Chance Pop Session Vol. #1 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: A-
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: A
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 125
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Chance Pop Sessions

Chance Pop Session Vol. #1

By andrew     October 15, 2003
Release Date: December 17, 2002



The Review!
The Japanese world of Idol singing comes to the US market with ADV?s release of Chance Pop Session, which is scheduled for release just 4 months after the American Idol sensation hit the US. Three Japanese singers have been brought together for this anime to sing the songs, and voice the main characters, by their album label Avex. So, is this just an expensive music video, or is there a real story here?

Audio:

For my primary listening session, I chose to try out the English soundtrack. ADV decided to mix this in 5.1, though I really have no idea why. This is basically a shoujo drama anime, and really won?t get anything out of it. In the concert hall in episode 1, the 5.1 mix does help give the illusion that you are in the concert hall. A lot of the songs are encoded such that the chorus is sent to the rears. Dialogue is very clear. I listened to the Japanese dub during a second viewing, and everything was clear.

Video:

Madhouse did an excellent job with this mostly digital production that aired in 2001. The picture is extremely clear and I didn?t spot a single scratch. The colors are well balanced in the show. I?d also say they were going for something a bit more subtle. There is some line shimmering present, mostly because of Reika?s hair. I didn?t notice any macro blocking.

Packaging:

Chance Pop Session comes in a white keepcase and the front cover features Akari in a nice dress with feathers floating in the foreground and music notes in the background. The US title and logo appears in the upper right hand corner, and the volume number also appears on the spine. The back cover features a shot from each episode, and a line drawing of Akari. All the features of the DVD are printed with the exception of the 5.1 English soundtrack.

Menu:

The opening main menu is just gorgeous, with what I refer to the theme song for the three girls playing while Akari stands in the foreground as clouds roll into the background. Feathers falls, and the title scrolls on the bottom of the menu. The menu selection indicator is a 3/16th note (an eighth note followed by a ?.?). There is a different music piece for each menu and each episode can be started from the main menu.

Extras:

This release is packed with extras. First of all, in the keepcase we get three stickers each of Akari and Reika, plus two of the logo. There?s also an eight page booklet on How to be a Popstar. Each DVD will come with one booklet that covers a different aspect. This one covers beauty and covers topics like skin care, make-up basics which break down into face, eyes, and lips.

On the DVD, we get a video featuring character sketches and one with production backgrounds. There is a clean opening and ending, so you can see how much work ADV did to alter the OP for the US to remove the word ?triangle? and the Japanese logo. To round things out, we get some original Japanese promos for the anime and the soundtracks.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)

Coming off a strong shoujo showing with Princess Nine, ADV also takes advantage of the popularity of American Idol by now releasing Chance Pop Session. While the US does have its share of Idol singers, does this really translate in the anime market here?

Chance Pop Session features three girls from different walks of life who, after attending the same concert, discover that they all want to be vocalists. The first girl we?re introduced to is Akari Mizushima, an orphan who lives at a church and performs in the church choir. Akari is perhaps the nicest person you could ever meet, and just drips with cuteness.

Secondly, we have Yuki Aoyama, a girl living on her own doing whatever job she can find. She has a lot of street smarts and is a loner by nature. At Reika?s concert, she is part of the staff involved in setting up the show. Lastly, we have Nozumi Kaibara, a girl from a very rich family, and she?s extremely spoiled. She?s also has a butler, Hikoza Ohishi, who Nozumi calls Jeeves in the Japanese version, but not in the English dub. He?s extremely resourceful at gathering information for Nozumi.

Reika is the catalyst for our three girls, and their ?idol?. The first impression we get of Reika is that she?s a diva. This is mainly due to the style used in how she is introduced, and her character initially turned me off. How could these girls look up to this person? First impressions are rarely true, as we learn more about Reika?s past and the life she had before she became a star.

After Reika?s performance, each girl is determined to become a star. Each one learns about the Akiba Music School, which was founded by Reika?s manger, Kisuragi Akiba. The investors behind the school just want to teach regular classes at the school, but Kisuragi has other plans. She wants to start a special class, the S class, where she?ll personally groom a set of girls.

Each of the three girls goes to the school, but Yuki is thwarted when she goes to register and her purse is stolen on the way. Akari attends the school, despite objection from the Father who runs the church. The real question though, is why is he objecting to her attending? Akari has a past she?s forgotten, and the Father feels that some things are better left forgotten. Nozumi apparently has no problems attending, but she?s really there to see Reika, and not to learn to sing.

Akari and Nozumi recognize each other from the concert, and quickly become friends. One day, Kisuragi comes to visit one of the classes in order to pick out the three girls she wants for the S Class. Of course, Akari and Nozumi get picked for the S Class, plus a third girl, Jun Morimora. Jun wants nothing to do with the other two, and is determined to shine on her own. Three other girls who aren?t chosen become extremely jealous of the S Class students, and begin a teasing campaign against them.

Yuki in the mean time meets up with a group of street musicians and joins their group as a vocalist. The group quickly becomes popular, and one of their fans video tapes the performance and places in on the net. This catches the attention of Shiro Sugino, Kisuragi?s assistant. When Kisuragi discovers the current S Class isn?t working, they recruit Yuki into the class to shake things up.

I didn?t really know anything about Chance Pop Session besides the basic premise when I started watching. At points, the show almost seems like an ad or infomercial for Avex. In the fifth episode, right after Akari, and her friend Kaito are having a very touching conversation, there is a sudden cut into a music video sequence. Apparently, flow doesn?t mean that much to the director.

The songs are also very catchy, though rather repetitive. It would have been nice if they could have given Reika two songs at least, and two for Yuki would have been great also. The S Class gets an assignment to sing the OP song for the series, and it?s really funny as the voice actresses attempt to sound bad singing it.

I should note that for the English dub, ADV decided not to try to record an English version. During all the songs, we hear the Japanese vocals along with the English translation of it. When you choose Japanese with subtitles the songs are subtitled in Japanese. While I like seeing the songs in Romanji, I also like to know what the songs mean at the same time. You can switch subtitle tracks during the song, I really don?t? consider that a good solution.

With the entire thirteen episode series being released on three DVDs, Chance Pop Session looks like a great value, but something about it makes me unsure. While I do enjoy the characters in the series, the story seems very simplistic and Cinderella like. The first and second episodes hooked me enough, but the third, fourth, and the first half of the fifth episodes had me wary. The second half of the fifth had me back into it. This show isn?t for everyone, but it?s worth taking a look at.



Review Equipment
Toshiba 3109 player, Toshiba 36? Cinema Series via component, Pioneer VSX-810S receiver via optical, Cerwin Vega front speakers, Pinnacle center and rears

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