What They Say:
A relationship is like a garden. It’s hard, really hard, to plant the initial seeds. Once you’ve gone through the agonizing process of wondering if the other person even likes you, fought the fear that telling her could destroy everything, and made your confession, the most difficult part begins. Because you have to keep nurturing this wonderful new feeling to keep it growing. Not just in your own heart, but in hers. And since even the most beautiful rose can cut you to the bone with its thorns, who can you talk to for advice? Especially when you’re both girls in high school? For shy Yamada and boyish Kase, time is running out. High school is coming to an end and they must make a choice: stay together and let their love grow, or separate and let it die.
The audio presentation for this property brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo as well as the newly created English language dub done up the same, both of which are encoded with the lossless DTS-HD MA codec. The show isn’t one that has much in the way of action but there are some fun reaction moments and overactive movements that helps to give it a little more to work with. But the reality is that the bulk of it is pretty much standard dialogue material and with two characters that are often very much very close to each other or in the center taking up the soundspace. The mix gets the job done efficiently and everything works just as it should for both language tracks. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally released in 2018, the transfer for this OVA is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. With just one episode that clocks in at 60-minutes, there’s a lot of space here for the show to utilize. Animated by Zexcs, the show has a really great look and feeling about it with some very fluid action sequences to be had. The color tone, in particular, works well throughout as there are some very vibrant pieces but also a good sense of earthiness attached to the detailed backgrounds that make this feel like a lived-in world. The character animation is solid throughout with no problems and the couple of high motion pieces are free of breakup or other noise-related issues. The project is one that definitely looks a few steps above average and it pays off with a clean and pristine kind of encoding here that brings it to life wonderfully. I imagine it looked great in its theatrical run.
The packaging for this release comes in a standard-sized Blu-ray case that holds just the single Blu-ray disc. The front cover uses a great key visual piece of the two leads together with all the right feelings it needs to evoke for the plants and the budding relationship. I love the color design for it and just the overall aesthetic as it sets the mood perfectly. The back cover works in these same soft colors with shots from the OVA spread around it connected by flowers while the middle has a good summary of the premise in a white on green approach that’s relatively easy to read. The extras are clearly listed in small form and the bottom works the traditional production credits followed by an accurate and easy to read technical grid. No show related inserts are included but Seven Seas did get an insert included about the manga version that they’re releasing. There’s no artwork on the reverse side of the cover.
The menu design for this release is pretty nice as we get a really great visual image of the two leads together with all the plants around them. They’re done in traditionally colored anime style but the background is more of a painted/illustrated piece so that the character artwork stands out more with its vibrancy. With the theme song playing to it, the logo is kept nicely to the upper left while the bottom has a nicely designed block that feels very “plant-ish” where you can play the show or dip into the language setup or extras. It’s quick and easy and works well as both the main menu and as the pop-up menu.
The extras for this release are kept simple as we get just the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences along with one of the Japanese promos.
Based on the manga by Hiromi Takashima that had a five-volume run between 2010 and 2017 before a second series kicked off in 2017, Kase-san and the Morning Glories is a sixty-minute OVA that saw a theatrical release in Japan during the summer of 2018. The shojo manga,was serialized in Hirari and Flash Wings, was pretty well like during its initial run and we had a proof of concept short produced in May 2017 that ran for five minutes from studio Zexcs, who would come back for this one and with the same director, Takuya Sato. Sato has a number of varied works to his name, both as screenwriter and director, but they largely fit to make him an ideal person to run with this story.
The premise is simple in that we’re introduced to high school students Yui Yamada and Tomoka Kase. While we get nods to how they met, the two have been dating for a bit and are definitely quite madly into each other, though the physical side has gone only so far. There’s a great moment where they’re together in Yui’s room when nobody else is around and Tomoka gets a bit ramped up by her and there’s just such a strong presentation of teenage hormones with it that it’s a delight. But it also ties back into Yui’s shy side as well as she’s all flushed and uncertain about all of it and her focus shifts to the lemony smell of Tomoka, reminding her of the plants that she takes care of as part of the school program. It ties into the athletic side of Tomoka with why she’s like that but there’s a lot to love in the things that the two notice with each other.
The original manga focuses on the obstacles that the two face in their relationship and that does surface here, but we get to see an early/first kiss between the two which has a really great dreamlike quality about it. We see them talking on the phone and just how excited Yui gets over it afterward, positively bouncing around on the bed in adorable ways. As the two move closer and closer together, one instance that hits reminds us of just how awkward we all are at that age at reading signals. Yui ends up seeing Tomoka somewhat naked while on a school trip when she was changing and that leads to a kind of withdrawal because of how embarrassed that Yui gets. She’s not a super shy introvert or anything but there’s a lightly sheltered aspect about her. The real struggle that they have to face comes with university choices coming up and one can understand just how difficult that is since you want to follow your dreams and your love, and sometimes they move in different directions.
There’s long been an appeal for shows like this on both the girls and boys side, and for boys and girls together, because for those that are older and have moved long past this there’s that dreamlike aspect you want to revisit even if it wasn’t the reality. The simplicity of the time and the way we see such hardships while trying to navigate first real relationships and all that comes from it, pressures within and without. Kase-san is beautifully animated and acted throughout as there’s a kind of relaxed quality to it that knows how to punch up the tension just enough and in honest enough ways that you grin and love seeing the obstacles that they face. It may be idealized to some degree and with a wispy feeling of a fairy tale at times, but in the end it delivers a wonderful and positive little romance.
With an almost montage-like aspect to the structure of it and how it plays out, this is a brief look into the world of Yui and Tomoka. And it’s one that if it catches your attention at all that you should grab the source material right aways. It’s a beautiful looking little release that I’m already envious of people who got to see it on the big screen. Sentai’s release captures the visual quality perfectly with so many great backgrounds and such wonderful colors for the foreground animation and that’s a big part of what drives the love that grows for the show. With a good cast on both sides of the show, it’s easy to engage with and you feel the love with it. I had a great time with this little project and am already looking forward to future viewings in order to engage more with some of the smaller areas of it.
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing, Japanese Promo
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: October 22nd, 2019
Running Time: 60 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.