Mysteria Friends Collector’s Edition (Cert 15)
1 Disc Blu-ray (Distributor: MVM) Running time: 152 minutes approx.
Release Date: August 17th
I must apologise in advance for the excessive filibustering present in this review but the title under discussion doesn’t give me much to work with, and since I set myself a 1000 word limit for each review, I don’t like to short change your loyal readers with too much of a word count deficit when writing shorter posts.
With that said, let’s get on with it…
Are you familiar with the franchise Rage Of Bahamut? It’s a collectable card battle game (whatever that is) that has spanned two anime series, Rage Of Bahamut – Genesis from 2014 and Virgin Soul from 2017. This show Mysteria Friends – originally entitled Manaria Friends – is a spin-off from the above-mentioned shows, but don’t worry if you haven’t seen them as they have little to no influence of this series.
(N.B – Apparently I have seen Genesis but I don’t recall a single thing about it. Nothing here jogged my memory and if it wasn’t for Wikipedia, I would never have made the connection between the shows either).
Comprising of ten 15-minute episodes – actually, they’re ten minutes long plus credits and a coda – this show revolves around two female students at the exclusive Mysteria Academy for magic. Anne is a human princess whilst Grea is half-human half-dragon and they become firm friends and possibly more, though the latter is only tacitly implied.
Usually, a second paragraph is required to continue the plot synopsis or to expand a little on the main premise, but what you have just read is indeed the entire concept of this series. I don’t know if the writers didn’t feel the need to create an overarching storyline just because of the short run times per episode, when there are numerous shows of five minutes or less that are plot based, so if they can do it…
The result leaves the viewer feeling like they are watching the second half of a full 25-minute episode, as each chapter begins in medias res with no background leading up to what we are watching. Most of the time the “plots” are of little consequence so it barely matters, but on the rare occasion there is something interesting happening, the effect is both jarring and quite infuriating.
Standing out as the most obvious example is episode four, when the academy is under attack from a hoard of monsters, and everyone is required to defend the school. The chapter literally opens with the students running in fear of a huge dragon, and we don’t know whom or what the invaders are, where they came from, and why they are targeted the academy, and by the end of it, we are still none the wiser.
Mysteria Academy apparently has a reputation for being non-discriminate in accepting students – be they gods, humans, or demons – so we can only surmise dragons feel excluded, except Grea’s presence at the school negates this notion; conversely, Grea shows no affinity with the attacking beasts which might due to her being a hybrid, so this might be a form of reptilian racism or something.
Okay, I’m clutching at straws here but only because I still have another 600 words to use up, though I suspect I have applied more thought into this than the writers have. Other thrilling adventures include going clothes shopping and discovering a store run by their teacher Miranda, a fishing trip that turns into a swimming lesson for Anne, a game of hide and seek in the academy library, and our two leads falling out over…something, I can barely remember what.
Depending on your personal peccadilloes, this is essentially a fantasy version of cute girls doing cute things, if that is, you find dragon girls cute. Naturally, Grea is designed as a cute girl and in the second episode, she grows wings and her tail expands, which is played out like a sexual awakening to keep the horndogs interested. Coincidentally, Grea also moves up a bra size, which Anne helpfully points out for us, though I am sure many viewers had already noticed this.
Grea and Anne are not the only cast members but hardly any are featured with sufficient frequency to make an impression. There is a girl called Hannah who looks a little like Anne, but is haughtier, a ditzy loli-girl named Lou, and of course Miranda. The only male to get any sustained screen time is Anne’s bodyguard Owen, who occasionally gets the chance to slice some monsters, otherwise he is lurking in the background.
Luckily, the backgrounds are typically sumptuous and lovingly detailed for a fantasy type show (what a segueway that was!) and if anything can be taken away from viewing this series, it is the stunning artwork. Everything is given a calming watercolour-like veneer where the subtle palette is never overwhelming, matching the pervasively gentle and relaxing atmosphere, which outside of the dragon attack, is the default mood.
Quite why there was a name change from Manaria to Mysteria for this UK release I have yet determine, but for those of you who can read katakana it is obvious the title screen reads Manaria, and the cast even say it multiple times with the subtitle saying Mysteria. Not that this will be a deal breaker for most of you but there are some purists among you who I am sure are more pedantic than I am about this sort of thing.
Mysteria Friends will have its fans and more power to them but for this writer, this series feels like a compilation of deleted scenes and DVD extras than a bona fide release of first run material. It doesn’t do anything wrong but it doesn’t anything to stand out or excite either, unless you have a fetish for dragon girls and tacit yuri relationships.
And done with 27 words short…
English Language 2.0 DTS HD-MA
Japanese Language 2.0 DTS HD-MA
Disc 2 Only:
Best Shots – Still Frame Gallery
Limited Collector’s Edition
5 Art Cards
36-page Art Book
Rating – ** ½
Man In Black