Fuccon Family Vol. #0 (of 3) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, December 20, 2005
What They Say
Meet the Fuccons, a typical 2 1/2 person American family inexplicably transported to the land of the rising sun. Okay, maybe they're not perfect - Dad is a bit stiff and wooden, Mom is plastic and empty headed and Mikey's... well, Mike's just a little dummy. But when it comes to standing firm in the face of this new and alien environment, the family that's made together stays together, and it certainly doesn't hurt that the Fuccons are as thick skinned, rigid and inflexible as they come.
When the modern American family moves to Japan, one thing the Fuccon's bring with them is plenty of plastic.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese but then again in English. The audio for both tracks is essentially a basic but good sounding stereo mix that's heavily center channel oriented. There isn't exactly a lot of action effects or ambient music during the show so it's pretty straightforward and problem free. We didn't have any trouble with dropouts or distortions during regular playback of either language track.
Originally released a couple of years ago, the transfer for this show is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The materials here are in excellent shape and look great throughout for the most part with no real noticeable problems in terms of artifacts or compression. With only one episode here done twice, there's plenty of space and it looks to be well used. Colors look great, there's no real visible edge enhancement on our system and in general it's a good looking piece that's mostly lifeless in a lot of scenes but still looks good when there actually is some background action, like weather.
If there's ever a cover that had to show exactly what it is on the cover, it's this one and they go right for it with the three main characters taking up most of the front cover in their plastic glory. It's a bright and as some would say garish looking cover with the reds and yellows but it's certainly eye-catching and they go for the obvious gag with a text blurb of "It's Fuccon Hilarious!" The back cover provides a few shots from the show that push its plastic nature and a decent summary of the basic premise. The discs features and technical information is clearly listed though the runtimes may be a bit confusing and the small print has some amusing jokes as well. Just like the front cover, the back cover lets you know exactly what you're getting into. No insert is included with this release but it does have a full color image on the reverse side that looks to be a big cast shot of all the mannequins dressed up and posing together. Very little is as eerie as this is.
The menu layout is interestingly done as you get to select which version you want to view. Select Original Japanese Version and the menu comes up with a Japanese flag but otherwise identical to the English menu. The differences come down to the playback itself which also handles the language selections. The menus are nicely done though minimal and very easy to access and navigate. Player language presets are basically meaningless with a release like this as well.
There are a couple of extras here such as a pair of screensavers that either show a slideshow of images from the show or a fireplace scene. There's also some DVD-ROM content on here as well such as icon sets and desktops.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Over the years when you search the various Japanese retailers for live action movies that have subtitles, you occasionally come across something strange. In all those searches I never saw anything stranger than a show called "Oh Mikey!" that features mannequins. The discs were short, often just thirty minutes in length, but they were subtitled. I never took the dip on one of them but my curiosity was certainly piqued and what I learned about it made me want to see it, even if I could bring myself to actually import the show.
Now I end up getting it cheaper and bilingual since ADV Films has picked it up. The show is exactly as I expected it to be where they take a number of mannequins, often redressing them as different characters to expand the cast, and do all sorts of bizarre and oddly humorous things that would qualify as definitely Japanese. The episodes on average run about three minutes in length which keeps the gags short and fast and almost non-stop as it plays out. The way the disc is set up is somewhat similar to their release of Super Milk-Chan in that there's the original version with soft subtitles and the original openings and ending sequences and then there's the English version which looks mostly the same other than having English language logos and translated episode credits at the front. The other main difference is that there's no "close captioned" track for the English side and I'm unsure what the available subtitle track really covers. This side does have some hard subtitles in it though which seems an odd choice, but I'm guessing that it was done just due to this being more of a promo of the series than the full thing.
The shows concept is certainly interesting. We're introduced to a standard family of a mother, father and young son who have moved to Japan in order to experience the better life. The mannequins used for it, which are mostly just placed in still moments but do have some action sequences here and there, are dressed up in almost standard 50's and 60's style traditional American TV outfits and are just slightly over the top in how they all talk with each other and anyone who comes into their world. While they adjust to living in Japan, some relatives from America show up to spend some time and they all visit the grandparents that are apparently living in Japan as well. This was actually a really amusing setup since they take the same mannequins as the kids and dressed them up as old folks.
Other episodes play similar gags such as the cousin that shows up that wants to mess up Mikey and plays with him in ways he doesn't want. Another that had me laughing a lot is when Mikey's tutor shows up and she's like a 60's hippie/whore and constantly has things happening to her clothes that have her wearing less and less. Mikey's in shock but good old dad is only making all night long wood jokes while mom is just upset at how her husband is talking. One of the "action" scenes takes place outdoors where Mikey and Emily are fishing, which alone is laughter inducing, and there's all sorts of less than subtle sexual innuendo as she catches fish and he's afraid to touch it. The best though is when she "falls" into the river and then Laura shows up and changes into a swimsuit to try and save Emily. When that goes awry, Mikey has to save the day and he's down to his tighty-whities and "falls" into the river to save them. This is the first time that most people will be checking out a mannequin's package.
Unlike the Super Milk-Chan show where there were the various language options, it really seems like the English language version here stuck closely to the Japanese version which in itself was an odd piece of humor. There's such a level of nodding and winking going on at the audience that in a lot of ways it does work better in English but there are some bits that come across better in Japanese, such as the grandparents voices since they end up looking much more Japanese due to the costumes and overall look. Both versions are amusing though and the differences in the end I think are slight.
Since this title got picked up and more people found out what it was really about it's been interesting to see how the reactions go. A lot of people seem to dismiss it which is fine but I think they may miss something that would appeal to them, which is why this preview copy at $6 retail is a great idea and a great way to get samples out there beyond the anime crowd. In the end, I think that's where this show really belongs and it's not the first time ADV has done non-anime shows (uh, Farscape and Andromeda anyone?). It's easy to see this gaining cult appeal among people outside of the anime realm because of how different it is and to me, this show is ideal for being spliced up in its 3 minute versions and placed throughout Adult Swim's offerings. The non-anime portion of that audience, like the folks who watch Robot Chicken and so forth, will likely find this right up their alley. But possibly only in small doses. I'm looking forward to the full series itself to see things in order and to see just how this family handles living in Japan.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Screensavers,DVD-ROM Content
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: A
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: C+
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
Running time: 30
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Fuccon Family