Mm, haven’t done one of these in a while – and certainly never a double feature – but the contrast between my two latest anime acquisitions was so striking as to swiftly overcome one’s usual lack of blogging energy.
Due to the lull on this site (most of my recent blogging having occurred elsewhere), it may be worth stressing that my interest in anime and manga continues unabated. In fact, I’ve made a good number of fresh purchases over the last few months; I just haven’t had the time or energy to write in detail about any of them. While I can’t promise full reviews of today’s subjects in the near future, a quick back-to-back unboxing session shouldn’t pose much of a problem.
All right, let’s haul them out of the shipping carton and take a look. First up: NIS America’s Blu-ray/DVD combo release of Natsume’s Book of Friends, season four.
I must say, this looks good straight out of the plastic wrap. The thick cardboard slipcase feels nice and sturdy, not like the cheap papery sleeves that disc cases usually come wrapped in. It has a fairly large surface area (slightly bigger than two DVD thinpaks put together) which could present difficulties for storage on the standard video shelf, though all the better for showing off that gorgeous cover art to maximum effect.
As noted earlier, this is a slipcase and not a box – it’s open at the top to allow the contents to slide out. Those contents include two thinpak cases, each holding two discs (one Blu-ray and one DVD) for a total of four discs to a set.
There’s also a fine hardbound artbook with a cover patterned after the Book of Friends. The book’s contents include episode guides, character profiles/sketches, and several pages of gorgeous promotional anime art.
Next, we have Sentai Filmworks’ Blu-ray release of The Garden of Words. No outer slipcase on this one, just a standard Blu-ray container – although that cover illustration is a feast to look at. Gorgeously lush, wonderfully detailed and highly evocative, I’d expect nothing less on the video release of a Shinkai film.
Inside, we’ve got the disc . . .
. . . and a whole lot of nothing. Nothing. No insert, no printed extras, not even one of those throwaway promotional flyers.
Here’s the contrast I wrote of at the very start: on the one hand, a large package with both video discs and physical extras; on the other, just a plain old video disc. To be absolutely clear, I am not complaining about the bare-bones character of Sentai’s The Garden of Words release. I certainly don’t mind trimming off unnecessary bells and whistles (the ridiculous T-shirt series that accompanied Lucky Star‘s limited-edition US release comes to mind). Having said that, I’m glad to have these treat-filled options wherever possible. One must hand it to NIS for coming out with a product that looks and feels very premium-quality indeed, even if the only physical extras are an artbook and slipcase – in fact, it’s probably the first of my many recent acquisitions to have anything other than just the main feature. If Sentai had put together a high-end version – perhaps similar to the Japanese box set of Shinkai’s 5 Centimeters Per Second with soundtrack, informative booklet, and original filmstrip – I’d be more than happy to part with a fair amount of extra cash for the privilege of owning it.
In any case, I’m quite happy with both purchases, though of course the proof of the pudding’s in the eating and I haven’t watched much of either yet. Let’s hope the soft product is just as impressive as the physical media they came packaged in.