Hare+Guu Vol. #5 (of 7) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Friday, October 27, 2006
Release Date: Tuesday, October 24, 2006

What They Say
Playtime takes on preposterous proportions when Marie's pretend family puts Hare's mom and her old fling together in the same bed. Hare must now quickly find Dr. Clive another woman, but the only one interested in him is a slobbering, ravenous creature! What's a boy to do?

The Review!
With little new really added to the show in either cast or situations, Hare + Guu focuses on what it does best, the weird but very amusing humor.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The series is fairly standard when it comes to the audio track here for a TV series so there aren't too many surprises to find here. The mix is very well done though with some good directionality throughout some of the more wacky sequences as well as some good moments that suck you in with the depth. We did listen to both tracks in the end and had no problems with dropouts or distortions with either of them during regular playback.

Originally broadcast during 2001, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. Having seen only some second hand versions of the show in the years prior to its license, this transfer was simply surprising with how vibrant and smooth it is. The show has a very good sense of color to it with the kinds of palettes it uses, such as some very vibrant colors for the character designs and things they interact it while the backgrounds have a much more natural and muted sense of color. The characters tend to stand out a bit more but they still feel like they belong where they are. The materials here look really good with a clean look, solid colors and an essentially problem free transfer.

The release uses the same cover artwork as the Japanese release but with the logo translated into English but still retaining the same style and elements to it which really just work perfectly. Even as outlandish as past covers have been, this one goes a step further with the background colors that make you grimace a bit, but the full cast of the "kids" walking along looks great and is a welcome piece. Some of the nuances to it in how they're all interacting with each other just in this still piece is great. The back cover is fairly busy here with lots of little shots and dialogue added to some of the shots so you get a feel for the wackiness. Episode numbers and titles are included as well as a good rundown of the discs features. The production information is kept from taking over a large chunk of territory and AN Entertainment once again nails the technical grid perfectly. While most companies are moving away from inserts, at least the completely useless ones, we get a really good multi paneled one here entitled Jungle News that covers various liner notes for the show in general, particular parts of episodes and other areas such as character designs and other illustrations. Some of this is translated into the on-disc extras which is good but enough of it is unique to the insert as well.

The menu layout for this series is really nicely done with a straightforward static image in the foreground of the character pieces from the front cover while the logo and selections are arraigned around them in very much the word and graphic style of the series. The bottom has some of the jungle grass to root it all together while the background itself is one of the jungle themed strips that rolls past, all of which is set to a little bit of jungle beat music. It's very cute and fits very well overall. Our players' presets didn't make out too well with how the disc is set up though; the audio selection was fine as it could correctly read the label for Japanese however the sign/song subtitle were the first selectable English subtitle track so it went with that instead of full subtitles.

The extras included for the release are solid and while changing volume to volume have a number of similarities between each release. The opening and ending sequences are done in their clean form, a good portion of the cultural and liner notes from the insert are carried over onto on-disc "language lessons" and there's also a production art gallery. And an always amusing extra is included with a series of dub outtakes. This volume also provides a series of Japanese TV commercials used to promote the show.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After the previous volume brought us so many Ashio and Bell stories, it's a welcome change to find them taking more of a back seat for this set of episodes. While they do bring some new angles to be played, they can be a bit much to take in full force as they were first presented. Of course, with the cast that populates this show, that's saying an awful lot.

So while they do appear throughout and help to move things along, the stories for this set of episode are more standalone in nature and without anything that deals with the more serious side of the show. It gets back to what I think it does best and lets Guu do her thing while Hare tries to cover for it or just keep it from boiling over into everything else. Guu doesn't get to go as wild this time as she has in the past but she does have some wonderful moments. The opening episode for example revolves around the kids getting health exams by Clive at the school. When the girls go in first, it's all fine until Guu steps up for it and Clive starts to freak out about it. Before he knows it though, she's knocked him unconscious and stuffed him in a closet so that she can carry out the exams for the boys. She messes with Hare a lot but she does try at times to make sure she doesn't overstep. In her adult form, seeing her deal with the pressure of the boys trying to figure out what's going on is hilarious. I love the tiny silly Guu but continue to be intrigued by what's really behind all of it in her mature form.

Clive really has it bad in this volume, though it's mostly to pay a price I think. One episode has him and Hare trying to make Marie feel better about herself so they agree to play "house" with her and Weda. Marie's the epitome of a little girl and she has Clive and Weda as the mom and dad and pushes them to do all the things they should do. Partially she does this because she understands that Clive likes Weda and sees this as a chance to help. While Clive lives up this new life, Hare finds himself being called the family pet along with Guu. If there is something that just makes your brain freeze, it's seeing Guu in a cat suit in her small bodied form and doing a meow-meow bit in that laid back voice. Where Clive pays for all of this goodness in his life though comes when Guu later sets Dama onto him and she goes overboard in trying to rebuild her life with who she believes is her long lost husband. Her background story definitely helps to flesh it out nicely and lets her not be as completely creepy as she seems to be sometimes.

Some of the best material comes near the end though when Guu, fascinated by the transformation of a magical girl with her personality, tells Hare she can tweak peoples personalities easily. Using an array of items as the wand, she uses Hare's commentary about others as things that need to be changed about them. There's another story that gets tied into it later with the Elder, but most of it revolves around everyone not being who they were for awhile and it works great. Weda as a shy but industrious housewife is great, seeing Bell get taken care works beautifully and that's just the start of the changes. The humor goes by so quick sometimes and the gags are hitting with great accuracy that you can miss a number of them or even not have the time to really appreciate it.

In Summary:
Just as with earlier volumes, this show continues to be very entertaining. Over the couple of days that the disc is out, it ended up being watched a number of times between myself and my kids. Listening to it in both languages and seeing how the differences work and how the humor is close but slightly tweaked times is very interesting to watch. This is one of the few shows that I think really manages to capture the style of the original in a very accurate way, largely due to Jennifer Sekiguchi's performance as Guu. Though there isn't anything all too serious in this volume and we don't get much more on the background of the storyline that's slowly working its way through here, this is a great volume in the series that has a lot of spot on humor, wit and plain physical comedy bits. I'm loving Hare + Guu and can't wait to get more of it.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Dubbing Outtakes,Clean Opening and Ending Animation,Japanese TV Commercials,Production Art Gallery,Lazy Sensei's Language Lessons (Translation & Cultural Notes)

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic DMP-BD10 Blu-ray Progressive Scan player via HDMI -> DVI with upconversion set to 1080i, 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: B+
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: AN Entertainment
MSRP: 29.95
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Hare+Guu