What They Say:
Nothing lasts forever, so opportunities presented must be taken before they are lost. In Japan, this philosophy is symbolized by the brief bloom of the cherry blossom, and it is under the cherry blossoms that Tada, who dreams of becoming a famous photographer like his late father, meets a girl who has lost her way. As it turns out, Teresa is staying at the hotel next to café owned by Tada’s family and she and her companion Alexandra will be attending Tada’s school, where they even join his photography club. What Tada doesn’t know, however, is that Teresa is secretly a princess who’s come to Japan to experience normal life before returning to her own country and an arranged marriage. And that means that the attraction that they begin to feel for each other may be as ephemeral as the cherry blossom.
Contains episodes 1-12.
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language only in stereo using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. The show is mostly dialogue-driven with only a few expansive moments here and there so it works pretty well for it. The nature of it naturally has a couple of outlandish moments and some real highs, but otherwise, it’s mostly straightforward. The music during the opening and closing sequences are where things sometimes stand out the most with the warmest and fullest moments, but the show hits a lot of good marks throughout with the placement of character dialogue and some depth in a few scenes as well. In the end, it all comes across cleanly and clearly without any problems such as dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2018, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The show runs for thirteen episodes and is spread across two discs in a nine/four format. Animated by Doga Kobo, the series is one that has a very good look to it with its character designs and colors where there’s a good bit of vibrancy and richness to it. A richness that definitely stands out more here in high definition as it has a lot of vibrancy, detail and just pop in general. Colors are strong throughout and I really like all the details that comes through from the settings but also the character designs. There are some nice costume changes at times but the locations all look great and everything fits and blends in well. It’s a strong solid encoding that will plans fans who want a high-quality copy beyond what streaming offers.
The packaging for this release comes with a standard-sized single Blu-ray that holds the two discs against the interior walls. The cover artwork works the familiar key visual which definitely is good as we get the group together along the park and on a bridge. Doing the reverse image with the water below and the logo in the middle has a lot of appeal and I like that it doesn’t use lots of big close-up shots of the cast in a standard layout, but rather this almost far-range approach The back goes for something cutely royal in its overall layout with framing and widgets set against a light gray/white piece. The summary is well covered and our two leads get the standout attention while being surrounded by a few small shots from the show. The discs features are clearly listed and production credits cover things in a clear format. The rest is rounded out with the technical grid that lays it all out in an accurate and easy to read format. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menu design for this release is simple and certainly nicely cute as it fits into the general aesthetic of the back cover of the release. Both discs are done with static screen designs where the navigation is along the right while the left goes for two different character visuals, offering the leads a chance to show off different ways to be viewed. The visuals are pretty nice as we get them in some fun outfits, including her in a really nice fancy gown, as it plays off their whole princess and the photographer angle. The navigation is done up with some nice soft whites and pinks with a great selection cursor. The navigation is laid out well with quick and easy selections and setup where necessary. It works well both as a main menu and as a pop-up menu during playback.
The only extras included are clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
An original work that landed as part of the spring 2018 season, Tada Never Falls in Love is a pretty sweet, comfortable, and inviting romantic comedy piece. Produced by Doga Kobo, it was written by Yoshiko Nakamura and directed by Mitsue Yamazaki. It’s a kind of slice of life piece in a lot of ways but it plays with that familiar cliche of someone of power pretending to be a normal person and discovering the world a bit more and finding love – potentially. It’s the kind of series that we tend to see a bit more in live-action film and manga but there are a few anime style series like this where the truth is kept hidden for most of the show. What helps this one feel a bit more fully realized is that it’s well-animated with some really great backgrounds that gives it a very grounded and believable feeling.
The series has a solid supporting cast but most of the real emotion rides on a strong leading pair of characters. Our title character, Tada Mitsuyoshi, is in high school and spends his time working at his grandfather’s coffee shop. His main interest is in photography and he’s quite good at it, but it’s a mask and a piece that lets him be distant from his subjects. Tada’s core problem is that he’s closed himself off since the death of his parents when he was younger, leaving him and his sister Yui with their grandfather. It’s easy to imagine the ways in which he shut down over the years and then only partially came back as the demands of life required, but he’s kept his emotions involving love at a distance so as to not be hurt again. It’s clear that he cares by his actions but there’s an almost stoic look about him a lot of the time, trying to keep it all buried down as far as he can.
Which is a nice contrast to Teresa Wagner, a young woman that has come visiting Japan from her home country of Larsenburg in Europe. Teresa’s a sweet girl, curious and engaged, the kind of softly popular type that gets along with everyone in honest and engaging ways. She’s doing the exchange student thing and is a huge fan of the Rainbow Shogun live-action series, which becomes a piece that introduces our two leads together a bit and becomes a bonding point throughout the series. The bonus piece to Teresa is that she’s a princess and heir to the throne, something which she does her best to hide throughout this until it becomes a critical factor toward the end. A lot of it is because she just wants to have a normal experience and one can generally understand that. And as she begins to develop feelings for Tada, well, that becomes complicated as you’d expect.
The meet-cute that they have is just that, where she’s out enjoying some of the scenery after she gets separated from those there to watch over her and Tada helps her with a picture she wants to take. They spend a bit of time together and end up at the cafe, which she realizes is next to the hotel that she’s staying at. It makes it easy to keep them close and familiar and to become a part of the friend group that forms around Tada. It’s a perfect location for that and that means we get to see people like Kaoru, ostensibly Tada’s best friend who is popular in general but is definitely all about him. The narcissistic side rubs a little raw in today’s reality but there’s a good heart under it all and he has some fantastic scenes toward the end in trying to get Tada to realize he can’t live closed off like he has, that he has to open up his heart to the people around him. The club president is Hajime and is a bit pervy but not unfamiliar for high school boys – though I imagine schools would tamp down on him hard. Hinako provides for the girl in the club but she’s only in it to help it stay alive – sort of. She’s got an interest in Hajime but Hajim is comical in his love of a gravure model known as Hina. Which, of course, is Hinako when she adopts that personality. It’s got some amusing subplot material in how much he misses things, the forest for the trees and all, but the group dynamic when including Yui is fun as it’s got a decent balance but comes across as more male characters than usual.
The show works through a range of familiar stories but it doesn’t spend a lot of it in school, which is a plus overall. That means we get a bit of variety in what the cast wears even though they lean into the school uniforms like you’d expect since that’s easy consistency for the animators. At the same time, we get some really good stuff that clicks for me, such as when the cat goes missing from the shop and they’re out throughout the day looking for him. When they find him and it shifts to the evening, they’re moving through vendors and stalls, enjoying food, being casual and conversational like you’d expect from teenagers. They’ve got things going on and a few secrets, glances happening and the like as well, but this bleeds into a second episode and just the way it felt so natural with them and the various configurations that came up really made it easy to connect with.
Tada Never Falls in Love is just charming. It’s entirely familiar, especially if you watch as much as I do, but where it wins out is in the execution of the story. The characters are delightful to watch throughout the run and we get some really fun moments from them as well as some earned emotional responses. It’s a solid series visually but it delivers in characters that feel more grounded and real – which is amusing considering the central conceit of the series. Sentai’s release is quite good here with a strong dub for just about all of the characters along with a great encode and a solid package. This is an easy one to recommend for fans of the genre and for those that have been burned out on the genre, it’s one that can breathe some life back into it. Definitely recommended.
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 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: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: September 24th, 2019
Running Time: 325 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.