Sister Princess Vol. #2 (of 7) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Wednesday, December 22, 2004
Release Date: Tuesday, December 14, 2004
What They Say
Since Wataru arrived unexpectedly on Promised Island, he's had a lot of surprising discoveries – like finding out he has thirteen younger sisters! Wataru’s attentions are constantly torn between the girls, who never stop vying for his affection. After Wataru becomes distracted corresponding with a new email friend, he's suddenly besieged by emails from all the girls at once. Next, he gets talked into participating in a talent show and other fanciful games of make-believe! Living with thirteen girls is certainly no fantasy on this island!
Settling into the strange place that he's in, Wataru focuses less on just how bizarre his situation really is and just into dealing with the day to day trials of having twelve sisters.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this series in its original language of Japanese. The show has a solid stereo mix that makes good use of the range of character voices as they're often spread well across the forward soundstage. There isn't a lot to the show outside of the music and the character dialogue since it's a very much dialogue driven show but it's a good mix that was free of distortions and dropouts during regular playback. We listened to parts of the English track which got a 5.1 mix to it but it's essentially the same just a bit sharper and more distinct in placement.
Originally airing back in 2001, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame format. The show is filled with a lot of vibrant colors and clean lines so it stands out with the bright levels but also in the way that there is so much space given over to areas that it feels expansive yet almost empty at times. The colors for the show are fairly rich at times with lots of very vibrant colors, particularly the reds, mixed in with other colors. The island town isn't a typical town so there are lots of non-standard colors used for roads and buildings but they're mostly pastel in nature. The transfer manages to avoid just about all the usual problems so there's no noticeable cross coloration or much in the way of aliasing going on. There was some light blocking going on during some of the all-black sequences but it was very minimal.
Continuing what I think is a really good design, the second volume of this series changes up a few of the colors but keeps to the same layout. The top half provides us with a great full color piece of Karen and Yotsuba together with a pencil sketch of Wataru next to them. Below the purple strip we get another full length shot of the other ten girls and it all just comes together very well. The back cover is laid out in much the same way but with photographs taking the place of the strip and production information along the bottom. The top half has a small character shot of Karen alongside the summary paragraphs. The discs extras and technical information is all nice and clearly listed. Some of the extras listed aren't actual on-disc extras though but rather packaging pieces. For example, the reversible cover has a full image shot of Kaho (with the subtitle of Angel 02) and is what I believe to be the Japanese rental cover as it also has the original Japanese text for the logo. The back cover version of this though has biography/profile data for Kaho and Yotsuba, things that you would expect to be on the disc based on the extras listing. The insert for this release uses the English language logo for the series and looks like a postcard. It opens up to a two panel spread where it's a letter from Kaho to Wataru about her dreams and feelings towards him. I'll say it again, it's just a little bit creepy. The back of the insert showcases twelve of the girls.
The menu layout is surprisingly simple with a static image of Kaho and Yotsuba outside of the house so that there's a view of the mountain and sky where the menu selections are lined over. Episode access is nice and quick and the navigation is simple and easy to use. There are some brief transitional animations to the submenus, such as a postcard taking up most of the static image when going to the extras menu, but they're very fast and without problem. As a continual plus with ADV release, our players' language presets were correctly read when the disc started up.
.Though not terribly filled with extras, there's some good material here. The standards are ever present with the clean opening and ending sequence as well as a new portfolio of production sketches. The new inclusion this time is a Behind the Scenes piece that talks with the English voice actors for Kaho, Yostuba and Mami. Being as big a fan of Luci Christian as I am I was really happy to see her get some face time on this volume and talk about her role.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The first volume of this series was one of the harder ones to get through this year and while I had no expectations going into it, it's a show that left me feeling somewhat creepy about the situation and wondering just what they were trying to do here. Some suggestions came in on how to view it but each time I came back to thinking about it, I figured that at least for the bulk of it we'd end up with a series where the situation is ignored for most of it and maybe tackled at the end. Maybe.
So far, at least with another set of four episodes, that's being borne out. With what we get on this volume, outside of some communication that Wataru has with a couple of friends via email, his contact with the outside world in general is essentially none. And living with the twelve sisters and dealing with what they come up with throughout a normal day in addition to school and regular life things keeps him pretty busy so that he doesn't really have time to think about it. More often than not, he's simply reacting to the situation that's created and then trying to defuse whatever his uninterested personality creates from that. While Wataru isn't the paragon of the male harem character, he's the kind of character who definitely doesn't think how his actions will affect others.
Normally I'd give him grief for that but he's just so abused by these twelve that it's scary. Since he spends some of his time emailing his friends sister Akio, the other girls find out about this and everyone wants to get into the act. Rin Rin of course takes advantage of the situation and creates all sorts of email devices to suit the person who wants to send the mail and the game is afoot. Of course, you can imagine a lot of men wanting to be in Wataru's position until they remember that they're technically his sisters when he starts getting in a ton of emails, some that make sense, some that are nonsensical and some that apparently reveal far too much. The overwhelming amount of email ends up pushing him to the edge in some amusing moments though.
Another example of this nature is when the school puts on a contest with "luxury prize" for the winning team and the entire house ends up volunteering Wataru for it. Since it's a performance piece on stage, it's something that allows for all sorts of costumes and creativity but Wataru again feels like he's just being pulled along and riding the wave instead of being in control or having any real say. To his advantage this time, Yamada gets involved and takes over as the director and scriptwriter for it. He's able to control the situation to some extent and keep the girls focused on the objective as he comes up with his story about the twelve princesses. Being that he wants the girls for himself, he manages to convince Wataru to do the stage hand stuff and construction while he gets to deal with the girls. Of course, they end up getting him involved and in the production, complete with tights, and the big production Yamada had in store goes crumbling in some amusing ways. But in watching the performance and watching the teacher/principal/everyman behind the crowd, you see how he's manipulating everything. I wouldn't be surprised to find that everyone on the island except for the leads are dummies or robots or something.
Wataru's less than stellar social interaction skills come to light again when in a bit of fun, Sakuya ends up in a makeshift brides outfit and starts to get into playing the role. When she asks Wataru what he thinks, male mode kicks in and he just wants to know when lunch is and why isn't anybody making the meals? It's scenes like this that totally kill the Wataru character and turn him from a basically likeable guy in a strange situation to someone you don't even want to associate with. It gets even worse for Wataru when the others get it into their heads to make their own wedding dresses and play-wedding with Wataru, though he's unaware that that's their plan. Sometimes his skills are good though, such as when Wataru's with Marie and walks her into town when he's off to buy a book himself. Since she's been so weak and spent little time with the rest of the world, he's somewhat more caring and watchful with her and gives in to her a bit more easily.
When watching this show, I'm really just not sure what my reaction should be to what's going on. Should I laugh at Wataru's situation? Or should I be laughing at all the things the girls are doing to him. Should I be rooting for him to escape their clutches or to fall to their charms? All I seem to know is that I'm really enjoying Chikage's character the most and that she needs more screen time. She comes across as the most mature of the girls and the one with some of the best subtle come-on lines yet. If she offers a helping hand, you say yes! Yes!
Sister Princess seems to continue on much as the first volume did but it manages to get past all that introduction and setup stuff so that we don't really have anything new coming into play here. Instead we get mildly amusing situation after mildly amusing situation and wondering how Wataru will handle it. Will he be understanding this time or will he just go on about his own needs? It's easy to see the appeal of a show like this since you basically figure out which of the girls is your ideal and you just enjoy what they bring to the show. If none of them that for you though, you may have trouble.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Clean opening and closing animation,Production sketches,Behind the scenes with Kaho & Yotsuba & Mami
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with upconversion set to 720p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.
Mania Grade: C
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: A-
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Sister Princess