Returning home can bring back the memories but the pain is still there as well.
What They Say:
Before his family left the town of Sakuranomori, Sana Hidaka said farewell to his five best friends, thinking that he would never see them again. Five years later, however, he finds himself returning to Sakuranomori to finish high school while living alone in an apartment owned by his parents. Can the threads of friendship severed by time be mended? Will his friends even recognize him? Or have the changes in their lives as they’ve grown from children to teenagers made them into different people, pushing them even further apart?
For Sana and his best bud Syusuke, it will be strange enough. But with Nanaka, Aoi, and Syusuke’s twin Syuri all being girls, things are going to get even more complex. That’s to say nothing of the sometimes-shocking secrets that his four friends know through having lived them, and that Sana will only discover in crossing the minefield of lost years. What once was can never be exactly as it was in treasured memories, but what could be may become even more precious as life moves inexorably forward.
Contains episodes 1-13.
The audio presentation for this release is decent and about what you’d expect from a show of this nature as we get the original Japanese language only in stereo and encoded at 224kbps. The series is essentially all dialogue driven with a few music cues here and there that add a little to certain moments but there’s not a lot to it otherwise when you get down to it. A show like this is all about the cast and the performances come through decently here, but it’s not designed to make a big emotional impact or anything with the intensity of things as it’s more of a quiet dialogue driven drama. The forward soundstage makes out decently overall with a few moments of noticeable directionality in a few scenes but it largely wants to work with the center channel design. It comes across clean and clear and we didn’t have any issues with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in late 2007, the transfer for this thirteen episode TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The thirteen episodes are spread across three discs with four each on the first and second disc while the third has five. Animated by Dogakobo, the show has a pretty basic design about it which isn’t a surprise considering its origins. There’s a simplicity to it that looks good and it’s kept to pretty natural and expected colors for a school based show, though a lot of it takes place outside of school. With it down to four episodes or so per disc, there’s a decent bit of space to work with within the DVD framework and that means a generally solid looking show. It’s not one with high end production values but it has a clean look about it with no problems in terms of line noise or breakup in the backgrounds though there’s a few noisy areas in some of the darker moments.
The packaging for this release is done up in a standard sized DVD case where we get a hinge inside to hold the extra discs since it’s not the standard two. Amusingly, the spine is a rare off piece as it actually misspells the title of the series. The front cover uses the familiar artwork where we get three of the series leads which gives us cute girls in uniforms and Sana mixed into the background as well. The use of the blues and the pinks for the sky and cherry blossom trees definitely works well in painting the kind of mood and atmosphere that fills the show. It’s appealing and with the simplicity of the logo but the little flair to it makes it something that’s eye-catching overall even if it works the familiar. The back cover gives us a standard layout where you get the usual tagline along the top and a good sized covering of the premise itself while surrounding it with some photographs from the show and a little character artwork. The features are listed clearly below it while the bottom has the usual production credits and the solid technical grid that covers all the specs of the release cleanly and clearly. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menu design for this release is straightforward and simple but works nicely for setting the general mood of the series. Working a similar sense of style to the front cover, it’s mostly a halfway split where the left side has the episodes by number and title against a pink background with a touch of cherry blossoms along the top. The right side has the blue sky background with the logo along the lower right corner but this is also where the character artwork is located. Each of the discs use a different set of character pairs which gives it a nice bit of variety to it. There’s not much in the way of submenus here outside of the extras but it works quickly and easily and the navigation of it is pretty natural.
The release has a nice little bit of extras that are included such as the clean opening and closing sequences are here, a few promos and the original Japanese TV spots.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As part of a multimedia push that was done as a light novel, a visual novel and a thirteen episode anime series, Myself; Yourself is a fairly straightforward but decent slice of life drama with some mild romance brought into it. Like a lot of these visual novels that tend to not go big or gain huge followings, it does a lot of things that are familiar but there are darker edges to it that gets drawn into it as the episodes go on. It introduces us to the characters and settings in standard form with a decent setup and then you start to see more and more different aspects come to light and some interesting subplots with the secondary characters that can add more to it.
The series brings us to a group of high school students in the sixteen to seventeen age range where it’s been five years since one of them left. For reasons largely left undisclosed, Sana and his family left town and that made for some tough but normal issues amongst the friends who are mostly around eleven years old at the time. But now, five years after that, Sana has come back to the town to go to high school and is living in one of the apartments that the mother of one his friends runs with a special look out for him. Unlike some other shows, it’s not a big buttinsky kind of deal, but we do see the parents/landlords a few times and it has a kind of simple honesty about it in that very Japanese way of helping but keeping some amount of distance.
For Sana, the return to the town after five years is pretty fun to watch because he expected there to be more changes, but there’s only a few small ones in terms of some shops being different. What does get to him though is the way his friends have grown up as he comes across them. The one that was a year older, Aoi, changed the most as she’s pretty heavy in the chest, but she’s still as fun, loving and endearing as she was as a child. While he didn’t recognize her at first, he quickly picks up on the twins Shusuke and Shuri when he sees them at school as they’re the same, just older and closer together than they used to be. What really causes a problem though is when he sees Nanaka again for the first time and doesn’t recognize her in the slightest. When you figure out, quickly I might add, that she’s long carried a torch of some sort for him, it’s easy to understand why she slaps him hard and becomes cold and distant towards him for awhile.
Not that Sana makes it easy since he is kind of oblivious, but I have to give him some understanding because kids can change a heck of a lot in appearance and look in those five years. To complicate matters as it goes on though, they introduce another student in the grade but not the same class named Hoshino. I rather like her more intriguing subplot that doesn’t become revealed until near the end, but for a good part of it she seems like a romantic foil between Nanaka and Sana as he does try to slow fix things, especially with the help of the twins. Hoshino doesn’t seem truly invested in Sana, which is a welcome change from the over exuberant type that just goes to the wall to win him over, but the time they do spend together is often seen by Nanaka at first and that leads to more cold shoulders for awhile.
The series does weave a few interesting subplots into the show along the way, such as an elder care facility where Hoshino helps out and a few others are drawn into it as well over it to help out. That actually has more portents to it than it seems at first, but it’s pretty nicely done to show that the kids do more than just school and hanging out. I also rather liked seeing the relationship that grows and is explored ever so lightly between Shuri and Shusuke as they’ve had to grow up in a broken home, one that had their city councilman father remarry without any notice to a younger woman that just brought more of a rift into the matter. It’s not a surprise that the two would get closer together because of something like that, but there’s some cruel manipulation as to how far it seems to go by others, but it may not be far from the truth as we get to see in the ten year later epilogue sequence. I love sequences like that in which we get to see more of the path the cast ends up on.
When it comes to the two main characters, they do circle each other for quite some time as they get to know each other again. It’s kept very discreet in its own way which works well, but there’s also things in both their pasts that are hinted at over time. It becomes more key as it goes on and we get a better understanding of what events they are that have shaped them, but will also give them the added connection they need to live a better life. Nanaka’s story is a little complicated in a way, but the pieces are slowly laid out and it does work when you get to the end of it and the full lost memory comes back to her. For Sana, his isn’t given as much detail in the end reveal, but it connects well and explains a lot of why he came back and just how much his friends mean to him, which makes his not recognizing Nanaka at the start all the more painful.
There’s a lot of shows like this released every year in Japan since there’s more than enough material to mine with visual novels and relationship pieces in general. Sometime you do feel like the budget for these multimedia piece don’t get split well enough and the anime adaptation comes up a bit short, but the main thing is that you have to focus on the characters and stories themselves as opposed to the beauty or average look of the show itself. This thirteen episode series was certainly interesting in a kind of basic way, but also one that because of its visual novel origins I kept wondering if it would go completely south at some point. I liked the cast, I liked the way a lot of it unfolded, but it just lacked that extra oomph to really make it connect in a strong way. It’s certainly not a bad series, though it suffers from a poor translation and subtitling, but it’s not a bad way to spend some time if you’re looking for something of this genre.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing, Promos, TV Spots
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: B
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Maiden Japan
Release Date: March 4th, 2014
Running Time: 325 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 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.