What They Say:
The names written in this book…shall kiss! Get ready for the wacky adventures of Guri the cupid and her magical Kiss Note.
Seiji Aino was an average high school student dealing with normal teenager problems: having a crush on the most popular girl, being a lonely nobody—the usual! When a cupid named Guri accidentally adds him to her Kiss Note, everything changes. Now, stuck in a bizarre love triangle—err, square?—he’s got the beautiful yandere Akane, the hot-headed Yuzu, and even the cupid herself all over him. While most guys would kill to be in his situation, Seiji just wants a day of peace—and not to be stabbed! Instead, he has to survive Akane’s “love” while making Guri focus on her job. But can he really help a cupid who doesn’t understand love?
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo while the English language dub gets the 5.1 boost, both of which used the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. The series is one that’s largely dialogue based with some nice incidental elements here and there with minor action and wackiness occupying a lot of that. The score for the series helps to give the show a little more oomph when it comes to the audio side of it but it’s mostly a dialogue-driven series with everyone talking to each other, so it’s mostly center channel based. The bigger moments with some of the abilities and things they get into ratchets it up just a touch but it’s one of those more relaxed series overall. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any 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 with nine on the first and three on the second. Animated by EMT Squared, the show has a really great design and look about it that has a lot of detail and fluidity and because of the character designs and color design it feels like it’s doing something a little special. It’s just a slight bit askew in these areas and what we get is pretty appealing, especially scenes with characters with blue hair. There are some busy sequences and plenty of silliness that keeps it active, but it can get away with a lot of strong-looking backgrounds because it’s not a high-detail series by designs. The encoding captures the feel of this just right as it’s one that feels more film-like than a lot of anime tends to. I really like the visual design for this series and the encoding brings it to life wonderfully.
The packaging design for this release comes in a slightly thicker than standard Blu-ray case to hold the two discs against the wall. It also comes with an o-card that replicates the case artwork but with more color and pop to it because of the cardstock. The front cover works some darker tones with the purple and black background but that lets the circle widgets pop nicely as well as the character artwork that has some distinctive pieces to it. It’s a standard kind of design with the five of them all close together but it lets you know the visual design well. The back cover uses similar background elements across it with a good summary of the premise kept short, a breakdown of the extras, and a range of sizes of shots from the show to highlight the designs. The rest is filled out with the usual red stripe of digital copy as well as the technical grid that covers both formats cleanly and accurately. No show related inserts are included but we do get a two-panel spread of more character artwork on the reverse side.
The menu design brings in most of the elements from the packaging pretty nicely, though it’s a bit brighter and clearer here than in print form. Both discs feature some nice character combinations that shows off some good detail and I like the use of the soft purples to attempt to tie it all together as it lets the burst of color from the character designs stand out all the more. The navigation box is kept to the lower left area with standard selections that you’d expect from a slim release like this. Submenus load quickly and are easy to get around in both as the main menu and as the pop-up menu during playback.
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 Ren’ai Bōkun, Love Tyrant is a twelve-episode anime series that aired during the spring 2017 season. The original work wrapped up a year or so after the anime finished with fourteen volumes from Megane Mihoshi that began in 2012, making for a good run in Comic Meteor magazine. The anime came through EMT Squared for the animation and saw Atsushi Nigorikawa directing it, which was a plus for me as I enjoyed his silliness on Anime de Training as he shifted from episode director to series director with these projects. The show in its promos didn’t do much for me with its visual design but I’ve got to say I really like it when seen in full here as the colors are great and there’s a kind of richness to the palette combined with the high definition aspect that really does let it stand out well.
The concept for this show is a fun riff on the Death Note property as we’re introduced to an angel named Guri who has a Kiss Note. Her job is to bring people together and have them fall in love using it with the traditional writing of names in the book. There are a few quirks with it of course and she shows it off to high school student Seiji because she accidentally wrote his name into it. She’s trying to do right by him and make sure it’s something that he’d actually like, which leads to the name of his crush, Akane, the ever-popular girl in school. He’s wary about it even after seeing it play out in real-time before him and on TV with how the notebook works. And you have to admit, there’s potential there even if there’s the whole skeevy thing inherent in the concept. Of course, everything blows up in Seiji’s face because when he does kiss Akane, well, she’s really into him in a way that’s pretty frightening.
And so begins a situation where Guri now feels like she has to stick with Seiji during this since she caused it. And yes, you can see the writing on the wall easily if you’ve watched anime before. She develops feelings for him as well while Seiji eventually gets closer to Guri while not quite coming to feeling the same way because he knows he’s not allowed to. All while dealing with the feelings of Akane as it plays out along with a few other characters that come in. Love Tyrant plays to expectations but it’s one of those shows that I think manages to do it pretty well. It starts with a fun enough twist on the easy concept and digs into all the routines and cliches that you’d expect. But the direction, acting, and just the way it does it with some confidence, it ends up being familiar. Outside of the Kiss Note itself, most of us have seen this idea how many times over the years? It’s certainly not new or truly fresh. But a well-done production can go a long way toward making the familiar fun.
The downside for me was the growing harem but it does offer more configurations and variety to come into it combined with the Kiss Note events themselves along the way. The competitive nature that comes into it makes for some amusement as some of them are a bit more outgoing than others, though no actual nudity is shown, and what we get makes for a lot of close calls. Which, naturally, is ramped up with a beach episode, a festival episode, and a more. These cliches are exactly what they are but I’ll be damned if they didn’t charm me at times, especially with how Guri is so earnest in a lot of ways while trying to squash down her own feelings. Hell, even the culture festival episode worked for me since there was a lot of tension coming into it with one of the other members of the harem, Yuzu, getting some quality time with Seiji in a way that sets off Akane – who is doing her best to keep up a bargain made to get along with Guri for a while since it netted her a kiss with Seiji.
The show, sadly, does follow the familiar track too much and things get serious toward the end of the season with Guri gone off to hell and a mission put together to save her. Shows like this really don’t need the serious arc because they’re even more formulaic in intent than the rest of the cliched episodes as it’s about bringing everyone back together for the end so that everything is reset back to a pre-finale position. Funimation’s release for this is pretty standard fare when it comes to how it’s put together, Blu-ray-only, minimal extras and all that, but it’s got a fun dub that let the actors get silly in a great way and the encoding looks great. Fans of the show will definitely be glad with how it turned out and it’s the kind of show that I think even those a bit worn by the premise would find some surprising fun with and enjoy.
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: June 18th, 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.