Hare+Guu Vol. #6 (of 7) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Tuesday, February 06, 2007
Release Date: Tuesday, January 30, 2007



What They Say
Change is in the air, from snow in the jungle to a trip to the concrete jungle. After a freak blizzard strikes the village, Weda is struck by the urge to return to her home in the city. There may not be wild animals in a metropolis, but the city is no less dangerous, as a trigger happy bodyguard and a couple of video game obsessed bank robbers prove. And a new environment gives Guu plenty of excuses to engage in even more maniacal mischief!

Contains episodes 20-23.

The Review!
Shifting the focus away from the jungle and to the city, we're shown very quickly why Guu should not be allowed near, well, anyone.

Audio:
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.

Video:
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.

Packaging:
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. Giving hint of what to expect once they hit the big city, this cover showcases Hare and Guu together as they recoil back with Robert as the spotlight shines on them. It feels like an odd cover considering how the show has been so jungle based to date but it's a cover that works well with what's on the disc. 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.

Menu:
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. 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.

Extras:
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.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Finally getting closer to the end of the series, this installment brings four more episodes of silly fun while also moving the show forward. We've had so many small but mysterious moments dealing with Weda leaving the city that there is plenty of curiosity to see more of what's going on there. With only a few more episodes left in the show they decide to finally shift focus and head to the big world.

Of course, they have to have a bit of fun first and that means messing with everyone in the jungle by having it snow. And not just a dusting, we're talking massive amounts of snow. The focus is squarely on the kids as it happens while they're at school and Guu just sets it up so Hare is completely beside himself with worry. Everyone continues to be oblivious to what's going on by not questioning it snowing. They're far more intent on simply enjoying their first snow and playing all sorts of winter games. It naturally devolves into a snowball fight but like much of the episode the fun comes in the quirkiness that surrounds Guu and how she torments Hare.

With Weda being who she is, it's little surprise that simply up and decides that it's time to head back to the city. Much to Hare's surprise though, Weda doesn't have any firm intent on coming back to the jungle so he's really unsure about the whole thing. He does manage to get her to give it a maybe to returning but it doesn't quite make everyone feel good about the situation. Weda's not giving it a second though but everyone from the kids to the good doctor feel like they're losing a key part of their lives. Hare doesn't lose everyone he knows from the jungle though as Guu is obviously coming along. She's just priceless in how she interacts with Weda, particularly when Weda checks Guu in as baggage.

The trip to the city and the time there puts a nice twist on the shows entire concept. Hare and Guu don't exactly change who they are nor does Weda but their interactions are somewhat different. With Hare and Weda together more, particularly on the plane ride, she's starting to realize just how bad Hare can be about everything. His noise level alone sets her off a lot as does the way he worries about everything. Hare's voice is more grating in the English version as it goes along I think in comparison to the Japanese one so her reactions fit in line more with it. Watching him suffer under the idea of Guu taking over the plane, performing such jobs as flight attendant or captain, really sets him up to go over the edge. You can almost see a variant of the old Twilight Zone episode where he sees Guu on the wing of the plane.

Unfortunately, the actual arrival in the city some twelve hours later doesn't really add all that much to the background of the show. Ashio and Bell seem very out of character in leaving Weda and the others at the airport mere minutes after pledging to protect them with her life. The show brings in a character named Robert who serves as the bodyguard and all around protector for the family. He's completely nuts in a restrained psychopathic kind of way as he sees trouble around every corner. In his world, someone is out to get Weda or Hare at every turn and he has to make sure it doesn't happen. This means no going out of the mansion compound for Hare but for Guu it means she's made a new friend. Even worse for Hare, Robert is now assigned to take care of the kids and watch over them.

The shift to the city certainly brings in new gangs, or old gags reworked, such as the idea of Guu going Godzilla on everything, but it doesn't push the storyline forward yet. Hare and Guu find themselves caught up in a bank robbery for part of it but most of the time is spent with character comedy. Weda seems to have fallen into a weird routine of alternating between being quite proper or passed out from too many beers on the patio. Other than Robert, there really doesn't seem to be anyone in the mansion of note and we're still left wondering what went on here all those years ago. Nothing in there, at least during these episodes, show why should we leave. And now that she's returned she doesn't seem to be waiting for the other shoe to drop or for anything to happen.

In Summary:
As much as it feels like the show isn't truly progressing forward, the core of the show with its comedy is still fully intact. Guu actually seems to be a bit more restrained this time around and not quite so out in front with her abilities but she's no less amusing. Both in what she does and how she says it, Guu is the character that can set any scene to be taken in a number of ways. At this point in the series though, Hare is starting to really grate on me (again, more so in English than Japanese) but with the way his life is it's understandable. While there is an overall story background that's getting ever so slowly fleshed out here, I haven't really expected much from the show beyond it making me laugh. It does still do that so I'm enjoying it a lot but I'm also getting a bit disappointed that it hasn't been able to be more than that.

Features
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