What They Say:
When aliens suddenly invade the world, Earth seems to be fighting a losing battle until Arikawa, one of the defense command staff, accidentally discovers a young man lying on a hill. Tests soon prove the impossible: this one teenager, Kakashi, has the power to defeat the attackers! Unfortunately, Kakashi has also lost his memory, and with it the knowledge of how to actually use his power.
Moving Kakashi in with himself and his own commander, Shiro, Arikawa accidentally starts a strange triangle of emotions and relationships – a triangle that threatens the fate of the planet as Kakashi begins to question his own motivations!
The audio presentation for this release is pretty solid as we get a pair of DTS-HD MA lossless tracks in stereo as the show has the original Japanese as well as a new English dub produced for it. With it being a 30 minute short, I was glad to see that the dub was produced since it meant a high definition release as well. The audio works the forward soundstage well here and there are some very good moments throughout, particularly with the music but also some pieces like the glass shattering and so forth. Both language tracks convey things well though there’s a certain distinctiveness to the Japanese performances that I think comes through here in a sharper way. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally released in 2011, the transfer for this short is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The show has a distinct look about it in terms of its color choices and there’s a few areas of softness to it, but it’s more from the design of the animation itself as it wants to have that semi-experimental look about it with some rough looking sections. The general look is very strong and the backgrounds are quite solid and look great with the hues that are applied throughout it. When the show shifts to its high motion moments it maintains things well and has a lot of warmth to it because of the design choices made. The transfer captures it all very well here and it lets the particular look fo it all stand out well.
The packaging for this release is done in a standard Blu-ray case where the color of the case works well to flow with the cover artwork. That’s done with the blue skies that are set a red couch where a couple of the boys are sitting while a third is behind it. Add in the sunflowers that are used to give it some pop and color and it has a distinctive and eye-catching look about it that definitely gets you to give it a scond look. The character designs are pretty much what they are in the show so it also shows off that aspect of it well. The back cover is a little traditional as it uses a good piece of artwork along the top with some basic taglines that gets your attention without being bad. The plot concept is laid out well enough and we get the usual array of shots from the show and a good look at the extras. The shows produciton information is nicely done as well for both the original and US release and the technical grid brings out all the details there in a clean and well done fashion with everything listed accurately. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menu design for the release is very simple but works well for setting the mood at first as we get the bright blue skies with all the sunflowers aligned along the bottom, pushing their way upward. It’s a very mellow and warm design that looks good and shows off the color design well. There’s no music to it though which is unfortunate since that can set the mood even better. The navigation is nicely done as the strip along the bottom just has the words themselves for each piece done as a word balloon, allowing it to not cover up too much of the landscape. Everything loads quickly and is very easy to navigate while looking good and keeping to the general tone of the show.
The release does bring out a few extras, including a new interview with Yamamoto that’s done in text form over two screens where she’s asked a few basic questions and has some cute answers to them. What’s also included are three shorts from Yamamoto’s early work that lets us see what else she’s done. These are all done in both English and Japanese and are certainly rough but there’s something engaging about the style used and the transitions. They run a few minutes each and do some neat little things that are definitely worth checking out, both in story and style.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
One of the things we don’t get a lot of with anime is the feeling of an indie animation production, something that’s standing out from the norm and attempting to be unique and present things differently. Sometimes we get a movie that’s done in a unique style or pushes some boundaries but they tend to play to familiar stories. When it comes to Comix Wave, it’s where we’ve gotten a fair bit of short form storytelling that plays to some anime tropes but also breaks out a bit in style as well. This release, clocking in at just under thirty minutes, gives us a short story and production by Soubi Yamamoto. It has that feeling where it’s something that’s a personal passion to be made to do something a little different but could also find itself a larger version as well.
The show revolves around three principal characters as we’re introduced to Kakashi, a young high school student who has turned out to be the only boy in the world that can fight aliens. Four months prior, they arrived out of the blue and every day they send down one opponent for Kakashi to face. He’s dispatched them easily and has been helped by a “redundant” government worked named Arikawa that watches out for him and Shiro, a man who cooks and takes care of the small house in the allotted space where the fights take place. It’s an amusing little trio of characters whose personalities are definitely made clear in a short time frame but also feel like they have a lot more story to tell for each of them as well.
While we get a couple of brief fights, the thrust of the short is to focus on Kakashi himself. When Arikawa found him and saw him fighting, it was also revealed that Kakashi lost hist memory of everything before then. So he doesn’t know who specifically he’s fighting for in a way, whether there are friends and family out there supporting him. All he has at the moment is Arikawa and Shiro as well as a cell phone that’s not working that may be the key to restoring his memory. But he has to grapple with the fear of there being no messages when it gets fixed, or finding out that those he cared for are dead and gone. It’s a nice little show in that it deals with this struggle that he goes through about whether he really wants to know or not and then dealing with the consequences of it all
Because of its nature, it has a very good look to it where it’s not exactly experimental in a way, but it doesn’t play to the usual designs we get. It has a rough around the edges look when it comes to the actual character designs and the movements, but it also brings in a fluidity all its own that feels natural. You won’t mistake this for being just another show on TV that’s getting broadcast, but it also has its won flow to it that comes across well, especially in high definition. The kind of project where you can see the passion for it put into the animation, the edging of the designs and the color choices to evoke the desired mood or emotion as it unfolds.
With a name like This Boy Can Fight Aliens, well, don’t expect too much alien fighting. It’s not that it’s inaccurate, but it’s more about the boy. We get some alien fighting but that’s not the point of it as it unfolds. In the short form story that we get here, there’s some good stuff conveyed as it runs with its own energy and enthusiasm but never coming across as an overachiever. And in a way, I think that’s why it falls short. It’s a good story, some interesting designs that works well and a solid look overall, but it doesn’t take enough chances to really stake out its own ground. It’s not safe, but it’s not something that demands more of. It does leave me wanting to see more of what Soubi Yamamoto wants to do though, if there’s something with more detail and depth that he can tell. I definitely enjoyed the short and it has a strong sense of quality about it, but it is what it is as well.
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Soubi Yamamoto’s Early Work, Sekaikai Sekairon, Ra/Radio Noise Planet, Robotica Robotics.
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: August 14th, 2012
Running Time: 30 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70″ LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.