Papuwa Vol. #4 (of 6) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Thursday, February 15, 2007
Release Date: Tuesday, February 06, 2007



What They Say
Are you man enough to be a maid? In an attempt to shed his girly exterior and become a man among men, Kotaro has ventured deep into the musty Man Hole. To pass the treacherous trial he must face a sexy squid man, blood-sucking bats and hungry hamsters with a taste for human flesh. To make matters worse, a sudden flood awakens a haunting memory that opens the door to his tragic past.

Next, Liquid's patience is put to the test on the manliest of holidays: Father's Day. Kotaro and Papuwa empty his bank account and buy him a series of life-threatening gifts, including a rodent-powered papier-mache low-rider. After a one-way trip to a bad case of whiplash, the miserable maid is invited to a dangerously alcoholic tea party, where the demented drunkards of the Special Battle Unit share a series of shockingly disturbing memories of their fathers.

The rainy season brings more doom and gloom for Liquid as a violent run-in with Koji and his estrogen-impaired sister renders him unable to complete the housework. Before the dirty dishes can pile up, Papuwa prepares a death-defying obstacle course to decide who will fill his man maid's shoes. Maid applicants must hustle and flex their muscle as they walk planks, whack weeds and take flying drumsticks to the face in the manliest maid match up of the millennium.

The Review!
With another four episodes, Papuwa continues on in much the same way with strange and not all that amusing comedy.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. While this is mostly a wordplay kind of comedy, there's a lot of action effects and reaction noises to what's going on that's well played across the forward soundstage. The track is pretty effective overall with some of the creative things they do with voices and making it fit the various situations. The English stereo mix is essentially the same though I think they manage to take it a slight bit further, in a good way, with a bit more variety to the accents and some of the sound effects with the voices. Dialogue on both tracks is clean and clear through and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2003, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The design for this show is very bright and inviting, almost too colorful at times, but it's trying to capture that entire South Seas kind of atmosphere with the beautiful water and the lush island life. This is kept with the character designs as well which have a lot of life to them and bold colors and styles. The transfer for this captures it pretty well with only some minor video noise being visible in a few scenes that stand out. Some of the slow panning scenes introduce a bit of pixilation around the edges of the characters but these kinds of scenes are very few and far between and may be less noticeable on smaller monitors.

Packaging:
Similar to the design of the earlier volumes, the layout is framed in the same manner and has a scene from the first episode where a bunch of these weird characters are having a beach party. Similar to the actual animation, the characters are simple and without much detail. The back cover has a number of shots from the show that highlight the weirdness of it all while through the center is a decent summary of what to expect from the plot. The discs features and technical information are all quite easy to read and find and the production info is much easier to read this time around due to the lighter background color. No insert was included with this release.

Menu:
The menu design for the show is one that we've seen before in a couple of other shows but it's using a slightly common theme from a lot of ending sequences. Using the animation from there of Papuwa walking over the round green hill, we get that here set to a bit of music while the episode selections are lined up over him in the sky and the rest of the navigation along the bottom. It's an effective and cute piece since it uses the animation itself but we've seen it pretty recently in another ADV Films title. Access times are nice and fast though and it's easy to navigate and the disc picked up our players' language presets without any problem.

Extras:
The extras for this release essentially mirror the previous volume and that's a very good thing. The clean opening and closing sequences are definitely worth checking out without the credits so you can see the details to it and the character art gallery is about as expected. What is useful is the translators notes which cover some of the more esoteric cultural and language references made in the show in quite a bit of detail.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The more I watch Papuwa, the more scared I get that someone may think this will actually sell well and someone will bring out the longer original series. Similar to how we changed direction in how we watched Paniponi Dash, I tried changing things up again with this show to see if it would work better. Would English work better? Smaller viewing sessions? Reading the translation notes first?

Unfortunately it seems like nothing works which means that every minute of every episode is a chore to watch. I can easily see a lot of the humor in the show with how it presents itself, but it just has nothing that really draws it all together to actually make it work. It's like reading a joke and knowing that it's funny but it doesn't actually make you laugh. What it reminds me more of though is watching some friends getting completely wasted and coming up with a show based on whatever was rolling through their minds. I dare say it's easy to believe that the creators behind this were paid in mind altering drugs and they put their gains right back into the show.

The storylines in the show are what you could call basic and without much to them. The opening episode for example deals with Kotaro going on a mild journey with Chappy and Papuwa in order to become a man. We get to see more oddities of the island, such as the half man half octopus character that's in love with a clam. Another has Father's Day come to the island and the guys try to do some good things for Liquid. Naturally, they end up causing more problems than anything else but I will admit that I was amused by the cardboard box car fueled by mice that they gave Liquid.

A good bit of time is spent with the other side of the cast in this volume as we see events starting to move to a head about getting Kotaro back. The minions that have been sent to Papuwa Island are also far more involved this time around as they deal directly with Liquid and the others as well as providing more background on some of them. Umako in particular has taken a real liking to Liquid and gets quite jealous when other men are around him. That leads to plenty of situations that not only makes Liquid nervous and uncomfortable but also situations that place Umako's comrades in danger. With Liquid also being wounded during the course of these episodes, he's hard pressed to be able to deal with anything that Umako ends up throwing at him.

The series hasn't deviated much at all from how it was presented at the start so it continues with its look and feel. The characters aren't terribly dimensional at times the backgrounds are simple but work well enough and it has a decent if unmemorable score to it. Though it doesn't really excel in any way, it is a solid enough production with good looking colors and fluid enough moments when warranted. Because of how the show is designed in terms of the character interactions, they can get away with a number of shortcuts though.

In Summary:
While Papuwa clearly doesn't make me laugh or is aimed at me, I can see where the humor is and why those who do enjoy it will love it. This release is pretty much spot on for fans of the show but I'm nowhere near being a fan of it. What scares me the most about the show at this point is not only that there are two more volumes left but there's a whole other series that precedes it that isn't licensed yet. The possibility of it being picked up will be like an axe standing over me until we're far away from that ever happening.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Translator Notes, Character Art Gallery, Clean Opening Animation, Clean Closing Animation

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic DMP-BD10 Blu-ray 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: D
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: TV 14
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
MSRP: 29.98
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Papuwa