Blu-ray Review: Wish Upon the Pleiades – The Complete Series
16/10/2016 Leave a comment
A magic-fueled tale on an extraterrestrial scale is whats in store with Animatsu Entertainment’s latest release of Wish Upon the Pleiades; but what did we make of this Blu-ray release of the series? Well let’s find out!
When Subaru goes to her local observatory to prepare for an upcoming meteor shower, she ends up seeing far more of the stars than she expected. Instead of a simulated viewing of astronomical phenomena, she gets recruited to take part in a fantastic adventure with a mysterious young man, a bizarre alien creature, and a group of girls dressed in cute, magical garb. Together with the other girls (who are suddenly and strangely members of Subaru’s school), Subaru becomes part of a clandestine effort to retrieve fragments of an alien spaceship! However, the fragments are being scattered all over the universe.
Time is limited, and the girls face a nemesis who is seeking to gather all the parts for himself! The space race is on, and the sky is no longer the limit as the legendary animation studio GAINAX sets Subaru’s eyes on the stars in WISH UPON THE PLEIADES!
What originally started off as a four-part-animated short between animation studio GAINAX and Japanese car manufacturer Subaru in 2011 was soon expanded into a full-on anime TV series with the show receiving its Japanese TV debut in 2015. Fast-forward one year into the future and Wish Upon the Pleiades has now arrived as a Blu-ray and DVD Combo Pack within the UK Courtesy of Animatsu Entertainment and Sentai Filmworks. It is fair to say that Wish Upon the Pleiades has had an interesting production cycle and this ‘intrigue’ manages to continue within the series itself with its obscure and unique way of presenting its story.
So… what exactly is Wish Upon the Pleiades? Well from one perspective it is a magical girls themed series, whereby a group of girls are given magical abilities in order to complete a set task (similar to Cardcaptor Sakura or Fate/Kaleid Illya Prisma) given to them by an alien; but on the other hand we have a story which deeply explores astronomy with its fast, detailed and potentially accurate information on Stars, Galaxies and the universe. But wait; that’s not all as Wish Upon the Pleiades even manages to find time to infiltrate a romantic love story into the equation – a story which continuously builds up throughout this series to deliver a relatively emotionally depressing ending – as well as individual character backstories that generate interest into the characters on screen. Basically Wish Upon the Pleiades is a magical girl type of show that is overshadowed with Astronomy and a love story centred around the protagonist and it seemingly manages to work quite well; even if you have no real idea as to what is exactly happening with the ‘objective’ of the series.
To keep it simple; Wish Upon the Pleiades follows the events of high-school-student Subaru who finds herself being recruited as a Magical Girl and reunited with her childhood friend Aoi after stumbling into a classroom that was supposedly protected by magic. A quick introduction reveals that Subaru, the protagonist of the series, Aoi, a childhood friend of Subaru, Itsuki, a kind hearted girl, Hikaru, an outspoken pianist, and Nanako, a girl who secludes herself from others, were summoned together by a mysterious alien in hopes of retrieving engine pieces (which are actually odd-shaped-balls) for his spaceship that have been scattered across the entire universe. By bestowing magical abilities to these girls the group of five work together in order to retrieve the engine pieces so that the alien carry on with his journey; however attempting to stop the girls from collecting the engine pieces is an enemy known as Horn Cape – another magic wielder who is attempting to retrieve the engine pieces for his own desires.
It’s a common trait for a series such as this; whereby our heroines race to find the next piece before the antagonist arrives to steal it away – however unlike most series of this nature we get to see a deeper back-story for each character involved. Each episode may feature a new engine peace being located, and in turn retrieved, but alongside this we see each characters own personalities and desires spread out on screen. For instance one particular episode focuses on Subaru’s and Aoi’s questionable friendship while another will focus on Hikaru’s love for piano music and her relationship with her father. Each of these episodes build a deeper understanding and respect for the character and it is done in such a way that it does not spoil the content of the main storyline; one which is actually shrouded in a bit of mystery with its overly complicated – and potentially misplaced – style of pacing and presentation.
Some could say the main storyline within Wish Upon the Pleiades is the collection of engine pieces, as that is the objective after all; but in my eyes it is the connection between Subaru and the mysterious boy named Minato. Each element takes up a portion of the episode and while the engine pieces provides the magical-fueled-excitement you would expect from a show such as this it’s actually the emotional, budding love-story, between Subaru and Minato that makes the story go forward; especially towards the end of the series. How exactly does this work? Well in each episode Subaru randomly enters a magical garden with Minato as it’s groundskeeper and whenever Subaru has troubles she shares these with him; which in turn not only makes the events of the episode (and in retrospect the series) move forward but it sees Subaru and Minato grow to like each other – even if it’s not immediately noticeable.
Wish Upon the Pleiades really is a bit of a mixed bag; on the surface it can easily seen as a cute moe anime filled with magical girls due to its colourful animation style, which is it; however look underneath this and you’ll find a complex storyline that not only explores individual characters relationships and personal desires but it will also see a love story blooming between two distinctive characters. It’s animated beautifully, it has a strong cast of character but disappointingly the overly confusing nature of the series – especially when it comes to the ending – and the way it presents this story makes it a slightly disappointing experience rather than an enjoyable one.
As with most Animatsu Entertainment (or Manga Entertainment) shows that have been sub-licensed from American Distributor Sentai Filmworks we are only treated to the barebones selection of content; in this case a selection of trailers and clean variations of the opening and closing songs – all of which are located on the second Blu-ray Disc.
It’s a shame that Sentai Filmworks, and potentially in turn Animatsu Entertainment, couldn’t work with GAINAX and Subaru in order to get the original animated shorts included with this western release of the series; as that way we would have had access to the entire selection of anime content. Of course it’s not all doom and gloom as these episodes can be watched on their official youtube channel.
Media: BD 50 x1, BD 25 x1
Region: A & B
Running Time: 3:43:18 (Disc 1), 1:13:06 (Disc 2)
Video: MPEG-4 AVC
Audio: DTS-HD 2.0 (Japanese)
Subtitles: English (Yellow)
Resolution: 1920×1080 (1080p)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Frame Rate: 23.976 fps
Wish Upon the Pleiades follows the events of five normal girls who have been recruited by a mysterious alien in order to locate engine pieces that have been scattered throughout the universe. Attempting to foil their plot of aiding the Pleiadian is a mysterious mage known as Horn Cape who is after the engine pieces for his own personal desires. As you would expect each episode sees the girls become accustomed to their magical abilities while venturing to collect a new piece of the engine; but additionally each episode will explore an individual characters personality or issue (such as the struggle friendship between Aoi and Subaru or Nanako’s insecure family issues) and dive deeper into their own experiences. There is then the underlining relationship between Subaru and Minato which unfolds through each episode and plays an important role in the final episodes of the series. In some aspects a lot happens; but in another aspect not that much happens it’s just the overly confusing way it is presented to the viewer.
For instance it’s poorly explained that each of the five girls have been summoned from different parallel worlds rather than from a single location and as a result it adds a level of complexity that wasn’t needed to begin with. It’s an important piece of information which later episodes rely on, such as the episode which sees Subaru’s and Aoi’s friendship in turmoil, and the final few episodes. If you are aware that the characters were summoned from parallel worlds rather than within the same world the issue they face, which is conflicting memories of how they separated, would make more sense; but alas its not. Its elements such as this that create inconsistencies within the way the series is presented to the viewer and makes it a relatively confusing thing to watch; and that is before you include the extensive amounts of astronomy references and explanations; of which are done quite well even if you have no idea what they are talking about.
Boggling set-pieces and timeline elements aside this Blu-ray release of Wish Upon the Pleiades may not offer the extensive selection of bonus features you may hope for; but it does bring about the series in a rather glorious fashion. For starters the series in presented in Japanese with English subtitles and does NOT feature an English Dub and while translation of the dialogue is presented in Yellow text explanations in star constellations, or other complicated matters, are translated into English with White text. It’s this different text colour, and sometimes style, that makes reading an understanding certain aspects of the show much simpler than other subtitle only releases. The presentation, as in its colourful animation style and dark vibrant star-lit nights, are also brought to life thanks to this High Definition Blu-ray release; it just looks superb.
Overall Wish Upon the Pleiades is a series that offers magical girls shrouded round in mind-boggling astronomy and a love story between two key characters of the series; Subaru and Minato. It’s an interesting story and one that can easily be watched but unfortunately some confusing – and poorly explained– aspects make the series a bit disappointing to watch. It’s a great series, and it looks absolutely stunning in High Definition, but its presentation and explanation as to whats transpiring leave more than to be desired; but if you a looking for something different then it’s well worth a watch.
Wish Upon the Pleiades – The Complete Series is now available as a Blu-ray and DVD Combo Pack within the UK.