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Review: Di Gi Charat Ultimate Collection

Title: Di Gi Charat Ultimate Collection on Blu-ray

U. S. Publisher: Sentai Filmworks

U. S. Release Date: 9-17-19

Format: Blu-ray / 33 episodes / 320 Minutes

Audio Language: English or Japanese for the series, Japanese for the specials.

Genre: Comedy

Age Rating: TV PG

Overall Personal Rating: B

Synopsis:

Di Gi Charat is a collection of comedic episodes that mostly stand on their own. Basically, alien teen girls come to earth, landing in Akihabara, supposedly to be famous entertainers, but they actually end up working and living at a game store. New to the culture, they still understand most everything, but a few mistakes are made and their unique abilities cause a few odd problems. Still, they seem to know how to keep the customers in line (or at least baffled).

Commentary:

If you are looking for something light and happy to watch, and would be knowledgeable about gaming/anime references, then Di Gi Charat might be the show you are ready to binge. It is a fine diversion, silly and funny with extra helpings of cute. Don’t be expecting something out of the ordinary or epic. It’s just for fun.

Now, I know there is a back story of sorts, the female characters come from another planet. But there doesn’t seem to be a real need for it, but I do suppose it justifies their quaint or unusual behaviors and unique abilities.

The girls are made to be a store mascot, and they do so very well. Cute, bubbly and easily recognizable with their look: outfits and especially the oversized hair ornaments/hair ties. Top marks for character design. I also enjoyed the way the people in the crowd were depicted. Hey, there is an element of truth in its near faceless portrayal.

The episodes are short, which makes the aforementioned binge watching a touch annoying with the opening song seeming to take as much time as the episode. I never timed it, but it was still annoying. Cute, but annoying… like cute often is.

Now, it is an older series, so it looks that way. The animation is dated and there is a cartoony feel to things. But that suits Di Gi Charat fine.

The disc contains a big section of OVA specials not on the main menu page. Make sure to look for them.

Overal Grade: B

Cute, funny and silly. Hey, it’s a comedy. Better be in the mood for cute.

Sorcerous Stabber Orphen

Title: Sorcerous Stabber Orphan on Blu-ray

Director: Season 1 Hiroshi Watanabe, Season 2 Tōru Takahashi

Studio: J. C. Staff

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: August 20th, 2019

Format: Blu-ray / 47 episodes / 1175 Minutes

Genre: Fantasy, Adventure, Comedy

Age Rating: TV 14 +

Overall Personal Rating: B-

Synopsis:

When an experiment goes horribly awry and transforms the Sorceress Azalie into a monstrous dragon, the sorcerers of the Tower of Fang callously decide to pretend that Azalie died in order to preserve the Tower’s reputation. And to make sure that the magic beans never get spilled, they also decide that Azalie needs to be destroyed. Disgusted by their cravenly actions, Azalie’s friend Krylancelo renounces his allegiance to the Tower, changes his name to Orphen and sets forth to save the damsel/dragon in distress. It won’t be easy: there’ll be minions with nefarious plans to defeat, and along the way Orphen will pick up an apprentice, a spoiled rich girl and a couple of trolls. But it wouldn’t be a heroic journey without a few bumps in the road, would it? The epic quest is on in Sorcerous Stabber Orphen!

Special Features: Production Sketches, Japanese TV Spot, Cape Day & Other Silliness, Interview with Japanese Staff & Cast, Outtakes, Clean Opening Animation, Clean Closing Animation.

Commentary:

This is the summer of resurrections. There are countless numbers of older series that are being brought back from the anime graveyard and Sorcerous Stabber Orphan is the latest arrival. I can’t really say that it excites me but it does bring me some interesting entertainment. This set has both seasons and it is a great example of what happens when there is a change in directors.

The Sorcerous Stabber Orphan itself has everything you would expect from a late 1990’s series. The comedic lead with a dark and dangerous back story. A group of misfits that surround him and a rather convoluted group of antagonist. The trope was all the rage because of the success of other series like Trigun or Cowboy Bebop. Although Sorcerous Stabber Orphan works harder on providing a comedic side and in many ways it is better at that than it is at giving us a solid plot line that makes the viewer really root for Orphan and want to see him save his sorcerous friend.

Overal Grade: B-

It is unfortunate that the production value of Sorcerous Stabber Orphan doesn’t hold up very well to time where other series from that same time frame manage to still look and feel fresh. Sorcerous Stabber Orphan looks like it was a secondary series that was pushed through the mill as fast as it could be and comes across second rate. Funny thing is that it have a stronger following in Japan than some of the now recognized classics.

There is also the issue of the change in directors for the second season. For me this is where Sorcerous Stabber Orphan fell apart. There was a clear loss in direction and maybe even a weakening of the writing too. Either way, I found the second season less appealing than the first.

I do think that anyone how wants to understand what anime was really like 20 years ago then they should spend some time with Sorcerous Stabber Orphan. It will be enlightening.

Initial D Legend Theatrical Collection

Title: Initial D Legend Theatrical Collection Blu-Ray

Director: Masamitsu Hidaka, Tomohito Naka (co-director)

Studio: Sanzigen & Liden Films

Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

Release Date: Sept. 17, 2019

Format: Blu-ray / 3 Feature Film / 180 minutes

Genre: Car Racing, Coming of Age

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: B

Synopsis:

Initial D Legend Theatrical Collection contains the following three movies: Awakening, Racer, and Dream of the series directed by Masamitsu Hidaka.

When an unplanned street duel launches tofu delivery driver Takumi Fujiwara into the world of high stakes street racing, the competition isn’t going to know what hit them. The son of another legendary driver, the unassuming Takumi quickly becomes the downhill racing phenomenon to beat, with a line of challengers as long as the deadly Mt. Akina road itself! There’s no time to blink. No chance to second guess your strategy. The streets of Japan become a deadly arena for an incredible battle where if you have everything under control, you’re not moving fast enough! Hold onto your breath as the legendary series that introduced the sport of drift racing to the west is reinvented in a series of new feature films that will strip the surface from the blacktops!

Commentary:

In Initial D Legend 1: Awakening

Initial D is one of those series that has lasted the test of time even though the cars have shown their age there is something very real about teenage boys and cars. That is really the only thing that Initial D Awakening has going for it. I know that if I were still in my 20’s or even my 30’s I would be all over this film, but I found it rather single minded and lacked a depth that I was hoping for. The fact that the natural racer (Takumi) doesn’t really care about racing and is just doing it to get home faster. There is also the connection between Takumi’s father and his racing history that is way to easy and somewhat disappointing.

The plot does hold up and Awakening does a great job of setting us up for the second film. The animation is good and the work that went into the races really paid off. There is also an attention to detail on the cars that I found interesting and reassuring. The voice acting was much more typical and fell apart at time and lent itself to the typical American answer of overacting for some of the core characters that tend to add a tension that isn’t needed.

Initial D Legend 2: Racer

As with many anime film series there is almost always a letdown as we move through the story. Initial D Legend 2 Racer is just that. While watching it I felt like there was a typical answer to a strong start. Simply put they turn our reluctant hero into the focus of all the racers and give him a tarnish that is not deserved. Now there is a honest push of tension in how all of this plays out, but the writing did fall flat for me.

I did feel like some of the action was solid enough and the racing was given a rather slick production overall. I do feel as though some of the story felt forced and rather uneventful. The overall production values were good, but I can see where the original series emulation was a little to much in the minds of the creators.

Initial D Legend 3: Dream

This last of 3 films does a wonderful job of bring us to the classic series. As with the other two films the story helps us get back up to speed with the essence of the Initial D franchise and introduces us to everyone that matters early on. Bottom line is that it Takumi is forced to understand his talent and discover what makes him really want to do this. On the other hand you have Ryosuke who knows why he does this and why he must be the best. In the end there is the final challenge between pure natural ability and cunning knowledge.

For any guy that is into cars and racing this series of films and the original series would we a great fit. For everyone else that might not be enough to keep them involved.

Overall Grade: B

Initial D Legend Theatrical Collection has everything any Initial D fan will need to make them very happy. It is also a great film for any young man between the age of 15 and 40 who is into cars. This gives a very special depiction of Drifting and what made it so very special in the 80’s and 90’s.

It is always fun to get a feeling for the beginning of a story line and get a sense of what these beloved characters were all about before the original series began. Initial D Legend Theatrical Collection does several things very well and a few thing not so well. The biggest issue for me is that the film is broken into two films and maybe should have been edited so that it is just one full length film.

If this Initial D Legend Theatrical Collection series was reworked with higher end production and a stronger writing team then it is very possible it would have been a home run. Drift and street racing is not what it used to be and it comes across in the film as more of a historical oddity. It is very possible that it still has a solid following in Japan but here in the States it is dated. The story itself is somewhat of a classic trope that ha a racing theme and it plays out just that way. For all you Initial D fans you will not be disappointed. For all those newbies out there just be warned, it does come across a little worse for the wear.

I thought the animation production values were average at best and that some of the racing scenes tended to over develop the racing, but in series and films like this it really is about the drama and how to show it. I guess that all too often I felt like I was in a Bleach scene where some huge power was being unleaded rather than racing in some road race.

I guess that thing that failed me the most was the overall weakness of some of the main characters. I went away feeling rather cold toward Takumi and somewhat sorry for Ryosuke and maybe just maybe that is what they wanted, but the films are setup to make you want to root for Takumi. I guess I just didn’t care enough about him or what he was doing.

I do know that fans of the original Initial D series will love every minute of the films and snap them up like crazy. It is great to see all 3 films released in one set.

The Book of Bantorra

Title: The Book of Bantorra Complete Collection on Blu-ray

Director: Toshiya Shinohara

Studio: Davis Production

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks / Section 23

U. S. Release Date: September 10th, 2019

Format: Blu-ray / 27 Episodes / 675 Minutes

Genre: Supernatural, Drama

Overall Personal Grade: B+

Synopsis:

In another time and place, on a world of pain and sorrow, when someone dies, their soul doesn’t go to Heaven or Hell – it becomes a book. A book that reveals the deceased’s innermost secrets… and can be read by anyone. Protecting these priceless treasures is the elite organization known as the Armed Librarians. It’s their job to keep the books and the knowledge within them safe from those who would misuse or destroy them.

It’s a tough, dangerous job, so Chief Librarian Hamyuts Maseta recruits only the best and the brightest psychics to join her team of expert fighters. But will they be good enough to stop the fanatics of the Shindeki Church from wrecking vengeance on the entire world? Only time will tell, but that book hasn’t been written yet.

As the Shindeki Church marches forward with their plans of conquest, Hamyuts Maseta and the Armed Librarians continue to struggle against them. However, the path to victory is a long and dangerous one, and not easily navigated. Along the way, friends will be lost, new allies gained, and blood will assuredly be shed. With the whole world seemingly turned against them and the Library facing its darkest hour, does Hamyuts still have a trick or two up her sleeve?

Commentary:

If you are looking for dark action and adventure look no further, The Book of Bantorra brings it all to bare and some. From fighting epic battles to unveiling the wisdom of the ages you just don’t know whats next. The high drama keeps you entertained but at the same time you get a little overload of drama. For me that is where it looses some of its luster. After a few episodes it just begins to feel way too heavy.

The animation on the other hand has a great feel for the story. It comes a cross between a steampunk world and a post apocalyptic Victorian world where people humanity has lost its way and a few powerful people are doing what ever they can to hold on to the essence of what makes us special. Thus, the drama and the over the top characters who take themselves entirely too serious. But, the look of the series fits it well.

The writing is the key to the melodrama and heavy handed characters and I guess this is where it looses me.  I do have to admit that the ending is very imaginative and helps save the series form itself, but it too comes across like a dark tale of sadness brought back by the light of true humanity.

Overall Grade: B+

It is great to see Sentai re-release this series on Blu-ray. I enjoyed The Book of Bantorra when it was first released back in 2014 and enjoyed even more today.

The Book of Bantorra is one of those series that has a lot to say and keeps you guessing all the way up until the end. Even at that point you expect the outcome to be a bit different. This consistent confusion and heavy handed melodrama keeps this series from being a great one. I am glad to see it being re-released as a single collection, I think this will help expand its appeal and hopefully bring out a few more fans. If you pick this up give it some time it will grow on you and in the end you will not be disappointed.

Battle Programmer Shirase (anime review)

Title: Battle Programmer Shirase: Complete Collection on Blu-ray

Director: Hiroki Hayashi

Studio: AIC, GANSIS

U. S. Distributor: Maiden Japan, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: Aug. 6th, 2019

Format: Blu-ray / 125 Minutes / 5 Episodes

Genre: Sci Fi, Comedy, Techno Silliness

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: B

Synopsis:

BPS: Battle Programmer Shirase contains episodes 1-5 of the anime directed by Hiroki Hayashi.

What is it that passes behind those dry, sorrowful eyes? Akira Shirase, the solitary programmer who has an unusual aptitude for problem solving: He is called a legendary hacker, and few know his true identity. What has he lost, what has he gained, and what has he seen in pockets of the vast internet? How now does he feel, on what is false and what is true and what exists in code? This is the man they call Battle Programmer Shirase – also known as BPS!

Commentary:

Sometimes I am baffled why any unfinished series ever get re-released and Battle Programer Shirase is certainly one of them. The fact that the original 15 short episodes were condensed into 5 standard episodes is puzzling enough, but the story is a great reminder of the rather silly humor that the early to mid 2000’s brought.

Battle Programmer Shirase is very silly and with the perverted setup at the beginning of every episode works for 5 episodes, but it would have become boring if the series was longer. I guess there are some s\good things that come from an unfinished series.

Overall Grade: B

I wanted to give Battle Programmer Shirase a much lower grade, although I just couldn’t. For everything it failed to give us it was still funny and silly. I found it very easy to watch and also appreciated the taste of Japanese culture at was tossed in.

I cannot be too sure if the series would have failed if it was completed or if it would have become a classic. I have a feeling that it would have lost its way and become another forgettable series from 2004. As it is now I can honestly say that it is a curiosity that almost delivers. The animation looks more like the late 1990’s and much of the plot feels dated. With all of that said I did enjoy it and will be happy to force friends to watch it from time to time.

If you want a taste of the early 2000’s that is not bashful about reminding us of how the neet generation in Japan really lived, then you should check out Battle Programmer Shirase.

Armored Trooper VOTOMS OVA Collection 2 (anime review)

Title: Armored Trooper VOTOMS OVA Collection 2

Director: Ryōsuke Takahashi

Studio: Nippon Sunrise (Sunrise)

U. S. Distributor: Maiden Japan, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: July 23rd, 2019

Format: Blu-ray (Standard Definition) / 9 OVA / 290 Minutes

Genre: Sci Fi, Mecha, Space Opera

Age Rating: TV MA

Overall Personal Rating: C

Synopsis:

Armored Trooper VOTOMS OVA Collection 2 contains 9 OVA episodes including the Genei ~ Phantom Arc, Woodo, Kummen, Sansa, Nulgerant, Cocoon, Infanti, Case; IRVINE VOTOMS FINDER, and Chirico’s Return all directed by Shisho Igarashi.

The fires of war don’t create heroes, only legions of the wounded and the dead. For a pilot of an easily-destroyed VOTOMS unit, every foray into battle is one more calculated bet with your own life as the prize, another day of cheating death. When your commanding officers send you into a fight that can’t be won, or set goals that can only be achieved through massive sacrifice, then a decision has to be made. Are you going to be a hero? Or a survivor? The brutal realism of the acclaimed anime series returns, as men and machines are thrown into the meat grinder of war, in the epic second Original Video Animation collection!

Armored Trooper VOTOMS Collection 2!

Commentary:

Well, I guess that it would make sense that if I wasn’t impressed with the first collection that I wouldn’t be impressed with the second and honestly I was not impressed. The plot was still rather redundant even if it is an old series and the writing is very heavy handed. I do have to say that I didn’t find the melodrama to be as tiresome as some of the early Gundam series from the same time period, but I did feel like I was being hit in the face with a frying pan from time to time.

I wish I could say that I connected with any of the characters and I almost began to care and alas I just couldn’t get there.

Overall Grade: C

The animation felt like it was late 80’s early 90’s work and that is not a time period that showed off the great talent of animators in Japan. What it proved was that most of the studios were sweatshops that just wanted to crank out the series and make money off of merchandizing. Oh, that’s right it is still that same in both eastern and western cultures.

Okay, if you take Armored Trooper VOTOMS OVA Collection 2 at face value and add in the fact that this series was produced 30 years ago then you have to tip your hat to it for making it this far and actually managing to be re-released in Blu-ray format. There is a real resurgence in the Mecha genre and many of the oldest series are beginning to see the light of day again. Armored Trooper VOTOMS OVA Collection 2 is one of the better series to come back to life. So, if Mecha is your world then you are well aware of Armored Trooper VOTOMS and will be sure to grab this one. If you are interested in what helped make this massive anime genre the you should at the very least check Armored Trooper VOTOMS OVA Collection 2 out, but be sure to start at the beginning.

Waiting in the Summer (anime review)

Title: Waiting in the Summer Complete Collection on Blu-ray

Directed By: Tatsuyuki Nagai

Written By: Yōsuke Kuroda

Studio: J. C. Staff

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: March 15th, 2016

Format: Blu-ray / 12 Episodes + OVA / 325 Minutes

Genre: Harem, Slice of Life, Fan Service, Romance, Sci Fi

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: A-

Synopsis: 

When a group of friends decide to make a movie over a long summer holiday, they end up learning a little about film-making and a lot more about each other and themselves. What begins as a simple way to avoid the summer doldrums quickly turns into something much more complex, intimate, and downright revealing.

As the summer heats up, so do the maturing relationships between the young cast members, taking some new, and sometimes unexpected, turns. Get ready for a whole new look at summer romance as hidden emotions get captured and secrets meant to be kept hidden inside young hearts instead spill off the screen for your viewing pleasure in Waiting in the Summer!

Commentary:

Thank you Sentai Filmworks for going back into the vault and bringing this wonderful anime back to life. The english dub should help bring a larger audience to it. As for the dub, because I an so familiar with the original release, I didn’t find it as attractive as the 2016 release.

Waiting in the Summer is one of the sleeper anime that few people have seen. It has a rather straight forward plot and a simplistic romance structure, yet it catches your attentions and makes you really like these high school students on summer break and wish you could hang out with them and make a move too.

With this being a re-release and adding the OVA I am curious why there wasn’t a English dub. I understand that there is a large cost to doing that. I just think that a English dub would have brought another layer of fans to the series and proved to be profitable.

Overall Grade: A-

I is nice to see Waiting in the Summer re-released with the OVA and forcing me to take another look at it. One one level there is a warn innocence that flows though it and on the other hand a sad reality to some things just can’t be. With all that is going on with the film mirroring the plot line and the hidden specter of the men in black makes it hard to stop watching.

The animation is a smooth easy touch that is very typical   for anime of this type and the attention to detail done with such a soft touch that things flow together with the plot perfectly. I can’t think of any other style that would have helped tell the story any better. The only detractor I have is that it does drag a bit in the middle and leave the viewer a tad frustrated with what is going on. I still find the series strong and with the added OVA it is just that much better.

If you haven’t had a chance to see Waiting in the Summer then I think that this is the time to discover a series that is warm and friendly with layers of strange goings on. If you are in the mood for a easy going anime that has plenty of fun and oddities in it then Waiting in the Summer is for you.

Asura Cryin’ (anime review)

Title: Asura Cryin’ Complete Collection on blu-ray

Director: Keizō Kusakawa

Writer: Katsuhiko Koide

Studio: Seven Arcs

U. S. Distributor: Maiden Japan, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: July 17th, 2019

Format: Blu-ray / 26 Episodes / 650 Minutes

Genre: Mecha, Fantasy, Supernatural

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Personal Rating: B+

Synopsis:

Some people are haunted by memories, but Tomoharu is haunted by his friend Misao, who died in a horrible plane crash that Tomo somehow survived. While having a girl that no one else can see hanging around is a little odd, it’s not until Tomo’s mom gets remarried, leaving Tomo alone, that things get really weird: A mysterious girl appears with a package that Tomo is supposed to guard. A second girl breaks into the house, demanding something called an “extractor”. And both girls can inexplicably see Misao! As more people target the package and Tomo, the mystery only deepens. What’s in the package, why are so many people after it, and is it connected to the plane crash or something even more sinister? The shocking answers will be unleashed!

Commentary:

If you consider that Asura Cryin’ was first released in 2009 you will understand the odd mix of CG and hand worked animation. Even though I was never a huge fan of early CG I have to say that I didn’t really mind it here. The overall look was good and has stood up to 10 years of overall progress in the anime world.

The story starts out rather fun and a little confusing, but quickly settles into a rather standard harem sci fi story line. It is not until we reach the last group of episodes that the story really comes together.

There are plenty of exciting moments and some rather confusing ones too. The real strength of the series comes in the characters and their relationships. This look like there should be some obvious winners and losers here but anime tends to toss a few twists in from time to time and Asura Cryin’ is no different.

Overall Grade: B+

Overall Asura Cryin’ is a solid harem with a somewhat questionable sci fi/ fantasy mixed together. I thought thing progressed somewhat slowly from episode 7 to 18 and then picked back up for the reminder of the series. I also felt like they rushed the ending which made for a slight letdown.

All in all I did like Asura Cryin’ and do think it would be a great addition to those harem / sci fi / fantasy lovers. I also want to thank Maiden Japan to continuing to give us series that are well worth the viewing that may have been missed in the past.

Cutie Honey Universe Anime Review

Title: Cutie Honey Universe complete Collection

Director: Akitoshi Yokoyama

Writer: Akiotshi Yokohama

Original concept/manga series: Go Nagai

Producer: Production Reed

Format: Blu-ray / 12 Episodes / 300 Minutes

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks

U. S. Release Date: July 23, 2019

Genre: Action, fan service

Audio: Japanese and English

Age Rating: 17+

Overall Personal Rating: B

Synopsis:

The sweet natured young lady named Honey is more than just a student, she also works with PCIS, the organization that fights against the evil collective of monsters called Panther Claw.

Panther Claw is strictly controlled by Sister Jill who wants the Airborne Element Fixing Device that Honey’s father had created. She also has a vendetta against Honey which fuels her insane and ruthless destruction. The disposable monsters that serve Sister Jill are transformed from people she tricks or captures.

In their attempts to force Honey into giving up the Airborne Element Fixing device, Panther Claw will use innocent bystanders to lure Honey into traps. With her instinct for good, Honey engages in battle to try to stop them, all the while struggling with the insight that it is her and her father’s creation that are the true targets.

Commentary:

Cutie Honey Universe is an action anime with a nod to the past. Developed from a manga series created in the 1970’s, this series follows other Cutie Honey shows. This directly influenced the older look of this animation and also the story telling pattern. Still, it had some interesting graphics and design.

This is a story of good and evil, with Honey being the pure goodness. She is sweet, naive and forgiving perhaps to a fault. Sister Jill is almost pure evil. Some of the attacks are unique in form and gruesome in concept. I don’t know why, but some of the violence was just weird. Be prepared to suspended a need for logic or clarity, especially in fights. Some things just don’t make sense, but made for a cool fight.

Cutie Honey Universe seems to get bogged down in the middle by the repetitive nature of the episodes. Panther claw sets a trap, creates havoc, Honey and the PCIS try to stop them, there is a battle and no real resolve. Then it happens in the next episode, just the detail change. We don’t seem to get anywhere in the series very fast. They could have skipped the middle 6 episodes.

The final battle was epic enough to be an exciting climax (my favorite part), but some things in the series seemed to be too quickly skimmed over. Sister Jill’s obsession with Honey (outside the Airborne Element Fixing Device) doesn’t make sense, it is nearly pointless. Where her actions stem from? I would have enjoyed it more had I known. There is more to her, but isn’t addressed in this incarnation of Cutie Honey. A quick search will revel the root of her evil.

Cutie Honey Universe isn’t all action, it has a bit of science fiction, fantasy, comedy, fan service (transformation scenes and clothing fails in battle) and yuri mixed in. All of these elements are mixed in but aren’t dominate enough to use for a recommendation if that would be what you are looking for.

Overall Grade: B

Sagrada Reset

Anime Review


Title: Sagrada Reset: Complete Collection on Blu-ray

Director: Shinya Kawatsura

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks

U. S. Release Date: May 21th, 2019

Format: Blu-ray /24 Episodes / 600 Minutes/ 3 Discs

Genre: “metaphysical” drama

Age Rating: TV 14

Overall Grade: A-

Synopsis:

In the small city of Sagrada reality is different. Many of its residents have special and unique abilities. No, not flying or spider like senses, but usually odd and rule specific “talents”. For instance, one man can take photographs that people can enter and talk with the subjects if they tear the paper, but only for 10 minutes. With all the possibilities, good and bad, does someone need to be in control? The Bureau is an organization which attempts to be aware of the abilities in use and step in when necessary. But on whose judgement is this organized, and you might guess there other influencers orchestrating in a different point of view.

Misora Haruki has the ability to reset time, everything begins again where she last saved, including her memories. She can’t even leave herself notes because that too would be reset.  So what can be done with that ability? Without a memory, there isn’t hope that things will be different a second time. Why bother to repeat a day if it would be the same? She doesn’t even know it is a reset. Only when an aquaintance introduces her to Kei Asai does the true importance of her ability becomes practical. Kei’s ability is to remember everything big or little and it is absolute, meaning this memory is intact through resets. He intends to pair up with Haruki as a way to help people and relieve suffering. But life and circumstances are a complicated weave of interdependence. To create a change or plan will undoubtably cause unintended turns in a chain of events.

Commentary:

Sagrada Reset is a layered story and develops increasing complexity. A viewer really needs to pay attention. On that note, during one watch session, a couple of people sat in on an episode a quarter way through the series and they were hooked right away and definitely put this on their list to watch.

Part of the strength of Sagrada Reset is the way it is structured with story blocks running 3-5 episodes long. This gives the back and forth timeline enough space to be better explored. They build upon each other as the series goes on. It also has the ability to evoke a sense of urgency or pressure without being so dramatic.

I found the characters to be interesting. They are easy to care about which could have been very difficult because self-centered/self-serving ability users are the norm. The main characters do have friendships, but they aren’t simple companionship. There is something they need in order to push time in their own chosen direction. New characters are introduced as their abilities are necessary to move the story forward.

Sagrada Reset has some thought provoking ideas and questions. Like how far would you push things if you knew you could reset and live it all over again? What is the importance of memories? How they are valued and do they account for who we are and who other people are to us. If we had the ability to create a copy of someone who is gone, even with the same memories, are they the same person?

Somewhere in the middle, I found things got a bit difficult (complex?), with lots of talking, repeating and explaining. The story, events and results were not just handed to us. Some tricky dialogue, in other words, pseudo-explainations. Like some prose and poetry, it doesn’t all make sense. But trying to figure it out does make it interesting and thought provoking.

Save. I enjoyed Sagrada Reset and plan to watch it again. I think there is even more for me to understand. I want to see what the characters do, to figure out when they are trying to manipulate events, or even if their manipulations are in fact someone else creating the reality. With precognitions, I’ll be able to catch the more subtle movement of the story and its characters the second time around. Reset…

Overall Grade: A-

Who has the right to decide the future, to manipulate the outcomes, the lives of others. Being indirect even when you know the answer.