Dan Doh!! Vol. #1 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B-

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Bandai Entertainment
  • MSRP: 29.95
  • Running time: 250
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Dan Doh!

Dan Doh!! Vol. #1

By Chris Beveridge     December 30, 2005
Release Date: December 27, 2005


Dan Doh!! Vol. #1
© Bandai Entertainment


What They Say
Dandoh was playing a baseball game with friends Yuka and Kohei and hits a wild fly ball which crashes into the principal's potted plants. Rather than getting mad, the principal admires Dandoh's swing and introduces him to the world of golf. It's now an adventure in golf as Dandoh is under the watchful eye of a former pro-golfer. They enter a tournament together and play for a shot at the national championships!

The Review!
Proving that any and all kinds of sports can make for engaging and fun anime, Dan Doh!! tackles the world of golf for the younger set.

Audio:
Our primary viewing session for this series was split into two since the release is spread across two discs and a good number of episodes. For the first volume, we watched it in its original language of Japanese with English subtitles while we watched the second volume in English with the English subtitles as well. Both tracks come across well for a stereo mix with plenty of clean and clear moments that provide just the right kind of oomph to the scenes where the ball is being hit. Dialogue has some decent directionality at times throughout the volume while the music is the main area that really works over the stereo channels. We had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2004, the transfer for the series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. With the series being firmly based outdoors the show has a lot of very bold and vibrant colors with the various greens and blues. The character designs are similar to this with lots of bright colors for most of the primary characters though the secondary ones tend to be a bit more earth toned in nature. Each volume has five episodes on them and are presented with their original opening and closing sequences while translated credits are provided as a main menu selection. The transfer overall come across nice and clear with the very solid areas of color looking good. The show is free of cross coloration and only has some minor aliasing during some of the CG scenes but most of it just looks very good.

Packaging:
Using the same artwork as the first Japanese volume but recentering it so the logo is across the top instead of in the corner, we get the basic but good looking shot of the three lead characters in various forms set against a bright blue sky and a lush tree line from the course. The character designs certainly let you know up front that it's skewing younger as well as exactly what the show is about since it's hard to imagine golf balls being used in anything but a golf show. The back cover provides an action shot of Dandoh on the right while the left has a summary of the basic premise. Below him they list the ten episodes by title and flesh out the remainder with the basic technical information and production listings. No insert is included with this release and even though the keepcase is a clear double (no hinge), there isn't any reverse side artwork which gives it a weak feel.

Menu:
The menu layout for the show is rather nicely done where it has a sort of faux widescreen approach where the opaque bars at the top and bottom have the shows name across it and the full color image inbetween feels a bit more vibrant and the center of attention. Each disc does the layout slightly differently with the first one having character artwork on the left and menu selections along the right while the second reverses it. Both have separate menus for audio and subtitle settings which could easily be placed into one. The disc correctly read our players' language presets and played in the correct settings. The disc does default to English with sign/song subtitles which is the right way to do it as well.

Extras:
The only extras included on here are clean versions of the opening and closing sequences, which are presented only on the second volume and as one video segment and not separately as is standard on most release. This isn't too much of a surprise though since the release is going for a minimal approach.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Originally starting as a manga series in Weekly Shonen Sunday back in 1995, Dan Doh!! grew in popularity over the years and was finally animated in 2004. While the show isn't quite the kind of golf series that some folks have clamored for, such as the one manga series by Koike, what Dan Doh!! brings to the table is your standard boys fare series where the focus is entirely on the spirit of friendly competition, learning about yourself and growing closer bonds with your friends. This is actually a fairly standard motif in many sports oriented series which is why they're often so addictive and easy to get into. Dan Doh!! really is no different in this regard.

That's not to say it's among the best of the sports anime out there. Dan Doh!! actually starts off very week and jumps around a fair bit that makes it rather difficult to get into. We're introduced to young Dandoh and his friends Yuka and Kohei when they're playing some baseball at school but Dandoh hits one pitch too far and it breaks the principal's potted plants outside. This sets the stage for them to get into trouble with him but it turns in moment where the principal, an avid golf fan who had a student nearly go pro, ends up turning all three of them onto the fun that is golf. Seeing the former student who ended up in an accident that cut his career short, the three become fascinated by the sport and end up seeking him out for training.

Shinjo, a gifted player who hasn't played since, takes them in surprisingly easily and the trio start their training while dealing with the normal issues of schoolyard bullies who are actually golfers themselves and think they can do better than the rookies. Where things get really awkward along all of this is that it seems like it's a two week training curve but it's been about three months since the trio first started playing the clubs and they go for the challenge offered to them by participating in the Kumamoto Junior Championships. Shinjo isn't exactly for them doing this but his kind of teaching style has them understanding that golf is supposed to be about being happy playing the sport and enjoying themselves. Dandoh takes this very much to heart and his balls are all drawn on with a happy face. Yuka adopts this as well with a girly set of eyes and Kohei's have huge eyebrows which is amusing.

The bulk of the confusing section of the show is relegated to the first episode though as before you know it, the trio is participating in the tournament and being split into three groups with each of them bringing in two other players that expand the field of competition. The show wastes little time in really getting to the competition part and it's through this that we really start to get a feel for the characters as it provides flashbacks to their training, you get Shinjo providing mental commentary about each of them and their potential as well as other onlookers who have hidden interests in the three of them. And of course, each of the new competitors have their own internal monologues that come into play as the tournament proceeds.

It is safe to say that the most common comment made about the show prior to going into it is, how can you make golf interesting? I had certainly thought the same thing for the longest time but then again, I'd recently fallen in love with a manga and anime about people playing a game called Go so I was certainly open minded enough to give this a fair shot. Similar to Go and other sports in this area, a lot of what goes through the heads of the characters is the kind of strategy needed to play the game, from the clubs, positions, traps and so forth. From that perspective, and with the variety that the courses offer and the challenges provided by the other players, the show succeeds on that level.

Where it's much more of a challenge to get into is dealing with the characters themselves. Dandoh is really the main issue and that's because he's such a two dimensional character that everything about him is worn on his sleeve. His motivations aren't explored until late in the second volume and that does help but at first he's a fairly average character in that he has a lot to prove because his mother left when he was born supposedly because of financial issues so he's lived with just his father all this time. His father is a rather cold and almost mean person who deals with his son in a tough love manner and what little we see of him doesn't offer much but there are deeper agendas going on here that will slowly impact Dandoh.

The character weakness, particularly early on, doesn't help the show much but as it progresses and the various kids compete against each other with very different backgrounds and motivations it starts to solidify a fair bit. The characters do start becoming a bit more believable than some of the shots that Dandoh comes up with which is amusing in itself. Dandoh, a kid who only started playing golf three months prior and uses only the six iron, putter and sand wedge, is actually some kind of golf prodigy if not for the thoughts in his mind that throw him off at times. It's hard to really criticize these kinds of moves in the game though because it's simply the same across the sports genre in general when dealing with this age group. Maybe it's different in the manga world where men's golf manga, appealing to those in their thirties and forties, is possibly treated more seriously but here it's pretty much your standard boys world.

From a production standpoint, Dan Doh!! is an interesting release. The market for a show like this in North America is obviously small and appeals to people like myself who are looking for something different just to expand on what we're watching or your basic golf and sports enthusiast. That being said, this is a title that would normally not even be dubbed so it was interesting to see that essentially the entire production of the show was done in conjunction with Singapore company Odex Pte Ltd. We've worked with these folks in the past when they first came to the DVD market before that entire market collapsed in Singapore due to the heavy piracy factor and other than a couple of minor cultural differences in language we really liked their works.

For this release, Bandai worked with them to produce a new dub and the subtitle track and overall disc production outside of actual authoring I believe. Contrary to initial beliefs, the voice cast is entirely American and completely free of any Asian language differences. We listened to the second set of five episode where the actors are more familiar with the characters and there are more characters here. The performances came across rather well and there are some useful areas where voice actors are doubled up; after all, doesn't it make sense to cast the same actor for a pair of twins? In regards to the Japanese language and subtitle production side of the release, this reads very smoothly and even surprised us by doing family names first (the dub doesn't). The only thing different than a normal in-house Bandai production is that during sign translations, they have brackets around them to differentiate from dialogue as well as being in white. Essentially, doing this release with Odex probably meant that it was cheaper to get done, especially for a title with limited appeal. If this is the standard end result then I have zero complaints with this as it's a solid production across the board.

In Summary:
Dan Doh!! is an obvious hard sell to the mainstream anime market but I found it to be a rather fun show that played out surprisingly fast. The ten episodes go by quickly and it covers the entire first tournament of the show so you get a good complete arc just from here. With the show priced at the same as many other shows with only four or five episodes to them, this is a very easy show to try out and see what it's like as with discounts you can get it down to about two bucks an episode. I doubt Dan Doh!! will be anything more than a blip to most fans but it's a fun show that was an easy way to pass the afternoon. Bandai should definitely try soliciting this show when it's complete to the various golf magazines since I can see it easily appealing there as a fun little golf-fantasy piece.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Clean Opening,Clean Closing

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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