Paniponi Dash Vol. #1 (of 6) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Thursday, February 28, 2008
Release Date: Thursday, February 07, 2008
What They Say
Good News? She's an MIT grad. Bad news? She's a 11-year-old MIT grad.
So while Becky Miyamoto may be intellectually able, this MIT prodigy is painfully ill-equipped to deal with a group of temperamental teens, especially this group. There's the bitchy Heather, the ADD Spazz, the angry nerd, the identical twins, the invisible girl, the freaky class president, the drama geek, the Nancy Drew, the gamer, the princess...whew!
Add to that her pathetically-abused stuffed bunny buddy and idiotic aliens watching her every move and it's no wonder Becky's prone to crying fits, tirades, and flipping the class bird.
Don't miss the Grade-A comedy from the brains behind Negima - Paniponi Dash! It's a lesson in comedy that'll just kill you!
Pani + Poni + Dash = crack.
For this review I listened to the disc in the original Japanese. The disc presents no real problems with transition as the sounds comes through clear and concise. The show doesn’t give too many scenes where sound is done in groups with the focus usually on one person speaking so it may be too early to tell on the sound quality but there were no problems and the background noises were also well defined – there was no problems either when switching for one episode to the English track and the 5.1 Stereo works just as well, with not distortions heard.
Being a SHAFT anime, the standard of animation was expected, at times it’s extremely colourful and bright and suddenly goes into fading, dark colours – with a show like Pani Poni Dash, the quality of the animation varies depending on the scene, but overall it’s very eye-catching – sometimes the quality just doesn’t seem there – whether that’s from the transition or just from the way it was original animated I don’t know, but at certain scenes there isn’t really a lot of definition. Otherwise, it’s still a good-looking piece with nice colours (especially needed for the Cat Gods of course) and some scenes do stand out, especially during episode 5 in the outdoor scenes. Also no problems with the timing of the subtitles, and specifically the AD Vid Notes…especially considering how quick those fly out at you…
No packaging was supplied with this test disc.
The opening menu shows the setting for the show, with a picture of Becky on the right on a blackboard scenario with the episode numbers and extras in chalk, making it clear to choose whilst shadows of students with their background noise can be seen. The language selection is basic but easy to select. One minor complaint was that there wasn’t a scene selection choice, which wasn’t a big deal, but of course it could be a bit frustrating to get to the scene you want straight from the episode. Otherwise plain, simple and easy to use.
Along with the clean closing animation, you get all 5 slightly different versions of the opening of Pani Poni Dash that is a surprise and something I didn’t notice when watching this the first time. Also included are the Japanese TV Spots for Pani Poni Dash, which are amusing to watch just because it’s Becky introducing them.
The big extra however is the return of the ADVid Notes, seen before in shows for UK fans like Excel Saga and Abenobashi. For the uninitiated, the ADVid-notes are pop-up notes on the screen when something occurs which the viewer may not get or understand – in other words, there are lot of Japanese cultural, anime and miscellaneous references in the show which would be hard to get with the naked eye, so by turning this option on, you can find out the hidden (or not so hidden) meanings and jokes in the show. It’s very informative as you see just how much PPD does parody. Just be ready with that pause button…
There is drama, there is comedy, there is romance…and there is Pani Poni Dash.
First of all, don’t try to follow this review too seriously, especially if you are searching for some kind of plot or meaning, otherwise you’ll just become dizzy. This was a series I had a good knowledge about before so I kind of knew what to expect. However, even I had to be having a good rewind of a lot of the things I missed…
…and when you get straight into a scene parodying Planet Of The Apes you know you’re going to get something interesting if nothing else.
You are quickly introduced to Rebecca Miyamoto, child-genius, part American and Japanese and about to start work as a teacher. The kid as a teacher/student in a school has been done with other popular shows like Azumanga Daioh and Negima – the difference here is that Rebecca is quite a smart-aleck to say the least, so when she is late for her first day, her temper is already not at her best, and doesn’t help when her students immediately christen her ‘Becky’ much to her annoyance. Accompanied by a suicidal-depressed bunny named Mesousa, and some aliens watching her every move for whatever reason they would have to watch an MIT graduate at 11 years old, you can tell this series isn’t going to take itself seriously.
The whole disc seems to keep adding characters bit by bit, but you are introduced to the core characters from the start – you have Himeko, a very excitable young girl with a cowlick in her hair who tends to say ‘Maho’ a lot and is extremely fond of Becky (much to her obvious disgust), Miyako, the resident bookworm of the class even though she’s not actually that smart, Rei, the bully who shows her love to Becky by embarrassing and scaring her on her first day, Sayaka, a.k.a number 6, the good-girl next door, Kurumi, who I had to think hard to remember her name because she’s so plain, and Ichijou, the class rep. Words can’t describe Ichijou in a line – she’s…very unique.
After the first ep, various other characters are introduced from other classes as Becky adjusts to being a child-teacher in an adult environment where her students playfully tease her and she hides behind the curtain crying all the way. The second episode however is notable as it quickly gives me my favourite character of the series, Kurumi, a.k.a. the plain girl. Ironically, being plain made her the most noticeable and fun character in the series as she gets depressed that Becky can’t remember her name and goes to hide in the rabbit hutch, fading from existence. Sadly, it being a comedy show, the original laughs seem to fade out and the whole episode ends rather abruptly that Becky just then remembers her name…and then one of the other teachers promptly forgets it…poor Kurumi.
The draw of the show is the character quirks – Becky of course is a child-teacher with a bit of a potty-mouth but still being very cute, and along with Kurumi, all the characters have their quirks (Rei in particular is a fun character as she seems to be the natural leader). Episode 3 has the investigation club try to find out why Becky is teaching in a school, but the more important issue is that Becky, after a day of bad bed hair, gets angry and pulls out Himeko’s cowlick. Not exactly what you’d call a plot development but disaster falls about the class as all the empty air comes out of Himeko’s head and she becomes a melted puddle of her former self. It’s quite amusing seeing the alternative they try and use to get Himeko back to normal, as Becky, genius as she is, tries to create a new cowlick from Himeko’s hair…a combination of using poor Mesousa as a guinea pig with random Ichijou weirdness, but again ended rather abruptly. As it’s not a plot driven show I can understand that, but it seems too easy for Becky.
More characters are introduced, as it’s hard to keep track of them all though there are some nice duos, like the little/large duo of Suzune and Otome, and the Kashiwagi twins, and Serizawa, the costume expert. Miyako gets a bit of spotlight as they stay at one of the weird clubs at school called the lodge club to study for a test Becky has ready for them, which turns out to be more of a sleepover much to Miyako’s annoyance. Rei is a lot of fun teasing the poor girl, and there are some great comic moments such as how they discuss how the cheat…forgetting that a teacher (Becky) is also there staying over. The final episode revolves around a camping trip, as Kurumi again shows that she is still the best character so far by getting a bit of revenge on Becky, some random costume fun with Serizawa, random comedy with side characters and random…well, randomness.
As you can see, there are two grades for this show. The higher grade is my own personal opinion – catching the references and parodies is a lot of fun hence why I watched it in Japanese without the ADV notes and then in English with them. The show is not about plot, it’s about comedy. There was a lot of smiles, and a few laugh out loud moments for me – usually anything involving Becky with Rei, Himeko’s ‘mahos’ and Kurumi fading into obscurity. The side characters aren’t as interesting though they get their moments in (Serizawa as Roboko is a highlight in the disc for example) and the notes show that even the ADV staff had trouble establishing some of the things parodying. Personally, the show is madness, but in a good way.
The lower grade however is mainly for people who are maybe either new to anime or might have to struggle to catch the references without the notes. And that means a lot of pausing. The show can be extremely hard to get into for those who can’t keep up with the sheer mayhem, not to mention the number of characters the show supplies. It’s not a show I can honestly recommend to everyone because it’s so difficult to understand, and whilst you may get a few smiles out of the characters, the main bulk of the jokes come from the parodies, and pausing the show to get them may ruin the enjoyment of it. For future reviews, I will post just my personal grade for the show, but if you fall into this category, lower the grade a letter.
Pani Poni Dash has two sides to it. One is the enjoyable comedy that revolves about the completely destruction of anything in Japanese culture for the last 25 years as well as the enjoyable characters that Becky’s class have to offer. The other is the difficulty of enjoying them when you realise just how much of the show relies on in-jokes and parodies. It is extremely hard to get into and for that I can’t recommend the show to a casual viewer. However, if you can get into it, understand a few of the parodies, and laugh every time Rei unleashes her ‘eye of doom’ to Becky, you’ll find a very funny show which you will enjoy remembering all the moments from other anime and video games, and fall in love with class 1-C. Just don’t hold your hopes up for a worthwhile plot though, this is pure crack. Enjoyable crack, but crack nonetheless. Recommended if you’re ready for a challenge and a laugh.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Clean Opening Animation,TV Spots,AD Vid-Notes,Special Opening: Yellow Vacation
Toshiba 37C3030 - 37" Widescreen HD Ready LCD TV – Tangent Ht-50 Home Theatre System Multi-Regional DVD Players/Speakers – Tangent Subwoofer 50-150 Hz, Impedenced 8 OHM.
Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B
Packaging Rating: N/A
Menus Rating: B-
Extras Rating: B+
Age Rating: 12 & Up
Region: 2 - Europe
Released By: ADV Films UK
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Pani Poni Dash!