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Yamibo Darkness, The Hat, And Travelers Of The Books Blu-ray Anime Review

6 min read
A search for love across many “book worlds.”

A search for love across many “book worlds.”

What They Say:
The sweeping, romantic cosmic saga of a girl named Hazuki, a high school student who has a serious crush on her older adopted sister Hatsumi. On Hatsumi’s 16th birthday, she is suddenly engulfed by a green glow and vanishes! Hazuki manages to follow Hatsumi to a mysterious place called “The Great Library”, curated by Lilith, that houses a fantastic labyrinth of books, each containing its own exotic fantasy world and characters. When Hatsumi vanishes into one of the books, Hazuki’s epic extradimensional search begins.

The Review:
Audio:
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track only in stereo using the uncompressed PCM format. The show is a fairly standard stereo mix where it handles movement across the forward soundstage well but there’s not a lot of big moments of depth and action here to really showcase things. The score works well through this form, however, and there’s some very nice and warm sequences from it beyond just the opening and closing sequences. Dialogue is pretty straightforward with what it does here as there’s some decent placement from time to time but nothing that stands out in a big way. Everything is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any issues with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2003, the transfer for this TV series (using the home video masters) is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio in 1080p using the MPEG-2 codec. The show is spread across two discs with seven episodes on the first and six on the second. Animated by Studio Deen, the series has a good look to it as it handles the darker colors with the blacks and blues but there’s still a softness to it in some places that’s stronger than others. It handles the flashback scenes which are done with intentional noise well and the bulk of the show has a clean and appealing look to it. The softer areas are noticeable when they come up but they’re not a huge detriment or anything. I like the details that we get in the show and the overall visual design that the encoding captures well.

Packaging:
The packaging for this release comes in a standard sized Blu-ray case where the two discs are held against the walls with no hinges. The front cover gives us the two leads in close embrace just about to kiss and I love the way we get one with the eyes closed and the other watching with eyes wide open. It’s a very close feeling cover because o the embrace and with the flowing hair, it really is distinctive and looks great. The logo is kept along the bottom and has the full name with the subtitle below it. The back cover has a nice character visual and a good dark background over which we get the summary of the premise. The episode count is listed clearly and the production credits break things down well. We get a clean and easy to read technical grid as well that covers things accurately. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.

Menu:
The menu design for this release is pretty nice as we get a star-filled background with lots of blacks and blues that fills everything up. Within the middle, we get a circle that brings in some character artwork. The navigation strip gives us a great look at the logo along the left while the right has some full-color character artwork. Inbetwen has the selections which are simple with turning the subtitles on or off, exploring the episodes or trailers, and just playing it all. Navigation is simple and easy but we only get a main menu here as there are no pop-up menus during regular playback.

Extras:
None.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the game that was released in 2002 and part of an overall project, Yamibo is a thirteen-episode anime series that landed in the fall 2003 season. It followed a single-volume manga that was illustrated by Aya Sakurai. The anime saw Yuji Yamaguchi directing it based on the series composition by Tomomi Mochizuki with studio Deen animating it. The show got a lot of attention for its yuri leanings back in the day and it doesn’t shy away from them but it’s not as hot and heavy as some may hope for. In fact, it’s the kind of show where there are so many story points going on here that it reduces the interest in the actual yuri elements because you’re trying to piece everything else together.

The general idea behind the show is simple and effective as we’re introduced to Hazuki, our raven-haired lead, who is looking for her adopted sister, Hatsumi. Hatsumi’s an attractive girl who is actually Hazuki’s love interest and it’s pretty mutually shared overall. The problem is that Hatsumi has ended up missing in the Great Library where each book within it leads to a different world. With the help of a talking bird named Ken and a woman named Lilith who wears massive hats, Hazuki is guided toward where Hatsumi may be. Only she’s known as Eve once out of the starting world, which adds its own wrinkles and complications as time goes on.

The show works things a little forward/backward at the start but once it gets fully underway in hitting up the worlds we see some decent variety. The prehistoric world is interesting as we see Lillith thought of as a god while Hazuki gets caught up in some sacrificial moments. Another episode provides for some island time where one of the girls there is connected to the Great Library as she deals with headaches related to it that distort her mind. Another episode takes us back to ancient Japan where we see them caught up in a power struggle there as Lilith continues to guide Hazuki and as they learn more about Hatsumi as Eve. The final arc takes us on more of a science fiction adventure but by this point the variety of stories and interactions that we got had me feeling, well, not lost or anything, but rather disconnected from the events going on as each world hop landed less and less as it progressed.

In Summary:
I had a hard time connecting with this release with the way it was telling its tale and that just became harder the more it went on. I really like the visual design for it and that it seems like we’ve gotten the home video masters going by those that saw the previous DVD edition that Media Blasters released. The show looks pretty good here overall and it delivers the series that many have wanted for a long time. I like the concept of the series but the execution just left me feeling a bit stranded from early on, like I was always a couple of steps behind. Add in the changing worlds and cast from there and I never felt like I caught up with it even while getting the basics. It’s an interesting show but one that I don’t think nailed the execution right, at least for me.

Features:
Japanese 2.0 PCM Language, English Subtitles

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

Released By: Media Blasters
Release Date: March 26th, 2019
MSRP: $39.99
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1

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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