What They Say:
What if someone was able to reach into your mind and change your memories? To alter your perceptions, see things that aren’t there, and remember events that never happened? You could drive off a cliff believing that you were still on the road, or commit murder without knowing what you had done. Now imagine being one of the people born with this ability. Knowing how easily our entire world can be taken apart, would you accept orders to manipulate others?
That’s the conundrum that Hiroki, Satoru and Tsukasa find themselves in as they’re employed as psychic hitmen and enforcers by a mysterious agency. Or, at least, that’s what might be happening. Because they themselves are almost certainly being manipulated, and the concepts of truth and reality cease to have meaning when you’re one of the terrifying beings known as a PET.
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo which is encoded using the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. There’s no English dub for this release, unfortunately. The series has its outlandish moments along the way but the bulk of it is filled with basic dialogue. There are some areas where it shines a bit more in how it works with thoughts and levels, but most of it is pretty standard drama material with a few quick bumps here and thee of action It’s often kept to just a couple of people at a time so it has a nice and small feeling to it that serves the material well and it all hits a good stride quickly. The audio across the board comes in and clear and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally released in 2020, 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-episode series is spread across two discs in a standard nine/four format. Animated by Geno Studio, the show has an interesting look to it where it has a rough and angular look to it when it comes to the character designs, especially the men, that gives it a distinctive feeling. The encoding captures the look of this well with colors coming across clean and solid, the moments of motion and activity being smooth and problem-free, and no issues such as noise or breakup in general. The details holds up well with a lot of it in the backgrounds as the characters are a bit simpler. It may not be the most visually exciting show out there in terms of how busy it is, but the encoding captures it well and there are some really beautiful moments.
The packaging for this release comes in a standard-sized Blu-ray case where we get a great key visual image that works the whole door into mystery while bringing out the cast as they float about. It’s a weird cover but the kind that gets you to take a second look at it. The logo looks fine but a three-letter series name just looks odd, especially one like this, that it’s just kind of there. The back cover goes for a kind of blocky feeling with the old school text along the top with how it looks. We get a few shots from the show spread around while the center has a decent summary of the premise, all of which is set against a minimal black background along the top. The extras are clearly listed and the production credits along the bottom get everything into place right. The technical grid breaks everything down accurately so you know exactly how the set is put together. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menus for this release work the static approach where the right side features some of the key character artwork from the Japanese home video releases which looks great as it’s filled with color and appealing background designs to it. They’re framed by the dreamworld elements on the right and left with the psychedelic colors that gives it a nice surreal feel just at the edge of everything. The left side gives us a clean-looking episode selection block with the episodes and titles clearly listed in white against a black background while utilizing an appealing green/blue and purple to help tie it all together. With no language selection, there’s not much here beyond the show itself. The extras and trailers are on the second disc and quick and easy to load.
The only extras included are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences and some of the original promos for the Japanese broadcast.
Based on the manga of the same name, Pet is a thirteen-episode anime series that aired as part of the winter 2020 season. It saw its simulcast on Amazon Prime around the world so it’s welcome that Sentai grabbed the available home video rights since it feels like that while a lot of people have Amazon Prime service, few engage in watching anime on it and prefer it elsewhere. The original manga comes from Ranjo Miyake which ran from 2002 to 2003 for a total of five volumes while getting a remastered edition in 2009. It’s a series that felt like a surprising choice to bring into the world of anime in 2020 but Geno Studio put it together well with it directed by Takahiro Omori based on the scripts by Sadayuki Murai.
Pet is a series that it’s going to take some time to really digest and figure out because I have to liken it in a way to a show like Dark out of Germany. The series is one that must have been hell when it came to weekly broadcast because it feels like it’s designed for binge consumption more than anything else. There’s a lot going on here and a number of characters to engage with as its premise slowly reveals itself for what it truly is. While it’s not the kind of show where it’s at the halfway mark that it clicks, it’s just before that when you feel like you can get a handle on what it’s trying to do. With allusions toward films like Inception with the whole working within dreams, that alone takes time to figure out the reality versus the dream element at times but more so just to get a handle on who the real characters are and their intent. And even then it’s really only in the final episodes, which we won’t spoil here, that it feels like it comes together.
It really is one of those shows where if you’ve got the ability to put yourself in place for a bit over three hours, just take in the whole show and it’ll work.
The thriller is focused on agents called “crushers” that operate for The Company has utilized psychic arts from the Chinese qigong masters. These agents are able to go into minds and through that figure out what it is that really makes them tick by discovering their greatest fears and the things that mean the most to them. When you want to control someone, knowing those things are exactly what you need in the world of business and politics, as well as crime. The character focus is on Hayashi, a crusher who was among the most skilled but ended up disappearing along the way, but not before bringing on board two exceptionally skilled agents with Satoru and Tsukasa. As time went on Tsukasa did the same in bringing on another himself with a boy named Hiroki. When one brings on someone new, they basically take them as a “pet” which is where the title of the series comes from.
The problem comes when Hayashi returns to Japan and is attempting to utilize his pets, which spans a couple of generations now, to his own ends. It has the idea and seed behind it of these people taking a firmer control of their own destiny outside of the Company because clearly there are easy reasons to want to avoid being involved with them in general. But there are the conflicts of having spent so much time operating for the Company and a master who trained you that you trust implicitly because of what they’ve done for you. Even if they seemingly abandoned you for some time as well. All of this becomes the central focus as it progresses while initially giving us a look into how this core trio that operates under Hayashi’s shadow and legacy are dealing with their own things. All three have various traumas that likely made them easier to work this kind of method that lets them become agents but they’re also pressure points in their personalities that let others manipulate and control them. So you get the interesting dynamic of seeing them going into the minds of others and working within there and seeing the traumas that exist in there as well for them while having their own to cope with as well.
Though Studio Geno does a solid job in this area, it’s something where you kind of wish that it was a bigger budget piece or even a more streamlined feature film with the budget behind it to do it justice. It’s easy to do such things when you’re an Inception film or something like Paprika, but a streaming series doesn’t have quite the same budget. What they do accomplish here, however, is quite good and I really enjoyed a lot of the visuals as they operate not just in the minds of their targets and opponents but also the real world. The original design ideas from the manga translate well here with the characters and the more angular look and having so much of it focus on slightly older characters instead of it just being another group of high school psychics or something is hugely appealing. It takes a while to really connect with these characters, which is at the heart of the problem alongside just how much foundation it has to set up, but once it achieves that it works a lot better as the fuller storyline is revealed.
A good thriller often has that moment where the leads realize that the company they work for isn’t what they seem and it’s always a lot of fun. Pet, with its multi-generational approach here with the cast, allows for it to play with expectations pretty well when combined with the whole going into the minds of people. That makes for some creative visuals throughout, which the animation studio does the best they can with through a standard TV budget. Pet is one of a number of series where it feels like it was designed to be viewed best by binge because there’s a lot of setup that could be alienating on a weekly basis. It’s not that it’s a complicated show but rather something complex in dealing with reality versus the mind and the layers of it. It all comes together well enough but that first half or so is rough and I’m not sure that the payoff is truly there with it. That said, it’s the kind of shows that will kick around in your mind for some time to come and that’s almost always welcome when it comes to shows that could have been kept to the streaming realm only.
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing, Japanese Promos
Content Grade: B-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: March 9th, 2021
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.