Fancy Lala Vol. #6 (of 6) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Wednesday, May 07, 2003
Release Date: Tuesday, May 06, 2003
What They Say
Just when Miho thought she’s experienced it all, she finds out that her pretty sister might cheat on her boyfriend, and Lyrical Production informs her that Lala will be having her first concert! There’s also a rumor that having the first concert too early in one’s career can have a negative influence on the star. Will she survive the negative criticisms - not to mention the tough dance training? And what would happen if she lost her magic sketchbook and pen? Expect the unexpected until the very end!
The series comes to a conclusion that works surprisingly well, though a touch sad.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. While we noted on the first volume that the audio levels seemed a bit low, it does seem to be somewhat better here, though still lower than other shows we were checking out on the same day. Other than that, this is a good sounding track that has a few moments of directionality across the forward soundstage and provides clear and undistorted sound.
Originally airing in 1998, this is a very fresh looking show with some great vibrant animation. The transfer here is just gorgeous for the most part, though with more cross coloration slipping into scenes than the previous volume and some very minor aliasing. The cross coloration usually shows up during the drawings that Miho makes, though it does creep into the hair and a few other areas on occasion, though it does seem stronger in this final volume than in previous ones. Colors are great looking here with a very well layered look to it but still keeping in a real-world style.
The pink is retained only in the logo here, as the rest of the artwork is a soft mix of blues and greens for the background with a gorgeous image of Lala in her full hair style singing on stage with just the perfect look. The back cover provides a couple of pictures from the show done up as photographs as well as a brief summary of the shows premise and some of what to expect in these episodes. The discs episode numbers and titles are also listed on the back and we get the extra bonus of volume numbering on the spine and on the front cover. The insert provides another shot of the front cover while it opens up to provide detailed summaries of each of the episodes along with some animation shots and a good background image. The back cover provides the full production credits and actor credits for both languages.
There’s a brief bit of animation as the pen that Miho uses gets zoomed in on while the logo goes in reverse. Music with Japanese vocals play along to some animation in a small window on the pen with the selections ringed around it. Moving about is pretty straightforward and access times are nice and fast.
The only extra included on this last volume is a brief seven screen selection of conceptual artwork images of various outfits for Lala.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Fancy Lala has been quite an interesting series all told, and through its conclusion I think I’ve come to understand it a bit more and to appreciate part of what it was trying to do.
The final four episodes of the series provides some great moments and ends things just about right, especially compared to how a more traditional western version of this story might go. Before they get to the end though, there’s a few interesting episodes that flesh things out even more.
Particularly enjoyable was an episode that in its roundabout way focused on Miho’s older sister Chisa. We get to see a bit of Chisa’s school life, usually in relation to her boyfriend Imaichi. There’s some question as it goes along at first as to whether they’re actually boyfriend/girlfriend or not, and when questioned and joked about it with her friends, even Chisa’s not quite so sure. Things do come to a head though when an upperclassman named Omori starts to pursue her, and his initial goofiness and charm throw her off enough that she agrees to go out with him without even really realizing it.
When she lets Imaichi know, he sort of shrugs it off, since they’ve never really officially made themselves a couple as opposed to two people who do things together almost like friends. So she takes the opportunity, though a bit saddened by his response, and goes on the date. And that ends up leading to a couple of more times spent together. When Miho learns of this, she can’t believe her sister is two-timing Imaichi, so she uses her powers to turn into someone of Chisa’s age and infiltrates the school. Brilliantly, she chastises Chisa over her actions! With Miho being nothing more than a complete stranger, it’s great to see the shocked reactions of Chisa who doesn’t expect such a disrespect. This episode is a lot of fun on several levels, but once it came down to that one kiss and Chisa’s reaction, it was perfect. This is absolutely why men will always have a hard time understanding women.
The show then nicely follows up with an episode about Lala’s first concert. This episode proves to be a real education not only for Miho about the adult world, but also for Taro. Miho’s working hard to be ready for the concert, but she has trouble with the instructor and everything related to it. It gets so bad that he actually tells her to not come back until she has the real desire to do it. Through this, it goes to people like Miki, who tell Taro, who lets it slip back to Miho. And by then, it’s changed so much that Miho ends up hearing it as completely awful. Then there’s more press about her now that she’s more popular and her concert is being badmouthed before it even starts. Her will to actually ignore everything and put herself fully into her work becomes the main focus of events.
The final two episodes are fairly somber, as they deal with the problems Miho faces as her abilities to become Fancy Lala begin to become a real issue. I loved the way it all played out and was very glad that it ended how it did, instead of giving Miho another chance to do something as Lala. What I ended up taking away from the ending, keeping in mind that this is a series aimed at young girls, is that they’re telling their core audience that the special magic of Lala is in all of them, and they’ll get to it eventually. Some will come by it naturally, others will be inspired by it, some will ignore it completely. But that time will come for everyone. Miho got a special look forward at what she can become and she likely needed that look to be able to properly take advantage of it. But she wasn’t beholden to it, which I think became a key point of the Mystery Man in these last episodes.
While I had some amusing “issues” with the series early on, such as having some of the older male cast being too interested in Lala (only natural for them) and having a third-grade mentality of Miho trying to cope with it to be a bit creepy at times, the bulk of the series really pushed forward with the glamour and happiness of a young woman getting into the music business. We got to see lots of pitfalls along the way as well as the troubles of being a girl in the third grade. It was a bit uneven at times, and I wish we got to see more of Chisa in the show as well as actually seeing the first concert, but I’m coming out of this series very pleased and happy that I’ve finally been able to see it.
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Fancy Lala Fashion Gallery
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.
Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: C+
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Bandai Entertainment
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Fancy Lala