What They Say:
Every day, Asuka and her friends Nana, Mia, Yu, and Chloe go to a certain temple to find out if an urban legend they heard is true: that if you set your radio to a random channel at 4:44 PM, and pray really hard, you can open a door into another dimension.
It’s a game, really, and the girls don’t take it too seriously. Until the day it works and they find themselves in another world where there are people who look suspiciously like them. But messing around with alternate realities is dangerous, and as the girls travel from one world to the next, they find themselves thrust into increasingly perilous situations. Will they all survive? Will they still be the people they were when they started? The revelations unfold along with the dimensions in The Girl in Twilight!
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. Each episode does have its brief sequence of action overall where things ramp up but it’s fairly standard fare material overall. 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. The show doesn’t really go big when it comes to this aspect of it since it’s fairly relaxed or just standard dialogue material, but 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 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 with nine on the first and four on the second. Animated by Dandelion Animation studio and Junonji, the show has a very vibrant look to it with a lot of attention to detail in the backgrounds. It does a bit of world jumping with some really beautiful sequences to be had in each of them but it also handles all the at-home material with just as much attention. The series works some very busy sequences in terms of action as it runs all over the place with the vibrant colors and high motion sequences. There’s a good solid feel throughout it that works in the shows favor with the more cartoonish approach at times rather than something designed to be realistic, at least with the character animation.
The packaging for this set is done in a standard sized Blu-ray case that holds the two discs for the set. The front cover goes with an appealing piece of Japanese artwork with two of the leads together where we get their versions well, utilizing some good shadowing and a color design that really sells it well. The pairing looks good with lighter and more serious as doe the colors. The back cover has a fun tagline along the top with a big of action while the middle pools together several shots from the show along the right and a decent breakdown of the summary along the left. The production credits are clearly listed along the bottom and the technical grid makes clear how the set is put together. Things are kept slim here overall as there are no show-related inserts included nor a reversible cover.
The extras are pretty standard fare here as we get the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences as well as the Japanese promos for the project.
An original project known as Akanesasu Shoujo that was commissioned for Animax’s 20th-anniversary, the series is localized as The Girl in Twilight that got my attention for having Masakazu Katsura handling the character designs. His work years ago was influential on me with Video Girl I and I’s among others and getting a taste of his style in the modern is always pleasing even if it’s not quite as distinctive as his own original works. What we get here is more traditional character design than Katsura’s design work but some of the edges are there in the faces and hair that I like, making it easy to enjoy them since they play to the familiar with just enough quirks.
The premise is simple enough in that we get a group of friends that somewhat play at trying to open a portal to another world through the 4:44 ceremony that they do. Some are a bit more serious than others but it’s the kind of thing that kind of binds them together as part of the Radio Research Society, something that not all of them quite belong to since there’s a level of embarrassment with it and their grudge against the Broadcast Club. they’re comically in trouble for various things they do, such as taking over the school speaker system, but mostly there’s just this sense that they’re acting and playing out things like you’d normally see boys do here. It’s amusing and works well since they throw some cuteness into it in how they deal with the teachers over it, making it clear why they manage to get away with things in the end.
The first episode largely deals with them going through their day to day motions until they try again with a little prayer at the shrine after school, which actually ends up working in transporting them elsewhere. It’s a curious world of gold falling from the sky and submerged buildings but also cute little yellow snow rabbits of a sort. The rabbits have a cute feeling to them and I’m amused in how it gets weirdly sexual before they become weirdly violent, which allows for the arrival of Asuka-X, aka the girl in twilight who saves them. This is one of those key selling moments with the action as it’s beautifully animated as she fights off the critters that turn into snake-dragon types, all of which looks great with the golden yellow colors used. It’s definitely distinctive and sets a tone for the moment.
What’s intriguing is that the woman here, who looks like Asuka, talks about how this group came from 633.0, making clear a kind of multiverse approach to it. While she brings the girls back to their world, her attempt at returning to her own fall short as she’s exhausted from the fight. It’s no surprise that the others would take her in to help her and set her up at Asuka’s in order to figure out what’s really going on. Though all the girls get some focus it’s Asuka who gets more and tied with Asuka-X as well once she appears as the catalyst. It’s cute seeing Asuka basically taking her in and taking care of her while Asuka-X starts to realize more of who Asuka is and the similarities. It’s one of the fun elements of multiverse stories with similarities and differences and exploring this through Asuka could give the show some fun going forward.
With that as the foundation and the girls returning to go to these different worlds, we do get exposed to some that have interesting ideas and some that are unusual. A world where everyone must marry by 17? We get worlds where the design is played up like a western, we get a beach extended episode with lots of swimsuit goodness, there’a cafe time… it really feels like within the first half of the series alone that it wants to grab at every cliche it can and run with it. Which, to be fair, is better than the last episode or two where they play up to Evangelion in terms of working the budget and we get some very slim “animated” episodes as it tries to work out its story. But really, the main issue that I think the show has as it works through these different timelines is that we’ve seen this so often now – and better – that it lacks a certain resonance unless this particular subset of girls works for you. It’s a cuter version of a large chunk of the first season of Steins;Gate before things get really serious.
The Girl in Twilight is the kind of show that provides for some interesting ideas and concepts as introduced at the beginning but wants to keep distilling it all done to how the main cast themselves can become better people. Which is fine, to a degree, but when as an original series it leans into the usual cliches so much for what they’re dealing with that you can point to a dozen other shows that do it exactly the same, it’s not that engaging. I do like how they handled the multiverse aspect and travel about it as well as some of the weird things. But more than anything else, it really just felt like it was playing it safe. And for a series celebrating Animax’s 20th-anniversary, it felt like we needed something that was going to define the channel’s vision going forward. But instead, it’s like a greatest hits CD with a bright glossy sheen on it. Those who get into it can connect well as I’ve seen a number of strong fans attached to it and the character’s journeys, but this just felt like an exercise in repetition. Beautifully done but still all too familiar.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing, Japanese Promos
Content Grade: C+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: January 7th, 2020
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.