Kashimashi Vol. #1 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: N/A
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Media Blasters
  • MSRP: 19.95
  • Running time: 125
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl

Kashimashi Vol. #1

By Chris Beveridge     May 09, 2007
Release Date: June 12, 2007


Kashimashi Vol. #1
© Media Blasters


What They Say
On a warm, cloudy afternoon, Tomari bursts in on two girls from her class, Hazumu and Yasuna, sharing a tender first kiss. Her heart breaks... from jealousy. Hazumu was born a boy, but he certainly doesn't act it. He's sensitive, delicate, and loves gardening. Lucky for him, he grew up with the tomboy Tomari, who was always there to protect him. Despite her own feelings, she pushes Hazumu to confess his love to the elegant Yasuna. After Yasuna rejects him, he retreats into the mountains in despair. This begins the strange series of events that changes him into a her, and earns her the love of both Yasuna and Tomari.

Contains episodes 1-5.

The Review!
When Hazumu finds himself with a woman's body he does his best to live his life that way as well as finding true love.

Audio:
Media Blasters has several titles that are coming out with just a Japanese language track and this is one of them. Encoded at 192 kbps, the mix for the show is a full center one where there's very little noticeable directionality to it. It doesn't exactly require a lot of that nor much depth so what we get for this dialogue piece is simple but effective. Dialogue is clean and easy to understand while the music has a good feel to it. We didn't have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in early 2006, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The presentation of this series is one that's intentionally soft as it's used to evoke atmosphere and emotion. The transfer for it works pretty well overall with lots of good looking colors that don't have much noise or break-up to them. The show looks solid in general though it's not problem free. The main area that I kept running into with it is during the various pans and zooms where a fair bit of aliasing is visible. Mid range shots tended to suffer more and with this show featuring a lot of stills that are panned it happens fairly frequently. It's not a deal breaker with the presentation but it is a noticeable issue.

Packaging:
The front cover is nicely designed as it takes the Japanese artwork of the three leads and has them with their arms intertwined together. Set against a light background with yellow flower petals it certainly paints a very girly image that works well. The back cover uses the flowers to tie together the different areas where they have a strip of shots from the show through the center. The top half ha some character artwork and a decent summary of the premise while the bottom half has the episode counts and special features. Also listed along the bottom is the usual solid technical grid as well as some basic production information. A new tag is associated with this release as next to the AnimeWorks logo is a graphic that has "Yuri Fan" within it. No insert is included nor is there a reversible cover.

Menu:
The main menu uses the same artwork as the cover with the three principal characters all together with arms interlocked set against blossoming flowers. With a light pink and white background and the soft instrumental sounds playing to it, it's a very simple yet relaxing menu design. The logo looks good and the navigation along the right is bright and colorful while still being easy to navigate. Access times are nice and fast and with no real language selection to perform it just kicks off in playback fine. An additional subtitle track of just slates is provided but is not available from the menu, just on the fly.

Extras:
A couple of fun extras are included with this release from the Japanese release. The main one is a series of short video interviews with the various actors of the show, each one of which is split into its own piece with no time codes available. I believe it runs about thirteen minutes total and is your basic light fluff that's cute to watch but doesn't really say much. Also included is the clean opening and a couple of advertisements for the TV series.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Kashimashi, based off of the manga of the same name, is a twelve episode series with a single OVA follow-up. This first volume brings us five episodes and it really left me wondering just what it was all going to really be about. With some rather poor pacing and rushed moments in the first episode, the series makes it difficult to get into quickly but does manage to hold your attention as it progresses while trying to avoid convention.

Right from the start it's a bit of confusion as to what the show is trying to sell itself as. We get a very romantic moment as we see two young women in an empty classroom as the sun sets. They lean into each other and kiss only to realize that someone is watching them. Then it jumps to the image of a giant space ship coming into Earth orbit. It's not unusual to see disparate themes thrown against each other but it came quite out of nowhere here. As the first episode progresses, the alien side of it is kept to the side as we watch as the characters are introduced and the setting plays out.

The series revolves around Hazumu, a young man whose eyes we don't even see during the first episode. He's not girly but he's the kind of person whose shyness keeps him from standing out much or having any real presence. He's been encouraged by his friend Asuta to make his feelings known to Yasuna, a quiet girl that Hazumu has really liked for awhile. Yasuna rejected him handily however which led to Hazumu heading off into the mountains where he can be by himself and check out the various plants there since he's such a green thumb. While there, the others try looking for him out of concern, particularly his friend Tomari who really has strong feelings for him as well. She still pushed him into revealing his feelings for Yasuna so that she could maybe get over him.

What seems to be a straightforward romantic drama takes a strange turn when the alien ship we saw earlier begins a crash descent onto Earth and lands smack dab on Hazumu. It essentially deconstructs him on impact. The twist though is that the aliens are sorry for what happened and have revealed themselves to humanity because of it. To make up for the accident, they've reconstructed Hazumu from his DNA but sort of mixed up that whole gender thing and have made him into a her. They claim that it can't be changed back and hope that Hazumu will be accepted back into society. With a few changes to the national register and a check-up in the hospital, Hazumu is ready to go back to his ordinary life.

The relationship aspect is where this is all played up as each of the people that Hazumu has to deal with takes it in a different way. His friend Asuta seems to have little problem with it and treats him like he always has while dealing with some growing lusty feelings. That isn't helped by Hazumu's lack of modesty about his body since he's not really used to being a girl yet. Hazumu's father is the ultimate pervert about it as he keeps trying to take risqué pictures of her or taking a bath with her. Tomari still feels close to Hazumu and her feelings haven't changed but the entire situation just has her unsure. For Yasuna however, for reasons we later learn, she now has an even stronger interest in Hazumu and is actively pursuing her in the way only shy girls can.

A good deal of the comedy in the show comes from the awkwardness that Hazumu portrays when he deals with being a girl. Scenes of clothes shopping are fun, especially once she gets into the idea of it, as is the way that she just gets completely into everything. One scene has her sitting in a restaurant enjoying a parfait, something that you normally would never catch a guy doing. Tomari's frustration with Hazumu because of how she is now brings lots of frantic moments as does the regular arrival of their teacher Namiko. The thirty-five year old single teacher proudly proclaims her lack of dating and does her best to defend her students but she's more often found in a hole somewhere than being useful.

As awkward as the pacing is early on and the way it takes time to really find its rhythm, the series is quite a bit of fun. The concept isn't fresh but the approach is nicely done and the fact that it's trying to go forward with the girl/girl romance with some serious undertones is very welcome. Each of the characters are sympathetic in their own ways and with a few more episodes to get background on them I'm sure it'll resonate even more strongly. If there's a weak link it's in the lead male character of Hazumu. He's not a milksop or indecisive but whether he's a boy or a girl he's a simple character with little to him. It's easy to see the attraction of the others for him but he's the hardest character to really connect with because of this.

The designs for the series are quite appealing whether they're in uniform or out. Hazumu again comes out the weakest here since he had to be designed to go both ways easily but the others such as Yasuna and secondary character Ayuki bring some appeal to the table. Tomari takes on the near-tomboy role with her brash outgoing manner and her design is suited to that. The uniforms, though short of course, are cute and allow for plenty of fun for a boy who has now become a girl. The show keeps to real world designs for the backgrounds with lots of sunset scenes that give it a lot of great romantic atmosphere. The otherworldly elements are pretty minimal outside of a few scenes so their impact is small but done well enough that they don't feel like it's evoking something common.

In Summary:
Kashimashi has some problems to overcome at the start but it makes some good progress by the end of this volume. The show has appeal to be sure as it mixes romance and comedy quite well but what's really going to move it among fandom is its quasi-yuri elements. The girl on girl moments are minimal for the most part as it's more emotional than anything else but it is there overall. As something different from the norm, it's a welcome change of pace that I hope can build up a good story over the remaining episodes. It has the appeal and charm to carve out a good audience that will enjoy it.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Textless Openings, Interviews with The Voice Actors, TV Ads.

Review Equipment
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI -> DVI set to 480p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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