Azumanga Daioh Vol. #5 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: C-
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 2 - Europe
  • Released By: ADV Films UK
  • MSRP: £19.99
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Azumanga Daioh

Azumanga Daioh Vol. #5

By Dani Moure     May 16, 2006
Release Date: April 18, 2005


Azumanga Daioh Vol. #5
© ADV Films UK


What They Say
Two years down...One to go!

The annual class shuffle leaves a frightened Kaori marooned in Mr. Kimura's homeroom: hopeless, helpless, and worst of all...Sakaki-less! Back in Miss Yukari's class, a trip to Okinawa brings plenty of laughs along with several firsts for the girls: first flight, first scuba dive, and - most importantly for Sakaki - the first chance to see Iriomote cats in the wild!

Then, with university exams just around the corner, Chiyo's beach house becomes a seaside study hall... just as long as Tomo and Yukari behave! And the girls' last sports fest promises to be the biggest yet - with a myriad of competitions including a relay race that pits Yukari and Minamo in a thrilling head-to-head battle!

Who will get the victory and final bragging rights? Can Sakaki meet a cat without hurting herself? Sharpen your pencils and sign up for the fifth relentlessly rowdy, laugh-out-loud volume of Azumanga Daioh!

The Review!
The final year of high school begins for the girls in the penultimate volume of Azumanga Daioh.

Audio:
I listened to the Japanese stereo track for my main review, and noticed no distortions or dropouts. The track itself was a fairly standard stereo mix for a television series. The performances from all the voice actors were a riot, and I enjoyed their work immensely. The entire cast is really good.

The English language track is presented in 5.1, and it sounded fine while writing the review, though it didn't seem that enhanced over the Japanese stereo track. The dub sounded good from the portions I listened to, with most of the main characters seeming to spark a similar chemistry as their Japanese counterparts.

Video:
Azumanga looks fantastic in what is a very good transfer. Colours are very vibrant and the transfer is clean, and I noticed no artefacts, aliasing or other problems during regular playback. There were a couple of areas of cross-colouration, but it's barely worth mentioning. There's really little more I can say about the transfer as it really is very good. Subtitles are the usual nice ADV font, and are in a yellow as always.

Packaging:
Packaged in a clear keepcase, the cover replicates the Japanese DVD cover with an image of Kagura doing the bounce this time. The volume number and show's logo appear in large graphics on the cover, too, and there's a cute little Japanese "A!" above Kagura's head. The cover makes great use of white space, and looks really good. The back cover is a bit manic with a description of the show, some screenshots and the credits list all scattered about. There are also plenty of arrows pointing around. The usual ADV info box appears here, clearly listing technical information.

The cover is also reversible, with a wraparound image of some of the girls in a pool this time. Kagura is the focus doing a stretch, while Tomo hits Chiyo with a float. An episode listing is also included (with a breakdown of the individual segments in each).

As a nice extra we also get the 12-page booklet that includes a Kagura profile, translator notes, staff comments, production images and more. It's a really nice extra, with the translator notes being an especially good feature of a culturally based series like this, and I love that ADV go the extra mile to bring these inserts over to the UK.

Menu:
The menus are exactly the same as the last volume. The main menu features Sakaki getting her hand bitten by the cat, and waving it up and down, while the episodes are listed across the top. The show's logo is on the right hand side, while that yellow toy thing appears around the screen. Sub-menus are also animated simply. The extras menu features Chiyo-chan flying with her pigtails bobbing up and down, and Osaka following her with some pigtails of her own. The scene select menu features Tomo swaying back and forth, while the language menu features Yukari about to hit Osaka with a textbook, and the sub-menus all feature different pieces of music. These menus are far more creative than the usual ADV fair and I like them a lot, as they really fit with the tone of the show.

Extras:
My only disappointment with the disc is the on-disc extras department, which simply contains a standard textless opening and ending, and a selection of production sketches set to some music. I'd expect to see this trend continue across the series, so it's not particularly an exciting prospect in that regard, especially when you get the same things on each disc.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With this volume of Azumanga Daioh we're entering the final home stretch, as the girls spring into their third year of high school, and we're also in for some more big laughs. I mentioned in my last review that one of the great things about the show is that you can sit down and watch an episode and know you're going to get plenty of laughs, regardless of whether you find the whole thing amusing or not. That continues to ring true in this volume, although the first couple of episodes on this disc didn't amuse me quite as much as previous episodes, but overall this continues to be one of the more enjoyable series you'll find around.

Once again for the New Year, the first episode on this disc sees the class shuffle, and this year only one suffers, as Kaorin is moved to Kimura's class, her ultimate nightmare. As if it wasn't funny enough her just being their, Kimura's fascination with her makes things a little bit disturbing, but definitely gets the laughs going. I loved how he put his and Kaorin's names on the flower bed! There's also a bit of time for the girls to discuss their career aspirations (Chiyo-chan wanting to study abroad isn't entirely surprising... go Chiyo!) and also for Yukari to get totally jealous when Minamo's class give her a birthday present. Her antics when she's fuelled by jealousy are always good, and her reaction to getting a present herself was typical. Although this episode definitely made me laugh, for some reason I didn't get into it quite as much as I have before.

The second episode starts off a bit slow, as the girls head to Okinawa for their class trip. One of my favourite moments was seeing Yukari lie to Chiyo-chan about the trip being cancelled and Chiyo's ensuing reaction. It's harsh to poor Chiyo-chan but you can totally understand Yukari's reason for doing it! When they actually get there, the girls all have their moment, especially Osaka who rambles about nothing. But the best part was just seeing Sakaki finally find a cat that likes her and lets her pick it up. It's actually a really sweet moment and I can't help but giggle at her little cat obsession.

It's when the girls go back to Chiyo-chan's beach house again that got me really laughing again. This had several great moments, from Chiyo-chan's immediate reaction to jump in Minamo's car when Yukari pulls up to drive, to seeing Kaorin traumatised, it's all great. Osaka gets a superb moment when she goes to wake up Yukari as well, and takes a massive kitchen knife with her! Seeing Minamo get shown up when she can't help the girls with maths homework is funny, as was Tomo pretty much throughout the episode with her hyper-ness. But the last mini-episode is somewhat bizarre, with no one wanting to return to school. Tomo and Yukari here are just crazy with a weird look in their eyes and it was just strange.

Sports Day is the focus again of the final episode on the disc, and it's another hilarious one. Osaka goes crazy over the fact there'll be a bread eating race, something she should actually be good at, and she gets some practice in. But she only practices with one type so when there's a choice in the actual race, she just doesn't know which to go for. This was one of the funny moments, along with Kaorin continuing her obsessing over Sakaki. But my favourite part was the final relay with the whole class taking part and the ups and downs that ensued. Seeing the girls go behind, then come back, then go behind again, then ahead with a sprint by Sakaki only to find that Yukari is their last person, well, just thinking about it is funny enough.

It's getting harder and harder to find new things to say about Azumanga because it's just consistently good. Although you might find some weaker mini-episodes over the course of the disc, as I did with the first couple of full episodes here, it's unlikely that you'll hate them all; there's bound to be something you find funny in some of them. And that's the beauty of the show, you don't have to like everything because there's so much to like overall. The characters continue to charm as they always do (this really is one of the most perfect cast of characters you'll find in any show), and just watching them play out their daily lives is more enjoyable than you might think possible.

In Summary:
This volume just continues to show how good, and funny, Azumanga Daioh is. For a comedy to not get tiresome and boring, and to reuse the same themes but with different slants to keep them fresh, is something not seen too often in anime, but this show manages it. The characters are brilliant and this is a show that you can just sit down and really enjoy. I highly recommend it.

Features
Japanese Language (2.0),English Language (5.1),English Subtitles,Clean Opening & Closing,Production Sketches

Review Equipment
Philips 28" Pure Flat Widescreen TV, Philips DVP5100 code free DVD player, JVC gold-plated RGB SCART cable, standard stereo sound.

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