With all my precious feelings…
The story of apprentice wizard Yuma in the big city continues in Someday's Dreamers: Power of Love, the second volume of the shojo anime series by Masami Shimoda (Ai Yori Aoshi). In this collection of four new episodes, Yuma is still training, still making mistakes, still learning to develop self-confidence and belief in herself. This time around, the focus shifts to the people around her. Smiley, the bartender, becomes desperate to become a mage himself in the wake of a disaster; Inoue, a fellow apprentice, is as kind hearted and noble in intention as he is deficient in skill; and Angela, a powerful mage-in-training, finds her haughty façade crumbling when she falls in love and must overcome her emotional hang-ups.
Last time around, I compared the experience of watching Someday's Dreamers to falling onto a pile of feather pillows. This second volume is the same, except with puppies and kittens. In its original broadcast in Japan in 2003, Someday's Dreamers apparently aired late at night, which is entirely appropriate; this series has the gentle, soothing quality of a lullaby. Which is not to say that it lacks substance; the strength of Someday's Dreamers is that all the cuteness and fluff is wrapped around solid stories that pull no punches when it comes to dealing with family relationships and the trials of growing up. It's unabashedly sentimental, but truthful and sophisticated in its storytelling.
As cute and adorable as Someday's Dreamers may be, it's not to be compared with such obnoxiously saccharine kiddie series as A Little Snow Fairy Sugar and Mao-Chan—you know, the kind of silly, hyper-girly anime in which everyone's constantly screeching and the "cute" features of the characters are amped up to the point where their faces look like gigantic glassy orbs with purple hair. With the exception of Ginpun, the mysterious head of the Bureau of Mage Labor, who wears a blindfold, rides around in a white Rolls and looks like a member of Mötley Crüe, there isn't a moment here that feels exaggerated or larger than life. Despite its magical premise, Someday's Dreamers is firmly grounded in the reality of everyday existence, and the challenges of maturity and emotional growth.
Pioneer Entertainment may have a new name, Geneon, but its position as one of the premier anime studios remains unchanged with this fine DVD offering. While typically light on extra features, this release is on par with Geneon's attention to detail. Video quality is excellent, with a flawless transfer that beautifully captures the nuances of the delicately rendered animation. Colors are vibrant and varied, a mixture of bright, strong colors and muted earth tones; and the artwork overall has an intentionally soft, ethereal look. Character designs are quite appealing and rank among my favorites of any anime title.
Audio quality is similarly excellent, with a Dolby Digital 2.0 surround track (offered with Japanese and English vocals) that's as quiet and subdued as the artwork, but is clear and full of subtle effects. Both Japanese and English voice work is excellent in this series, as are the subtitled translations, so both sub and dub fans should be pleased.
The supplemental features this time start off with a brief interview with Aoi Miyazaki, the Japanese voice actress who plays Yuma. Miyazaki, who's as adorable as her character, reveals that this was her first acting job and that she learned a great deal about performing from her fellow actors. It's an informative interview, and fans of the series won't want to miss it. Also included are three versions of the original television ads for Someday's Dreamers (or What's Important to Mages: Someday's Dreamers, as it's apparently known in Japan) and a collection of Geneon trailers. The case itself, as with the previous volume, offers a reversible cover, a cool feature that seems to be the norm for Geneon releases now, a Someday's Dreamers postcard, and an episode guide insert.
If your anime preferences extend beyond action-oriented or "wacky" comedy titles, do yourself a favor and check out Someday's Dreamers. While it's easy to dismiss initially as just a girl's anime, with Power of Love this gentle, captivating series develops into a story that will interest boys and girls of all ages.
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