Sukisho Vol. #3 - 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: 125
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Sukisho

Sukisho Vol. #3

By Chris Beveridge     February 23, 2006
Release Date: February 28, 2006


Sukisho Vol. #3
© Media Blasters


What They Say
Sora's peaceful life in the Jack of All Trades Academy comes to a crashing end as his past catches up to him. Nao brings back Sora's memories of their experiences together as kidnapped children at the hands of the cruel Doctor Aizawa. The Doctor has returned with a mind to continue his experiments and a longer reach than ever before. Can Sora face Aizawa and the terrors of his childhood, or will Nao's true feelings unlock a new nightmare?

The Review!
Filled with revelations, emotion and hard decisions to be made, Sukisho moves beyond the comedy to the highly serious. And then proves that even boys-love shows can do hot springs episodes like everyone else.

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 final cover concludes with another pairing, this time of Ichikawa and Nagase, as the two of them embrace somewhat awkwardly almost amid the leaves. It works just as well as the previous covers have in how it evokes the right feeling and simply looks well illustrated and laid out. 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 green 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 final volume has a good selection of extras that if they liked what cam before will like what's here. There's a pair of music clips/videos that are nicely done make a final appearance and there's also the final round of discussions with the very talkative voice actors from the show.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Sukisho's been a curious show to watch in its three volumes and one that's not been the easiest to watch at times either. The show opened with the awkward problem of introducing a character with amnesia and having friends show up around him to help adjust and it moved forward into a mix of comedy and romance at an all boys academy. Many of the people we got to know are in various kinds of relationships that are key to understanding things but it's a bit hazy as we learn who is who and what real agendas that they may have. The second volume fell more heavily to the comedy at first and then dove hard into the drama that fills up the majority of the final three episodes of the main storyline.

The second volume of Sukisho left me more unsure of the show but this volume takes the few revelations we got there and really runs with it as Sora and Sunao have to come to grips with both past and present. The past is explored deeply as we see what kind of situation the two boys lived in back when they knew Matsuri as a child just before he left with his parents. Living together under Aizawa's control really as part of a series of mind control experiments, the boys found themselves under increasingly stronger types of psychological stresses that pushed their relationship to extremes at times but never more so than when Shinichiro and Nanami came to rescue them from their cell. The way the entire situation played out so badly yet exactly to Aizawa's specifications is revealed in an interesting manner and it sets the stage for what's happening in the present to be more clearly understood.

Seeing what Sunao has gone through and why it's made him the way he is now and doing what he's doing per Aizawa's demands becomes much clearer and you find him less malicious and more simply manipulated by events, especially manipulated by someone so crafty and uncaring about his subjects such as Aizawa. The boys have had such problems in the past that led to split personalities or persona's that allowed them to deal with the pain and drama that in the present they're being forced to no longer go down that route but rather face the cold hard truths of what really happened. And even then the truths are things that are matters of perspective and relevance to your own views which make it all the more complicated with its emotions. Sunao and Sora go through stages of having to deal with revelations that almost seem to contradict each other at times and it pushes both of them to the edge several times as they try to grapple with it.

In a way, all the high drama feels a bit out of place at times considering how much of the show was spent with them as Matsuri's slaves really but those areas were so needed to see the two boys bond together again in the present and for Sunao to be able to be inserted into the situation as deeply as possible to pull off Aizawa's plan. I'm not sure if those episodes were removed whether we'd have a cleaner and darker series or one that wouldn't have the connection between the two that's needed. Sometimes series of this length are a bit too filled with filler for what could be a simple movie length storyline and that dragging it out can bring it down. But with Sukisho I think it's more than just needed, it's essential to keeping the bond between the two as strong as it really is and it's well played here, even if some of those stories were maddening to watch.

Sukisho doesn't have completely dark material here though as it does what a lot of TV series tend to do of this length in that it wraps up in episode twelve and goes for a final episode afterwards, sometimes direct to video, that lets it just go and have fun. Some of the best final episodes are done in this manner because they allow the cast to break loose and just have fun and most of the time these center around the cast heading off to a hot spring and letting sexual hilarity ensue. With so many shows having sexual tension building up throughout it that may never be tapped, this gives it a place to happen. Sukisho is the first time I think I've seen it done for a boys-love show but my word they play by the same rulebook as all of the harem shows.

While we still don't get full front nudity here, which I'd say is unfortunate because they'd certainly have fun with it, watching this group of characters head to a hot spring where several of them get some quality alone time. From the lady of the manor to her array of men whose butt cheeks flex and to the mysterious bath that grants wishes, this kind of humor was desperately needed to close out the show and helped it recover from the serious nature and very emotional moments.

In Summary:
In a way it's tempting to call Sukisho an uneven series since it goes from one extreme to the other so fast at times but with the origins of what's at the core of these characters problems it's actually a fairly understandable thing when looking at it from the larger picture. Both of the lead boys here have been so damaged by what Aizawa's done to them that their responses are no longer what you could call normal and since they're still being manipulated they're still not quite themselves. This volume provides some hard emotional moments for them to deal with but brings a great amount of closure to a lot of what's going on here and sets it so that in the end, you're not wondering what's going to happen next so much as you know that these guys are going to be just fine. Sukisho's a fun show, one I really wish had been dubbed so the actors could get into these meaty scenes, and one that will definitely play better in a full box collection that you can view in one sitting.

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

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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