Hare+Guu Deluxe Vol. #1 (of 2) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, May 08, 2007
Release Date: Tuesday, May 01, 2007
What They Say
Hare and Guu return to the jungle to find the familiar old gang, and a few new faces including a psychotic new schoolteacher and a couple of goth roaches. Marie dreams up new ways to entice Hare's affections. Dama goes on a destructive rampage in her deadly quest for a new love. And the surprising announcement that Weda is expecting results in Hare getting a father he never expected!
Following-up the TV series with a series of short and to the point standalone comedy pieces, Hare + Guu returns to what makes it so effective.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The release does contain both an English and Japanese track which are encoded at 192 kbps.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 there doesn't seem to be much in terms of directionality. Throughout some of the more wacky sequences as well as some good moments that suck you in with the depth but it isn't a wide feeling mix. We did listen to both tracks in the end and had no problems with dropouts or distortions with either of them during regular playback.
Originally released in late 2002, the transfer for this OVA series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The three OVAs on this release are some of the worst looking episodes I've seen in quite some time. While there are good looking scenes throughout, the majority of it reminded me of an Nth generation VHS copy. Colors in general look good but the source materials are very problematic. The sheer amount of mosquito noise throughout is overpowering as is general chroma noise and dot crawl. Large areas of bold colors, which are common here, shift like crazy. Edges are particularly problematic but when the entire screen looks like it's been heavily ziptoned it just looks awful overall. The opening sequences showcase a lot of motion breakup right from the start as well though the English language logo comes across relatively clean outside of some minor chroma noise.
The release uses the same cover artwork as the Japanese release but with the logo translated into English while still retaining the same style and elements to it which really just work perfectly. Bright and almost garish, this cover is a close-up of Hare and Guu side by side with their new substitute teacher in between them. 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.
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.
The extras included for the release mirror the TV series in a couple of good ways. The opening and closing sequences are done in clean format and there is a very useful round of translation notes. The new extra to this is the original Japanese pilot film which has been dubbed and subtitled. It runs just over five minutes and is basically a shortened version of the first couple of episodes key points where Guu and Clive show up. It's interesting to see the slightly different designs but also some of the really different ones like Ashio.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After the fun that was the Hare + Guu TV series, a set of six OVAs were created under the "Deluxe" branding. Within each of these OVAs was a split of two stories that essentially made up a runtime equal to that of a TV episode. So these don't run any longer than what was seen on TV nor is it any racier since there's always the hope of getting them broadcast. What we do get is a set of very amusing episodes that aren't heavily structured.
The TV series ended with a storyline that added a fair bit of change and seriousness to it at times with the main group heading to the city. Hare and Guu carved out their own brand of comedy and slapstick there easily enough but the shift to the city changed the feel of the show a fair bit. With them now back in the jungle, the half-length stories allow for some quick and targeted humor with no real repercussions overall. This lets them just go for the gusto and have a lot of fun even when they do bring in some main plotline elements.
The variety to the stories really does work well in providing amusement. The opening bit brings a substitute teacher to the school that Hare hasn't met. She turns out to be a nice woman in general but is so over the top in her reactions that it explains why she doesn't have a boyfriend. Hare's need to help everyone lands him in a lot of pain and frustration of course but it's his persistence that continues to pay off. Another episode deals with Marie and her crush on Hare which has plenty of problems since women seem to gravitate to him for some reason. Guu's fiddling causes us to see Marie in a number of ways, including some surprisingly sultry versions.
On the creepy side, one of the stories features Hare having to deal with his fear of IT, with IT being bugs and other creepy crawlies. Guu really messes with him in this by turning a couple of them into human form that can communicate with him. The story just goes in so many wrong directions that it'll make you cringe even as you laugh at the situation. Much can be said about the other episode that has the gang hunting down everyone's most hated Grandma who is searching for her long lost husband. Screen time with her makes my skin crawl like Hare's does with bugs.
The most fun I had with this volume though was the episode that brings in some of the gang from the city as Clive and Weda decide on marriage. It's just a twisted episode in general as Hare and Clive go through some of the things that Weda's doing lately but it gets even weirder when a "Weda-off" contest is started to see who can actually marry her. Bell just does things so over the top in general with her love/lust regarding Weda that putting her through a contest in order to stave off Clive is just asking for trouble. Hare gets wrapped up in it even though he wants no part of it and like most episodes he spends a good deal of his time either crying or screaming his head off.
The design of the show is basically the same as the TV series with no real differences. Some OVAs tend to show a bit higher animation quality or tries to do things up in a different manner but this one is really just a continuation of what was done in the TV series. The animation is good and keeps consistent with established designs. Though I'd love to see a higher quality production of the show, getting to see more episodes that are strictly comedy focused is also a real plus.
Hare + Guu had some uneven volumes when it came to the TV series but overall it was a lot of fun. I wish that it had ended better as the arc that took them to the city felt out of place but the OVAs here look to bring me back to what I really like about the show. This release is a solid production in most areas just like the TV series but the video quality is just plain awful. The issues are obviously very noticeable on a 70" set but when watching it on a 23" set it was just as bad. If these are what the masters are like, I'd almost say that I'd rather AN Entertainment didn't release it. If the Japanese releases looked like this then shame on them. If not, shame on them for not providing better masters. Fans of the series will love the content but may really dislike how it looks.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Japanese Pilot Film Bonus Short, Translation Notes, Jungle News Booklet, English Dubbing Outtakes
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI -> DVI set to 480p, 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: D
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B+
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: AN Entertainment
Running time: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2