Girls Bravo Vol. #5 (of 6) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Monday, February 27, 2006
Release Date: Tuesday, March 07, 2006



What They Say
Yukinari watches a horror film with friends, only to be interrupted by Tomoka's tantrum. She yells, "I want to play a more mature and thrilling game!" Just then, Fukuyama drops by for a visit and introduces the group to "Cosplay Mah-Jong" where the losers must change into assorted costumes. The mature, thrilling and exciting game finally begins!


The Review!
Still essentially plot free, this is harem style anime that pushes the envelope and just seems to know how to have fun.

Audio:
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.

Video:
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 eye catches, it's all problem free here.

Packaging:
For a beach themed cover this one is surprisingly tame as it has Ebi in the middle and the five girls ringed round him in various outfits. The outfits, as revealing as they are, aren't nearly as revealing as they could be but it does convey plenty of sexiness to it. 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 date for the last remaining volume.

Menu:
The main menu layout is a cute piece that has Tomoka along the left 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.

Extras:
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 third 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)
Girls Bravo plows through more of its second season by throwing more caution to the wind and flouncing its breasts and buttocks all over the place. In a lot of ways I don't really consider Girls Bravo much of a harem show anymore but rather just an overt sexual comedy that wants to do whatever the hell it wants. Thankfully, even more so with the second season, what it wants to do continually has me laughing.

The mix of episodes on this volume are a lot of fun even if they do seem to be trying to bring in some incredibly minor overall plot point about checking up on the girls on Earth. That's almost completely overlooked in general as the main episode plots are just all that more entertaining. Look at the first episode here where the girls other than Tomoka head out to make some extra money after breaking the bathtub. Yukinari and Tomoka go out to hunt them down to find out what they're doing only to find that they've taken on jobs at a Video Game show. They're putting on a contest as an all girl group doing singing and whatnot which is amusing in itself as they have on skimpy skintight outfits. They convince Yukinari to perform with them as Yukina since they need the money but it goes beyond hilarious when Kirie finds Fukuyama in the audience and now madly in love with Yukina. She grabs some extra money for him in payment for her to manipulate the situation and before you know it Fukuyama is having his way with Yukina. It's priceless as they all react to the situation in different ways and with the games that they come up with.

Another episode on this volume that slayed me was the homage to the mysterious thief girl genre like Saint Tail. The episode is designed around the idea that Fukuyama has made a movie for the school festival to show for the class and everyone participated in this feature where the four main girls are all mysterious thieves who work in a rabbit café by day but steal precious items at night. Fukuyama takes on the role of the detective who is after them and spoof style comedy ensues as he chases them and sets traps for them. One of the best scenes have the four girls being tripped along the way and they fall into a pile of glue only to have their outfits start to dissolve on them. It's a warped game of twister with how they're laid about and then you add in lots of fanservice and a leering Fukuyama and it's just priceless.

The mix of the other episodes plays with some fun stuff. One of them is a mah-jongg game that Fukuyama pushes on everyone to play but it's a twisted kind with kinky phrases on them that you have to play out. It gets deeper into the kinky territory when you get people like Lisa's bodyguard showing up that's in love with Kirie and you have Yukinari wearing suspenders and cat ears or Koyomi wearing a boa constrictor as her only outfit. There's so much scheming going on in the game in how they try to get each other it reaches hysterical levels. Another episode has an opening between the worlds appear again and Maharu finds herself on Earth and she's ecstatic about finding so many men that she can have fun with. Maharu's oversexed nature is a welcome addition to the existing cast as she pushes Yukinari's buttons easily enough and her general nature just adds several notches to the raunch-o-meter.

In Summary:
From the singing contest to the cosplay during the mah-jongg game through the thief girl episode, Girls Bravo just hits all the right buttons by intending to be a comedy and actually be intentionally funny while mixing in a lot of sexual humor to it. This isn't a show that's trying to be a romantic comedy with some sexual situations along the way. It's trying to push the envelop with what it's showing and doing while having some great character interactions along the way. I love the way that this show simply feels so open about itself that it's just out to have a good time. I laugh and smile throughout more of this than I do most other comedy shows and just want more of it. This is a show that will stick in my mind for a long time to come.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Textless Ending Ver.3,Original Ending Ver.3,Line Art Gallery


Review Equipment
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: 16 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
MSRP: 24.98
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Girls Bravo