Blu-Ray Review: Asura Cryin – The Complete Collection

Mechs, Magic and the Supernatural… What more could you want from an anime series? Well let’s add a slight harem, some comedy and destructive battles and then you get the series known as Asura Cryin. Sounds fun, but in actually its not. Either way let’s explore our thoughts on MVM Entertainment’s Blu-ray release of Asura Cryin – The Complete Collection.

Synopsis:

Some people are haunted by memories, but Tomoharu is haunted by his friend Misao, who died in a horrible plane crash that Tomo somehow survived. While having a girl that no one else can see hanging around is a little odd, it’s not until Tomo’s mom gets remarried, leaving Tomo alone, that things get really weird: A mysterious girl appears with a package that Tomo is supposed to guard.

A second girl breaks into the house, demanding something called an “extractor”. And both girls can inexplicably see Misao! As more people target the package and Tomo, the mystery only deepens. What’s in the package, why are so many people after it, and is it connected to the plane crash or something even more sinister? The shocking answers will be unleashed!

Our View:

Adapted from the light novel of the same name, which was written by Gakuto Mikumo with illustrations from Nao Watanuki, Asura Cryin is the 2009 animated series that brings science and religion (of sorts) together to deliver an ultimate clash of ideals with earth’s salvation resting on the hands of a few unlikely allies. This release by MVM Entertainment, of which consists of twenty six episodes across three Blu-Ray discs, combines both the first and season seasons into a single package to deliver a complete story; but that story is nothing short of confusing, if not misleading. Regardless it offers the complete experience in a single collection – so at least that is one positive.

Personally I neither liked or disliked what Aura Cryin had to offer but from my perspective it failed to deliver on the key fundamentals of delivering an enjoyable story told through progression and continuity. Instead it overcomplicates itself and continues exploring elements that were not necessarily required; as such I find myself spending more time understanding what is happening and why rather than immersing myself in the story; the story of a world that once existed being restored… or something like that at least.

The story of Asura Cryin follows the exploits of Tomoharu who, after surviving a plane crash three years prior finds himself ‘haunted’ by his childhood friend Misao who died in that same plane crash, learns that the world he resides within is not what it seems. As explained through the course of the first season, of which consists of thirteen episodes, Misao is not a ghost but a spiritual projection of an Asura Machina, a robotic machine that harnesses Misao’s spiritual power in order to make it move, as such Tomoharu goes on a quest to protect Misao from harm as well as locate a way for her to be returned to normal.

As such this first season acts as an introduction to the world of Asura Cryin and the many characters that interact with Tomoharu; starting with the Science Club member and leader Shuri Kurosaki who has mechanical arms and legs that store weaponry and then followed up with the Samurai sword wielding Demon Girl Kanade Takatsuki, who can wield flame and cast spells , and then ending with the young-looking, but naturally older than she looks, Demon Ania Fortuna who deals in luck.

This group of misfits (so to speak) form a bond with Tomoharu through this first season and they all work together to accomplish individual goals; whether it be protecting one from enemy attacks, locating a lost sister or uncovering the truth behind mysterious demon attacks… it’s all explored through this first season; a season that starts slow but then further expands to become interesting, if not slightly due to its unclear focus on who is the enemy and who is a friend.

The second season meanwhile continues the momentum brought about from the first season, except this time the truth behind the origins of the world, and in turn the Asura Machina, is brought to existence. Yet again our group of misfits work together to overcome the difficulties and challenges that arise; but while the first season offered something special – with only a limited few people knowing the truth of Machinas and Demons – the second season makes it seem that everyone is aware of the situation and that Machinas and Demons are common; as almost everyone that the group interact with is somehow involved.

For me this is where Asura Cryin begins to fall down; the opening portions of the first season relied on itself as being ‘secretive’ and ‘mysterious’ but by the second season it seems everyone knows about Demons and Machinas. Additionally we are brought up thinking that Machinas and Demons are specialist items that only a chosen few have the privilege of wielding; but alas that is not the case and we soon find ourselves overrun with people using these abilities for their own agendas.

In short the first season builds up this world, and then the second season tears it all down to build-up something new and different; which ironically is also the core focus of this second season. Disappointingly confusing, but slightly entertaining all the same; but if you enjoy magic, mechs and a bit of the supernatural then Asura Cryin has got everything you could one… well everything but a good progressive story that flows together naturally that is.

Extras:

The trend of barebone anime release continues with this Blu-Ray release of Asura Cryin as the only extras included are textless opening and closing songs for both seasons of the anime series as well as trailers for other Maiden Japan related titles.

In this case the bonus features can be found on the third Blu-Ray disc  and trailer for other Maiden Japan releases include BPS: Battle Programmer Shirase, BASQUASH!, Kanamemo and This Art Club Has a Problem.

Specs:

Media:  BD 50  x3
Region: B
Running Time: 3:41:33 (Disc 1 & Disc 2), 3:16:34 (Disc 3)
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

Overall:

Asura Cryin – The Complete Collection presents all twenty-six episodes, which equate to both seasons of the anime, across three Blu-Ray discs in High Definition; but with the series being ten years old it does offer a ‘High Definition upscale’ type of vibe rather than a Native HD experience. As an example watching the Blu-Ray discs via computer brought up interlacing issues that you would only expect from poorly encoded PAL DVDs; and even when viewed normally through a Blu-Ray player it does not offer the strong High Definition quality you would come to expect from a Blu-Ray.

Still; the quality is still better than a DVD – especially the subtitles – but it’s nothing to be excited about. This isn’t a quality control issue, it is just a standard animated produced series (animated by Seven Arcs who are known for Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha) remastered (it seems) in high Definition.Regardless of the presentation the core focus of an anime series is the story that is being offered within Asura Cryin; and personally I found it to be interesting, overzealous and confusing with its pacing and storytelling.

The focus is on Tomoharu and his spirit friend Misao who find themselves thrown into unfamiliar scenarios when they move into a new city and school. Upon doing so they are suddenly attacked by various groups all searching for a case in his possession; this case activates the Asura Machina residing within Tomoharu which in turn is controlled by Misao and her spirit power. Its later explain that Asuma Machina are used to protect the order of the world and now Tomoharu must help keep things in check and in doing so makes new friends and enemies.

The storyline within Asura Cryin expands from here with Tomoharu acting as bodyguard to two differing demons; a flame demon – who later evolves and develops a crush on Tomoharu – and a luck based demon. Elsewhere a Asura Cryin, someone who has managed to obtain both the power of demon and Asura Machina, causes havoc and wants to restore the world to what he believes is true; and as such everyone Tomoharu has encountered with join fight (or pick a side) for a life or death battle that will dictate the world.

When writing it down like this the series and its progression sounds quite natural and normal; but a lot of events happen behind the scenes to further explore the various different characters, agendas and personalities. In short; its nothing but simple. Overall I did not enjoy my experience with Asura Cryin but it does offer the complete experience within a single package and is presented in High Definition, in some form at least. Asura Cryin is only presented in Japanese with English subtitles and, as with other Sentai Filmwork (Maiden Japan) related titles, is consistent with clear readable text and changeable sizes/locations depending on the events on scene.

If you are looking for an ‘old school’ anime series that offers mech, magic and supernatural elements with an overly complicated story then Asura Cryin is definitely one that’s worth checking out – but sadly it could have been a lot better than what it is.

Score: review-stars-2

Asura Cryin – The Complete Collection will be available on Blu-Ray from the 28th October 2019.

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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