Someday's Dreamers-Volume 1: Magical Dreamer (2003)
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Alternative Version-creditless opening, creditless ending
Alternative Version-Japanese opening, Japanese ending
Music Video-Under the Blue Sky performed by Indigo
|Year Of Production||2003|
|Running Time||93:21 (Case: 100)|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Masami Shimoda|
Dick Smallberies Jr
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||Yes, next episode preview|
Some anime series I buy because they have been recommended to me. Some because they sound interesting. This one I bought, I must admit, because it simply looked gorgeous. The cover of the first volume is just beautiful, and the collector's box is even better. I wasn't about to leave this one behind, even though I had no idea what the show was like — I just hoped it lived up to the artwork. Judging by this first disc, I don't expect to be disappointed.
This is a short series (12 episodes, three volumes), about a girl, Yume Kikuchi. She is just seventeen, and has just come to Tokyo from the country.
Some background is essential: this story takes place in a world quite similar to ours, but with one important difference. In 1988 the Japan of this world passed the Rights of People with Special Powers and Mage Labour Act, providing rules and regulations governing people with magical power. Their work is controlled by the Bureau of Mage Labour. People can ask for a Mage Action by lodging a Request (complete with fee) with the Bureau, which passes the request to the appropriate licensed mage.
Yume came to Tokyo to study for a month with a mage, with a view to becoming a licensed mage herself — we discover fairly quickly that she has major talent. She has some trouble finding the address she was given, and is shocked to discover that her sensei is a man — she thought Masami Oyamada would be a woman. To make matters worse, Oyamada-sensei runs a salsa bar as well as being a licensed mage. But things work out.
The four episodes on this disc are:
|1||Sunset and Steel Frames, part 1||Yume arrives in Tokyo, and manages to make a number of mistakes|
|2||Sunset and Steel Frames, part 2||Yume learns about the things she did wrong, gets her mage ring and uniform, and tries to right the wrongs she committed|
|3||The Best News||Yume starts learning the laws and rules of mage requests, and takes on her first case|
|4||A Summer Night and a Mage||Yume tries to help a young boy who is stigmatised when his classmates learn that he has Special Power|
Although Yume's naiveté is almost unbelievable, she is sweet, and quick to learn. We learn that her mother was a renowned mage, which may explain her power. But Yume has grown up in the country, as part of a large family. One gets the feeling that she has led a very sheltered life, and that her ingenuousness derives from that. She's certainly not stupid. I like her already, but I do wish she could tame those hairs that stick up on the top of her head.
Episode by episode we meet some of the people who appear in the opening credit sequence; by the end of this disc we still haven't met them all — I'm guessing that we'll meet more of them next disc. The main characters (and their voice-actors — I'll let you guess which actors do Japanese, and which English...) we've met so far are:
|Yume Kikuchi||Aoi Miyazaki||Kay Jensen|
|Masami Oyamada||Junichi Suwabe||Otto Towne|
|Kera (Smiley)||Hiroshi Iida||Dick Smallberries Jr|
|Angela Brooks||Akeno Watanabe||Shereen Hickman|
|Counsellor Furasaki||Motomu Kiyokawa||Alfred Thor|
This is interesting: an anime series about a magical girl that isn't a mahou shoujo (magical girl) anime series — Yume doesn't transform into a cute-costumed demon fighter, or anything like that. She does have a uniform, but she puts it on in the normal way, and wears it whether she's doing magic or not. Nonetheless, this is definitely a shoujo anime, but one that can be readily appreciated by teenagers and adults.
It looks like I chose well, even if I did choose the disc by its cover. I'm already looking forward to the next volume of this series.
This DVD transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1. It is not 16x9 enhanced. That matches the original aspect ratio, which is exactly what we're looking for.
The image is sharp on close-ups and mid-range shots, but is softer on long-range shots. This may be attributable to the style, which looks like water-colour backgrounds with inked foreground characters. Note that some of the water-colours look to be painted on a textured material, one with vertical stripes. Many of the backgrounds are fairly simple, yet they show surprising detail. A beautiful style, like that of Haibane-Renmai, but one that's not easily described. Film grain is never a problem, and low-level noise is non-existent.
Colour is used beautifully, with plenty of subtle shades. There are no colour-related artefacts, except that quite a few scenes (especially in the first episode) seem a bit over-bright.
There are no film artefacts.
There is almost no aliasing, because the animation style doesn't involve a lot of movement, and where there is movement, there's still minimal aliasing. There's no moiré (most of the colours are solid, rather than patterned). There are no MPEG artefacts.
There are two subtitle tracks. The first subtitles only signs. The second provides full subtitles of the dialogue, plus the signs. The subtitles seem well-timed, accurate, and easy to read, in the traditional yellow. I didn't spot any errors in the subtitles.
The disc is single-sided and single-layered. Even with four episodes everything seems to fit fine into the one layer.
The soundtrack is provided in English and Japanese, as is appropriate for anime. Both soundtracks are Dolby Digital 2.0, not surround encoded, at 224kbps, which is a reasonable presentation of a television track. I listened to both soundtracks in full.
The English dialogue is clear and easy to understand, and appears well-synced to the animation. The Japanese dialogue sounds equally clear, but it is rather less accurately synced to the animation. It's interesting to note that the English voice acting for Yume shows a distinct Southern US accent when under stress; I'd like to know if the Japanese is the same (a Kansai accent, perhaps?) — it seems appropriate, given that she's a country girl.
The music, from Takefumi Haketa, is really lovely stuff, with a variety of styles, including acoustic guitar, pan flute, and even harp on occasions. The opening and closing themes are pleasant.
The surrounds and subwoofer are not called upon by this soundtrack.
|Surround Channel Use|
The menu is subtly animated with music. It's simple and functional, and rather pretty. One small quibble about the Language menu: it's not very easy to tell what has been chosen, because the selected choice is only marked with a slightly darker shade of blue from the unselected choices.
You can take out the cover slick and reverse it, and get a different cover, this time one featuring Yume and Runa. It's an attractive image in warm colours, but I prefer the original in its soft blues and greens. Note that the reverse cover is still in English, not in Japanese.
The opening animation sequence, without credits over it, but still with the opening theme. Very pretty.
Similarly, the closing animation sequence, without credits over it, but still with the closing theme. Quite attractive. It features pictures of several of the key characters, first as line drawings, then with their colour faded up — a nice touch.
The opening sequence, this time with the Japanese credits.
The closing sequence, with Japanese credits.
A two page profile for each of four main characters:
This group sings the closing theme: Under the Blue Sky. Although I'm not a fan of music videos, this one is better than most. It's letterboxed, but not 16x9 enhanced.
The usual Madman style, but without the usual label of Madman Propaganda.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The Region 1 disc was released towards the end of last year. Like the Region 4 release, it was made available both in a collector's box, or as an individual disc.
The boxes are quite similar, except that the R4 box has a picture of Yume in a creek on the back, and Yume in front of a building on the front. The R1 box has the creek picture on the front, and a picture of all the main characters at a picnic on the back. I think I prefer the R4 box, but only slightly.
The R1 box included a couple of postcards, with one offering the image from the cover of the first disc, and the other offering the creek image. They are quite lovely, and I couldn't bring myself to use them as postcards.
The R1 disc includes a folded insert that lists the chapter stops for each episode, and has another image, this time of Yume and Runa. It's a larger version of the image on the reverse side of the cover slick in the R4, so we haven't missed out on seeing it. Their reversible slick is pretty much the same as ours.
The Region 1 disc has two soundtracks, just like the R4. They are Dolby Digital 2.0, just like the R4, but at the unusual bit-rate of 256kbps (the R4 uses the more common 224kbps).
The Region 1 transfer is quite similar to the R4, except that it is NTSC. It might be a tiny bit darker, and a teensy bit more colourful, but the difference is slight. The more noticeable difference is that the R1 doesn't have as much over-brightness — it looks like the R4 transfer may have been set too bright, unfortunately.
I think you can be equally happy with either version, but if pushed to it, I'd have to rate the R1 as slightly better due to that over-brightness.
A pleasant storyline gifted with gorgeous artwork — this looks like a beautiful series on a good DVD.
The video quality is good, but over-bright at times.
The audio quality is good, with pleasant music.
The extras are limited.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-S733A, using Component output|
|Display||Sony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Front Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5|