bit more bass and clarity to it, throwing a few things to the rear channels to liven it up a bit. The overall listen to it is pretty solid though with good placement as needed and there’s some solid directionality in the more action-oriented parts of the show. Dialogue itself is good with a clean and clear design to it that comes across perfectly and we had no 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 twelve episodes are spread across two discs in a standard nine/three format. Animated by Wao World and DMM Pictures, the show has a bright and vibrant look to it with a lot of great colors and fluidity of motion in key scenes. There’s a lot of detail to the show and it doesn’t stick to just the same room constantly or scenes but rather moves around a lot and introduces a lot of aspects into its world from the whole anime culture side of it. The encoding captures this well and with little in the way of dark colors throughout it’s a delight to watch because of how bright and colorful it is. Everything is solid and smooth with no breakup or noise to be had throughout, making for a fun experience.
The packaging for this release comes in a slightly thicker than usual standard Blu-ray case where it holds the four discs from both formats on hinges. It also comes with an o-card slipcover for it that uses the same artwork as the case itself. But the color differences thanks to the paper stock really does make a difference as the o-card is brighter and richer in how the colors come across in a significant way. I do like the visual as it’s the main one they used to promote the series with the main cast together and a few nice little widgets of vibrant color to tie it all together. The back cover has more vibrant material with some character shots and a few pieces from the show spread across it. The summary of the premise is well-handled and we get a clean listing of the extras included and the digital copy aspect. Add in a solid technical grid that breaks down both formats and we also get some minor production details that’s far too small to read. While there are no show-related inserts included we do get artwork on the reverse side that takes the back cover and gives us the full spread piece for it which looks great with all of its vibrancy.
The menu design for this release smartly goes with a static approach since there’s a lot of great colors to work with here that will set the mood. With a white background and all sorts of primary colors spread across it in circles and squares, we get something that stands out really well while mixing in the character animation all around it. It’s an incredibly busy menu but it’s one that works well with the way it’s laid out here and the variety of it all as it’s almost like a Where’s Waldo thing in picking out all the pieces. The navigation strip along the bottom is done with a pink overlay with a few connections to the main static image and it works well. The selections are standard and it works well both as a main menu and as a pop-up menu during regular playback.
The only extras included here are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on some shorts that were produced for Toho Cinemas, Anime-Gataris is a full-length single-season TV series that expands on the idea. The shorts themselves aren’t really that important to anything here other than a basic inspiration so you can largely consider this an original anime series. It aired in the fall 2017 season in Japan and was produced by Wao World and DMM Pictures with Kenshiro Morii directing, who handled the shorts as well so there’s connective tissue there. Written by Mitsutaka Hirota, we get a twelve episode series that leans into lots of anime tropes in a loving way, playing with them and using them as a way to kind of explain anime all while being silly, filling in some fanservice, and moving along in a light and kind of superficial way that works.
The general premise of the show is a cute enough one in that Minoa discovers that her friend Arisu is something of an otaku in the broader sense. Minoa herself isn’t too much of one as she’s just started watching some anime and it’s this whole wide world that’s now open to her. When she discovers that the high school used to have an anime club, she and Arisu decide that they’re going to try and revive it. Which makes sense, have some fun, connect with fellow fans, and enjoy your passion. Naturally, this is not going to go over well with some because this isn’t a slice of life show and there must be tension. The student council president, Tsubaki, has a real hate for the anime club because of her best friend Erika from childhood was “lost” to that world and she dislikes everything about Erika. So that has her throwing up all kinds of hurdles at the kids as they try to figure out how to bring their club to life.
Honestly, you can map out the general idea of the show right from there before even bringing in other characters that begin to populate the group. You get Miko whos’ into light novels, you get a couple of guys in the mix, and plenty of supporting cast beyond that along the way. But at its core you get that tension that exists while seeing the world of anime and everything beyond it through Minoa’s eyes. With the recruitment drive going early on, the show delves into familiar experiences such as introducing Minoa to Akihabara, which leads to cosplay and everything from that sphere. That leads into some help with the drama club later on in the show where they’re able to help out with costuming, which is nice. There’s some early material involving learning how anime is made and that factors into events toward the end but you could pretty much guess that those involved in an anime club would want to know the ins and outs of it all.
There’s some fun stuff when the club hits the open road to visit famous places in anime and we get some Comiket time as well. Just getting the kids out of the school for a bit is nice, though it is familiar mid-season material, but it helps to set the bonds a bit more with it all. But that underlying problem is what defines the back half of the season with Tsubaki. She gets pretty intense in coming up with ways of trying to eliminate the club that are outsized for what they are, such as having to come up with a way to fill the school auditorium or get shut done, which leads to them trying to produce some anime shorts. To be fair, they wanted to just screen some anime as part of their club participation in the festival but you know Tsubaki was going to take it even further and do something that would stress them out.
Anime-Gataris is a kind of light and superficial show that excels where it should in that it’s a lot of fun. It’s not a bad show at all even if there is a superficial element to it. But it has a lot of fun in exposing Minoa to all of these new worlds opening up to her and working through them in creative and fun ways. It is a show that I do think works better in smaller doses than binging since they tend to be semi-bottle episodes with their focus, but the big draw is some really great animation and a fantastic color design that really makes the whole thing pop. The encoding captures that well and we get a solid packaging to hold it all in, though it’s light on extras and anything else beyond the basic. Fans will definitely be glad to have a copy to own and have and that looks as good as this.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Content Grade: B-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: Decembe 11th, 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.