As I slowly work my way through the Manabi Straight Blu-ray box, you probably should expect a series of Manabi Straight blog posts. I think the show earned a spot on my list of favorites precisely because it evokes so much thought on watching it. And I really didn’t write all that much about it the first time around, just … a lot of posts “around” it. There are a lot of heavy themes and concepts thrown around in that show. Anyway, here are some more tl;dr about the Blu-ray release itself first.
My friend is a quality whore and he rigged his MPC-HC to whatever nonsense that these guys are saying. It makes some sense, when you own a Dell U3011, but to me the notion of “best” is kind of a lamer marketing term as PQ is to an extent subjective. When you start adding filters you are playing with fire. But I’m a live and let live sort of person, so it doesn’t bother me until the sharpening filter is depixelating grains or computer-generated visual effects from the video itself (which it invariably does with a show like this).
But man, my friend’s Dell U3011 is very nice. So we ended up watching some Manabi Straight side-by-side with whatever he found on BakaBT on his 27″ Dell monitor, whose model I forget (one of those 1440-line displays). We didn’t touch the BD video stream (played from a PS3) but he did (or whoever encoded it did) for the downloaded version of whatever it was. The results are pretty much what you’d expect. We also found how the home video went back and corrected some animation errors, mostly continuity sort of stuff.
We specifically checked out episodes 1 and 2 and I alone checked the last episode. We watched the first two because my friend actually never watched Manabi Straight beyond the first episode (his meticulous logging noted that he watched episode 1 in Jan 2007 at around 3:30 AM), and he didn’t quite remember what happened in the show besides Manabi’s “landing.” Olympics, right. The first two episodes make up a pretty solid pilot, if you recall.
To the meat of the post: the interesting revelation was that the last episode actually doesn’t look that much better, compared to the previous BD episodes. There were specific places where it did, but overall it feels mostly like just any other episode. The lines looked sharper than DVD, but compared it to a HD-broadcasted TV rip, there wasn’t really that much more details in the BD version. What survived largely were special effects and digital effects which died horribly on the TV rip both because of post-processing on my friend’s end or simply because the encode’s bitrate is just too low to capture everything. Like their later works, ufotable’s approach to composition is somewhat cinematic, featuring a lot of effects that create intentional blurring or things that look foreshortened. There is also a good deal of digital effects too, that as we know that tend not to survive upscaling well.
I guess the conclusion on this stuff is that the BDs are definitely the best version of Manabi Straight you will be able to find. But the TV rips were pretty good, if you can live with it. It’s not a night-and-day kind of a difference as with, say, episode 5 of Kara no Kyoukai. It’s probably less drastic than watching the DVDs (I guess I owe you guys that at some point) side-by-side to the BD. Of course this is also ignoring that the content is slightly different. The animation is patched up a little on the home video release. But with enough post-processing crap laid on top of it, the TV rips are passable, if that’s your sort of thing.
To make the endeavor a little less worthless, here’s a cellphone cam from the U3011 playing the BD (click for full size):
Edit: I watched episode 10 tonight, and while my TV is kind of crappy, for completeness’s sake here’s another cap. [/su-fee-ah]