On Oct. 9, 2012 anime publisher Sentai Filmworks releases “Heaven’s Memo Pad” on DVD and Blu-ray and they were kind enough to give us the chance to review this J.C. Staff produced detective series based on the light novels written by Hikaru Sugii.
“Heaven’s Memo Pad” follows the story of Narumi Fujishima, a quiet high school student that doesn’t really stand out among his classmates, which seems to work both ways as he barely remembers the names of any of them. One day he is convinced by a classmate named Ayaka to join the Gardening Club, which is at risk of being disbanded due to a shortage of members, setting off a series of events that led him to also joining the NEET Detective Agency, run by a NEET (someone who is Not Employed, being Educated or in Training) named Alice.
From her small apartment Alice uses her wide range of NEET connections and her expert hacking skills to solve cases with Narumi taking on the role of her assistant. As they solve the many cases that come up they have to battle with gangs, protect a father and daughter from Yakuza, save an arcade from being taken over, clear a friend’s name and protect his gang as well as solve a mystery that hits close to home when one of their own becomes another victim in a case involving a powerful new drug.
The story of “Heaven’s Memo Pad” is told through a series of smaller adventures that gradually help Narumi find a place among Alice and her associates, who also get their time to shine throughout each of the cases, some of which involve members of the team and reveal a lot about their personal pasts. Early on Narumi seems to have no real interest in joining the group, but the more that he learns about everyone the better he feels about helping them out. Narumi really develops throughout the adventures, which is nice to see as he could have easily become a tag along, he is at first, but in time he finds the strength he needs to stand on his own two feet, even if the others have to do much of the fighting.
Visually the series has a good look to it; this review is based on the Blu-ray version so the picture quality is likely just a bit improved over the DVD’s look. The animation is smooth and the picture is bright and vivid; the quality kind of resembled another of J.C. Staff’s series, “Dream Eater Merry”, without the odd character designs.
The Japanese voice cast does a nice job of matching up with their characters and they seem to be the better option among the two available. I’m not saying that the English cast is bad; they are actually good as far as English dubs go, just not quite on the same level as the Japanese cast. The English subtitles all read well, are clear, have nice flow and remain on screen for a fair length of time.
The two Blu-ray disc collection comes in a standard Blu-ray case, featuring a beautiful manga cover type image of Alice, with slots on each side of the inside so that the discs can be stored safely, without worry of scratches. There really aren’t many on-disc features to speak of, just the regular clean opening and ending along with trailers for other Sentai Filmworks releases.
All-in-all “Heaven’s Memo Pad” is an entertaining detective series full of some great comedy and storytelling. The series offers an interesting balance, though the group is always faced with an element of danger thanks to Yakuza, kidnappers and drug dealers it doesn’t stay serious all the time and the comedic timing really helps to keep the drama from feeling overwhelming.
It would have been nice to learn more about Alice, but she still made for a great character and the developing companionship between her and Narumi is fascinating to watch. The cases that involve their NEET companions made for some of the better episodes to watch, especially the last case, which was a bit heartbreaking.
Heaven’s Memo Pad
Publisher: Sentai Filmworks
Runtime: 325 minutes
Number of Discs: 2 Blu-ray
Number of Episodes: 12
Languages: English, Japanese with English subtitles
Age Rating: TV-14
Release Date: Oct. 9, 2012
(A review copy of “Heaven’s Memo Pad” on Blu-ray was provided by Sentai Filmworks.)