What They Say:
For normal people, walking to school is a mundane task. For Chio, the journey is packed with socially unacceptable mishaps, and every day is crazier than the last. Path blocked for construction? She takes the high road, rooftop assassin style. Thug staring her down? She activates her online ego, Bloody Butterfly. There’s no telling what she’ll do next, but her best friend is always there to laugh at her.
The audio presentation brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo while the English mix gets a 5.1 boost, both of which are encoded using the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. The series has its outlandish moments along the way but the bulk of it is filled with basic dialogue. There are some areas where it shines a bit more in how it works with thoughts and levels, but most of it is pretty standard school and slice of life fare about it. It’s often kept to just a couple of people at a time so it has a nice and small feeling to it that serves the material well and it all hits a good stride quickly. I flipped between the two language tracks regularly and they both come across clean and clear and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2018, 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 between two discs in a nine/three format. Animated by Diomedea, the show captures the look of the manga really well, especially when it comes to the character designs, and there’s a kind of simpler approach to the whole design based on that, but it has a neat richness of color to it that works really well along with some strong detail. It spends a lot of time on the road, as you’d expect, with some good use of buildings and details to it all that makes the show feel distinctive. I like the look of this overall but there’s just something a little unusual and distinctive when it comes to the animation design that makes me look at it twice and a little funny. It’s a good looking encode that handles everything well and should please the majority of fans.
The packaging for the show is pretty standard in that we get a standard sized Blu-ray case with an o-card that replicates the case artwork. The front cover uses the main key visual we had for the series with the full cast mostly on the move and practically walking all over each other. I like the layout with the gray along the left and the yellow background as it stands out in contrast to other covers, and we get a good look at the character designs here to know how the show is animated. The back cover uses an all gray/black look to nice effect for the background with a few small shots that are bigger than usual, letting you get a good idea of the design aesthetic, set along the right. The summary of the premise is straightforward and easy to read and we get a good technical breakdown that handles everything cleanly and accurately. No show related inserts are included but we do get a reverse side cover with the right featuring the front cover artwork again and the left breaking down the episodes by number and title.
The menu design for this release goes for a kind of simple approach with its static menus but it works well. It goes with the usual split where the right third has the key visual artwork of the leads with the colors looking great with a lot of muted but solid colors to it, and framing that with the yellow like the cover works well but feels unusual. The logo is kept to the left in the same style as the cover and it has the simple selections below it in a larger more digital-looking font. It’s all got a kind of minimalist approach to it that works better than I expected, especially having seen this key artwork for a couple of years now since the series was first announced and being a little tired of it.
The extras for this release are kept minimal but welcome as we get some of the original Japanese promos along with 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 Tadataka Kawasaki, Chio’s School Road is a twelve-episode anime series that aired during the summer 2018 season. The manga itself began in 2014 and it wrapped up just as the anime ended with nine volumes to its name in 2018. The property is an interesting one and Diomedia was certainly a solid contender for adapting it as they put some solid detail into the presentation and handled the flow of it right the humor and just the way the characters look. The show had Takayuki Inagaki directing it and it saw a pretty good simulcast and simuldub run when it hit, but remembering some of the promotion for it just had it giving off a kind of weird vibe. After binging it over the course of a day, it’s definitely the kind of show that’s amusing but one that could easily overstay its welcome.
The premise for this is really, really simple. It focuses on high schooler Chio as she walks to school every day. That’s really kind of it. The thing of it is that a lot of strange things happen, she makes some friends along the way, and imaginations run amuck in a pretty entertaining way. With the right kind of imagination, you can definitely hit a certain idea and run with it for quite a while. I do admit that it likely works better when you’re not marathoning it, but I got the appeal and fun easily with it and with the way it leaps into so many different areas it gives you plenty to work with. The opening episode is one that sets the tone easily, almost in a kind of Nichijou way, where when the route to school is blocked off she ends up just running at it parkour style. It’s a little outlandish but still done with just enough believability to the whimsy that it clicks well in seeing her go through this.
Having walked to and from school myself for many years, the mind does wander and you come up with personas that you can employ. One of those that Chio has is a persona called Bloody Butterfly. She has a moment with a gang leader in another early episode and uses that tough persona to allow her to escape the situation. It’s silly but it works because of how she changes expressions and her personality to varying degrees to accomplish it. And all within this stretch of going to school. The whole gang thing even spreads over a couple of episodes and provides for some nice continuity as the episodes work a multi-story spread per episode, often two but sometimes three. This almost vignette-style helps to keep it a lot more episodic but the connections between stories with callbacks help to smooth over aspects of it. And as Chio’s friends enter the picture more, such as Manana and Yuki, there are some ways to work it.
I’ll admit, I like the dynamic with Manana a good bit since the two have been friends for years and there’s an understanding that exists in how the other is that comes from that. The two are clearly close and know what makes the other tick but I love that you’ll get moments where they’ll still backstab each other. Hell, just watching them goof off and get as involved as they do with a cigarette for an episode is priceless in watching the way they prod each other on. And let’s not forget one of the more casual friends of Chio’s with Madoka, the captain of the Kabaddi club. I always love a good sports character but she cracked me up along the way as she starts to realize that she really has a love for the sport because it lets her get all handsy with other girls just as she’s coming to understand her own nature more. The struggle is incredibly real for her.
While there’s potential for dating and true love in the mix for Chio, there are no overarching storylines to be had here. It’s all kept small and familiar, such as her being late regularly because she’s staying up late playing video games or schooling other people that are wrong on the internet. But it’s these small stories that work so well and tickle the viewers just right, whether it’s Manana realizing that she’s a bit whiffy and then getting a good whiff of Chio. It’s playful with its sensuality and sexuality, including having some fun right up to the end when it comes to the proper wearing of panties, but it doesn’t dominate it and you’re left again just laughing at the situation and how silly it is. It has a kind of Nichijou quality to it in how you can kind of punch down on the characters as they do between themselves without feeling bad because they’re all kind of low-key terrible – but learning and getting better.
While this is not a series that set the world on fire or captured everyone’s imagination, it is a fairly unique little show in a lot of ways and it delivers on some weirdness and silliness. It clicked for me pretty well with what it does and it managed to do some pretty weird things along the way. The multi-story aspect of each episode was a huge draw so that it didn’t overstay its welcome within that area but it’s also a series that works best in smaller doses, engaging in the mundane and weird at the same time. Funimation’s release is pretty solid here even if it’s stripped down a bit. It has a solid dub that captures the oddness of it all, the packaging is pretty solid, and the show looks great with all of its detail. It’s the kind of show that some will discover and it’ll be a hidden gem of their collection.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Promos, Commercials
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: May 28th, 2019
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.