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Heaven’s Memo Pad – Complete Collection (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

April 17, 2013 by  



inuyashamovies

“Heaven’s Memo Pad” is  a fascinating series from beginning to end, I can only hope that we see another season of the series because I’m hooked!  Beautiful animation, fun yet compelling story and fascinating characters! “Heaven’s Memo Pad” is recommended!

Image courtesy of © Hikaru Sugii/ASCIIMEDIAWORKS/”Heaven’s Memo Pad”. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Heaven’s Memo Pad

YEAR OF RELEASE: 2011

DURATION: 12 episodes (325 Minutes)

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, English and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, Subtitles: English

RATED: TV 14 VD

COMPANY: Sentai Filmworks

RELEASE DATE: March 26, 2013

Originally created by Hikaru Sugii

Directed by Katsushi Sakurabi

Series Composition by Seishi Minakami

Music by Taku Iwasaki

Original Character Design by Mel Kishida

Character Design by Keiichi Sano

Art Director: Yutaka Onishi (bic-studio)

Chief Animation Director: Keiichi Sano

Sound Director: Jin Aketagawa

Anime Production: J.C. Staff

Featuring the voices of:

Yoshitsugu Matsuoka/Blake Shepard as Narumi Fujishima

Yui Ogura/Hilary Haag as Alice

Ai Kayano/Brittney Karbowski as Ayaka Shinozaki

Daisuke Ono/Illich Guardiola as Sōichirō “The Fourth” Hinamura

Hitomi Nabatame/Shelley Calene-Black as Min-san

Kouki Miyata/Greg Ayres as Major

Masaya Matsukaze/Adam Gibbs as Tetsu

Saki Ogasawara/Cynthia Martinez as Charuni “Meo” Kusakabe

Takahiro Sakurai/David Matranga as Hiro

Narumi Fujishima isn’t your typical high school student; he’s never really fit in and has been becoming increasingly more isolated from his fellow classmates. But he’s not alone, and when Ayaka, the sole member of the Gardening Club, introduces him to the reclusive girl who lives above the ramen shop, Narumi enters a whole new secret world. Alice is a NEET, someone who is Not Employed, being Educated or in Training, but as Narumi quickly discovers, that doesn’t mean that she does nothing all day. In between tending to her small army of stuffed bears, Alice is an expert hacker and very exclusive, private detective. To his surprise, Narumi finds himself drafted as one of the strange, but elite team of associates that Alice has assembled from her NEET acquaintances. Together they’ll battle gangs, thieves, murderers and drug lords. And in the middle of it all, Narumi will find his life changing forever in Heaven’s Memo Pad!

In Japan, the acronym NEET (which stands for not in education, employment, or training) tends to describe people who are shut-ins who avoid real life.  But also describing an otaku culture of people who are addicted to anime, video games and just don’t want to assimilate with society and rather stay inside the home without finding a job or pursuing any education.

But for light novel writer Hikaru Sugii and illustrator Mel Kishida, the two created a series known as “Kami-sama no Memo-cho” (God’s Memo Pad) to show a different side of NEET’s.

In 2007 and a total of eight volumes would be printed by ASCII Media Works.  In 2010, a manga adaptation of the series was illustrated by Tiv and featured in ASCII Media Wroks’ “Dengeki Daioh” magazine.

The anime adaptation was created in July through September 2011 and was produced by J.C. Staff.  And now the anime series, named “Heaven’s Memo Pad” has made its way to America on Blu-ray courtesy of Sentai Filmworks.

The series is directed by Katsushi Sakurabi (“Lunar Legend Tsukihime”, “Uragiri wa Boku no Namae wo Shitteiru”, “Melody of Oblivion”, series composition by Seishi Minakami (“G-On Riders”, “Master Keaton”, “Kemonozume”, “Gunparade March”, “Toaru Kagaku no Railgun”), music by Taku Iwasaki (“Read or Die”, “Jojo’s bizarre Adventure”, “Gurren Lagann”, “Black Butler”), character design by Keiichi Sano (“A Certain Magical Index”, “A Certain Scientific Railgun”) and art backgrounds by Yutaka Onishi (“Girls und Panzer”).

The story centers around a not-so-involved high school student named Narumi Fujishima.   He is often wondering about the existence of humans and comparing them to pixels.

One day, while Narumi was walking by an area, he hears a woman scream and jumping out of a window and word of a guy who has been injured.  At first, a group comes to the rescue but think that Narumi is the assailant but they realize later that someone else is responsible.

The following day at school, his classmate Ayaka Shinozaki tries to have a conversation with him but since he’s not a social person, he is unaware of who she is.  And she tries to get him involved, primarily with the Garden Club, which now he and Ayaka are the only members.  She also has her visiting a group of friends that she wants to hook him up with.

When he arrives, he realizes that the group is the same people that accused him as an assailant the day before.  He learns that they are members of NEET, an amateur detective agency featuring unemployed people who solve cases.  And the NEED agency is led by a girl named Alice, a no-nonsense, anti-social NEET who has the appearance of a young girl and has stuffed animals around her plus a fridge full of her favorite soda, “Dokupe” (a pun on “Dr. Pepper”).  But inside her room are high-end monitors and computer equipment and video surveillance that allows her to see what is going on in the city but also top notch hacking skills, but also a high intelligence, especially when it comes to deductive skills.

She explains to Narumi that she is not a detective that investigates but uses her skills to help bring solace to those who have been killed and defends their cause.

And all of a sudden, Narumi becomes a member of NEET, working on various cases happening in the city.

“Heaven’s Memo Pad” features the following characters:

Narumi Fujishima – An introvert who lives with his sister, while his father doesn’t live with them as he tries to raise money for the family to survive.  He has nothing going on with life, until he meets his new friends who are NEET’s.

Alice – A mysterious girl that acts childish, but has high intellect, high level of deductive reasoning and is a hacker.  She is extremely introverted and is a NEET that is anti-social, lives with her stuffed animals and is constantly drinking her favorite soda “Dokupe”.  She likes to stay in the dark and often, Ayaka has to get her to take care of her hygiene.  Not much is known about how she has so much top notch equipment and what made her become the leader of the NEET Detective Team.

Ayaka Shinozaki – Always cheerful, Ayaka works part-time at a ramen shop known as Hanamaru.  She is a member of the Garden Club which she gets Narumi to join her.  She lives with her brother Toshi, a drug-addict (which she doesn’t know about but everyone else does).

Tetsu – An ex-boxer and loves to gamble.  He is a NEET detective with connections with the local police department.

Shosa  – Looks young but he is a military otaku who loves guns and camouflage and loves to build things to spy on people. He help set Alice’s equipment up and is a NEET detective.  Shosa (which means “Major”) is his nickname.

Hiro – A NEET detective and the driver of the group.  He is popular with women and is very stylish.  Always texting women but uses his connections to his advantage.

Soichiro “The Fourth” Hinamura – The leader of the NEET yakuza group known as Hirasaka-gumi.  He can be violent and cold but he is often helping Alice and is responsible for repairing her stuff animals.

Meo – A Thai teenager who was one of the client’s of the NEET Detective Agency but later becomes their friend.

Minli Huang – The owner of the Hanamaru Soup shop where the NEET Detectives hangout.  She cooks ramen, can be mean at times and is seen wearing a sarashi instead of a bra.

Renji Hirasaka – A new friend of Narumi and a NEET who has a connection to “The Fourth”.

VIDEO:

“Heaven’s Memo Pad” is presented in 1080p High Definition.  As a fan of the work from J.C. Staff, the character designs for the anime series.  It’s important to remember that this is a TV series and not an OVA, so you are going to see a bit of softness at times.  But for the most part, this series is colorful, character designs are really well-done and are well-shaded.  Art backgrounds are well-detailed and while the series does utilize a lot of close-ups, the capturing of emotion and city surroundings is nicely done.

AUDIO:

The lossless soundtrack features an English and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 soundtrack.  While the series is front-channel driven, both are equal when it comes to the use of the front channels.  As for voice acting, both are also well-done and acting from both the Japanese and American talent will satisfy viewers.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Heaven’s Memo Pad” comes with the clean opening and closing animation.  Plus Sentai trailers.

“Heaven’s Memo Pad” is an enjoyable anime series about an introverted teenager who makes new friends when he joins their NEET Detective Agency.

Part of the fascinating points of why people will enjoy this series are its characters.  While Narumi is the introvert, it’s hard to see how these others are NEET’s but they are.  Alice is an intelligent hacker, but one must wonder how this teenager is not in school, not living with parents and has access to this expensive hardware.  We don’t know too much about Alice but she is the key person that everyone tries to protect and works for.

You also have a group of characters that seem unlikely NEET’s, Ayaka, the happy teen; Tetsuo the boxer/gambler; Major the military otaku and Hiroaki the gigolo.  And then you have a yakuza leader known as “The Fourth” but he runs a group full of troglodyte members who thinks Narumi is a master for being able to do the most simplest things on the computer.

So, because of these characters, you can’t help but laugh and gigle at times.

Especially when it comes to Narumi and Alice.  Because Alice is anti-social and really doesn’t get out much, the group puts in her head that Narumi sniff’s her dolls, since she sleeps with them so closely.  So, she kind of thinks that Narumi is a pervert.  And quite often, Ayaka and even Meo try to give Alice a bath or hair treatment, but when she calls Narumi for help, by the time Narumi gets there, the girls think that Narumi is trying to get a sneak peak and is labeled a pervert.  So, there are some fun and crazy moments throughout the anime series.

But of course, each episode revolves around a case.  From a Thai girl named Meo’s who’s father is missing but all they have is a bag full of money.  Was her father connected to organized crime? Another features The Fourth going to Narumi to help with promotions for  band. Another situation revolving around a person once connected with “The Fourth”, to the group taking part in a baseball game against a yakuza leader who was once a star pitcher.  But the most emotional episodes relate to Narumi, as the return of Ayaka’s brother has led to trouble and with her in a coma.

Suffice to say, while the series has its share of laughs and serious moments, the final three episodes are my favorite because we get to see everyone really going all out to help their friend who nearly died from an attempted suicide.  And Narumi and Alice are intent on finding out why someone so cheerful, tried to end her life.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is very good in HD, lossless stereo soundtrack is good but not too immersive since it’s more of a front-channel dialogue-driven series.  And for special features, it’s primarily the clean opening and ending animation.

Overall, “Heaven’s Memo Pad” is  a fascinating series from beginning to end, I can only hope that we see another season of the series because I’m hooked!  Beautiful animation, fun yet compelling story and fascinating characters!

“Heaven’s Memo Pad” is recommended!

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