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Info:

  • 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: 29.95
  • Running time: 300
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Sentimental Journey

Sentimental Journey

By Chris Beveridge     September 20, 2004
Release Date: September 14, 2004


Sentimental Journey
© Media Blasters


What They Say
Contains all 12 episodes!

Twelve stories of romance and unrequited love, Sentimental Journey is the story of twelve girls that have left love in their past. Based on the popular video game series Sentimental Graffiti, Sentimental Journey is a series that shoujo anime fans have been waiting for!

The Review!
Twelve young women, twelve different kinds of loves, twelve different journey's in life.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this series in its original language of Japanese. That's also the only language on this release as no dub was produced for it. The stereo mix is fairly decent but it's not a terribly immersive mix to begin with. This is a heavy dialogue driven piece with a lot of internal monologues and only some basic faint music in general used during the bulk of the show. Everything sounds good and we had no dropouts or distortions while listening to it, but it's not a track that's really going to jump out much at you either.

Video:
Originally airing in 1998, this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio across two volumes. Six episodes are on each of the volumes. Surprisingly, these episodes look really good considering how much material is on each volume. A good part of that is due to the relatively low animation count used in the series. It's not a big panning show, but there's a lot of still shots and there are pans to it that help keep the bit rates down. The shows color palette is done in the soft pastels and other real world styles that keep things relatively soft looking. The areas of large single colors come across really well with hardly much in the way of noticeable blocking or even the hint of. Cross coloration shows up only briefly in a few minor areas and there's a bit of aliasing but nothing terribly problematic. This is a very good looking release (especially at 720P) considering how much is on here and the overall style of the show.

Packaging:
Released in a white keepcase that has a flippy hinge inside to hold the second disc, the cover artwork works really well here with the keepcase cover to give it a few continuous look and feel. The artwork has a trio of girls from the series standing in front of Cherry trees with their blossoms falling all around them set against a blue sky. With the trees themselves shifting between white and pink, the cover has an appealing soft look to it that bleeds out into the keepcase color itself. The back cover continues the same feel with another of the girls and more trees but sprinkles in a series of pictures from the show and the basic idea of the series premise. The discs features and production information are all clearly listed as well. The insert uses the same kind of imagery as the front cover and goes through the chapter listings for all twelve episodes and actually titles them instead of just numbering them while the reverse side is just boxart advertisements for other shows.

Menu:
The menu layout is simple but works nicely with the show as it's a simple static image that has the imagery similar to the cover with the floating petals and trees. Each disc has a different character standing in front of it as the music plays along. With really nothing else on the disc other than the show itself, submenus load quickly and access times are nice and fast. Since there is only Japanese language and subtitles available (which you can turn off on the fly), there is no language menu. Obviously, our language presets were met but that's just the default for this release anyway.

Extras:
The only included extra for this release, on the first volume, is a sketch gallery for the show.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Sentimental Journey, a twelve episode series that was based on the game Sentimental Graffiti, is something of an odd duck show. In a way, it highlights one of the best aspects of the slice of life kind of romantic dramas that aren't made any more in that it doesn't get played as a harem show. Instead, it's a show that focuses on the young women in question and usually just them. By actually eliminating the male love interest and keeping him little more than a shadow for many of the tales, it gets rid of what's been a continual weakness in many romantic dramas.

Even more interesting for a series like this, each episode stands completely alone and focuses on a single young woman and her unique situation. While this means a lot has to be accomplished within that episode from setup to resolution, it makes for a much more varied and entertaining series where you're so used to a particular setup being dragged out for two or three seasons without any resolution in sight. With it focusing on just the one young woman in each episode, it allows them to internalize a lot of what's going on for them and to be more open about it in that way, though it confounds those around them at the same time. But then, isn't that how it is in real life?

The bulk of the episodes are fairly tame in their own way and there isn't anything terribly fan service oriented or much of anything really leaning anywhere near the naughty direction. For some, this show may prove to be too tame for their tastes but I found it to be a refreshing set of stories that reminded me of many of the simpler romantic dramas and comedies of earlier years. The opening tale has a story about a young woman who has come in second place during a violin competition and has since sworn off playing it anymore as she had promised herself that if she came in first she'd seriously pursue the guy she was interested in. Taking her second place win as a sign, she abandons the violin entirely and retreats into life as a normal girl, except for the fact that a German violin teacher continues to try and get her to come to Austria so she can better learn to use her gift with the violin. The relationship between the two is very interesting since he can speak only a little Japanese and she nothing in German, but the two try to understand each other while she deals with her problem as well.

Another tale has a young woman who is in a sanatorium where she's being treated for febricula which keeps her weak and unable to do much. Her latest round of visits here have left her with the idea that her time is near and she won't be leaving, which is only hardened when some of her friends come to visit. Since her going to the sanatorium this time was supposedly only for routine tests, their visit makes her believe they came since it would be the last time she would see them. To help combat that feelings she has, she works hard on a book she's been writing for some time of a hundred poems that have come to her while she's been there for her visits. Her poems are recounted in cute and romantic visuals that play along with her in another role in them and give the narrative a pleasantly surreal feeling at times. Watching her try to deal with her illness while not really retreating in a fantasy world but rather just using it to have something to leave behind, it's a very tender tale.

The bookends to the show are really nicely done as well. The opening sequence actually provides a way to show a bit of each girl in their own setting through a particular item while having all of them come by a cherry blossom tree before the next one steps on stage. The closing sequence however is given over to the girl of that episode and they do a series of clips that almost but not quite tell the entire tale in a very short fashion. It's an interesting way to ensure that each gets their own unique piece to them but while also still tying everything together.

In Summary:
Sentimental Journey is a really interesting release but one that's probably not for everyone out there. Those that are getting into shojo stories and manga in recent years will probably find a lot of appeal here as it's reminiscent of some shorter tales in manga and these stories will provide something they don't see often in the anime world. It's unfortunate that Media Blasters didn't think there was enough of a market for it to get it dubbed since these are ideal tales for tween girls and maybe younger to get a look at what's ahead of them in life and could play very well to them. At least to make up for the lack of the dub, the series is very affordably priced, we get the entire thing and it's essentially a flawless release. It may not be the ideal situation for the mainstream crowd, but for those who just want the show and want it now this is a great hidden treasure and a bargain in general.

Features
Japanese Language,English Subtitles,Special Sketch Gallery

Review Equipment
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.

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