The Series (4/5)
Animeigo is one of the finest distributors of Asian action and anime films. They are also very selective in their releases (esp. anime ones), so when they release something new, it is usually worth watching. Case in point, we have their new DVD release of Yawara! A Fashionable Judo Girl. Yawara! is an anime that debuted in the late 80's that has been forgotten by all, except the most hardened of anime fans. It was seemingly overshadowed in it's day by the now legendary Ranma ˝, and while the two have similar themes, Ranma deals more with action, while Yawara! deals more with the emotion behind the action.
The 40 (of over 100 overall) episodes contained in this set, introduce us to the world of Yawara, and the beginning of her career in Judo. Within these first episodes we get to see Yawara rise from a student of Judo to an international Judo sensation. And while Yawara! can technically be called a sports anime, it's main focus is on the emotional development of Yawara. That being said the sports elements are very well done, and could not be considered a simple backdrop for Yawara's story.
Yawara is a teenage judo prodigy, whose biggest ambition is to have a normal life. This is in contrast to her Grandfather, Jigoro, who wants her life to be fully centered around Judo. He is pushing her toward the Barcelona Olympics, and to enter into a college with a prestigious Judo program. Yawara likes Judo, but like a normal teenager is conflicted between her responsibility to her Grandfather, and love of Judo, and her own desire to have a bit of teenage normalcy.
Animeigo has chosen to present Yawara! In it's original 1:33:1 aspect ratio. The animation looks a tad dated, but the transfer is essentially free of any grain, or assorted print damage. The colors are vibrant, and pop from the screen. Animeigo has continued their tradition of excellence with this transfer.
The audio for the show is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 in Japanese with optional subtitles. There is no noticeable audio issues such as hissing, or grain on the track. It is simple, but effective, and the dialogue comes through quite clear.
The main extra is the booklet “The Road Of Yawara! Cannot Be Walked In A Day” that in included in the box. This booklet is an epic tome covering everything from the usual credits, to cultural references for each episode, and a glossary of specific terms used throughout the series. The disc include 4 subtitles options, one of which is a trivia track that points out similar cultural tidbits about the show, and the world it occupies.
Yawara! is an excellent, and sadly under seen anime. It does not look like your typical anime, and is more about heart than action. If you are looking for a good story, with excellent character development, and a great deal of emotion than Yawara! is the anime you are looking for. Animeigo has once again upheld their excellent standard of quality, by providing Yawara! with another excellent transfer.