Azumanga Daioh Vol. #3 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Azumanga Daioh

Azumanga Daioh Vol. #3

By Chris Beveridge     July 13, 2004
Release Date: July 20, 2004


Azumanga Daioh Vol. #3
© ADV Films


What They Say
Pair off and square off. This year the classroom is a battlefield! Who will come out victorious when it's classmate vs. classmate; Sakaki vs. the killer kitties; and teacher vs. teacher? Don't skip class because you won't want to miss the hilarity that these girls ensue all in the name of good old rivalry.

The Review!
The kids end up as second year students and we get to see some of the new challenges that face them throughout their days.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its English dubbed format. The English track for this release sports a good 5.1 mix, though the majority of the audio is still through the center channels. There are a few kicks back to the rear speakers and if you're close enough to them you'll get a couple of good moments from them. Dialogue throughout the show is well done with some good placement and no dropouts or distortions during regular playback. We spot checked the Japanese language track and noticed no issues there either.

Video:
Originally airing in 2002, Azumanga has a gorgeous transfer for the most part. Presented in its original full frame aspect ratio, the show is rich with vibrant colors and lots of sections with large swathes of solid colors that maintain a solid feel. In particular, the pinks of the school uniforms look fantastic, nice and solid and warm. Cross coloration is blissfully absent and there's only some minor aliasing throughout. Most of the aliasing comes from segments in the opening with the replaced credits since some of it seems a little stilted at times, but something that's barely noticeable for most people.

Packaging:
Done up in a clear keepcase, the cover is simple and eye-catching with an all-white backdrop with a shot of Sakaki in mid-air with the large logo and volume number around her. This fits with the opening sequence nicely (since it's basically from there) and gives you something simple and cute to look at. The back cover provides a rundown of the premise, several shots from the show and an array of information scattered all over. The reverse side of the cover, which is sort of reversible, has a full two sided spread of the girls in class with the main cover being Sakaki looking bored. The other panel has a comical shot of Kagure and Yomi in class with everyone's favorite lech reading along with themi. The included booklet is great, with several pages worth of translator notes and detailed explanations of some of the puns that are hard to translate as well as comments from the Japanese staff and a few pages of full color Sakaki designs and outfits.

Menu:
The main menu is a cute piece that utilizes elements from the opening sequence and the same style with a shot of Sakaki with her finger in the cats' mouth as she tries to shake it off set to a brief bit of catch instrumental music. Episode selections are lined along the top and the other selections along the bottom. Scene selections are nicely laid out in that they let you go to each of the individual episodes within the episode. Access times are nice and fast and the layout is easy to navigate and use.

Extras:
The extras are pretty minimal with this volume with just a series of production sketches in addition to the standard clean opening and closing sequences being provided.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After a brief segment to close out their first year, the kids move on to their second year status in school. This brings about some new challenges to them, some added respect as they now have an actual class under them and the usual beginning of the year issues such as finding a club to join and wondering what class you'll be in once the shuffle begins.

The biggest challenge for a lot of the kids comes in the class shuffle. Knowing that the chances of all of them staying in the same class is minimal there's some fears there, particularly with Osaka and Kaorin. Kaorin just wants to be close to Sakaki and class is the best way to do that while Osaka just doesn't want anything at all to change. Amusingly, Yukari's behind things in a way that helps everyone out but for her own selfish reasons. The addition of Kagure to the class changes the dynamic a little bit though her attempts to get a rivalry going with Sakaki again fall flat when Sakaki doesn't even remember competing against her in the school festival. Some of the best material in all the changes comes from Chiyo-chan though. With her having not really grown and now being a second year student, the first year kids aren't giving her the proper respect and instead just go on about how cute she is. Watching her swing her arms back and forth and she stomps up and down the stairs is great and even more so when she faces down a first year male student into calling her sempai.

Not too surprisingly, one of the sweeter and still comical episodes on the disc is a day in the life of Chiyo-chan. Giving pretty much the entire episode to her, we get to see how her day goes and how she lives her life, from doing things at home to what she encounters on the walks to school. We finally get to see some of the downsides to her having advanced up in the grading system when she comes across some of her old friends from school and they talk about the latest thing. No matter what school you go to and no matter where it is, jump rope is always the in thing, at least during good weather. Sakaki, who lives in the same neighborhood, gets a bit more time with Chiyo-chan as she ends up being something of a closer friend to her when she sees some of this with her friends. The two even take evening walks together, but that's more towards Sakaki's own plans to get closer to that cat she can't get enough of.

There's a lot of fun material in this volume that plays out similarly to earlier episodes. Yukari and Minamo have a few back and forth pieces with each other, though Yukari clearly wins overall by having stolen Kagura from her. Sakaki continues her attempts to get closer to the gray cat that frequents her walks home. During one segment, Yukari brings a box into class late in the afternoon with a tiny little baby kitten inside it and insists someone has to take it home. Poor Sakaki can't get close at all due to the others but she's so completely smitten and blushing over it that it's just far too cute. The kitten itself is the epitome of cuteness in how it's drawn and watching everyone fuss over it was fun.

In Summary:
Azumanga's shift to the second year status doesn't actually change all that much in how the show plays out but it does provide for some good comedic material. Chiyo-chan steals a lot of the show on this volume, especially in getting an entire episode to herself, but everyone else gets pretty well represented as well. Going through the show in both languages I'm still finding that each one does a rather good job in getting the humor across and a lot of the gags. And Tomo is just as annoying in both languages for intended reasons. Like Yomi, I was ready to strangle her in this volume. Azumanga's proving to be a solid fun title but I'm not finding it to be the huge breakout comedy that a lot of the hype prior to its licensing and release made it out to be.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Production sketches,Clean opening and closing animation

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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