What They Say:
Yusha is destined to defeat the Demon King, so she attends an adventurer school with her friends Seira, Fai, and Mei. Follow this adorable band of goofballs as they lazily learn what it takes to become heroes—while barely making any progress at all.
The audio presentation for this release brings us the show in its original Japanese language in stereo along with an English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD setup, both of which come across well. The series is essentially all about the dialogue with a couple of wild takes here and that but nothing serious in terms of action to give it a workout. The dialogue aspect of it is handled pretty well since we often have a decent-sized cast to work with on-screen as it all flows from person to person without a problem. The music helps to give everything a little more of a boost but that doesn’t take it to another level or anything. Placement is decent throughout where needed and the show as a whole hits all the right notes with what it wants to do. We didn’t have any issues with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2019, 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 for the show are spread across two discs with nine on the first and three on the second. Animated by Studio Gokumi, the series has a very bright, colorful and appealing look to it with its design as the colors are solid with the right level of pop to them that lets them stand out without being oversaturated. It’s almost what you’d call fairy-tale style or “cartoonish” in a way that fits the setting. The main area that deals with are the girls themselves and their outfits and they have a great sense of definition and depth about them throughout. The series works a generally simple real world approach for its design and the detail for it is well handled with a clean and clear approach that doesn’t suffer from line noise or aliasing. It’s a pretty good looking transfer overall for a show that definitely has a better look with the bright and more solid colors.
The packaging for this release gives us a standard sized Blu-ray case that holds the two discs against the interior walls. The set comes with an o-card that has different artwork from the case and I continue to like that approach. The o-card works the familiar key visual from the series with the main cast all spread over each other with lots of bright colors and the tone that makes it clear what kind of style that the whole thing works. It’s got a white framing around it that helps draw you inward and connect to the characters nicely. The actual case cover goes with some of the Japanese character artwork with Yusha taking center stage here looking all cute. The logo is kept simple along the bottom side with the full series name listed as well. The back cover goes simple with a shot of Yusha in full-length form while to the right we break down the extras and the summary of the show. The extras are presented clearly and the technical grid covers everything cleanly and clearly as well as showing off a few shots from the show. The reverse side mirrors all of this but the artwork is of that key visual from the slipcover so that even if you don’t get a slipcover you still have both pieces.
The menu design for this release works a similar approach to the back cover but comes across a bit brighter thanks to the difference in the materials versus the digital screen. It’s more attention for Yusha when I wish more of the cast god nods here but it works in its simplicity and carrying over the pink hues and widgets works well. The navigation is kept to the right as it’s done simply but with lots of soft colors to break it all up a bit into its own circles. There’s little in the way of submenus when you get down to it but it works well here and looks good as a pop-up menu as well.
The only extras included for this release are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.
The winter 2019 season was one that I thought was well-populated by original anime series and that’s worked out pretty well so far with some variety and interesting projects. The one series of those that caught my eye at the time was Endro!, which comes from Studio Gokumi. A manga got underway for it last summer to support the anime but this is the primary piece, which is directed by Kaori and has scripts from Takashi Aoshima. Fantasy shows have been pretty popular the last several years but they’ve mostly been of the isekai format rather than something more direct. This one essentially says, let’s do fantasy but with just cute girls and run with that using some pastel-oriented color choices and a fluffier approach to everything.
The show opens well as we get Yusha and her friends as they fight against the Demon Lord using friendship and their varied abilities. Combine that with the cards that they have they’re able to use some forbidden magic in order to bring the fight to a close using lots of positive energy. It’s reminiscent of elements of Cardcaptor Sakura because of the cards but the show in its opening act here reminded me a lot more of Magic Knight Rayearth more than anything else, especially with its color design, character design, and the mix of lighter moments with serious events. It’s a good way to open everything but there’s a hitch to it all as well as it’s an event that may not happen. With the end credits rolling – after just seven minutes, the truth is revealed here that the spell went wrong and the Demon Lord was sent back in time.
And what better way to secure your future than to make sure that Yusha and her friends never become heroes? The Demon Lord takes the form of a young woman named Mao who becomes a teacher at the Adventurer School, which is where we see Yusha and her friends getting ready to hit registration day. Now, the show does a lot of this backward and roundabout from how I’m describing it so that we get a good bit of time getting to know the characters, their “Class,” and the setting in general. Yusha is our general hereo while we get Seira on the priest side, Fai as a warrior, and Mei as a mage. It’s all standard fantasy fare and Studio Gokumi gives us a friendly looking kingdom here with classic designs, bright if soft colors, and a generally warm feeling. The exposure to all of this, the setup and details of it all, is still interesting to see even after getting a look at the “end” of the series in the first few minutes.
The use of a Demon Lord as a cute little girl isn’t all that unfamiliar, though Mao and her form here is definitely on the really young and tiny side with her appearance. When you know what she really is and what she’s looking to do, however, it makes for a fun experience as she’s out to get Yusha at every turn, especially since Yusha thinks she’s just a super adorable little teacher. Mao picks on Yusha and her friends since she knows who she is and puts the whole class through its paces much earlier than they normally would, which is not going to work well. But I like the banter that the friends has as it’s pretty cutting toward each other at times while Mao is fun in how she barely is able to hide her true self, which the other students almost kind when you get down to it.
Unsurprisingly, the series largely runs with the kind of stories that you’d expect all while knowing who Mao is and why she’s doing what she’s doing. The amusement comes in the frustration in the way that she invariably makes them better and that the kids themselves come together really well because some things are just destined. Hell, Mao practically gives up on all of this early enough and just focuses on being the teacher and often interacting with everyone, especially after the early episode showing the girls trying to decide who should be the group leader. It’s a good piece that reinforces that they’re a team more than anything else and having someone actually lead is surprisingly counterproductive. That they’re that in synch that early on is a bit surprising but it’s what works best and it’s the kind of group that we don’t often get to see. And while Mao does have her moments, a lot of the show really does just focus on the rest of them with her providing some commentary or frustration. Seeing the girls go off on their early training or spending their summer break investigating monsters so they can be better prepared for what comes really says a lot of good stuff about them.
We also get the delight in the twist where the princess of the region, Rona, comes to the school and ends up making things worse yet better in her own weird way. Putting official recognition of Hero status on Yusha, she’s also got something of a real crush on Yusha and does her best to get everyone to rally behind it. It’s a lot of silly forced material but it shows what kind of person Rona is and how different she is from this largely come from nothing group that has come together. Not surprisingly, the relationship dynamic only goes so far but it’s adorable to watch as Rona does her best to get better with Yusha, including trying to be better friends with her friends and backing them up in ways that don’t quite cause as much trouble as the way most princess-led plans tend to do.
A lot of silliness takes place across the series and with it being an original work it’s not dealing with the usual structure of events, which is a big plus. It does, however, want to get more serious going into the end as it explores what’s truly going on between the Hero and the Demon Lord thing that has been perpetuated and it’s not exactly complex or complicated but it’s a bit more involved in a really well done way. That things get serious and we have to focus on charting a new path is what I like about it and seeing the characters involved work toward it together is definitely a big plus. I’m a huge fan of original series since they can avoid a lot of problematic structural aspects that come from weekly or monthly manga series and Endro is dealt a strong hand by its creative team to give us a highly satisfying conclusion here, one that can offer up a sequel series easily with this crew or with a different one to examine its themes.
Endro was the kind of show that really surprised me and took advantage of its opening episode to change expectations. It’s a series with a really nice design and something that stands apart from other shows that I can’t quite name but it works in subverting those expectations as well. What it puts into motion is definitely interesting as it’s able to play on being a mild disruptor to the genre while also leaning hard into the genre material itself with all of its standards. I really like the cast, the balance of the friendships, and how things factor in with Mao throughout as it’s not just she is This and cannot be That. With a lot of growth and changes along the way that brings us to a solid ending, this is one of those quiet little gems I wish more people knew about. It’s a solid little set from Funimation here that looks and sounds great with a good cast involved that will make it a fun discovery for many for years to come.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD MA 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Funimation
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.