Panda-Z Vol. #6 (of 6) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Monday, June 12, 2006
Release Date: Tuesday, June 13, 2006
What They Say
The time for battle looms before him and Taron looks out over the ocean watching the sunset. He thinks of the last time he saw his father as a boy, and of the crybaby he used to be so long ago. But now Taron and his friends unflinchingly face the forces of evil in order to protect the peace of Robonimal World!
Panda-Z comes to a close as the final five provide more of the unique humor of the series and a bit of a big battle.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. At first I was really confused as to why Bandai wasn't dubbing this show since the Japanese track is the only one available and I knew so little about the title that it was just odd. Well, after viewing the show, it certainly makes sense as there isn't any real dialogue. Any spoken lines are done in the old silent film style of title cards on the screen which are soft subtitled. The stereo mix otherwise is pretty decent but it's not a really expressive track and it does feel more like a full mix than anything else.
Originally released to video in 2004, the transfer for this OVA is presented in its original full frame format. With it only being one episode and being very simple but effectively smooth animation, this is a simply gorgeous looking piece for what it is. There's definitely detail to be found in the designs and layouts but the majority of it is bright bold colors and simple expressive character designs. The plus is that with as much of the bitrate thrown at it as possible, there's pretty much no problem with how this looks here. This simply looks fantastic and is kept in its original release format completely.
The cover design for this release is really simple and cute with the grid background while the foreground works with the basic colors of gray and white and red while the foreground shot of the Black Ham Gear and its leade. It's darkly cute with how it looks and their slightly varied expressions. The back cover has a similar design and gives you a quick rundown of the premise (as if there really is one) as well as a screenshot for each episode number and title listed here. The discs production information is clearly listed along the bottom though I still pine for a real technical grid.
The menu layout uses the same kind of style as the front cover with one side gridded out and the other a black section where the navigation is laid out. The usual selections are here, including a setup section because Bandai rocks and ensures that you can run the show without subtitles if you want, and access times are nice and fast. The menus are fairly basic but they work nicely and are in theme for the show. With the minimal audio on the release, the player preset issue isn't exactly an issue this time around.
The extras are minimal but cute with a 3D clip of the show and a series of bonus clips.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
In years to come, when people talk about odd shows that don't fit the mold that you never expected to come over regardless of the names attached to the project, Panda-Z would be one of the most common ones to talk about but with very few people even aware of it I doubt it'll get the dubious recognition it deserves. The final volume of the series brings us up through episode 30 with its just under five minute episodes.
And similar to previous volumes in the series, it's cute and has its moments but it also relies on some repetition to keep going. The episodes have a fun mixture where there's almost some games being played between PanTaron and others and even Nurse Rabinna gets involved with the festivities, though people aren't exactly eager for her and her medical equipment to come after them. Like most series, it does progress towards something of a big battle ending, which has a really slow but nice episode that has PanTaron looking out "towards tomorrow". As it goes forward we get to revisit the past a bit in the card game which to me makes no sense but it sets the stage for the finale which brings out the Black Ham and really has a surprising dark nature around it for the episode.
Talking about Panda-Z is something that's probably better done by college kids that are sufficiently buzzed on something while watching it. The show certainly has its appeal at times and for those that are Go Nagai fans, getting something as unique as this from him over here is almost a rarity these days. At the same time, it's a series that would have played far better as a series of extras attached to another show rather than standalone, even at the very low price point that we get for each episode. In some ways, I feel like we're really missing a lot of context for this series in how it seems to fit into something larger or probably from another medium. I've enjoyed various episodes across the series but this is one of those series that I'm very glad it's over because it's difficult to talk much about what's essentially a quirky show about nothing.
English Subtitles,3D Animation Clip
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: C+
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: Bandai Entertainment
Running time: 30
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2