Manabi Straight on Blu-ray

It’s always kind of a gamble to buy a BD release of a show created during the post-digital, pre-high-def era of TV anime. That’s pretty much any show created between like 1998 and 2008 or so, which includes Manabi Straight. Manabi Straight is one of the last TV anime that was created for the 4:3 format and watching it gave my plasma temporary burn-in. LOL for cheap TV I guess.

That unfortunate circumstance aside, I lament that I just don’t have all the time in the world to rewatch this gem. I managed to just catch the last episode, the OVA episode (now slotted chronologically onto disc 3 of 4) and the Machiasobi event from last November (also on disc 3). It’s a little odd to see Nonaka on stage again, after just seeing her not too long ago in person. Equally odd was how the event is about showing the audience the PQ difference for the Manabi BD box, and get everyone to sing the Seiou Gakuen Kouka. I mean, a sing-along event with a video of Horie Yui teaching you (well, it’s a joke) how to emote it? Okay.

The oddness of the event bleeds into the home video version. At the event, they have this kind of small screen on stage where they showed you side-by-side between DVD and BD of episode 11 (and some other clips). It looks great on home video because, well, you see the actual video. I just don’t know if anyone present at the actual event can tell from that distance.

I haven’t taken a close look at anything other than disc 3 and disc 4. Disc 4 contains the final 4 episodes of the series, plus all the TV spots (TV ads and DVD ads), trailers, and the karaoke video for the five image songs for the main characters. But what’s probably more of interest to perspective buyers and Viewers Like Myself is the last episode and how it’s “reshot” or whatever ANN uses to describe the work ufotable put in. To make it clear, episodes 1-11 + OVA episodes have had their composition redone for the BD release, but they went out and redid episode 12 by recreating the CG effects. If I know Japanese I probably could tell you, because they talked about this at the Machiasobi event. Yeah, I think it’s odd to have Nonaka and the King Record producer guy tell you how good this transfer is, in the thing you just bought.

If composition is what I think it is, redoing it means now the scenes are rendered at a higher resolution as it is being composed by whatever software they use. This is drastically different than doing an upscale because the software that spits out the re-composed scenes are working from the original property, rather than the end result video that gets interpolated by the upscale software. I guess you can think of it as being one step closer (in reality, probably more than one step). And I think given the way anime is put together these days,  that might be the best thing you can do for a TV anime of that vintage. What is amusing is I can totally see someone do this to 2k or 4k, give them another 10 years.

Anyway, this is also why the CG, which is sometimes generated dynamically at composition, need to be re-done. Because it would look like ass otherwise. Since I don’t have a BD drive I can’t cap them for you, but let’s just say the cherry blossom scene at the beginning of episode 12 (this is the naming convention used by the BD box; OAV episode is labeled as such, not 6.5 or whatever) looked reminiscent of 5cm/s. There are a lot of pans and sky cuts in episode 12 and they look gorgeous. When Mikan popped out in the epilogue by herself I thought “only if Evangelion TV on Blu-ray would look this good.” There’s just all this detail in the scene when Mei was driving to the airport with the crew.

However, when you just look at the normal foreground animation, they don’t look too different than the previous episodes. It looks better than upscaled; the lines are well-defined, if a bit rough. The show has its share of derpy faces, after all.

The other notable thing about Manabi BD in terms of PQ is the stop motion ending. It looks great, and that should be the case because I’m going to assume they shot the whole thing using some DSLR, and that means it was put together using whatever-megapixel photographs. 1080 is only 2 megapixels; 4k is only 9.4 megapixels.

The intangible details aside, here are the stats [Amazon, King Records, ufotable]:

  • 4 BD discs, 1 DVD disc (materials for your PC…?)
  • contains episodes 1-12 plus OVA episode (on disc 3)
  • Discs 1, 2 are single layer, discs 3 and 4 are dual layer.
  • Comes with a slip case with a huge obi-thing that covers the bottom and the back of the packaging.
  • Also has a 108-page book containing all sorts of supplementary material, fits in the slip case.
  • Discs sit inside of a 5-part digipak that holds all 5.
  • First week sales: below reporting threshold

You can get more nitty gritty if you see the listing on Amazon and the like. There was a contest where people can vote for the cover image on the BD BOX, on ufotable’s website. It ran for about a month and you can get all the non-winner pictures as A4 postcard-things if you buy the BD BOX direct from ufotable.

Rewatching the series is definitely on my to-do list. I’m due one anyway.

2 Responses to “Manabi Straight on Blu-ray”

  • fencedude

    I remember there was a discussion on AoD some years back (around when K-On! was airing?) about what the last 4:3 anime was. Manabi straight may well have been the last one, though of course for a number of years shows continued to be shown cropped to 4:3 and then released on disc in widescreen.

    I rewatched the show just relatively recently, but I’m definitely interested in checking out the BD version at some point.

    • omo

      It might not be the last true 4:3 TV anime or anime in general but it sure is one of the last. At any rate, do give the BD version a shot since they look pretty good.

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