Girls Bravo Vol. #4 (of 6) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Monday, January 02, 2006
Release Date: Tuesday, January 03, 2006
What They Say
Yukinari, Miharu and Kirie's love for competition gets them into another interesting predicament! They're invited to a baseball game that's just a disguise for a full-on Girls' Fight! They compete in a competition of both beauty and strength. Fukuyama blackmails Kirie into the competition with an embarrassing photograph. In the semi-finals, Kirie mud-wrestles against Kosame, who is completely obsessed with her!
The second season gets underway and they ratchet up the nudity quite a few paces here, keeping the show feeling just as wrong as before yet still so right.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The stereo mix is fairly standard for shows of this nature where it's mostly dialogue driven that's center channel based while the music and the chaotic noises that surround what happens to the lead flesh out the stereo channels. The forward soundstage has more of a full feel to it than a lot of directionality but it's well done and serves the shows material well. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2005, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The series has an interesting look to it that alternates purposely between some very sharp and vivid scenes to a number that are soft and hazy, which can mess with how you're trying to take in the visuals. The transfer otherwise is that of a nice clean and clear show that is just filled with lots of vibrant colors that are solid all the way through as well as some very fluid animation that is free of aliasing and cross coloration. While the earlier volumes had some minor issues with the pinks in the logo and eyecatches, it's all problem free here.
The covers continue the same theme of featuring the main good girls all rolling around together, this time in their school gym uniforms on top of a pink blanket. The character designs continue to be appealing and even though there's really not that much skin all told, the artwork is done so as to really be provocative regardless.. The back cover provides a bunch of small shots from the show underneath the minimal premise summary. The discs episodes and features are clearly listed as is the production information. There are a lot of chunks of empty space around the cover due to the way things are laid out and I continue to pine for a real technical grid. The insert for this release replicates the front cover artwork while the reverse side lists the episodes and the dates for future volumes.
The main menu layout is a cute piece that has Koyomi along the right side with an up close face shot where she blinks a few times as bubbles float up all around her, some of them with animation from the show playing in them, all of it set to a brief clip of the upbeat opening song playing along. It does unfortunately fade out just as it really gets going so it's kind of awkward. The layout itself is straightforward with easy navigation and quick access to the episodes. The disc also correctly read our players language presets and played accordingly.
The extras are sort of standard fare we like to see on every volume especially if there isn't a lot of material produced in Japan or new material here. This installment gives us a bit more this time around as we get the textless and original versions of the second opening sequence as well as a new art gallery of production line art.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
While the second season sort of started in the last volume with the end episode that completely pushed things over the top with the pool episode, this volume is considered the real start of the second season as it opens with Kazuharu going over the cast of girls that he lusts after and their associations with each other. Just as he's been something of a foil or problem during the first season, he's set to be just the same in this season. Or is he?
Kazuharu certainly starts off in much the same manner as he invites the four girls and Yukinari to a day at the Fukuyama Stadium. Kirie is completely thrilled to be going there even though it's both at his invite and the stadium is named after his family because she just loves the sport of baseball so much and she's going to get to see a game. As it turns out though, the tickets that he provided them weren't for a game but for access to an elevator that takes them down to the sixty-ninth basement where the Girls Fight contest is held once a year. This tournament is exactly what it looks like, an underground women's only fight where top athletes and others compete against each other for the ultimate prizes. Kirie's ready to get out of there but Kazuharu has a picture of her that she cannot let him keep and agrees to the tournament, which includes wearing new cosplay outfits with each round. The fights are hilarious when they show much of them as Kirie shows it all. Things turn a bit awkward though when Kosame turns out to be one of the opponents and they're fighting in the mud. Kosame's lust for Kirie truly takes center stage with all the lights showing just how far she'll go. It's just half a step from being porn at times but I can't help but to laugh and want more of it.
Kazuharu does take some surprising turns in this volume. One episode has him working some interesting mojo on Miharu by giving her a book of "999" tips and tricks to a great romance. Miharu being as na´ve as she is, she takes it and starts to implement a lot of them when she finally gets Yukinari out on a date. Yukinari is of course a complete wuss and it's evident right from the start when Miharu takes him to a lingerie store so she can shop and try on things. He's simply way too uncomfortable about it and it only goes downhill from there until Miharu realizes she shouldn't be using the book. Their date goes much better but waiting in the wings is Kazuharu, often kept on a leash by Kirie as she tries to stop him from doing much damage, and he continues to come up with ideas to keep them apart. At the same time, there are some striking moments of a really good person being hidden deep inside him and he does some things for the couple that actually works in their favor which is a real surprise considering some of his past activities.
This also becomes something of a regular thing as the second season progresses. One episode has a focus on Tomoka and Kirie where Tomoka tries to push that she's not quite the child or kid everyone imagines her to be and gets so frustrated when she's out with Kirie that she runs off. This is a bit of a ruse though as she intends to follow Kirie so she can see what it is about her that everyone seems to like. Not surprising is that Kazuharu is essentially doing the same thing, field research, and the two strike an amusing pact to work together to figure it out and stop some of the more obnoxious people from getting in the way. Watching Kirie's every day activities when she's not with the group is comical as she's like a girl with a pheromone high as every male seems to be attracted to her. It leads to some strange and very fanservice heavy moments but it also has a lot of comedy gold as both Tomoka and Kazuharu try to keep her from getting overwhelmed while still secretly trying to screw over each other.
Kazuharu really comes out on top in this episode and it builds upon the earlier episode nicely as well. Kazuharu has been one of my favorite male characters in a long time because he reminds me so strongly as a pure combination of Ataru Moroboshi and Shutaro Mendou from Urusei Yatsura. Mendou was always a more refined version of Ataru with money, but the pure combination of the two would really be what we get here with Kazuharu Fukuyama. His use of money to get the kind of titillation he needs and coming up with wacky schemes to get him close to the girls is very well executed here and plays well against the others who in this volume come across as being just normal teenagers. Never mind the alien origins of several of them. The only downside to all of this is that while Lisa does get some fun with magic in one episode here, that episode is the weakest of them all and she doesn't get to shine in the way she has in previous episodes. But considering how great a job they did with Kazuharu here I can't bring myself to complain much about that.
The series still has many scenes and occurrences that are simply wrong but just like the past volumes, I can't bring myself not to watch it. At times, the show reminds me of a kid standing on a state line and jumping back and forth claiming they're in one or the other but here it's like "Hentai! Ecchi!" as it jumps back and forth. It gets so close sometimes and it's so refreshing to see a show actually push the envelope that it gets plenty of kudos just for that. But as it's gone along and we've moved past the initial character interactions and relationships, it's become much more enjoyable and fun to watch. This is truly the epitome of a guilty pleasure.
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Textless Opening Ver.2 ,Original Opening Ver.2 ,Line Art Gallery
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: B+
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 17 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Girls Bravo