Release Date: 31st October 2016
Publisher: Manga Entertainment
Audio: Japanese 2.0, English 5.1
Run Time: 300 Minutes
When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace, or InouBattle, is the anime that you probably forgot was produced by Studio TRIGGER. I suppose it’s easy to forget when everybody always praises them for Kill la Kill and Kiznaiver, the latter of which was disappointing in my opinion. Also known as InouBattle, this is an anime that really isn’t to be missed, but it’s a shame Sentai let Kyle Jones get his incompetent hands on the dub. The chief director was Masahiko Otsuka, he was also responsible for series composition and has previously been assistant director on Gurren Lagann and Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt. Masanori Takahashi also worked on this anime as director, with past credits including the storyboard for the Strike Witches movies, and as episode director for some episodes of Romeo x Juliet and The iDOLM@STER, among others. Manga’s UK release of this title is as both a blu-ray version and a DVD version, rather than the combo packs they’ve been trying with other titles lately.
InouBattle is about the members of a Highschool Literature Club that develop supernatural abilities out of nowhere one day. Of course, Jurai Andou, the group’s chuunibyou is over the moon, even though his power creates merely a warm black flame, and the rest of his club have actual useful powers Red-haired Tomoyo can manipulate time, Hatako has command over the elements, and Sayumi, the club president, can repair objects and living things back to their original form. To round out the club, there’s Chifuyu, the club advisor’s niece, who can create objects from nothing. The cause of these powers is unknown to the group, but their club continues, though with a focus on their abilities. You think “Sure, it becomes all about them using their abilities to battle”, as the title implies, but you’d be wrong. InouBattle is a great slice of life anime, with the group learning how to use their abilities and just having everyday fun with them. A quick timeskip after the first episode benefits the show, in allowing the characters to grow accustomed to their new abilities and develop an equilibrium without forcing us to watch. On the Japan side of things, the only real letdown for InouBattle is in its story implementation. It’s just sort of thrown in there 8 episodes in and makes for a disjointed episode that feels completely out of place. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the story is then barely touched upon for the remaining quarter of the series; rather than force it in, they should’ve just kept to the slife-of-life and romance this series excels at.
Studio Trigger is known for their over-the-top, almost liquid animation, and it is used to great effect here; I usually find their style is wasted on the action-packed anime they tend to work on, so InouBattle is easily my favourite televised outing from Trigger thus far. It’s a great slice-of-life anime, and so long as you’re watching it subtitled, there’re plenty of laughs to be had. The latter half of the anime focuses less on getting a laugh from the viewers, with romance becoming the objective, but it never ceases to amuse. The soundtrack is, likewise, perfect, with Elements Garden who have previously worked on Love, Elections and Chocolate, creating a score that works well without overpowering the visuals. Both the upbeat OP and ED, however, really steal the show, and will have you humming along, barely aware you’re still watching something.
At this point, I’m really starting to question why Sentai allow Kyle Jones to work on their dubs. I see his name listed as ADR Director and I preemptively die a little inside. InouBattle is another unforgivable dub from Kyle Jones, though at least this time, some blame can be diverted to whoever wrote the scripts for the dub. I’m confident that the guy who does the typesetting for Sentai’s blu-ray subtitles could do a better job of directing a dub than Kyle Jones; he clearly has a better understanding of what humans want out of communication. I thought Trinity Seven’s was bad, but InouBattle’s dub is much worse. For example, there is a really young girl who is supposed to be a bit mature for her age; Kyle Jones okayed someone just talking like a 30 year old woman. And, once again, characterisations are consistently monotonous; the ADR director approved this, remember. The biggest issue with this dub isn’t even likely to be Kyle Jones’ fault, amazingly. Andou declares himself a lolicon in the Japanese version to explain why Chifuyu spends so much time with him; in the dub, they opted to just have his secret be that he’s a chuunibyou. This falls entirely flat, isn’t the only time, is completely at odds with the rest of the anime, and often other lines in the same scene. In what world does someone being a chuunibyou place a little girl “in [their]strike zone”? The line worked when he was a lolicon in the sub, but in the dub, the line doesn’t work at all. I cannot emphasise enough that you should watch this with Japanese audio.
You’ll find the typical Sentai extras on the second disc – textless opening and closing song videos. There’s also a selection of Sentai trailers; I really wish someone would license Magical Warfare for the UK.
Verdict – 90% Trigger’s Best
When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace is something of a misnomer, but despite that, it’s a darn good anime, with impressive visuals but should only be watched in Japanese with subtitles. You’ll probably think Kill la Kill or Kiznaiver when thinking about TRIGGER, but Supernatural Battles easily blows both of those titles away.
This title was reviewed using a blu-ray review copy provided by Manga Entertainment.