DVD Review: Girls Beyond the Wasteland – The Complete Series

MVM Entertainment continues to distribute a wide variety of anime releases and their release of Girls Beyond the Wasteland is no exception; especially when you consider it is an English subtitled only release. So what can one expect to recieve from this UK DVD Release of Girls Beyond the Wasteland – The Complete Series? Well let’s find out!

Synopsis:

Buntarou Hojo has a gift for envisioning plots and scenarios in his head, but when it comes to imagining a story for his own life, he has a bad case of writer’s block. Writing scripts for his high school’s drama department has given him a temporary outlet, but when school ends, what’s next? Just when Buntarou’s future seems its bleakest, classmate Sayuki Kuroda asks him to write for her bishoujo video game development group.

Suddenly, all the pieces start to fall together, but as Buntarou and Sayuki recruit more girls (and one romantically challenged guy), they’ll find that the path through the wasteland of life is filled with more twists than any game. Expect the unexpected as making a computer-simulated romance becomes a real-world drama!

Our View:

Girls Beyond the Wasteland, otherwise known in Japan as Girls Beyond the Youth Koya, is an anime series that follows the escapades of a small group of high-school-students who attempt to create a visual novel (bishoujo) game in the hopes of making an impact within the video games industry.  Unfortunately this is just a ‘pretence’ as the actual storyline – of which doesn’t get revealed until the final stages of the series – is something a bit more deceitful but only momentarily.  I won’t spoil the details here; but it is a twist which makes certain actions from the main female character more understandable but at the same time it provides nothing more than to give the series a bit of a backbone to something that’s long since become stale.

So what exactly is Girls Beyond the Wasteland all about? Well in simple terms it is about a group of high-school-students creating a visual novel (bishoujo) game with the focus entirely on Buntarou Hojo. This is because Hojo is a talented script writer and is often tasked by the school’s drama club to create scripts for their performance. Because Hojo is talented Sayuki Kuroda, a classmate of Hojo, requests that he work with her in creating a script for a visual novel game.  Why exactly is not made clear (not yet at least) but Hojo eventually agrees and soon finds himself not only writing the script but recruiting new members to help with the project; in this case he brings on board Yūka Kobayakawa, an actor from the drama club and close friend of Hojo, Teruha Ando, a BL fanatic and skilled programmer, Uguisu Yūki, a skilled artist who posts drawings online and Atomu Kai a classmate of Hojo to act as members of the development team.

From here it’s a simple case of each passing episode offering a different perspective of the development, such as script writing, life experiences, design choices, voice over time and bug reports – all of which are a natural part of game development.  From one perspective it’s fascinating to watch, as we get to see (potentially) what it’s like within a development aspect of a game; but at the same time it feels as if nothing is actually happening because a developing story isn’t present. We are simply watching the characters develop a game; we do not learn anything about their desires, interests, relationships or hobbies… that is except for one character. One episode is dedicated to Yūka Kobayakawa as we see her try to disclose her feelings to Hojo during a ‘real-but-fake-date’ and it feels like the most sincere episode of the entire series.

Personally I expected this episode to develop the series in a romance story; as the original source material for this anime, which was a visual novel of the same name, allowed players to develop relationships with the female cast depending on the choices made. It’s obvious that Yuka has feelings for Hojo, and the same could be said for Hojo, so it would have made sense for the series to progress forward with this relationship and see their bond become stronger alongside the development of the game; but unfortunately that’s not how it turns out. Instead the story focuses on the game being developed with a few hurdles throw in; it’s interesting to watch – from a game development perspective – but as a story it feels like there’s nothing on offer to warrant your time.

Extras:

The bonus features on this DVD release of Girls Beyond the Wasteland are located on the first DVD disc but unfortunately unlike previous MVM Entertainment releases the only bonus content on offer are the opening and closing animations in textless form.

Considering the topic of choice within Girls Beyond the Wasteland it would have been nice to see a wide selection of bonus content (that is if they exist of course) but it is surprising that the set does not feature any trailers for other anime releases. I suspect that this is because the discs have been authored by Madman Entertainment rather than Sentai Filmworks; but even so Madman Entertainment usually includes a selection of trailers as well.

Unfortunately the disappointment doesn’t stop at the bonus features either as the disc menus are shockingly bad as well. It’s not that the menus are simplistic, as we have seen that before with titles such as Love Live! and other Sentai Filmwork mastered sets, it’s just that they feel as if they were made privately for bootleg purposes.

For instance each disc features a single character artwork with a rather unimpressive background. The episode number and title themselves are listed but aside from that you will find nothing else. No setup options (As the series is Japanese with English subtitles only), no play all button and no bonus features (excluding the first disc), just the individual episodes. It’s simple, horrible and just looks incredibly unprofessional.

Specs:

Media:  DVD 9 x3
Region: 2
Running Time:  1:37:44 (Disc 1, 2 & 3)
Video: MPEG-2
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 224kbps (Japanese)
Subtitles: English (Yellow)
Resolution: 720 x 480 (480p)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Widescreen
Frame Rate: 25 fps

Overall:

Girls Beyond the Wasteland, otherwise known in Japan as Girls Beyond the Youth Koya, is an anime series the follows the escapades of a hastily put together game development team in hopes of creating a visual novel game with Buntarou Hojo, the lead male protagonist, acting as the games script writer and Sayuki Kuroda, the lead female protagonist, acting as the groups project manager and club room leader. The result of this is a series which portrays what is (sort of) expected within the game development world and the intense pressures that can lie within; but alas this is only a simplistic approach to a rather more stressful environment.

It all starts with Sayuki Kuroda recruiting Buntarou Hojo for her visual novel (bishoujo) game project and it soon spirals into Hojo’s close friends, in this case Yūka Kobayakawa and Atomu Kai, being recruited into the project. As the series progress forward we soon see new team-mates recruited and the project being brought in to creation; but despite a few tantrums from female characters, such as Yuka and Ando, we never get a sense of danger or threat from their project being a failure.

In retrospect Girls Beyond the Wasteland isn’t a romantic comedy nor is it an intense story about game development; it’s just a story where we see characters grow into the roles they have been given; even if that wasn’t the intention. It’s nothing special but if you have some interest in the ‘behind-the-scenes’ aspect of game development that it may be worth giving it a try.

‘Nothing Special’ pretty much sums up this release of Girls Beyond the Wasteland as the disc contents and menu presentation are nothing to brag about either. For starters not only is the main menu extremely simplistic (a single character artwork with text listing each episode) but the only bonus features are textless opening and closings songs. The video quality doesn’t seem as ‘on par’ with other DVD releases either as it seems to have a ‘washed out’ effect throughout the series. Furthermore the subtitles, as good as they are, are locked and cannot be disabled but alas the series is only available in Japanese as no English dub is available.

These disappointments could be because the discs have been mastered by Madman Entertainment in Australia rather than Sentai Filmworks within the US; but it all adds up to provide a disappointing experience and that’s before you even watch the series itself.

Girls Beyond the Wasteland is nothing special and generally provides a disappointing experience; but it does have some interesting topics and deters slightly from a normal series and may be worth a watch on those days that you’ve got nothing else to do.

Score: review-stars-2

Girls Beyond the Wasteland – The Complete Series will be available on DVD and Blu-ray from the 14th August 2017 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 at ZOMGPlay, Rice Digital and Funstock 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, PS4 or Xbox One.

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