Di Gi Charat Nyo! Vol. #01 (of 12) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Thursday, May 31, 2007
Release Date: Tuesday, May 01, 2007
What They Say
Attention! Attention! Cuteness will now be taken to a psychotic degree! Meet Dejiko along with Puchiko and Gema as they travel to Earth from the Planet Di Gi Charat as part of Dejiko‚€™s training to become a proper princess. Well, just leave it up to these three to crash land at the Lucky Cat Shopping District and become separated. Puchiko is soon picked up by an elderly couple who owns a bakery, yeah! Dejiko along with Gema stumble upon two brothers who own a toy store filled with lamest toys but begs and pleads for her to stay there. At least they now have a place to stay.
Life is now perfect if it wasn‚€™t for this rabbit-eared idol named Rabi-En Rose. Join them as they make this world so insane it‚€™s hilarious!
Sent to Earth to train in the ways of becoming a proper princess, Dejiko finds herself in the midst of many strange and unusual people.
Bandai Entertainment has provided two language options with this release by having both the original Japanese stereo mix and an English stereo mix done by The Ocean Group. Both mixes are encoded at 192 kbps and serve the material well as it's mostly just wacky dialogue. There isn't a lot of music to it outside of the opening and closing and within the episodes themselves there isn't much need for placement or depth. As simple as the mix is, it does handle things well and suits the material. In listening to both language tracks we didn't have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2003, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. Similar in design to past incarnations of the series, Mad House has animated something incredibly vibrant here. These bright bold colors come across beautifully here as they pop off the screen. So many areas are made up of solid colors that it's surprising to see practically no noise or break-up associated with it. Even aliasing is very minimal during the pan and zoom sequences. The opening and closing sequences are left in their original form with a full credit scroll following all of the episodes. This is a gorgeous looking full frame transfer that simply pops beautifully.
Not unlike other series, the cover art for Di Gi Charat Nyo is a great piece as it's an illustration of the leads with a great amount of detail and design to it. The soft colors and tight line work just shines here. Each of the girls looks great with the costumes and colors with it and it blends well with the background. Even the logo is nicely unobtrusive and fits in with the scheme overall with the color choices. The back cover carries over the background design and keeps it soft so that the information over it is easily readable. The summary covers the basics and several shots from the show highlight its cute factor. The episode listings are a bit disingenuous since it is admittedly eight episodes but a casual buyer may not realize they're half episodes. The discs features and production information rounds out the bottom as well as a minimal technical grid. No insert is included with this release nor is the cover reversible.
Bright and garish, the menu for this release certainly stands out and commands attention. With the trio of lead girls in the center as multicolored rays of light shine forth from them, a bit of upbeat instrumental music plays along. The selections are sort of scattered about and you use a flower cursor to move over them which works well though at times it's not entirely intuitive which direction it should go in. Access times are decent and it's easy enough to set up selections in the navigation. The disc did correctly read our players' language presets and played in Japanese with full subtitles.
The only extra included on this release is a clean version of the opening sequence.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The Di Gi Charat franchise enters a new phase with their longest running incarnation yet as it ran one hundred end four half-episodes over the course of a year. Previous incarnations have been much shorter than that and that's left me wondering just how much material they can really come up with before getting repetitive. Previous series ended up losing steam after the first couple of episodes as the situations fell into standard nonsensical mini-plots.
This version of the series makes some changes from the previous ones as it introduces Dejiko coming to Earth along with Puchiko and Gema at the urging of her mother. She wants Dejiko to go through proper training to become a full fledged princess and has made sure she'll spend plenty of time on Earth since she gassed up the spaceship for a one-way ride. When the group crash lands in Japan, Dejiko and Puchiko are separated and find different ways to survive. Survive in the sense of finding someone to leach off of for awhile. Puchiko's cuteness nets her an elderly couple who run a sweet shop that end up doting on her completely. At least they do so after the woman stop practically stalking Puchiko.
Dejiko on the other hand ends up coming across a pair of brothers that run a toy store. Their first encounter is amusing as the older brother is something of an inventor named Yasushi. He's gone so far as to design a robot suit that he can wear which will control the actions of a much larger giant robot. That's all just useless in the long run but it serves to show his skill as well as showing that Dejiko doesn't suffer fools lightly as her eyebeam lasers put the pair down easily. Yasushi is fairly psychotic in his own way as he's focused on making new gadgets regardless of who it impacts. He's tempered by his younger brother Kiyoshi who becomes something of a moderator between the two of them. Gema just tends to comment on things before getting abuse of course. With the two guys on her side now and understanding that she's an alien, it sets things up for plenty of weirdness on all their parts.
No incarnation of Di Gi Chart is complete without Rabi-en-Rose however. This time around the main rival for Dejiko comes in the form of a girl named Hikaru Usada who "transforms" into Rabi-en-Rose to find joy in her life. Since she's just a normal human, he transformations are amusing as it's basically her diving into a cardboard box and getting changed. Usada isn't terribly swift sometimes either and is more obvious than anything else when she's trying to be stealthy. As a rival, she doesn't provide too much early on but she does manage to frustrate Dejiko with her discovered ability of being able to avoid Dejiko's laser eyebeams of doom.
After the first two episodes that provide the basic setup of the premise and puts Dejiko and Puchiko in proper homes, the series moves easily to the half-episode length stories. Everything stands on its own for the most part with very little in terms of actual plot carryover unless someone new is being introduced. Reminiscent of much earlier series like Urusei Yatsura where misunderstandings and boredom cause the most trouble, Di Gi Charat Nyo plays a familiar tune but plays it well. With so many incarnations of the show having come before both in animated and manga form, very little really stands out here. In fact, the show feels weaker because of the changed premise which doesn't include the Gamers store or any of the otaku-related jokes. This is certainly far more family friendly and generic because of it so it's easy to imagine this appealing to a younger set with little trouble. In some ways I'd suspect it'd fit in easily to some of the 10 minute long shows that run on Adult Swim at times.
The production values for the show are simply outstanding however. It's got such a rich palette of colors that stand out beautifully, sometimes enough to draw attention way from the weak gags and stories being told. The simplicity in the character designs certainly helps a lot as does some of the ways they get around having to deal with background colors, but when the show is in full motion with a bevy of characters it just shines like few others. The brightness to all of it is very appealing and usually problematic colors are just very strong here. Even if the show does start to bore after awhile, the visual experience is just pure pleasure.
With plenty of material already covered in the franchise, I'm really unsure of how another 96 episodes will go of this. These opening episodes are the usual kind of comedy and insanity you find in a Di Gi Charat series but for some reason it just didn't click this time around. The burnout from previous releases may have already hit with this one. It's cute and it has its moments, moments that my kids ended up enjoying far more than I did, but it's not something I can see being enthused about for as many episodes as there are to come. Mad House has done a fantastic job with the production and the fans of the show will love how it looks here but the changes to the premise may be small enough to turn people away from it.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Textless Ending
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI with upscaling set to 1080p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.
Mania Grade: C
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: Bandai Entertainment
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Di Gi Charat Nyo!