Dan Doh!! Vol. #3 (of 3) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Monday, April 24, 2006
Release Date: Tuesday, April 25, 2006
What They Say
It's the last day at the Sapporo Open Golf Championship, and Dandoh's helped caddy Takuya Akano into the top 3 at the cost of his own health. Taku's up against the most elite players of the golfing world now, can Dandoh hang in there for the win, or will he collapse at a crucial moment?
Kazama returns after training abroad with the best golfers for one final showdown against Dandoh in a hole-by-hole match play. Can Dandoh fight back against Kazama's new extreme style of play?
Bringing the series to a close while not answering all of its questions, Dandoh continues to show through example what golf really means to him.
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.
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.
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 cover goes with a look at the two who make up the last couple of episodes with an amusing shot of Dandoh and Kazama that makes it look like Dandoh is holding Kazama by the scruff.. Similar to the previous volumes, 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 the main trio on the right while the left has a summary of the basic premise. Below him they list the eight 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.
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.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As Dandoh!! comes to a close and I try to think of how its run has been, I continue to keep coming back to the same kinds of thoughts on it. Though it's rated as 13+ it's something that could easily be all ages as I can't think of anything really offensive enough to raise it to that level. Dandoh is a show that's aimed at the pre-teen crowd and maybe even a bit younger as it's goal is to show competition in a positive light while showing some of the downsides to it. And probably similar to series like Slam Dunk, there's also the hope that it'll spur some interest in the game of golf.
And I'll even admit that it's got me a bit more interested myself but what it did do was convince my daughter that she wants to learn how to play it now, having watched this volume. The final eight episodes of the series plays out two very different arcs in very different manners. The first six episodes covers the remainder of the Sapporo event with Akano and Dandoh working through the course together and overcoming its challenges. Akano has surprised most folks by getting this far and they're realizing it's the combination of him and Dandoh that's doing it. But it's not until the last day of the competition that it becomes evident that the game is far less about Mash and Tracy now but Mash and Akano as he's closing in on the gap between them and not even thinking about anyone but Mash.
A lot of Akano's success comes from the tireless efforts that Dandoh puts into the event by spending late nights out on the course and walking through it so he can understand what it is and how it reacts. This has led him to a less than ideal situation as the final day plays out since his feet aren't quite in as good a shape as they should be considering how much walking has to be done. Dandoh's abilities to see the "wind monsters" has been important in other events as well but we see that he's not the only one that can see this as we get to understand Mash a bit more. It's a slightly different interpretation for him but it brings something new to the competition. In the end though, it's Akano's ability to almost always put the ball exactly where Dandoh tells him that shows the most skill I think, particularly as he's wounded in one eye and going by just his right eye.
The end arc, which is only two episodes along and feels quite rushed and out of place, involves the return of Kazama from the earlier matches who has decided that his time spent out of the country being dressed down by professional players until he was able to outdo them. He's gone through the hard stuff and has come back so that he can put Dandoh in his place and essentially pressure and humiliate him through the game. Even worse for Dandoh who easily accepts the challenge is that Kazama has asked Akano to be his caddie for it. The arc plays through with some less than stellar results for Dandoh but the competition in general just doesn't like it fits in with everything that's come before. In a way, it has a mean edge that just doesn't fit in with the positive nature of the characters and even the past events where things did not go well.
With the manga still running, one area of the show that gets poorly covered here is the relationship Dandoh has with his mother. It's mentioned a few times early on in the series but we get something more tantalizing in this volume as there are a few instances where we potentially see her as she reacts to seeing Dandoh in the Sapporo tournament. Golf must be big in Japan since that tournament is not only playing in restaurants all over but on the giant screen inside of airports. Regardless, this potential set of answers regarding their relationship doesn't get followed-up and is the only really dangling issue in the show that's presumably covered more effectively at some point in the manga.
Ignoring the last two episodes, Dandoh overall is a rather charming if incredibly hard to believe show about a group of kids who find passion in golf. It's not an after school special but it has some of that feeling. There is very little to really think about it and this doesn't challenge the mind but in watching ten or eight episode chunks of the show at once, it flows surprisingly well in this form and like a lot of sports shows becomes addictive in its own manner. It's not a show that I can recommend because it's not something that's outstanding or really needs to be seen, but the release is very well done and the show is enjoyable in its own way. This is one where I ended up watching a lot of it with my kids and they were glued to the screen and they're really the audience of the show, Japanese intended of course, but its simply energy and fun manages to be conveyed in its English adaptation as well. And at the very least, I can now say I've seen some golf anime.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Toshiba HD-A1 Progressive Scan HD DVD 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: B+
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Bandai Entertainment
Running time: 250
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Dan Doh!