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Aria: The Scarlet Ammo Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Audio Codec: Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Stereo(48kHz/24-bit), English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Subtitles Color: White
  • Region: AB (No Region C)*
  • Rating: TV-14
  • Run Time: 300 Mins.
  • Discs: 4 (2 x Blu-ray + 2 x DVD)
  • Digital Copies: N/A
  • Studio: Funimation Entertainment
  • Blu-ray Release Date: October 23, 2012
  • List Price: $64.98

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Series
[Rating:3.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(All TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Series

[Rating:3.5/5]

From the series of Japanese light novels published by Media Factory, Aria the Scarlet Ammo is a sci-fi mystery thriller set an alternate version of Japan. It follows the main protagonist Tōyama Kinji, a student at Tokyo Butei High where students are trained to be mercenaries, or”Butei” for hire around the world. One day on his way to school, Tōyama is targeted by the so-called “Butei Killer,” a mystery killer who has been targeting students from the prestigious school, and a girl literally drops from the sky to rescue him. That girl is Aria Holmes Kanzaki, the titular character of the series. She is a half-Japanese/half-British Butei recently transferred from Europe to the Tokyo Butei Academy known for having a record of never allowing a criminal to get away. After their rather unusual meeting, Aria thrusts herself into Tōyama’s life after she sees his skill during the situation – he slipped into “hyper-mode,” a level of skill that allows him to carry out dangerous missions and maneuvers with great precision, but there’s a catch, it is triggered by an arousal by females. But Aria is convinced that Tōyama is the partner she has been looking for in order to help her track down the Butei Killer and other people responsible for framing her mother and imprisoning her with an over 700-year sentence.

What starts off as a mixture of high school comedy/romance and mystery in Aria: The Scarlet Ammo, slowly evolves into something more paranormal as other characters along the way reveal themselves as having superhuman powers, connections to famous bloodlines like Joan of Arc and, in Aria’s case, Sherlock Holmes, and even werewolves and vampires. So, there’s really a little bit of almost every sort of genre you could think of thrown into this series, even some very mild fan service. From the very opening that has Aria dropping out of the sky – in this case using a parachute – one gets the sense there are going to be numerous allusions to many anime genres. The writers go so far as to come right out and say it in Tōyama’s opening narration, that meeting a girl by having her fall out of the sky might work well for the beginning of an anime or manga. At least they have the good sense to be tongue in cheek about the whole thing.

*(Editor’s Note: Aria: The Scarlet Ammo is packaged and labelled as Region AB, and while Disc 1 of the Blu-rays played back without problems on a multi-region player set to Region B, Disc 2 was hard-coded to Region A-only. I must note that while we did not receive the complete final package, the discs were full production discs and not pre-release “check discs.” We have no reason to believe that this is an issue that has been caught and fixed before the title went to market.)

Video Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

The transfer of Aria: The Scarlet Ammo on Blu-ray is unremarkable even if it offers a subtle upgrade over DVD. The image is soft and colors are rather washed out. There are also issues with color banding throughout the presentation.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4/5]

Audio is a bit better even as the Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 (48kHz/24-bit) mix seems mastered at a rather low level, much lower than usual. The English 5.1 in Dolby TrueHD (48kHz/24-bit) is somewhat better, offering slightly better dynamic range, but still not one of the better mixes I have heard for an anime series.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:3/5]

Apart from two audio commentaries, everything else offered is promotional.

The supplements:

  • Episode 04 Commentary
  • Episode 06 Commentary
  • Promotional Video (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:01:50)
  • Original Commercials (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:01:54)
  • U.S. Trailer (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:01:04)
  • Textless Opening Song “Scarlet Ballet”
  • Textless Closing Song “Carmellia no Hitomi”

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:3.5/5]

An unusual series that blurs that lines of multiple genres into a sometimes confused, but always enjoyable and lighthearted mystery/thriller, Aria: The Scarlet Ammo mat not be perfect or even a wholly original experience, but I doubt anyone can come away from it without being entertained.

Additional Screen Captures

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Purchase Aria: The Scarlet Ammo on Blu-ray Combo Pack  at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Series
[Rating:3.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3/5]



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