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Uta∽Kata – The Complete Series (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

November 3, 2010 by  



“”Uta~Kata” is a cute little magical girl series that offers a little bit more.”

Images courtesy of © gimik-HAL/BANDAI VISUAL. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: Uta∽Kata The Complete Series

ANIME SERIES RELEASE: 2004

DURATION: Episodes 1-13 + 2 Specials (325 Minutes)

DVD INFORMATION: 4:3, Color, Japanese 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Sentai Filmworks

RATED: TV MA S

RELEASE DATE: November 2, 2010

Directed by Keiji Gotoh

Series Composition by Hidefumi Kimura

Script by Hidefumi Kimura

Produced by Atsushi Yukawa, Katsunori Haruta

Music by Megumi Oohashi

Anime Production by Hal Film Maker

Character Design: Megumi Kadonosono

Art Director: Toshiharu Iijima

Featuring the voices of:

Masumi Asano as Manatsu Kuroki

Youko Honda as Ichika Tachibana

Maria Kawamura as Saya Kogure

Nobuo Tobita as Sei Tōdō

Nobutoshi Canna as Kai Tōdō

Tomoko Kawakami as Satsuki Takigawa

Yukari Tamura as Michiru Munakata

Yurika Ochiai as Keiko Takamura

Before you make a deal with a girl in a mirror, reflect seriously on the source of the offer. Ichika Tachibana fails to take this advice in order to retrieve a lost charm, and as a result suddenly ends up with the magical forces of a Djinn at her command. Sounds like a good deal, right? Wrong.

At first things seem wondrous, with her new friend Manatsu assisting her via text messages and the occasional spell; but as her powers grow, Ichika’s situation quickly goes from magical to nightmarish, and she finds herself drawn into an ever expanding web of deceptions, lies and increasingly dangerous situations. For what she’s really done is subjected herself to seeing mankind as the Djinn see them. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to place a high value on human life.

Ichika Tachibana for the most part is a normal middle school student. She is kind, straight-laced, and wants to always do the right thing. One summer she encounters a girl named Manatsu… who comes out of an old mirror at school. Manatsu does something to a charm that Ichika had on her phone and suddenly, she is able to use magical powers, given to her by beings called Djinn. In exchange, Ichika is asked to write down what she feels when using the powers. Manatsu also starts living with Ichika, being introduced to her parents as a text-message friend… however this small lie is just the start of a web of lies that starts to build.

Ichika uses the powers from the Djinn to help her friends. Each stone on her charm represents a certain Djinn and once it’s used, the color disappears. However, the more she uses the powers, the more she realizes she’s changing and soon the powers she was using to help her friends, start to act on their own with terrifying results. Who exactly is Manatsu and what exactly are the Djinns? What destiny awaits Ichika and Manatsu when all of the stones are used?

“Uta~Kata” focuses on the following characters:

Ichika Tachibana – Ichika is a middle school student that lives in Kamakura. One summer, she finds out a charm she recieved from her tutor is much more than it seems. She is kind, helpful, and honest and is always trying to do the right thing. It’s actually pains her to lie to people. She is terrified of ghosts so when she first encounters Manatsu in the mirror, it scares her. However they quickly get along and together they help out Ichika’s friends with the magical powers of the Djinns using the charm on Ichika’s phone.

Manatsu Kuroki – Manatsu is a young girl Ichika meets in her dreams and then in the mirror at school. She introduces Ichika to the powers within the charm. She is the exact opposite in personality to Ichika, however she likes and dislikes the same things as Ichika.

Satsuki Takigawa – Satsuki is one of Ichika’s friends. She is a strong girl that usually takes the lead of their group of friends. Something that happened in her past makes her avoid most boys.

Keiko Takamura – Keiko is another one of Ichika’s friends who despite being from a very wealthy family, is very sweet and kind. However, her parents are rather controlling.

Michiru Munakura – Michiru is another one of Ichika’s friends. She is very quiet and possibly shy. Despite her quiet demeanor, she’s very sharp and may also be able to see ghosts.

Sei Todo – Sei is a high school student and one of Ichika’s tutors. He is the twin brother of Kai, who is also one of Ichika’s tutors. He is the one that gave Ichika the charm and he seems to have some connection with Saya.

Kai Todo – Kai is a high school student and Ichika’s other tutor. He is much more extroverted than his brother and may also have feelings for him…

Saya Kogure – Saya is Ichika’s neighbor and supposedly works in the fashion industry. However, she seems to be much more and seems to be in control of the circumstances that lead Ichika to use the Djinns.

“Uta~Kata” features a total of 13 episodes on two DVDs. Here is a spoiler-less summary of each episode:

DISC 1:

  • Episode 1- Early Summer of Chance Meeting – Ichika encounters the girl in the mirror, Manatsu and is given special powers.
  • Episode 2- Night Sky of Near Approach – A friend’s ex-boyfriend causes trouble for Ichika and Manatsu.
  • Episode 3- Sandy Beach of Scorched Heat – While helping a friend at the beach, Ichika loses her father’s watch.
  • Episode 4- Lake Shore of Sudden Shower – While on a camping trip for summer courses, one of Ichika’s cabin mates falls into a hole.
  • Episode 5- Flowering Buds of Shed Tears – Satsuki finally shows some feelings towards a boy she met at the fireworks festival.
  • Episode 6- Slight Fever of Wet Skin – Ichika sees Sei together with Saya.

DISC 2:

  • Episode 7- Jealous Envy of Tree Tops – Ichika feels jealousy towards Saya and she finds out that mixed with the powers of the Djinn can lead to terrible things.
  • Episode 8- Impulsive Urge of Scattered Petals – While volunteering at the hospital, Ichika realizes that she’s becoming someone else.
  • Episode 9- Painful Itch of Romantic Love – Keiko and Satsuki reflect on painful memories.
  • Episode 10- Second Encounter of Life and Death – Ichika tries to throw the charm away, but it comes back.
  • Episode 11- Surging Wave of Parting and Separation – Ichika has to deal with moving away in a week.
  • Episode 12- Poem Verse of Fragmented Pieces – Ichika faces her final test.
  • Episode 13- Twin Summers of the First Winter – Manatsu and Kai visit their reflections one last time.

VIDEO:

“Uta∽Kata” is presented in 4:3.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Uta∽Kata” is presented in Japanese 2.0.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Uta∽Kata” comes with the following special features:

DISC 1:

  • Uta~Kata Special 1 – Ichika & Manatsu’s Enoshima/Kamakura Travelogue– (10:20) Ichika and Manatsu’s seiyuus: Youko Honda and Masumi Asano take you to various places in Kamakura that show up in the anime.
  • Uta~Kata Special 2 – Ichika & Manatsu’s Enoshima Travelogue– (14:36)Youko Honda and Masumi Asano continue to take the viewers on a tour of Kamakura, this time concentrating on Enoshima.
  • Sentai Filmworks Previews

DISC 2:

  • Japanese Copyright Warnings
  • Japanese TV Safety Warnings
  • Uta~Kata Alternate Next Episode Previews– (2:27) Alternate versions of the episode previews done by Manatsu instead of Ichika.
  • Clean Opening Animation
  • Clean Ending Animation

“Uta~Kata” at first seems to be a magical girl series with hints of fan service, but it gradually evolves into something more.

At first, the series starts off looking like it’s going to be somewhat of a light-hearted anime featuring a girl who gets magical powers to transform and a not-so-human sidekick. Starting at episode 1, there are random panty shots and brief nudity when Ichika transforms. Nothing heavy… but the fan service is there. For the first half of the series or so, I thought it moved a bit too slow. Each episode, one of Ichika’s friends would be in trouble, Ichika would transform into her costume of the episode and then somewhat save the day. However, about half way through the series things start to change.

If audiences are patient enough, they will see that this series offers more than just magical girls and panty shots. Around episode 4, you get the idea that this series may have a little more to it and they start seeing a darker side of the story. We see glimpses into the lives of Ichika’s friends and there are some heavy issues that come up (ex: child abuse, possible yakuza family ties, etc). Another darkness we see is within Ichika herself as the series goes on and how she deals with it.

However it’s because of the darkness of the series that I believe the series broadens its audience. This series is obviously marketed for guys (panty shots, booby shots, awkwardly scantily clad 14 year old girl…) and up until the middle of the series, I really did find it boring (could be because I’m a girl). It’s when Ichika starts struggling with her darkness within that the series even caught my interest. Without spoiling too much, the more Djinns Ichika comes in contact with, the more she starts seeing the darkness that lies in humans. Not to mention Ichika keeps finding herself in situations where she’s forced to lie and this is a huge conflict for her. Ichika is a very straight-laced and innocent character and she absolutely despises lying… but she keeps telling small lies to help those around her. With all the small lies and the constant use of the Djinns powers, she sees herself changing. The series ends up mostly dealing with Ichika’s struggles with herself and how she gets over the obstacles she’s given.

I was a bit slow on this, but I also liked the parallels between the relationships of Ichika and Manatsu as well as Sei and Kai. Once again, can’t say much more without giving too much away but my biggest question for this series would be: Why on Earth would he do that to her? If you watch the series, you’ll know what I mean.

Fans of “Kiddy Grade” and the art of “Kiddy Grade” will probably enjoy this series as the same studio, Gimik did this series. I’m not a big fan of their art, but in no means is it bad. The backgrounds are fun to look at because most of the backdrops used in this series are actual places in Japan (mostly around the Kamakura area). In the special features, the two main seiyuus take you on a tour of the places that come up in the series.

One of the major things I did enjoy about the art is the fact that every episode featured a guest artist that designed Ichika’s costume for that episode. You can also see the original artist’s sketch during the end credits of each episode. Guest artists include Mine Yoshizaki (“Sgt. Frog”), Rikdo Koshi (“Excel Saga”), and Ken Akamatsu (“Love Hina”). The seiyuus in this series all did a great job with their characters and like many other Sentai Filmwork releases, there is no English dub. There are a couple of small translation errors in the subtitles, but for the most part it’s well done and the mistakes aren’t too distracting.

So to sum it up, I think this series will be enjoyed by audiences who enjoy magical girl series and fan service as well as audiences who enjoy a coming-of-age series emphasizing the importance of friendship and the bond that two people can have on one another. It’s a cute series, give it a shot.


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