Dan Doh!! Vol. #2 (of 3) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Monday, March 06, 2006
Release Date: Tuesday, February 28, 2006



What They Say
Dandoh plays the final rounds in the Juniors Championship Tournament; however, the chairman of the tournament has a grudge against his father and does everything in his power to get Dandoh thrown off the course. Can he win the tournament? He later discovers the location of his mother who left him as a baby. Will he be able to confront her while at a tournament, there as a caddie, and win or will his personal feelings get in the way of the match?

The Review!
Proving that any and all kinds of sports can make for engaging and fun anime, Dan Doh!! tackles the world of golf for the younger set.

Audio:
Our primary viewing session for this series was split into two since the release is spread across two discs and a good number of episodes. Similar to how we did the first collection, for the first volume, we watched it in its original language of Japanese with English subtitles while we watched the second volume in English with the English subtitles as well. Both tracks come across well for a stereo mix with plenty of clean and clear moments that provide just the right kind of oomph to the scenes where the ball is being hit. Dialogue has some decent directionality at times throughout the volume while the music is the main area that really works over the stereo channels. We had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2004, the transfer for the series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. With the series being firmly based outdoors the show has a lot of very bold and vibrant colors with the various greens and blues. The character designs are similar to this with lots of bright colors for most of the primary characters though the secondary ones tend to be a bit more earth toned in nature. Each volume has four episodes on them and are presented with their original opening and closing sequences while translated credits are provided as a main menu selection. The transfer overall come across nice and clear with the very solid areas of color looking good. The show is free of cross coloration and only has some minor aliasing during some of the CG scenes but most of it just looks very good.

Packaging:
Using the same artwork as the Japanese release but re-centering it so the logo is across the top instead of in the corner, the three characters here are all part of the main tournament on this release with Dandoh doing the main action pose, seemingly shooting into the rising ocean with the sun behind him. Similar to the first volume, it's an expressive visual of golf but as it's aimed at the younger set it works nicely. The back cover provides an action shot of Dandoh on the right while the left has a summary of the basic premise. Below him they list the ten episodes by title and flesh out the remainder with the basic technical information and production listings. No insert is included with this release and even though the keepcase is a clear double (no hinge), there isn't any reverse side artwork which gives it a weak feel.

Menu:
The menu layout for the show is rather nicely done where it has a sort of faux widescreen approach where the opaque bars at the top and bottom have the shows name across it and the full color image in-between feels a bit more vibrant and the center of attention. Each disc does the layout slightly differently with the first one having character artwork on the left and menu selections along the right while the second reverses it. Both have separate menus for audio and subtitle settings which could easily be placed into one. The disc correctly read our players' language presets and played in the correct settings. The disc does default to English with sign/song subtitles which is the right way to do it as well.

Extras:
The only extras included on here are clean versions of the opening and closing sequences, which are presented only on the second volume and as one video segment and not separately as is standard on most release. This isn't too much of a surprise though since the release is going for a minimal approach.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Dandoh!! as a series is one that's really hard to review in a way for a couple of reasons. One is that if you have any inkling of golf then you're going to cringe at the kinds of shots and moves done here, much as any other sports series does. The other is that the show is aimed primarily at a younger audience than normal here with the idea of passing on the original authors love of golf and trying to get more people interested. It's happened many times in manga history where a series can raise interest considerably in a sport or event and then ride that wave even more. While I doubt Dandoh!! has done that in Japan, it is definitely a great show for kids to enjoy with its simple yet effective morality plays that are mixed in.

One thing that is definitely working in this shows favor is its release schedule. While it got thrown off a bit by replication issues, the fact that it's spread across three double disc sets instead of the full six discs is a huge plus in its favor. Watching this in smaller increments across standard release patterns would drain away much of the continuous energy that goes with it as the tournaments spread out. The first volume with ten episodes moved you so deeply into the show that even if you had an inkling of interest in it you would feel compelled to get the next volume to see how it finishes out and then get sucked right into the next tournament. The end of the first rounds and the completion of the Kyushu tournament provides for much of the first half of this volume as we see Dandoh challenged in new ways not only by the courses themselves but also by other players who use less than decent means to enhance their own performances.

One of the big focuses on the Kyushu tournament is the means by which the Chairman continually tries to get Dandoh disqualified. His massive hatred for Dandoh's father which had resulted in him being kicked out years ago transfers easily onto his son and he uses all the means at his disposal to put an end to Dandoh's play. He brings in the help for somewhat disgraced player Akano by having him follow Dandoh around the course so he can find out what things he does that break the local rules. There are things along the way that put Dandoh in tricky spots but it's also the kind of things that put him and the others in a positive light as children learning to grapple with basic morality mixed in with golf. It's admittedly something that's like an after school special in you can see the message a mile away but depending on the age of the viewer it's something that's nicely reinforced and rewarded.

The other half of the disc takes a bit of an interesting turn as Dandoh's friends get pushed to the side and he heads off with Akano, at his coaches urging, to go to Sapporo to be Akano's caddie in the tournament there. There are ulterior motives as he's heard his mother may be in Hokkaido but it works well by putting Dandoh in a very different position where he has to do double time as a caddie hauling the clubs around but also trying to show Akano what it is that he sees in all of these courses and the best way to rise up in level. No different than a lot of other shows, Dandoh is the kind of personality who has the ability to put those who work with him at ease and to help them unlock their own inner strengths and love for the game. Yeah, it's plenty hokey and Dandoh's looks and style as well as his enthusiasm and far too blunt love for the game can be eye-rolling at times, but for all of those times where it does that it provides just as many where it works and makes you almost addicted to the show. That's something that sports shows that focus on the sport itself have in common and utilize in order to keep people coming back.

In Summary:
There is certainly enough in this show that screams to keep away and it's exactly the kind of show that you can imagine doesn't make much if any impact on the fansub circuit but something about it just keeps me coming back and looking forward to more. Often I get to the point where four episodes is about all I can take of any show in one sitting but between the first two sets of Dandoh I've done ten and eight episode marathon sessions. Getting so far into the series so quickly and in such an addictive manner can help gloss over some of the shows problems that would be more apparent weekly or bi-monthly. It's golf in an impossible manner for a number of reasons but it's enjoyable in that "big sports" kind of manner. This show will never go wide here but those who do try it out will likely find it to be engaging and almost addictive and will come back for more. I'm once again simply grateful for Bandai's trying out this show in any manner and finishing it out. I can't exactly recommend it but those who will enjoy it likely are the ones that already know about it.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.



Mania Grade: B-
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B-
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Bandai Entertainment
MSRP: 29.98
Running time: 200
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Dan Doh!