I’d think that another release of My-HiME would probably be pretty near the top. Long-term readers (of which I suspect there are few) may well remember that at one point I even wrote up a comparison between the R1, R2J and R2E releases DVD of the show – not that I have more than one volume of the R2E release. I still have the show twice over on DVD, though, and, honestly, half those US disks are still in shrinkwrap.
Which is why I had absolutely no intention of pre-ordering the recently released My-HiME Blu-Ray boxed set – after all, at the point when I managed to bring myself to not to buy the BR release of Zwei, I figured I’d finally managed to free myself from the franchises rigid grasp upon my wallet. Even regardless of that, it was a TV show from 2004, and there’s generally a limit to how much better a show of the vintage is going to look on the HD formats – it’d benefit from the reduction in compression issues which comes with the jump, but otherwise history informed us we could expect nothing better than a slightly better looking upscale.
But then people started getting their copies, and informed the world that the set had actually pulled the dub and the subtitles from the US release, and my will began to crumble somewhat. Then came the speculation that it was, infact, not an upscale at all. Needless to say, I ended up buying the thing. Sometimes I really don’t know why I even try to resist.
Still, it was worth it. It’s been a good four or five years since I saw the show last, and although I probably shouldn’t have been, I was kind of surprised to rediscover exactly how good a show My-HiME was. Not that I’m really all that interested in discussing the show at any length at this point – I kind of got that out of my system five years ago, and I really don’t want to risk getting into yet another debate about the ending.
The BR release is really rather lovely, though, even just to look at – it’s nice and compact, and all the covers feature new art by the shows character designer (and Queens Blade stalwart) Hirokazu Hisayuki. Well, at least I think it’s new – I don’t recognise it, and can’t spot any of them that pictured stack of books I’ve just looked though.
The experience of putting the disks in the player is quite pleasant as well. The fact that, like practically every other Japanese anime Blu-ray I’ve picked up, it’ll play quite happily on my European, Zone B player is highly appreciated, particularly given the way that Japanese still insist on region encoding their DVDs (even one’s with English subtitles, like Haruhi). Each of the disks boot-up to a menu enquiring as to whether you wish to play the disk in Japanese or International format, the later of which switches everything – from the copyright warnings to the menus – into English. Kind of makes one think that they are planning to release this thing in the US, doesn’t it?
The actual show itself looks pretty fabulous. Honestly, it’s a little difficult to tell if this is an upscale or not. If it is an upscale, it’s certainly a very good one. I kind of suspect that the video (it’s 1080i on disk, matted black bars down both sides in order to keep the aspect ratio) is taken from a source that, whilst not in 1080, was certainly higher than what it was broadcast in. Even taking into account compression issues, it looks an awful lot better than even the R2 disks. It doesn’t really matter, I guess – the point is that its far and away the best looking release of the show that exists, and the line-work is just so gloriously crisp and clean, without any sign of nasty edge enhancement. It’s just so beautiful *sniff*
If I’ve got one complaint about the release, it’s that it’s missing the “Next Step” text from episode 20’s next episode preview. Seriously, Bandai, how could you screw up something so important?
Well, okay, not really, but Bandai obviously consider it serious enough an oversight that they’re actually running a replacement program for that disk in Japan ^^;
Really, though, my complaint is about the extras. It’s not that it’s the only disk for which none of the content has subtitles – the only place you are going to miss them is with the all-new, four minute long omake feature (which, by the way, I love them for producing). Rather, it’s that for something they’ve devoted an entire additional disk to, it’s kind of light on them. It’d be understandable if there was a lack of additional material for them to pull from, but it’s not even like that’s the case. I mean, they’ve pulled the original promotional movie (did that even make the US release?) from the first pressing DVD vol 1 bonus disk, and the music videos from the My-HiME Fandisk, but the bulk of those disks was a good couple of hours of voice actress interviews and voice session footage that it’s a real shame aren’t duplicated here.
It’s a small complaint, I guess, and it’s not like I’d really get much value out of having them on here myself anyway, but it’d have been nice to see. Otherwise, these disks are an overwhelming pleasant experience, and being one of the weirdos who preferred it to HiME, I’m really looking forward to getting the ZHiME Blu-Ray set when it’s released next month. That’s got an new omake feature as well…