A promise from the past leads us into the future.
What They Say:
The tides are turning on the island of Urashima, where a mysterious young man has washed ashore. Claiming to be from the future, he finds himself at the center of a dark history, when he meets the heirs of the island’s most prominent families. What destiny awaits him in the sands of time?
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo while the English mix gets a 5.1 bump to it, both of which are encoded using the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. Though there are a few bigger moments from time to time with some of the challenges and activities that the kids get into this is mostly a dialogue driven show. That has its own fun areas with some of the sound effects, such as when they’re in the box, but also just in making it feel like a more fully realized world with the background sounds and even the crinkle of certain wrappers. Dialogue itself is fairly straightforward and plays well to the forward soundstage with a clean and well placed piece that hits some good moments and delivers on what the intent of it all is. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any 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 across two discs with nine on the first and three on the second. Animated by studio Feel, the series has a really great look to it with a lot of detail and fluidity in the character designs in how they move about while also paying strong attention to detail with the water and other elements of the location. The character animation is solid throughout with the original designs making a great transition to animated here. That comes across strongly through the encoding where colors are rich and vibrant throughout and there are no problems to be had with blocking or noise nor anything with cross coloration to be had.
The packaging for this release is a standard sized Blu-ray case with only the Blu-ray discs so it’s definitely a bit lighter and simpler overall. With no o-card produced for this, the front cover is a nice piece featuring Rinne in the water with her umbrella and cap that we saw a lot of ahead of its broadcast. It’s nicely framed in blue with the white background around it to give it a more elegant and nuanced feel that definitely works in its favor. The colors look great and the cool temperature colors used makes it very inviting. The back cover goes for a deeper blue with part of Setsuna on it while also giving us a trio of small shots that adds more colors overall. The summary of the premise is minimal and we get a solid technical grid that breaks down whow the set is put together. Interestingly, the extras aren’t listed here. The case does have artwork on the reverse side where we get a nice full-color two-panel shot of Rinne in her usual outfit looking very cute. No additional inserts are included.
The menu design for the release is like the cover in that it’s very simple in its layout and approach which works well for the show. Giving us a close-up of Rinne resting her head down low, it’s got an ease about it that’s nice and mellow to draw you into it. It’s got a lot of nice details to it and the colors carry through to the navigation strip where we get a blue hues that’s also very soft in tone and stands out all the more because of it when there’s so much and such small navigation text to be had. Everything is functional and easy to navigate both as a top level menu and a pop-up menu, but do wish they had gone with clips or the opening sequence instead.
The extras for this release include the two versions of the first opening and closing and the single version of the second opening and closing sequences.
Based on the Front Wing game of the same name, Island is a twelve episode anime series that aired during the summer 2018 season. The project had Keiichiro Kawaguchi directing, which is a good thing as he’s definitely a solidly competent one with a slew of titles to his resume over the years, and many working as an animation director and a few films as well. The visual novel came out in 2016 so this was a fairly quickly adaptation after the success of the game and they brought in Naruhisa Arakawa to adapt the story. They’ve got a great resume as well, from working on Nadesico to Maoyu and more. The show was one that had me interested from the initial visuals and promos but I was unfamiliar with the game so I had no idea what to expect going into it. A time-traveling love story? That was not in the cards.
The premise for it is pretty simple and you can envision an interesting story coming from it. We’re introduced to Setsuna, a young man who washes ashore on the island without much in the way of memories. He’s pretty much taken in quickly and told that he’ll be leaving on the next boat they can get to take him out as things are pretty private and reclusive here. Setsuna feels like he’s here for a reason and when he stumbles on a young woman named Rinne who is hiding out from her father, he realizes that she may just be the reason. It doesn’t take much but circumstances change quickly and Setsuna finds himself as a household servant for Rinne’s family in order for him to stay there, not that it factors into things beyond being a simple reason for him to be staying there. It’s paid little mind in the end as the show focuses on the relationship dynamics as they get to know each other.
And that includes getting to know Karen, the orange-haired young woman who is the mayor’s daughter and has a desire to see the mainland. Her history gets a little more complicated because of her mother’s connection to it in both life and death. You can see the inklings of romantic potential there, as the game offers several route and choices, and similar can be said of Sara, the miko if the island who lost her parents several years ago. Sara presents a lot of complicated ideas because of those deaths where it feels like she’s making up fantastic ideas to explain their lack of presence, conjuring up wishes and fantasies to avoid the reality of the loss itself. The series deals with the interactions of them all as Setsuna settles into the island and there are a few adults along the way, notably Kuon as Rinne’s mother.
With its strong focus on pairing together Setsuna with Rinne, nobody else really feels like they had a chance – which is unfortunate because I often find the unexplored character dynamics to be the ones that I like more in these scenarios. A good chunk of the show plays well in the general exploration and get to know you aspects, especially with stories from the past of reincarnation, tragic events that could be replicated with those names being used in the here and now, and things associated with that. It’s decent but a little predictable but there are some standout moments. Past the halfway mark we get Setsuna and Rinne together on a separate small island for a bit and the two really bond well here and connect even though there’s nothing really meaningful to talk about. It just felt more authentic in how they got to know each other. So, naturally, that’s when they’re separated.
And that’s also when the show brought in the “time machine” that’s really a cold sleep machine that will let Setsuna go into it so he can find her in some distant future when she’s reincarnated as Rinne ends up dead. The future storyline lasts a few episodes and honestly it was just such a jarring change to get involved with the cast at that point and that world that it took me out of it too much. And that it’s used as a way to go back in time to fix things, which reveals additional complications as expectations are subverted, that I was left a little surprised and a touch dumbfounded by it. I’ll give Island credit for not being as obvious as it made itself out to be and I like that it plays with the ideas well enough here, but it didn’t land as strongly as it could because so much of the first half was by the numbers. But that’s partially because of how many times we’ve seen this story before, which means it could work a whole lot better for newer fans that aren’t as exposed to the concepts.
Island definitely has something to it that’s interesting and a second viewing may change my opinion of it down the line since I know the trick to it and how it unfolds. That’s part of the fun of shows like these, plus you can do a second viewing in a different language. Funimation’s release is solid here but it keeps things pared down with low expectations as there are no DVDs and no slipcover, which makes it feel like it’s being treated different from the rest of the usual releases. It’s a show with some promise that’s nicely designed and animated with a great cast for both languages. Fans of it will be pleased to have a copy they can own not tied to streaming that looks great and it could be a great little gateway show to entice younger fans with.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Textless Opening & Closing Songs
Content Grade: B-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: July 9th, 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.