Di Gi Charat Nyo! Vol. #07 (of 12) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Friday, May 30, 2008
Release Date: Tuesday, May 20, 2008



What They Say
time for a change of pace then! If we can't capture Dejiko then we'll ruin the Super Toy Shop instead. Wait... what's that? Dejiko and Puchiko both have Mystery Cell Phones? I want one too! Bu-Ge Gang assemble and buy me a Mystery Cell Phone! What did I say? Bu-Ge Gang? Great, now they have me saying it too! Pyo!

The Review!
Salvation and humor arrives at long last with the introduction of Piyoko and the Black Gema Gema Gang.

Audio:
Bandai Entertainment has provided two language options with this release by having both the original Japanese stereo mix and an English stereo mix done by The Ocean Group. Both mixes are encoded at 192 kbps and serve the material well as it's mostly just wacky dialogue. There isn't a lot of music to it outside of the opening and closing and within the episodes themselves there isn't much need for placement or depth. As simple as the mix is, it does handle things well and suits the material. In listening to both language tracks we didn't have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2003, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. Similar in design to past incarnations of the series, Mad House has animated something incredibly vibrant here. These bright bold colors come across beautifully here as they pop off the screen. So many areas are made up of solid colors that it's surprising to see practically no noise or break-up associated with it. Even aliasing is very minimal during the pan and zoom sequences. The opening and closing sequences are left in their original form with a full credit scroll following all of the episodes. This is a gorgeous looking full frame transfer that simply pops beautifully.

Packaging:
For quite a few volumes now, the cover art has been the best part of the series and that trend continues here. This installment pairs up Piyoko and Dejiko together as they both wear very cute Lolita outfits with the ribbons, bows and stockings. It's entirely too adorable, particularly with the big eyes they have and the sheer amount of detail throughout. The back cover carries over the background design and keeps it soft so that the information over it is easily readable. The summary covers the basics and several shots from the show highlight its cute factor. The episode listings are a bit disingenuous since it is admittedly eight episodes but a casual buyer may not realize they're half episodes. The discs features and production information rounds out the bottom as well as a minimal technical grid. No insert is included with this release nor is the cover reversible.

Menu:
Bright and garish, the menu for this release certainly stands out and commands attention. With Dejiko and Usada in the center as multicolored rays of light shine forth from them, a bit of upbeat instrumental music plays along. The selections are sort of scattered about and you use a flower cursor to move over them which works well though at times it's not entirely intuitive which direction it should go in. Access times are decent and it's easy enough to set up selections in the navigation. The disc did not correctly read our players' language presets and played in English with sign/song subtitles.

Extras:
None.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Just when I expected each volume remaining in the second half to be nothing more than just painful viewing, Di Gi Charat Nyo! throws me a curve ball by bringing in some characters that I actually like and really do seem like they retain a lot of who they were in their previous incarnations. It does take a bit to get there however and they are relegated to a background role after a little bit, but the introduction of Piyoko and the Black Gema Gema Gang goes a long way towards even making this show tolerable.

It's the getting there that is the most difficult though as the opening stories are just dull and uninteresting, though punctuated by humorous moments here and there. The opening story for example has the girls searching for rare pine mushrooms which are considered a true delicacy. Competing with Usada for them, they're out and about in the woods trying to find them while coming across all other kinds of mushrooms - including aliens that look like mushrooms. Where the real humor comes in with this one is the S&M feeling that kicks in with Gemma as he starts growing mushrooms out of his backside, or at least one pine mushroom. Puchiko hits upon the best idea by beating more mushrooms out of him with a stick which in turn only produces normal mushrooms. Not that that is a bad thing though and that just means a whole lot of additional beating for poor Gemma. His cries of how much it hurts and itches are quite amusing, but nowhere near enough to save the storyline.

Equally lackluster are some of the other stories, such as when Kuma decides that he wants to get rid of the toy store in favor of a big new toy store from a famous worldwide chain that can get good stuff cheap. Everyone in the shopping district is for it at first, outside of Kiyoshi and Yasushi of course, since they get conned into the idea that the new business will bring in a lot more customers to their businesses. Of course, they don't realize that it's just the first step to their being thrown out of the shopping district entirely. The worst offender with this volume for stories though naturally involves John and Paul as they go on their own version of a Mystery tour. These two characters continue to simply grate on my nerves as they are beyond the pale when it comes to pointlessness. Everything about them just fails and having another story devoted to them is beyond painful.

What saves this volume is the introduction of in the third episode of Piyoko and the Black Gema Gema gang. Piyoko comes from the planet Analogue which is next door to Di Gi Charat and they've long been in debt to them. Piyoko has known Dejiko since childhood but obviously Dejiko doesn't remember her which only serves to infuriate her more. Piyoko has long been intent on destroying Dejiko in her own fashion and has come up with numerous mild plans to do it along with the members of her gang. The gang is made up of Ry, Ky and Coo, three men who play different pretty boy aspects that are actually quite goodhearted and intelligent as well as useful. When Dejiko finds out about them, she starts wondering why she's surrounded by less than intelligent people.

The stories that get told involving the gang aren't all that different from what we've seen before, particularly with old rivals coming back to take down Dejiko, but the characters just have a very different feel to them as they're a silly gang that has a lot of problems accomplishing their goals. Piyoko shifts easily into a child like mode when she sees something she wants while the guys are all really good hearted which causes them to not make the money they need. Their efforts to take down Dejiko are obviously doomed to failure but with the way this Dejiko has been acting since the start, I really wish they'd succeed and this would become the Piyoko show. Even when they're used in a halfhearted manner, such as the last episode which introduces an elegant man to the shopping district, their appearances are the most amusing aspects of the show.

In Summary:
The seventh volume gets us closer to the twelfth volume and for that alone it's a good thing. But the introduction of Piyoko and the Black Gema Gema Gang into Di Gi Charat Nyo! saves it from being an absolute chore. I suspect that they'll lessen in appearances as it goes on but the possibility of any appearance will give future volumes some potential humor and enjoyment. The first half of this volume is essentially a loss though. The weak stories and unfunny humor is still strong there. The second half picks things up considerably but that's really damning it with faint praise at this point as Di Gi Charat Nyo! continues to be one of the weakest shows we've watched in a long time.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.



Mania Grade: C+
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Bandai Entertainment
MSRP: 24.98
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Di Gi Charat Nyo!