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Kanamemo Complete Collection Blu-ray Anime Review

9 min read
When you lose everything you just might find all that you need.

When you lose everything you just might find all that you need.

What They Say:
13 is really young to have to take care of yourself, but when her grandmother dies, Kana Nakamachi unexpectedly finds herself out on the street looking for a new place to live. Fortunately, luck takes her to a local newspaper office that needs a new delivery girl and the pay includes room and board!

Of course, there are a few problems at first: besides being underage, Kana doesn’t even know how to ride a bike! So, it’s a good thing that her new co-workers are willing to help her out, even if most of them are more than a little eccentric. Between Saki, the group’s elementary school-age chief, sugar-obsessed Yume, her neurotic girlfriend Yuuki, tomboyish Hinata and lecherous Haruka, they’ll get Kana up, on her feet and delivering papers with a smile!

The Review:
Audio:
The audio presentation for this series brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo and encoded using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. With its age and being passed over before I’m not surprised there isn’t a dub for it but I wouldn’t be shocked if it eventually gets one This is a simple dialogue-driven show so it doesn’t really stretch either on the technical side or the performance side as there aren’t many scenes where voices get raised. It’s more standard dialogue with some hushed tones and a few moments where it pings upward a bit. But the encoding handles things well as it all comes across clearly in a way that’s easy to understand and problem free. There’s some nice placement from time to time and the scenes are well set to utilize some good depth here and there. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2009, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The thirteen episodes are spread across two discs in a nine/four format, giving it plenty of room to work with. Animated by studio Feel, the show has a pretty good look to it where it keeps things pretty standard fare in terms of character designs and world settings, but with just enough to not make it feel like a rush job. The character animation isn’t exactly distinctive but it goes for a couple of nice touches combined with a level of fluidity that may feel a little odd at times but makes it mildly distinctive. I liked the way it plays out because like a lot of slice of life projects it’s not something that has to be very active, it’s more about atmosphere and dialogue and this captures it well. Colors are quite varied and wonderfully solid throughout with a clean look that should please most fans.

Packaging:
The packaging design for this release brings us a standard sized Blu-ray case that holds the two discs on the interior walls. The front cover goes with the standard key visual from with the lead and one of her new family members but I’m surprised it didn’t go for the full cast shot that would have hit a few more types of fans based on their designs. It’s not a bad cover but it feels like it doesn’t reach as wide as it could, even with the cuteness here. The back cover has a really nice image that’s done along the right that shows off the group in full which would have worked better, I think. The summary of the premise covers things well and we get the standard breakdown of production credits along the bottom along with the extras. The technical grid lays out how the show is put together and that’s done clearly and accurately. No show related inserts are included with this release.

Menu:
The menus for this release are kept simple as they’re done with static images and not much to do with in terms of thematic elements. The layout works nicely as we get the character visual along the right, taking up about two-thirds of the screen, with some nice mixture of character and setting material that feels natural and connects right. The logo is kept to the upper left over the navigation strip and it stands out with its pink and white, which doesn’t blend well with the show itself. We get the standard episode number/title selections here that don’t have anything that stands out about it but they, and the menu in general is solidly functional and easy to use and get around in – both as the main menu and as the pop-up menu during playback. It’s just kind of bland and doesn’t quite set the mood as much as you’d think it might.

Extras:
The only extras included with this release are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences..

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the manga of the same name by Shoko Iwami, Kanamemo is a thirteen episode anime series that aired in the summer 2009 season. Getting a release ten years after its initial debut is definitely welcome as shows like this tend to go under the radar but do have fans. The manga began in 2007 and wrapped up in 2013 with six volume as serialized in Manga Time Kirara Max while the anime adaptation had studio Feel on board with Shigehito Takayanagi directing it. The show is one that definitely feels like it works a slightly odd concept in a good if unrealistic way in order to give us an unusual but interesting group to work with for it.

The premise is straightforward as we’re introduced to Kana, a cute middle-school girl who has survived tragedy as her parents died previously. What’s making life difficult now is that her grandmother has passed and that’s left her with nobody in her life. Watching as everything is taken from the place she’s called home, she ends up running away into town to try and find a place to stay and get some work in order to afford it because she doesn’t want to leave this area. It’s cute watching her going through trying a few places and being denied, but where she lands is where she needed to be. With the episode showing us a number of girls ranged around her age here and there delivering newspapers, she ends up lucking out and getting a job there and a place to life with it as they handled a lot of different papers and could use the help, though it happens more because the sad story she tells is authentic and it really hits home.

As you can imagine, the girls are all cute in their own way and we get a quasi-family that comes together here with the addition of Kana, Kana, for her part, is your standard lead as she’s a bit quiet and shy but slowly finds herself when placed among the louder and more active group. I like a lot of the cast in general but Saki frustrates me as we get the darkly serious elementary school student in her but also the one that essentially runs the place for the chief, so she’s got a harsh side that doesn’t track well and isn’t threatening at all. More enjoyable are characters like yume, the obligatory high-energy character that’s always happy, and Yuuki, the lanky girl who is pretty laid back. There’s also the obvious appeal of Haruka with the glasses and more serious approach since she’s older – in college, in fact – and manages the group as a whole in a pretty good way. She’s not exactly the house mother but she has something of that effect here.

With a few other older characters in the mix as well at times, the show focuses mostly on this group as they go through their days and bond with each other. With Kana being new to it all we get a good look at it through her eyes as she does her first delivery job, understands the routes, and how to interact and manage the people along the way. But as time goes on (and as Kana deals with summer classes, a nice nod here), we see her also learning how to bring in more subscribers along the way and gain experience riding a bike, something she had never done befoe. All of these little things work well to help build her confidence and independence as she deals with the world through this surrogate family that she has now. It’s itneresting to watch as she goes through it because she’s also pretty serious in these early episodes, understandably so because of events, and she starts to loosen up more along the way to the point where we do get some honest and true smiles and laughter out of her.

Kana’s growth is what the draw of the series is with those that she’s now living with. There’s a sense of just how sheltered she was, which is understandable after the loss of her parents, but the show works around a lot of first for her. With a pool episode early on there’s more fun than you’d expect in a good way with bathing suit shopping. But wle also get Kana dealing with her first trip to a public bath house – happening just as there’s a massive storm rolling over the city. These are all familiar pieces and I am hard pressed to really say there’s anything unique about them, but it works because of the situation that has these girls living as they are and the quasi-family aspect of it all. Kana has a strng support system that comes into place across it and she’s making impacts on them as well, so it becomes a really good back and forth experience.

While the show has the undercurrent of growing up and the idea that Kana can’t stay there forever and has to get on with her life eventually, a lot of it is pretty much slice of life fun with Kana learning more about the world through her friends. The newspaper side isn’t as strong as one might think it should be but it plays well into the overall picture and it was a solid way to get everything underway. The cycle of change is a bit more pronounced in the finale with a new round of kids coming in to apply to work there, but I like the undercurrent that comes throughout the show since it does lean into the serious side with what Kana experiences and moves from there. With the way she expresses herself, and grows across the series, it’s an engaging experience to watch unfold.

In Summary:
Kanamemo is not a high-stakes series but it’s a bit more than a slice of life piece. At its core, we get to see our lead deal with repeated tragedy and figure out a way to move forward knowing in some what that if she doesn’t, she’s going to struggle even further in the time ahead. She gets a really good family by working this job and being open to interacting and learning from everyone helps her to become more than just someone dealing with tragedy. The series has a basic kind of animation style approach to it that’s not bad but not going to stand out much either. We get a problematic character or two along the way but that really comes down to how well you as the viewer deals with that since they’re still something of a common staple of anime. Maiden Japan put together a nice looking release that hits all the right marks here and provides for an enjoyable experience.

Features:
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening Animation, and Clean Closing Animation

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

Released By: Maiden Japan
Release Date: June 25th, 2019
MSRP: $59.98
Running Time: 325 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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