Super Sonico is a character created for Nitroplus, first appearing as a mascot for a music festival in 2006. Since then she has had several music releases, a video game, and manga. In 2014, Super Sonico starred in her own anime, Super Sonico The Animation. Super Sonico The Animation is a delightful Slice-of-Life/Music anime; it focuses on the titular Super Sonico, a part-time model, and the girl band, First Astronomical Velocity, of which she is a member. The other two members of FAV are Suzu, an overly confident girl, and Fuuri, a girl with a penchant for eating. The anime effectively provides an in-depth, albeit fictional, look into the life of Sonico. Having initially watched Super Sonico The Animation, as it first aired last year, with no prior knowledge of the character that is Sonico, I can attest that the show can be enjoyed without already following her.
There isn’t really plot progression in a show such as this, with each episode focusing on Sonico juggling school, modelling, and her band obligations; as one can imagine, this provides for great comedy. Seeing Sonico and her friends constantly try their best to make their band a success is uplifting, and, despite her ditziness, Sonico’s dedication to school, her job, and her band is inspiring. Each episode is sure to bring smiles to viewers, especially with some of the randomness that is used for comedic effect; there is an episode in which a fat-reducing ointment turns guests on a cruise ship practically into zombies. If someone was to watch only one episode of Super Sonico, it should be that episode; for me, it was the highlight of an already great series. Despite an abundance of fan service throughout, it never seems to be obnoxious or off-putting, being organically worked in for comedy. Fans of Super Sonico will love the anime, as it provides background for a beloved character; however, Super Sonico virgins are also in for a treat, with an incredible example of the slice-of-life genre.
Although this DVD presents Super Sonico The Animation in the PAL format, the video does not leave much to be desired. It is a commendable PAL conversion, with vibrant colours aplenty throughout, and no noticeable conversion anomalies. Subtitles are white, which is likely to be welcomed by the majority; the signs subtitle track translating necessary onscreen text effectively. In one instance, the track has a line reversed in order to mimic onscreen text; this is a welcome effort.
The OP, SuperSoni♥ by Ayano Yamamoto, is perfectly suited, being an upbeat number that one can’t help but smile and bop along to. Each episode features a different ED by First Astronomical Velocity, or the VAs for the members of FAV. The ED animations tend to be primarily CGI, and make good use of pop culture references where possible. Each ED is pleasant to listen to, and with twelve of them, there is effectively an album’s worth of music. The score is mellow and relaxing, perfectly restrained beneath the voice track, and suited perfectly to this light-hearted anime.
In what appears to be some sort of twisted tradition for Sentai, they manage to take characters that work perfectly in the original Japanese, with exemplary voice acting, and instead churn out a mediocre English dub that should not be deemed acceptable for a professional release. Rather than sounding upbeat and cute, the girls sound plain and uninterested; this is most noticeable with Sonico’s VA – Jessica Nigri. Nigri manages to deliver a performance that sounds as if she is merely rattling off lines hurriedly, with somewhere more important to be. An inexperienced VA, it is worrisome that she got the part to begin with, but all of the blame cannot lie with her; the ADR Director shoulders responsibility for much of the poor dubbing. Though, with the same ADR Director as Log Horizon, one cannot expect better than this. The only saving grace of the English dub lies in the voicing of Sonico’s manager. Thankfully, the Japanese language track is included, and is the default track when the disc is inserted. The characters are voiced perfectly in the original language track, and watching with this track will provide a more enjoyable anime. Additionally, the ED themes feature vocals by the three main Japanese VAs, in-character as First Astronomical Velocity, providing a seamless viewing experienced.
The second disc contains a myriad of extras, although they consist of mostly English materials. There is an English Sonico Reveal Commercial Collection; this shows scenes alongside video of English VAs voicing characters. In addition there are English Radio Spots, a Narrated Trailer, and interview with Jessica Nigri at a photo shoot. There are also outtakes – considering how the dub is, that there was a bar at which a take was deemed unusable is amazing. The included English blooper reel is incredibly forced. Finally, as is standard, a textless opening animation, and textless ending animation compilation are included. It is possible that there are too many extras focused on the English dub. The included trailers, of which there are three, actually include two that are both licensed in the UK, and actually released by MVM as well; The Familiar of Zero Season 2, and Devil Survivor 2 The Animation.
Super Sonico The Animation is a great example of both the slice-of-life and music genres of anime, and seeing it receive a UK release is almost as heartwarming as the efforts of Sonico and her friends to make a name for their band. The world would be a better place if we were all a little more like Sonico, and anyone that doesn't at least give this anime a try is missing out. It is unfortunate that little thought has been put into the English dub, but with the Japanese language track included, there is little excuse not to at least give it a shot.