What They Say:
Aoi has finally started to find her place at Tenjin-ya, though her feelings for the Master are still unclear. But when a ship suddenly arrives from Orio-ya, a rival inn, Aoi is swept away to a new land. Here, she begins to learn more about Ginji’s past and about a secret ceremony that could keep him from returning to Tenjin-ya. Determined to prevent that, she volunteers to cook for the mighty umi-bouzu, until an encounter with the god Raiju, causes her to lose her sense of taste! With limited time, she must find a way to help Orio-ya prepare for the ceremony or face a terrible loss.
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo along with an English language dub that gets a 5.1 boost, both of which are encoded using the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. The series has a few fantastical moments from time to time but largely operates in the realm of the slice of life genre. That means it’s pretty dialogue-oriented throughout and there’s some nice placement with it in how it sets the stage with the three girls. This can bring in some decent depth from time to time in how they’re laid out and what they’re interacting with, but a lot of it is a standard and natural design that flows across the forward soundstage. The music is the richest part of it as you’d expect in this lossless form and we didn’t have any dropouts or distortions during regular playback of either language track.
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 thirteen episodes are spread across two discs in a nine/four format that gives it plenty of room to work with. Animated by Gonzo, the show has a really appealing color palette and works its details well for some of the costuming at times and the backgrounds to give it a richer look. There’s no scrimping here but it plays with a slice of life style show that has its slower moments and times of the cast just standing around. But that allows the atmospheric elements to stand out better as well. There’s a lot to like from rainy scenes to the eye-catch moments and more and the encoding captures it well. Colors are solid throughout with detail well-handled in the darker scenes while the bright and more colorful side of the has a lot to like in how it comes across. It’s an appealing looking show that captures the tone of the manga and the encoding works wonderfully.
The packaging for this release comes in a standard-sized Blu-ray case to hold the two Blu-ray discs for the release. The front cover is the same for both the case and the o-card as it uses the welcome key visual for the series broadcast run that showcases the fuller cast in a wider shot. The illustration style definitely is appealing and the colors for the outfits and the fireworks stand out a lot more on the o-card. The back cover has a light approach with the tapestry style background with a short summary of the premise filling up space nicely. The character artwork and shots from the show are pretty nice and we get a good breakdown of the extras along with an accurate and easy to understand technical grid for both formats. No show related inserts are included but we do get a great layout on the reverse side that features two of the Japanese release covers spread across it.
The menu design for this release works the right approach with some static imagery for each disc. Going with some good character material with clean and bright lines and colors, it connects well with the first set by expanding on the cast here. There’s a large empty space next to them that the series logo fills nicely. The navigation is a simple block toward the lower left with the basic selections that are easily accessed as both the main menu and as the pop-up menu during playback.
The only extras included with this release are the clean openings (of which there is one this time) and closing sequences (of which there are three), which basically replicates the first half of the series extras. But here we also get an episode-length commentary for the 24th episode that lets the cast talk about their experience with it.
The opening half of the series in the previous set was one that I enjoyed overall but more for the general mood that it created than anything else. I’ve seen a lot of shows like this over the years and Kakuryio has a lot of good things going for it with its cast, the design work, and just how great the setting is. But it’s also a series, adapted from another source, that isn’t really designed to have an ending or any sense of closure to it for the most part. Which is fine, but it means you kind of shift into a mood with it where you’re enjoying the smaller stories and interactions more than anything else. And with it simply flipping the scripts with lots of guys I found myself like a lot of the harem shows where once you get past the first couple of girls you tend to lose connections to them. So everything just becomes about the moment.
The series works plenty of stories about the shop throughout it as Aoi keeps working and growing her experience there, such as dealing with the opener here where Ranmaru comes to get some of his employees that have gone astray. There are some fun movements with this but the part of interest involves Ginji again as when he dons his mask it reminds her once again of the ayakashi she dealt with as a child. There have been enough incidents where it’s a given and a point of contention to be made but like most works it has to draw it out a fair bit more. Still, it’s fun watching as the early storyline deals with Ranmaru since he ends up basically imprisoning her along the way for what’s happened and she has to deal with a host of new problems while figuring out how to escape. It does help her grow in a really weird way as she has to do a lot there and it helps long term.
For the guys back at the Moonflower, well, that puts more pressure on them to handle keeping the shop afloat and that’s not easy. But really, everything keeps circling back to the main point that as badly presented as Ranmaru is at times, Aoi sees him – and everyone else – with her rose-colored lenses and heart of gold, looking to draw out that good. It’s not a bad thing and there’s enough reason for her to believe it so that the payoff happens. Aoi’s nature is what drives much of the show when you get down to it as she’s a catalyst for events happening, often because she just continues to go along with events and in her own way changes things from the inside. It’s amusing watching how she navigates things here but it also has that too-easy aspect about it that can be a little off-putting at times.
The season has some fun with a bit of a Tengu war that breaks out as issues there come home to roost. A lot of time is spent with Ranmaru this season and it works well but I enjoyed that the show did manage to break away from there for a while even if Ginji felt very secondary at best a lot of the time here. The management of the shop plays into things well, there’s lot of little moments of just dialogue and interactions that are light and inconsequential overall that helps to nudge things forward among those that connect. We do get a bit of a serious storyline as the season comes to a close but that’s part and parcel with a lot of shows and it handles itself well as it helps to bind the core cast together a bit more. But these are all familiar motions that we see in a lot of series. The draw for Kakuriyo is that with a predominantly female audience in Japan, viewers just want to experience time with all the guys through Aoi. And the show achieves that well as it navigates the group as it varies in size and use. I never felt like we really got to connect deeply with them but the kind of ethereal aspect of the show is something that kept me at a bit of a hands-length distance from it to begin with.
Kakuriyo is the kind of show where even as I like a lot of things across a lot of different genres not everything is going to connect. I’m not the primary target for the show but I definitely enjoy it in a kind of light and distant way where the execution of it is just beautiful, from designs to cast to how everything unfolds. Even while being fairly predictable and light in tone. But it’s just not something that resonated with me strongly, unfortunately. Thankfully, Funimation put together a solid release with a good dub that’s well-executed, a great looking encode, and a fun original extra for dub fans to get a little more out of the series. There’s a lot to like here overall and hopefully fans get more of it in the future.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing, Episode 24 Commentary
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: September 3rd, 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.