DVD Review: Photo Kano – The Complete Series

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Can a camera open your heart up to female affection? Well according to the franchise Photo Kano; so what can one expect to receive from MVM Entertainment’s latest DVD (and Blu-ray) release? Well let’s take a look!

Synopsis:

During Kazuya Maeda’s first year of high school he felt like a nobody, just another forgotten face shuffling through the crowded hallways. Even his best friend from childhood, Nimi, seemed somehow more difficult to approach, since she had matured a little quicker in the unsettling way that girls have a habit of doing.

This year, however, things will be different for Kazuya, and part of that change may just be because of the big new chick magnet hanging in front of him: the used digital SLR he just received from his dad! But will just having a camera be enough to make talking to girls a snap? Well, if he stays focused and proves to be good enough at making them look good, it might just be! And since it’s digital, there are no negatives or having to wait for things to develop!

Our View:

Adapting a video game into another entertainment media is never an easy thing to do as while some may receive success (such as Pokemon, Yo-Kai! Watch and Corpse Party) others are doomed to disappoint (such as Senran Kagura Ninja Flash or Final Fantasy) and unfortunately it’s a mixture of both with this anime release of Photo Kano.  This anime is actually an adaptation of Dingo Inc. and Enterbrain’s Japanese dating simulator of the same name which was released onto the PSP, and then later re-released onto the PS Vita,in Japan several years ago that sees the average high-schooler Kazuya Maeda winning the hearts of girls on campus by using a camera that he has recently acquired from his dad.

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In the game players would take control of Maeda as he interacts with various females around campus with the objective of taking their picture; however depending on the interaction – and the types of pictures taken – the relationship with that character will increase to create an ending of sorts with that character. The same can be said for this anime adaptation; however it has been done in such a way that the ‘true ending’ of the game is given to viewers by the end of the sixth episode with alternate routes (and endings) to the game given as stand-a-lone episodes from the seventh episode onwards. The result here is that while we are treated to a nice introduction, and a steady stream of character development, for both Maeda and Nimi the other recurring female characters, such as Mai, Sanehara, Yunoki, Isumi and Kanon, tend to have their character development left to a single episode and in turn feel quite rushed.

From my perspective it is a bit of a bizarre choice and can make watching the series slightly confusing; but in order to get the stories of so many characters told within a thirteen episode series then I guess it cannot be helped. Basically you have to watch the Photo Kano anime as if you were playing the game; with the first four or five episodes acting as an introduction and then each episode after that relating to a particular characters route within the game. For instance the true ending with Nimi is displayed during episodes five and six; but the route with Sanehara takes place in episode seven while the route with Muroto takes place in the eighth episode and so forth until the series reaches its conclusion.

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It’s not entirely a bad way of presenting an anime series, as it does manage to cover most aspects of the game it is based upon; but at times it does feel like some character development is rushed as you’ll see several months worth of events take place within a singular episode. Furthermore while each stand-a-lone episode offers a different character personality they each follow a certain pattern that, by the time the series ends, has become a bit repetitive and stale; especially when practically each episode is an ending in its own right. While this may be the disappointing aspect some positives can be had; for instance each character offers the viewer and unique personality and a set of dreams to accomplish which, as a result of this, makes each episode as refreshing as the last. Sure enough it’s a bizarre way of presenting the series but at the end it does provide an alternate take on how to watch an anime series.

Extras:

As would expect this DVD release only features the opening and closing animations in textless form as well as a selection of trailers; but unlike past releases the trailers are for products that MVM Entertainment have released or are going to release in the future; such as Sakura Trick.

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In short it’s another barebones release which for a series thats based upon a game it is to be expected; however it would have been nice to be treated to some supplementary content that tied the two products together such as a trailer for the game or even a trailer for the anime that explains what its based upon. In any event; that’s just wishful thinking and in the end we are left with another simplistic anime release.

Specs:

Media:  DVD 9 x2
Region: 2
Running Time:  2:43:15 (Disc 1), 2:22:55 (Disc 2)
Video: MPEG-2
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 224kbps (Japanese)
Subtitles: English (White)
Resolution: 720 x 576 (576i)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Widescreen
Frame Rate: 25 fps

Overall:

From my perspective this anime adaptation of the Photo Kano PSP (and PS Vita) game is a way for the games multiple routes, and their endings, to be presented in anime form and while it starts off as a respectable potential love story it soon flourishes into a sense of rinse and repeat; but I guess it could not be helped. The series follows Kazuya Maeda, or simply known as Maeda-san, who after being given a Digital SLR Camera from his dad decides to take pictures of girls around campus and join the ‘questionable’ photography club. Along the way Maeda becomes familiar with different female characters and helps them out by agreeing to take photographs of them and as time passes they all start to develop a crush for Maeda.

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It’s here where the game would force you to choose a particular girl to go after; but in this anime adaptation it forces viewers to watch the ending that relates to the ‘true ending’ (or poster girl) of Haruka Niimi; to which we see Maeda attempting to protect her from the ‘perverse’ members of the Photography Club who are trying to take candid pictures of her. Upon her story being completed the remaining episodes are relatively stand-a-lone with each episode focused on a particular girl. Like I said before it’s an interesting way of presenting a series adapted from a game and while the stand-a-lone episodes feel rushed they are good enough to get you interested in the female character, her personality and the troubles she is trying to overcome with Maeda. It’s different and invtentive; but slightly offputting when you expect to receive a complete story from start to finish rather than an animated mix-up of storylines that all spawn from the same starting point.

When it comes to this DVD release by MVM Entertainment then it seems that they are using disc masters authored by Madman Entertainment (the Australian Distributor for the series) rather than the original Sentai Filmworks (American distributor) release. Why is this? Well for starters the discs are authored to PAL standards – so you may notice a slight audio pitch/speed difference compared to the US Release – and that the subtitles are provided in white text as opposed to Sentai Filmworks iconic Yellow text.  These are both disappointing aspects; especially the white subtitles as not only are they smaller than Sentai Filmwork subtitles but they often appear on white backgrounds and are not as easily noticable to read. A positive aspect however is that the disc features a Play All button meaning you can simply watch all of the episodes in one go as opposed to normal Sentai Mastered discs whereby you have to select each episode individually. These elements aside everything remains consistent with a typical DVD release with no noticeable distortion of pixelation.

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Photo Kano is a refreshing way to watch an anime series adapted from a game; and while the UK did not receive the game it is based upon the series is detailed enough for viewers to become accustomed to. Sure enough the way it is presented is an odd choice; but unlike other visual novel games adapted into an anime series it allows the entire elements of the game to be witness through an anime series. Bizarre or not; it’s interesting to watch and offers a slightly different type of anime viewing experience.

Score: review-stars-3

Photo Kano – The Complete Series will be available on DVD and Blu-ray from the 7th November 2016 within the UK.

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About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has worked on ZOMGPlay and was once a Community Moderator for the Nokia N-Gage forums. Based in the UK, he loves anything related to Games & Anime and in In his spare time you'll mostly find him playing on one of his many gaming consoles; namely the PS Vita or Xbox One.

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