Piyoko again dominates much of the volume which definitely helps it to be more enjoyable than the bulk of the series has been so far.
What They Say:
The Lucky Cat Shopping District has been really lively lately. The constant arrival of new aliens has made it really hard to study! My brother Yasushi hasn’t been much help either. All of the new toys he’s invented have cluttered up the house, making it impossible to move from one room to another and just as we’re cleaning up he’s distracted by an old photo album! Why am I not in any of the photographs and what’s this bizarre toy in all the pictures with my brother? Oh geez, now they’re going to drag me all the way up to the mountains to find the first toy Yasushi invented, a doll named Kiyoshi. Wait! Why do I have the same name as some silly doll my brother made!?
I could really use a break from all this excitement! Luckily I may have a chance for just that when Dejiko wins an all expense paid trip to a hot springs resort. Although, it seems like something’s just not quite right about this place…
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.
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.
This installment of the series goes for the basics with no real theme as we get Dejiko, Puchiko and Gemma together as they act like themselves with simple smiles. The artwork itself is still like past volumes which is a major plus as the detail and designs look wonderful and is very appealing. 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.
Bright and garish, the menu for this release certainly stands out and commands attention. With Dejiko 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.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After a somewhat lackluster eighth volume, the ninth installment of the series manages to provide a good bit better material this time around. At least for me as I find Piyoko and her crowd of attendants to be amusing and fun to watch as they have a great little dynamic all to themselves. If you don’t care for Piyoko and company, this volume may be a bit more difficult to get through since it pushes other characters to the side for a bit. Thankfully, those that get pushed off the most are the annoying Kiyoshi and Yasuhi characters.
As is typical when dealing with Piyoko, it’s all about getting some sort of revenge on Dejiko and her family. The ideas range from the simple to the silly, especially one episode that revolves around the idea of stealing Usada’s rabbit ears once Dejiko shows an interest in them. That has her guys trying to come up with creative ways of snapping up the ears from Usada, who herself doesn’t want to part with them after Kiyoshi tells her how good she looks in them. Piyoko spends a good bit of time trying to get to Dejiko through other means, such as the Usada method but also in trying to steal away Puchko so they can hold her hostage. Of course, Puchiko isn’t a pushover and she has some good luck that allows her to avoid most of the traps that they set for her.
In fact, more often than not, the plans that Piyoko and the Black Gema Gema gang set up end up putting them into a position where they do nothing but work for someone or make money for someone else. When they go to deal with Puchiko during one instance, they end up working at Ankoro for the day because they had ordered a thousand Puchiko Pancakes and now they have to accept delivery on them. That has them off in the park selling them to anyone who comes by. For a group of people that is pretty much poor constantly, they’re able to raise money with just a bit of hard work but rarely get to keep any themselves. It’s a predictable plot point but one that is amusing, especially as Piyoko sees how things work in “regular” families and that makes her want these situations even more.
When the show veers away from Piyoko and the others, it ends up in more predictable and fairly bland territory. There’s one story in particular where Akari and Usada end up together to exchange things they had borrowed and they get transported for no reason off to the opposite dimension where the Lucky Cat Shopping District is dingy and awful and everyone acts completely opposite of their normal selves. Like a number of episodes in the series, there aren’t even any decent forced laughs with this since it works such a basic and obvious angle with no real creativity. Even worse, the normal world of the Lucky Cat Shopping District is weird enough that they’d have to really do something over the top here. And when they do, having the two girls become giants, it falls flat even harder.
The inclusion of Piyoko is something that makes this set of episodes more enjoyable overall, especially in comparison to the previous volume. Di Gi Charat Nyo! is unfortunately still a weak show but every little bit of fun that I can get out of it helps to salvage it just a little. The use of Piyoko in so many episodes here works well but it shows the weaknesses of the series at the same time since the ones without here are as dull as dishwater. How this series, at twelve volumes, still merits a dub while Galaxy Angel X couldn’t get its two volumes justified is beyond me. There’s something cruel going on out there in the Broccoli-verse, nyo!
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
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.