Hare+Guu Box Set (of 1) (Mania.com)

By:Mark Thomas
Review Date: Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Release Date: Tuesday, September 11, 2007

What They Say
Welcome to the jungle, the peaceful home of fun-loving ten year old Haré. That is, until Guu moves in. She may look like an innocent orphan girl to everyone else, but only Haré knows that Guu is really a pan-dimensional, mind-reading, magic-using monster with a sarcastic wit and an unlimited appetite! Prepare yourself for chest-hair afros, weird jungle creatures, and the craziest comedy, well, ever, with the wacky adventures of Haré + Guu!

The Review!
A fast paced romp that revels in inane randomness and hilarity with a few morals thrown in.

For this viewing, I primarily watched the English dub, which is offered in 2.0. A Japanese 2.0 track is also available. The audio in this is nice and clear throughout, with some limited directionality offered, mostly during frantic scenes. Two subtitle tracks are offered for this show: the standard full dialogue track for the Japanese audio, and a signs and songs only track for the English audio. The subtitles are given in white rather than the more standard yellow, but there was never an issue with reading them. While there is nothing special with the audio in this release, there is no dropout or distortion, and the voice acting is well done and varied. A really solid effort for this title.

Originally airing in 2001, this release has a nice transfer and is presented in its original 4:3 aspect ratio. For shows such as this, the preservation of color is essential, and the colors here were bright and vibrant throughout. This helped enhance the pleasant, goofy atmosphere that the story creates. I loved the character designs throughout the show, as each character was given his/her own look and really stood out from the rest. The only issue I found with this aspect of show was a few minor technical issues that were not all that important: on some episodes, the subtitles for the opening theme seemed to be missing, and on the later discs, the last chapter before the end credits seemed to be cut off a second early. While that may have been the design with the show, it seemed a little more jumpy than usual. Otherwise, everything looks really nice on this set.

For the most part, there is nothing really special about the packaging for this set; however it is a set design that I really like. The series box is the same box that came with the limited edition volume one; it is covered with numerous chibi-like images of all the characters doing random and wacky things, mostly the same images that are also used during the opening credits. The box is also very colorful, just like the rest of the show.

The disc packaging is also the same as all the individual releases. The front images all feature Hare and Guu, usually with other characters and usually reflecting an aspect of one of the episodes contained on the disc. In particular, I like the image on volume two of Hare, Weda, and Clive looking like a happy family (well, except for Clive, who looks a bit more like the deranged pervert that he is), with Guu in the background wearing the Village Elder’s chest afro. The backs of the cases have a disc summary, with images and humorous captions, episode titles, and the other technical information. Again, like the box, the amaray cases are very colorful.

What I really like about the packaging is that each disc comes with an ‘issue’ of the Jungle News. Essentially, the Jungle News is a full color, glossy tri-fold full of information about the episodes and other wacky things. They introduce characters, provide secrets, offer linguistic lessons from Lazy-Sensei, and other amusing things. They are an amusing extension to the show, and a welcome addition to the packaging.

The main menus for Hare+Guu feature the same picture that is on the front of that disc’s amaray case while a goofy song plays. There are four options on the main screen: Play All, Illusions (the show’s name for episodes), Set Up, and Goodies. There are some nice effects with these menus as the backgrounds tend to move, and moving between menus’s usually involves some animation. The Goodies submenu always features a picture depicting a scene from one of the episodes. Like the packaging, all the menus are bright and colorful, with the selections easy to see and follow. Very nice menus.

Each disc for this set has the same type of extras, as the extras for the individual releases have been kept. Each disc has clean versions of the opening and closing, recording outtakes from the English dubbing, translation and cultural notes, a production gallery of character sketches and whatnot, Japanese TV commercials, Funimation trailers, and DVD credits. While the categories are all the same, the extras are disc specific: i.e. the recording outtakes on disc 1 are only for episodes on disc 1, etc. There is nothing here that is really all that special, as it’s all fairly vanilla stuff, but there is a lot of it over the course of the seven discs, so it can take a while to get through if you are interested.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Hare+Guu is a show that took me somewhat by surprise. While it ended up being exactly the sort of show I was expecting, it ultimately ended up being a better show than I had anticipated. While the type of humor present in this show is not for everybody, which is very reminiscent of shows like Excel Saga, those who like fast paced inanity will find Hare+Guu satisfying in every way.

The show follows the daily life of a typical ten year old boy named Hare who lives in a small jungle village with his mother, Weda. Life is fairly normal for Hare, until Weda comes home from a village meeting one night with a young girl named Guu in tow. Guu is introduced as being an orphan who needs a place to live, and Weda volunteered her house to Guu.

Upon first seeing her, Hare is a little smitten by the innocent looking and acting Guu and is excited at the prospect of living with her. However, by the next morning, Guu’s true nature emerges: she’s diabolical, evil, sadistic, not to mention a bit of a prankster. On top of that, her innocent face has been replaced by a dourer one, and her voice has gone from sweet and sugary to impassionate and monotone.

Hare is freaked out by the change in her character, and it does not help his disposition when he finds that she is able to eat anything, chew it up, swallow it, and spit it back up in one piece. As it turns out, Guu has another world in her stomach, one that stores everything she ever eats as long as it wants to stay, whether it is cats, birds, TVs, or even people.

In fact, as the show moves on, Hare begins to learn that strange things always happen while Guu is around. Like a freak blizzard in the middle of the jungle. Or a game show where the prize is Weda’s affections for a year. Or Guu allowing herself to be checked as luggage on a flight, only to turn up as both the pilot and stewardess. Making mattes worse for Hare is that he is the only person to see Guu for what she really is, and nobody else believes him when he tries to explain.

The first few shows really set things going well for the rest of the episodes as Guu spends some time learning how to live in a human society. While none of this ever stops her from doing what she wants, it is still amusing to watch. An early scene where Waji is trying to teach Guu to laugh at everything so that life doesn’t seem so bad had me almost literally rolling as Guu’s attempts made her sound almost robotic, and yet Waji never seemed to notice. The rest of her humanizing lessons meet with similar results.

Once Guu gets past the adjustment period, the show ultimately ends up falling into a general pattern, though that is not necessarily a bad thing. The show opens with Hare getting irritated about something, whether it be his mother’s rampant drinking, the attitude of a school mate, the existence of Guu, or even just general boredom. Sensing humor in the situation, Guu uses her powers to ‘fix’ whatever problem Hare was having. At first, the fix seems pretty good for Hare, though it always goes south, causing him more anxiety than before. Guu wastes no time in pointing out his flaws and making fun of him, usually in the most malicious way she can. By the end of the episode, Guu puts things back the way they were, leaving Hare a little wiser than he had been beforehand, though even then Guu usually laughs off his attempts to find a moral in her actions.

Hare’s life get’s even worse when the school gets a new doctor, Clive, who is a complete unabashed womanizer. With Hare and Clive, it is hate at first sight, and it is made worse for both when Weda reveals that Clive is Hare’s father, which was also unknown to Clive at the time. Hare refuses to admit that the doctor is his father, and Clive, in turn, refuses to spend any quality time with his son. And of course, with Guu in the background, Hare and Clive are made to butt heads on a regular basis, especially as it comes to Weda.

At first, Clive is really only interested in trying to get Weda back into bed, as she has developed into a beautiful young woman. However, as time goes on, Clive begins to realize more honorable feelings toward Weda, and she seems to return those feelings. None of this sits well with Hare, however, as the last thing he wants is for Clive to enter his life on a permanent basis. As a result, Hare does everything he can to wreck the doctor’s plans.

Unfortunately, if there is any part of the show that drags, it is in dealing with the mystery of Weda’s past. We find out that Weda came from a wealthy family, but was disowned when she got pregnant with Hare at a very young age. A good portion of the show is spent with Hare trying to figure out the facts of his past, which Weda had been avoiding talking about. For the most part, this does not interfere with the progression of the rest of the show. Hare usually picks up bits and pieces of information here and there as he gets involved in the numerous foul-ups and situations that Guu forces him into.

Yet, Weda’s past takes the forefront when she takes Hare and Guu to ‘The City’ (which never gets a name) to return home. While there is still as much absurdity in ‘The City’ as in ‘The Jungle’ (which also never gets a name), moving to an urban environment lessened the effect for me a little bit. Admittedly, being in ‘The City’ opens up the possibility for ideas not available in a jungle setting, such as a giant Robo-Guu destroying said city, those ideas just did not click with me quite as much as the situations in the jungle. However, this is more of a personal preference; the show’s quality does not really dip in anyway.

In Summary:
Hare+Guu is a show that promises little seriousness to get in the way of having random fun and completely delivers on that promise. Even though there is usually some hidden lesson that Hare ends up learning, for each of the twenty six episodes, there is virtually no end to the wackiness from start to finish. At times, the pacing of the show was overwhelming, and I had to pause to recover from laughing. Fans of the type of pacing and humor that a show like Excel Saga offers would probably find a lot to like about this show too. That said, only those who enjoy the fast pace and complete randomness of shows like Excel Saga would be interested in this show, as it offers little else. Still, what is here is tremendous fun; Guu’s inappropriate sense of the appropriate provides a highly entertaining romp. Recommended.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,English Recording Outtakes,Clean Opening & Ending Animation,Original Japanese TV Commercials,Production Art Gallery,Lazy Sensei's Language Lessons (Translation & Cultural Notes)

Review Equipment
Phillips Magnavox TP3285 C129 32” TV, Samsung DVD-V5650 Progressive Scan DVD w/ DD/DTS, Durabrand HT3916 5.1 Surround Sound System

Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: A-
Menus Rating: A-
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: AN Entertainment
MSRP: 99.95
Running time: 650
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Hare+Guu