Kashimashi Vol. #2 - Mania.com

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Mania Grade: B+

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  • Audio Rating: B
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Media Blasters
  • MSRP: 19.95
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl

Kashimashi Vol. #2

By Chris Beveridge     August 13, 2007
Release Date: August 21, 2007

Kashimashi Vol. #2
© Media Blasters

What They Say
It looks like Yasuna and Hazumu are going out, especially to Tomari, but that doesn't stop her from telling Yasuna about her true feelings. Tomari invites Yasuna to the school haunted house, and Yasuna invites Tomari to the yakuta kimono festival in town. Are they becoming friends despite their rivalry over Hazumu, or have they simply reached a sweet but sad understanding? The tension rises, and it seems that Ayuki has an unrequited love of her own.

Contains episodes 6-9.

The Review!
Hazumu proves once again with these episodes that he's such a girl.

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.

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.

The front cover is nicely designed as it takes the Japanese artwork of the three leads and has them all together in simple black outfits with very soothing expressions on their faces. Set against a dark purple background with yellow flower petals it certainly paints a very girly but dark 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.

The main menu uses the same artwork as the cover with the three principal characters all together with set against the dark background with the floating flowers. With a soft purple background and the soothing 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.

A couple of fun extras are included with this release from the Japanese release. The main extra is the inclusion of a fourteen minute interview session with the voice actresses for Ayuki which is the usual kind of light fluffy piece that you'd expect from just about any series. Also included is a clean version of the ending sequence.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Kashimashi had started off with an unusual premise that seemed like it was built for pandering. Taking an effeminate male character as the lead and having him turned into a female through science fiction means, it looked like it was opening the door to plenty of gags and silliness. As was evident as the first five episodes played out in the previous volume however, the show is more intent on doing something serious and dramatic with some mild humor blended in.

With most of the outlandish material out of the way in the first few episodes, the show has settled into a more traditional romantic drama in a high school setting. This volume runs through the usual predictable premises such as a test of courage in the school, a trip to the beach during the summer for a break and a summer festival. Nothing here is new in terms of the actual story elements and each of them plays out in a way that doesn't surprise or really captivate. What does surprise and captivate is the way the character angles are being played out and the upfront nature of each of them in comparison to the majority of series and books that run these days.

The change of Hazumu from a boy to a girl is one that doesn't seem to generate much conflict within Hazumu himself. He doesn't really see himself all that differently and he's still genuinely interested in both Tomari and Yasuna. His life is carrying on much like before outside of having to wear different clothes and dealing with a few female related problems which really aren't dealt with all that much anymore. What Hazumu has to deal with is himself and his very nature which transcends his gender. Though it's brought up in context with a silly point, Hazumu's indecision is something that's afflicted him since an early age and it's often left him without anything he wants since his inability to choose obstructs him.

Now with two women that he really cares about in his life, both of which have confessed to him in one manner or another, his indecision is creeping up on him again. His obvious interest in Yasuna has catapulted him into her willing arms and her own issues have her very much interested in him. At the same time, Tomari and Hazumu have a long history and some amusing non-binding relationship issues from when they were much smaller. Neither of them treat those childhood promises truly seriously but there are kernels there in their history that keep them close together today and they can't be lightly discarded. The flashbacks to similar scenes ten years prior are cut and almost overdone but it's a simple and effective way to illustrate more clearly the kinds of things that run through their minds.

The mixing of the relationships continues to be the most interesting part of the show. Though you have the basic relationship of Hazumu and Yasuna, and even that is fairly minimal in these episodes after the first volume, it's the others that are really fun to watch. Asuta is so conflicted in a way since he's always been close to Hazumu as a male friend so they have a lot in common and Hazumu has always been a bit girly. There's some latent issues in there but Asuta is given some great internal dialogue pieces as he tries to figure out his new relationship with Hazumu all while Hazumu is as oblivious as he always is. Also interesting to see is the greater understanding of Ayuki's personality as we get a bit of her past and see how she fits into the current dynamic of being more an observer and mild helper.

The real thrust continues to be in the trio of Hazumu, Yasuna and Tomari. The series subtitle should really be "Girl Meets Girl Meets Girl" instead. Both have a clear interest in Hazumu, both have admitted it to him and both are plainly aware of each other and the feelings each has for Hazumu. There's no venom and bile, no hatefulness, just a tinge of sadness and an inability to let go of Hazumu just yet for the other person. Both have Hazumu's best interest at heart but there's also a real potential for something different here. A scene in the festival has them both offering him cotton candy and telling him that he can have both. That can work sometimes in real life but it's hardly ever tackled in anime or manga. Is it now the right time to start exploring polyamorous relationships in this medium? These episodes give me a great hope for seeing just that.

In Summary:
Kashimashi is a real surprise of a series considering how badly it could have given in to pandering and fanservice. So much of what's here just lends itself to that but the material rises above it constantly. The mild moments of it are tacky and bad, but that's what you're supposed to get when dealing with Hazumu's father or Sora's otherworldly views on Earthling customs. When it comes to the core cast of characters, it's all solid material that is very enjoyable. With great looking character designs and enjoyable enough animation, the whole show has really come together well in telling its tale. With another four episodes to go it has a chance to provide some good closure on what should be a short term experience instead of a drawn out repetitive piece. Kashimashi is definitely a new little jewel in the Media Blasters library of titles. Very recommended.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Voice Actor Interview,Clean Ending

Review Equipment
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 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.


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