Magical Meow Meow Taruto Vol. #4 (of 4) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Friday, August 05, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, August 09, 2005
What They Say
All of her friends rally together but will they get to Taruto in time? Lives are changed and shocking secrets revealed in the dramatic final volume of Magical Meow Meow Taruto!
Taruto comes to a close with the last three episodes resolving the plot of just who the Kinka princess is.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The stereo mix for the show is about average and there isn't anything really noteworthy about it. The dialogue comes through clean and clear and the bulk of it really feels center channel based, though the music makes good use of a full sounding stage for both the opening and ending. We listened through the English track as well and didn't note any problems with it during regular playback.
Originally airing back in 2001, the transfer for this show looks really good for the most part. It's a very bright and vibrant show with a wide range of colors but has a certain softness to the background ones. The only area where we really noted any trouble is during a couple of the scenes with the eye-patch characters as the black eye-patch showed some blocking throughout it while the character moved. The transfer is otherwise pretty much free of problems such as cross coloration and aliasing. This release marks a surprising change for Bandai though in terms of how they present their shows. The opening and ending sequences are done via alternate angles based on language selection. One angle has the original Japanese text credits while the other has the translated credits. The end credits provide both voice casts in the English translated credits which is a plus as it's something that's often forgotten and the Japanese actors are never credited. The actual show logo is the same in both versions and the title cards are also done via alternate angles. The only thing that's noticeable between the two is that the English one appears to be a bit brighter. While I'm not huge on alternate angles because half the time they're not done properly, they're well done here and done as I like to see them done.
Using the same art as the Japanese release but accentuated by the purple keepcase that brings in the color all the more, A double vision of Taruto is here as the two of them embrace each other while the background is made up the witches house and the surrounding Forest of the Lost. It's a soft looking piece with the illustration style used but it really sets the visuals right for the show and just looks adorable. The back cover keeps the same simple feel to it with an off-white/pinkish background that's littered with little cat prints. Small circles showcase cute images from the show and each of the episodes is given a summary. The staff for both sides of the production are kept together and a small block of technical information is provided at the bottom, though it's a bit odd. It actually lists that there is a single DVD inside and there's no listing of any of the extras from this release here. The keepcase is actually clear and the reverse side of it uses the cat prints all over it in varying colors and looks really cute. The insert mixes up both the cats and the humans in a somewhat somber looking piece that still is very well illustrated and opens up to a two panel piece that has the episode summaries on one side and small character profiles for the bulk of the main cast not covered in the previous volume. The back of the insert has the full translated production and voice actor listings and the English cast is tied to their roles which is a plus.
After a brief animation at the load-up that sets into the background of street overpass in the town, the menu pieces float in on bubbles and the menu finally becomes usable. A brief bit of instrumental music from the show plays along here and it's overall a very cute menu and one of the better ones from Bandai as of late, which is why I'm feeling forgiving about some of the transitional animations. Moving to the submenus has a brief piece play as well but it is very short and keeps everything in theme. The only area that works right but could be done better is in the language selection area as once you have your languages selected (or preset), it doesn't provide any way of telling on the screen what you're actually set at. This happens across a number of releases from most studios and it's something I still consider one of those "step 1" procedures that just must be done.
The extras are relatively the same as the previous volume with this one having more music clips and the second textless opening sequence as well as two new meow song pieces.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Taruto comes to a close with this volume and the last three episodes keeps things pretty focused on the main storyline of the princess and those that are after her. We got a lot of neat little tidbits in the last volume when Taruto and Gallette crossed over to the other side. More revelations are made here as those who've been after the royal family finally cross over and begin their latest hunt.
The arrival of the Byoh in the city has set off some alarms once they came through the well where Nachos and Chips have been working out of alongside the mysterious old lady Willow. When the Byoh come through the well, Willow sends the two off to protect the magic user, but they get that confused with the old guy who fakes his magic as opposed to Taruto who actually has a good deal of magic behind her. A lot of this volume, when talking of Taruto, has her running around trying to avoid capture by the Byoh as the three of them are pretty relentless in going after them. Each instance of them getting closer to Taruto is offset by them coming into contact with one of the many friends she's made over time and they end up helping, sometimes on purpose and sometimes not, but it keeps her moving and eventually back into Iori's hands.
Iori himself makes a bit of progress as a character this time around as well. Though he's not seeking her out at first, he does end up in Anzuko's residence after she catches Taruto without realizing it. Since the loss of her grandmother, she's been feeling completely empty in her heart and is trying to fill it with possessions when she really just needs more heart, as Iori says. This is apparently enough to break a spell that she's fallen under and for her to realize that the heart she wants to fill hers is Iori's. Even more surprisingly, he seems open to this more than in the past and though nothing is really made of it within the episodes since that's not the focus, it's nice to see something of a relationship form here.
Everything escalates as the chase gets tighter and everyone starts to help out in trying to stop the Byoh from achieving their goal of capturing Taruto. It's cute to see all the various characters getting involved and the way they all work together. A lot of the last episode is really just a chase episode that ends with a few minor revelations that couldn't be seen in advance and honestly just don't even make sense considering what we've known before regarding Taruto herself before it all draws to a close. The last three episodes do a nice job overall of bringing the series to a close, but there isn't a whole lot to say about it since it is made up of chases and close moments of capture. It's cute, it makes you smile but it's the very essence of fluff.
Taruto's a series that normally probably wouldn't have seen release over here and it's one that had the problem of being four volumes for the twelve episodes which is just stretching it far too much. Taken in two sittings it may have been better, especially since the show is short in just under twenty minutes an episode but taking it across four volumes and a near bi-monthly release just made it hard to get through. It's a cute and fun show but in the end it's really a simple fairy tale. As a fairy tale it's a hard sell as well for kids since there are a number of things throughout it that ensure that it's not for younger kids who may enjoy the most. I liked the show, but it's not one that I'd go jumping up and down to recommend. Catgirl fanatics however will adore it and that's likely the real target market.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Music Clip Video featuring Japanese Voice Actors,Textless Closing #2
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.
Mania Grade: B-
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: A-
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 3 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Bandai Entertainment
Running time: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Magical Meow Meow Taruto