Di Gi Charat Nyo! Vol. #02 (of 12) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Tuesday, August 07, 2007
Release Date: Tuesday, July 17, 2007

What They Say
It looks like Dejiko is doing okay with her princess training, but I think she gets homesick sometimes. Meanwhile, my brother, Kiyoshi, has come down with a bad case of Eye Beam, but who cares? If only we could get Dejiko to stop using her Eye Beam before the entire house falls down. But never mind that, can you believe that the legendary Delorin Chiro doll is going up for auction?! I just have to buy it!

But before that, I have to take care of some stinky alien at the bathhouse and head off to the electronic and anime mecca, Akihabara, to pick up parts for a new toy I'm working on. Oh no! I've fallen off Puchiko's Top Five Favorites list. Who bumped me off the list?

The Review!
Weird for weird's sake with little in the way of amusement, Di Gi Chart Nyo! continues its plunge into the weakest effort of the franchise yet..

Bandai Entertainment has provided two language options with this release by having both the original Japanese stereo mix and an English stereo mix done by The Ocean Group. Both mixes are encoded at 192 kbps and serve the material well as it's mostly just wacky dialogue. There isn't a lot of music to it outside of the opening and closing and within the episodes themselves there isn't much need for placement or depth. As simple as the mix is, it does handle things well and suits the material. In listening to both language tracks we didn't have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Originally airing in 2003, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. Similar in design to past incarnations of the series, Mad House has animated something incredibly vibrant here. These bright bold colors come across beautifully here as they pop off the screen. So many areas are made up of solid colors that it's surprising to see practically no noise or break-up associated with it. Even aliasing is very minimal during the pan and zoom sequences. The opening and closing sequences are left in their original form with a full credit scroll following all of the episodes. This is a gorgeous looking full frame transfer that simply pops beautifully.

Not unlike other series, the cover art for Di Gi Charat Nyo! is a great piece as it's an illustration of the leads with a great amount of detail and design to it. The soft colors and tight line work just shines here. Each of the girls looks great with the costumes and colors with it and it blends well with the background. Even the logo is nicely unobtrusive and fits in with the scheme overall with the color choices. The back cover carries over the background design and keeps it soft so that the information over it is easily readable. The summary covers the basics and several shots from the show highlight its cute factor. The episode listings are a bit disingenuous since it is admittedly eight episodes but a casual buyer may not realize they're half episodes. The discs features and production information rounds out the bottom as well as a minimal technical grid. No insert is included with this release nor is the cover reversible.

Bright and garish, the menu for this release certainly stands out and commands attention. With the trio of lead girls in the center as multicolored rays of light shine forth from them, a bit of upbeat instrumental music plays along. The selections are sort of scattered about and you use a flower cursor to move over them which works well though at times it's not entirely intuitive which direction it should go in. Access times are decent and it's easy enough to set up selections in the navigation. The disc did correctly read our players' language presets and played in Japanese with full subtitles.


Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
At the end of the first volume I had discovered that there were just over a hundred half length episodes for this series. I couldn't imagine how they could pull that off without boring the socks off of me quickly. To my surprise, it happened faster than I expected and this run of eight half length episodes has me putting this show very close to Bobo-bo territory.

Di Gi Charat has always been best taken in small doses so we ended up watching two half length episodes at a time over a couple of days. But even then, by the end of the first episode, you felt like you were done with it and that it had already gone on too long. Di Gi Charat is all about being weird for the sake of being weird. I know better than to expect any kind of actual storyline with it or any real plot elements so the show has to survive on being amusing and wacky. That's something that previous incarnations of the series have succeeded with. Nyo just seems to fall flat, particularly due to the changes made to the dynamic of the cast.

Having Rabi~en Rose as a normal girl named Hikaru Usada who tries to transform into a magical girl has killed off most of the amusing things about the core character. This incarnation isn't bad but it feels weak as she tries to eke out her place in life only to be continually harassed by Dejiko. You feel sympathy for Usada throughout as she suffers from the eyebeams that Dejiko employs frequently and from other things that Dejiko does that invariably cause Usada harm. But that kind of gag only works so long if the humor is right. You can laugh at how Squidward gets abused in Spongebob Squarepants since they provide humor that appeals to both kids and adults. Di Gi Charat Nyo is missing that angle with the adult humor and instead just comes across as even more childish. That said, the eight half length episodes here had my kids rolling on the floor laughing at all the characters antics.

The mini plots are mild and amusing at times but far too predictable for a show that's trying to be as weird and wacky as it is. You have the opening episode that revolves around Kiyoshi forgetting his lunch and having Usada trying to give him hers without her revealing that she has feelings for him. Of course, Dejiko shows up and causes all sorts of problems with it. Another episode has a strange new temporary addition to the cast as Mommy's Baby shows up, an unusual bland little humanoid creature that essentially adopts Dejiko for awhile.

There are some good bits to be found throughout this volume but even then they tend to be run into the ground far too quickly for half length episodes. One of them has Gemma going into a serious competition with Puchiko's adopted father in a cats cradle battle. It goes over the top very quickly in terms of what they can create with their strings but that works well for the length of it. There isn't anything to the episode besides that and most of the other characters get pushed to the side which causes it to drag a bit as it goes on. One of the better episodes is the last one where Yasushi devises a new toy that will help him and Gemma get revenge on Dejiko for all her eyebeam blasts. Creating a pair of glasses that basically lets everyone look like Dejiko with a few quirks to her personality as well as shooting eyebeams, Dejiko finds herself full of fear for once. The episode has some good snarky moments to it as she deals with what it feels like to have everyone against her.

In Summary:
The good moments in this volume are outweighed by the majority of mediocre to poor moments that aren't amusing and just cover gags that you feel were done all too recently. Some of the characters work well here and I can't help but to be mildly amused with Puchiko most of the time. What comes across as the main problem for me with this series again is that beyond the setting being changed the characters themselves just aren't all that appealing. The familiarity with them in a different setting with different personalities hasn't translated well to this incarnation at all. With the series already making me wince this early in, I have little faith in how the next eighty-eight episodes will go.

Japanese 2.0 LAnguage,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

Mania Grade: C-
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Bandai Entertainment
MSRP: 24.98
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Di Gi Charat Nyo!