Sukisho Vol. #1 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B
  • Video Rating: A-
  • 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: Sukisho

Sukisho Vol. #1

By Chris Beveridge     September 27, 2005
Release Date: October 11, 2005



What They Say
Sora fell from the roof of his high school and was knocked unconscious. When he finally awoke, he found a kind-hearted boy named Sunao waiting over him. Sunao claims to be his best friend, but the fall erased some of Sora's memory. He doesn't remember Sunao at all, and the wide-eyed young man acts like much more than just a friend. From that day on, Sora begins to experience flashbacks in which he is not himself, but a mysterious alternate personality with hidden powers. He begins to search for the secret of his lost memory and the flashbacks, but will Sunao be his companion, or his enemy?


The Review!
Returning to school after losing most of his memory, Sora tries to get back into the swing of things while grappling with the mystery of what caused it.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. Figuring that there wouldn't be huge sales of this to begin with and being part of a targeted section of the market, no dub was produced for this show. This isn't the first time Media Blasters has done this with similarly themed (yet more aggressive) titles so it wasn't a surprise but it's something that I'm nervous about as part of a potential market regression or fragmentation. Regardless, the stereo mix included in this release is pretty good with what's actually used for the stereo channels as most of the dialogue is through the center channel for a more full effect. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions.

Video:
Originally airing in 2005, the transfer for this show is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The transfer here looks to be very clean and problem free throughout as it showcases the current digital animation being used. The materials here look good with lots of vibrant and bright colors, from the whites to the eyes of the main cast members while the backgrounds maintain a nice solid feel with the sky blues and other areas. What few dark scenes there are maintain their levels nicely as well. The transfer looks to be pretty much void of cross coloration and aliasing which makes it all the easier to simply get into and watch.

Packaging:
The first cover to the series features a very shounen-ai-ish cover with two of the lead characters leaning against each other with the flowers climbing up along the left side. There's such a heavy emphasis on the various shades of purple and pink here that it has a very soft and pastel colored feel to it. Mixed with the white uniforms they're wearing and the smiling nature of the character designs this has a very inviting feeling to it – maybe too inviting for some guys. The back cover has a few shots from the show that are laid out like photographs on top of an elaborate piece of paper which has the summary in script form. The purple shading is kept here and it works nicely to keep the feel of the show. The discs technical and special features are all easily found and nicely laid out in the technical grid. No insert was included for this release.

Menu:
The menu layout goes for simplistic with a static background that's a mix of light purples and white designs that are just squiggles for the most part with the series name along the top and a brief bit of music playing to it. No character or show artwork is used here for it. Access times are nice and fast and the layout easy enough to navigate without problems though some of the white text gets lost with the purple background areas and the other areas in white. With there being only one language here, our player presets were pretty much a non-issue.

Extras:
The opening volume has a good selection of extras that will make the fans of the show happy. There's a pair of music clips/videos that are nicely done and the textless opening sequence is included as well. The big extra is the discussion section with the two lead voice actors which covers two of the sessions I believe and runs just under thirty minutes in length.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
If there is one under represented genre that has a very vocal set of fans, it's the boys-love genre. They're currently being served rather well when it comes to manga releases that are both light and more intense from a variety of publishers but when it comes to the anime side of things it's usually not as good. A lot of that is of course due to the general lack of titles made in that realm. One that started airing in January of this year is this title, Sukisho (sometimes seen as Sukisyo), which plays up that element nicely with a bit of comedy.

In a way, Sukisho at first felt like they took the Here is Greenwood concept and made it a bit more overt in the actual boys-love side of it and went from there. Some of those elements were tamed down after the first couple of episodes but this series just reminds me heavily of that one for a number of reasons. We're introduced to Sora Hashiba as he returns to his high school dorm after being in the hospital for a bit. He had somehow fallen out of the fourth floor window at the school and managed to not really hurt himself all that badly but he lost a lot of his memory. When his dorm's "resident advisor" for lack of a better word came to visit him, he couldn't remember him at all. After a bit of time though he began to seem to recognize and remember Honjo Matsuri a bit more and eventually the two were good friends, but much of their previous time together is seemingly lost.

Sora's already nervous enough about returning to school but the night before goes badly for him when he's woken up in the middle of the night by an attractive young man who is pretty much fondling him in his bed in the dark, revealing his name to be Ran and that he's his new roommate. They manage to get past this and to sleep without further issue but Sora is considerably confused the next morning when the person he knew as Ran doesn't seem to know that name and is surprised and upset that Sora doesn't remember him as Sunao, his early childhood and longtime friend. Sunao's not sure exactly what happened but now that he's transferred to the same school, Matsuri fills him in a bit about the entire fall and memory issues which helps to mollify him some.

From there, the show starts moving into its broader comedy concepts. We've got the mathematics teacher that gets Sora into trouble on the first day and the teacher gets into some heavy insinuations for "private time" which is amusing in general but even more so when we learn that he's actually Sora's stepfather. The school being an all male school certainly changes the dynamic of things and the staff, which are all familiar with Sora and his fall, certainly treat it differently. There's some hints of mystery that are continued on from it when the issue of Ran's name comes up and other past family things but this is sort of just prodded around a bit so that it can be talked about for now and ignored until later.

Where the show goes from there is fairly amusing as Matsuri decides to open a Jack of All Trades business and work is as the manager while tricking Sora and Sunao into being its operatives. Under the guise of doing anything that's needed for anyone for a price, there is a real potential for money but with Matsuri behind it, the chances of it getting into the hands of the other two is slim. He pulls a great trick on them at first by having them become models which has Sora in a traditional samurai look while Sunao gets thrust into the princess mode since he's so cute and effeminate at times. This turns into great advertising for the place as Matsuri offers a chance to people to "own" either of them for a day to do as they please with…

The animation for the show is pretty good in general but this isn't exactly the most fluid show to begin with. This is also one that really plays up the digital aspect at times where you occasionally feel the characters are indeed more two dimensional than a lot of other shows. They're not exactly like some of the old cel based shows where you could really feel that the characters were on top of the backgrounds, but there's a bit more flatness to some of the designs at times that's a little off-putting. The color design itself is something else that's a bit jarring at first with such striking areas such as the white uniforms or the characters eyes. I'm certainly not looking to have all the shows look the same but there's some definitely slight differences to the usual here.

In Summary:
While there's a serious storyline running underneath everything, once you get past some of the initial areas of it the show is a fairly broad comedy in an all male school that plays with gender material, hints at some boys-love stuff and will generally just please a lot of people. With shows like this, I do use my wife as a barometer since she's very much into the whole boys-love genre, especially in manga, so when she finished the disc with me and liked it and wanted to see more, I'll hazard a guess that at least that crowd will enjoy this show. As for the more mainstream folks, I'd definitely encourage them to check it out since it is priced right and a short show, but you have to be at least a bit open minded in order to enjoy its most basic premises.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Music Clips,Voice Actor Discussion,Textless Opening

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI, 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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jnager 3/13/2012 5:00:39 PM

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