Best Student Council Vol. #3 (of 6) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Monday, April 30, 2007
Release Date: Tuesday, May 15, 2007
What They Say
Every day is an adventure when you're a member of the "maximum authority wielding" Best Student Council at Miyagami Academy. Some days, you may have to battle student councils from rival high schools, even when everybody's ill. Other days, a pesky new transfer student may mess up the dorm and force the entire student council to eat and sleep in the science wing. There's no telling what could happen next. Who knows? One of the student council members might even turn out to be a secret agent. Are you kidding me?
Contains episodes 11-14.
More of the back story is uncovered with a few key characters before the show dangles a new manic character into the mix.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. Both this track and the English language track are done in a 224kbps stereo mix and sound good for what is essentially a dialogue driven show. There aren't a lot of action effects to it or even much in the way of incidental sounds, leaving it mostly to mild background music and the continual dialogue. Both tracks come across well but there isn't much oomph to it in general. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2005, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. Bright and colorful and filled with decent animation but not so much that it really leaps out at you, the transfer for this looks really good outside of a few very small problems. Because of the way it's animated, there isn't a huge amount of movement in a lot of scenes so the colors maintain a very solid feel and backgrounds are very good looking. Cross coloration is absent from it but there is some aliasing and jaggies to be found during a number of panning movements with the camera. These typically affect backgrounds more than anything but aren't a huge distraction. The show overall is very pleasing on the eyes and doesn't exhibit any kind of real showstoppers.
Fitting into a more traditional looking school oriented piece with this volume, Minamo is the primary character here as she does her best to look cute while Kanade and Rino are in the background with the school entrance. The artwork is decent but the colors are almost garish in some ways with the yellows and blues. It's certainly eye-catching but not too much in a good way. The back cover continues the blue theme and provide some additional character artwork as well as a few shots from the show. The summary does a good job of covering the basics of the premise and the features are clearly listed. The discs technical features are clearly listed and the production information fills out most of the bottom area. No insert is included nor is the cover reversible.
The menu design for this volume is fairly weak and surprisingly text heavy. The static background image is a decent shot of Minamo along one side while the navigation strip is through the middle. What's surprising about it is that they do use their standard method of providing quick episode access but they add the episode titles next to them. This has the menu looking a bit busier and not quite as empty if they had just used the episode numbers, but I'm not quite sure it looks all that good. Access times are nice and fast however and submenus load quickly. The disc, like just about every ADV Films release, correctly read our players' language presets and played accordingly.
The extras for this installment are pretty basic but good ones to have in that we get the clean opening and closing sequences. The unique extra to this volume is a couple of the Japanese DVD promo commercials which are very well translated in terms of onscreen text.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the episode count dropping by one, Best Student Council moves easily past the halfway mark of the series with this volume. Some of the energy from the first ten episodes lessens with this set of episodes as well but overall it manages to continue to entertain with it's slightly skewered look at school life.
The series takes a turn around the halfway mark that I don't particularly care for but it's still early yet to see exactly what it's doing. The first half of the disc is a good mix of standard comedy with amusing turns related to the quirks of the premise here. The opening episode deals with a problem that the Council has to face as the Futsal team comes down with a summer cold. Not willing to forfeit in general but definitely not to their rival school of Kenran, the Council members take on the challenge of playing the game. With only twelve hours or so to learn the game however they're going to be very challenged. Even worse, most of the players are just awful, particularly when you have someone like Cyndi who as the goalie simply cowers in fear when the ball rolls by her. The Kenran Student Council is amusing though predictable and very heavy on name dropping themselves which adds to their air of self-importance.
Where the show takes an interesting turn is when it delves into the back story of Kanade and Nanoha. Kanade certainly has room for detail and we get an episode where we see her and longtime friend Nanoha heading to the Jinguji home for a monthly meeting. Kanade goes there to meet with her grandfather for an as yet determined reason so we see the story more through Nanoha's eyes. Her devotion to Kanade is something that hasn't been explored much here but she recounts their first meeting as well as parts of her own childhood. The two have a lot in common from their origins and outlook on life and seeing how they became close really serves to make them the most interesting relationship so far. This may change as we find out what the deal is with Rino as there does seem to be something more but for now this pair really clicks well as they delved into this.
This background episode is followed-up by something that could make or break the show depending on how it plays out. When Kanade and Nanoha return to the school, they find that the Council Dormitory has been completely destroyed. All they can find initially is Rino and she begins her tale of what happened. Rino being who she is, it's a very long winded and convoluted telling of a very simple story where she's basically rescued an anemic girl named Minamo who upon waking up has decided to run amuck in the dorm. She's a year or two younger than Rino and apparently comes from a very spoiled family as everything she wants to do is what she expects everyone else to do. Rino does provide some amount of a problem for her but the two end up becoming weird friends because of it.
Minamo's arrival in the show is something that really feels like a stretch if it's going to become key to the second half. Introducing characters halfway though the show usually feels like an attempt to reignite things and change the dynamic. Minamo ends up causing plenty of trouble in general and the repercussions hit into the next episode at the least. The focus on her is natural but it does change how the show plays out after getting comfortable with the existing cast members. With the teases we got from Nanoha and Kanade in the first half of the show, this comes across as a sizeable detour to what looked to be a more interesting show. Minamo herself is quite annoying as well as would be expected from a spoiled child character. Her change and growth as she deals with the more "balanced" regulars is an obvious angle but it puts me off coming so late in the series, particularly if she ends up dominating the next volume.
While this set of episodes has a few more ups and downs than I would have cared for, as well as a lot less Pucchan, there is still something about Best Student Council that connects with me. It's quirkiness even as they go through predictable material hits just right. It's not too over the top in what it's doing while also avoiding being too real world. So many shows seem to go for the extreme ends these days that something that hits in the middle without being really manic is very appealing. These episodes have some neat new tidbits that help expand the overall ideas of the series but they also run into something of a detour with a new arrival.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Clean opening animation,Clean closing animation
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: B
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B-
Extras Rating: B-
Age Rating: TV PG
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Best Student Council