Doki Doki School Hours Vol. #2 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
  • MSRP: 24.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Doki Doki School Hours

Doki Doki School Hours Vol. #2

By Chris Beveridge     January 16, 2006
Release Date: January 24, 2006


Doki Doki School Hours Vol. #2
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
Fall arrives, but pint-sized Ms. Mika and her students can’t seem to get the lazy days of summer out of their systems. But soon the class turns their attention to casting the play for the Cultural Festival. When Christmas finally arrives there are so many parties and gift exchanges that Ms. Mika is filled to the brim with excitement. Before she knows it, romance fills the air as Valentine’s Day approaches, leaving her to wonder who will be her valentine. Fireworks erupt amongst her students with all of their secret crushes and gifts.

The Review!
Mika's life as a teacher starts up again now that summer vacation is over and the return to that life is once more full of amusing and weird moments.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The show has solid sounding but fairly standard stereo mix as it's mostly a dialogue driven show with sight gags and word puns and the like. The mix does have some directionality to it but mostly it's just some well placed dialogue or some zooms across the entire soundstage. The mix is clean and clear throughout though on both language tracks and doesn't get too high or low. We didn't have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2004, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The series takes a lot of the usual routes in terms of its visuals with standard realistic looking background colors while the character art is clean and smooth with bright colors that maintain a really solid feel to them. There are a few areas of pink lettering visible but unlike some other recent Geneon releases there are no issues with dot crawl here. The way this show looks is very simple in its designs but it comes across strong with the vibrant colors and a good mixture of soft and sharp scenes that just look fantastic.

Packaging:
Using the same artwork as the first Japanese cover, this one is very much themed for the Christmas part of the show with Mika in a cute Santa outfit with a very minimal but homey feeling background with a green stylized border around it. The cuteness factor is strong here as it should be since that's the basis of the show and this is like pure honesty in advertising. The back cover is also heavy on the various shades of green with a brief summary along the top of the premise while several screenshots are mixed into the center of the cover. The discs features and episodes are clearly listed and the back cover is capped off with the usual round of production information and minor technical information. The insert has the artwork from the front cover without the border around it while the reverse side lists the episode numbers and titles as well as expected months for future volumes.

Menu:
The main menu layout is cutely done with a strip along the lower half that's like a blackboard being written on while kaleidoscope colors appear behind it over the rest of the screen. The series logo, which is both in Japanese and in English, takes up a lot of the top half while character shots zoom in and out to a bit of bouncy instrumental music from the show. Access times are nice and fast and the menu layout is easy to navigate and didn't have any problems. The disc correctly read our players' language presents and played accordingly.

Extras:
The extras for the opening volume are pretty slim with just the textless version of the ending sequence and the original ending sequence, both of which are pieces I'm glad to see included.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Doki Doki's second installment continues much of the wackiness that we saw in the first volume as it finishes out the summer vacation aspect that we saw in the first volume and gets the new school year underway as Mika welcomes back her students. While it doesn't replicate the stories or events of the first volume it does hit bring back a few of the regular gags and starts expanding on some new ones that actually make some sense.

Top of the list, particularly during the return to school episode, is that since all the students are actually growing since they're young, they all seem to think Mika has gotten shorter which just frustrates her to no end. Everyone has things they did over the summer so we see them in brief bits, including a very disturbing scene of Seki with a woman's body but his male head. Most of the kids have tanned up for various reasons, be it vacations or working constantly, but they all get to showcase their stuff nicely here and push the idea of the summer blahs as well as they try to get going into a routine again. What's patently clear though is that this will definitely be another year where Mika doesn't have quite the control over her class that most teachers do.

The tales that are spread throughout the volume are a fair bit of fun much like what we've seen before. There continue to be a number of small gags here and there that poke fun at everyone but there are also some larger storylines that run through each of the episodes as well. The culture festival, long a tradition for any school based series, is very nicely done in this volume. Naturally they end up doing a play after reflecting on how previous festival's have gone and what other classes and clubs have done that worked and didn't work so the play they end up with is Snow White which, playing to the character types, has Suetake as the prince and Kudo as Snow White. He actually pulls off the role pretty well and the girls fall hard for him when he's all prettied up and playing the part.

One amusing side plot to the entire culture festival is with Watabe who is using the festival in an effort to get his manga club more members so he spends all of his time coming up with the best new book that he can. It keeps him from working on the play in general and we see him being so focused in the weeks before the festival doing nothing but working on it, even to the exclusion of his schoolwork. It's a fun little subplot that has at least one of the characters so completely focused on their goal and working towards it.

The months move by fast in the show and we get to the Christmas and New Year season pretty quickly which is good since both events are a lot of fun. The Christmas area has the kids throwing a party with Mika invited to it that lets them have a good bit of fun as they're out of the school setting and interacting there. The Old Man in particular continues to have some of the best lines and there still looks like there is a growing relationship between him and Iichino that's played very lightly. The New Years aspect, which is more important than the Christmas one, is a lot of fun as well since Kitagawa really gets into things by going over to Mika's house and bringing her to the shrine. Mika gets caught up in everything as her parents insist she wear the kimono she has so it becomes a big production. Kitagawa, who has some of the best material when it comes to making Mika uncomfortable, has some really good bits here.

In Summary:
Doki Doki School Hours continues to be a fun show with this set of episodes because the characters have such good interactions with each other. They do play up a number of stereotypes and with a large class of characters they don't get too terribly detailed with them but the main characters are done well and help to hold it all together. It's very much your school based comedy with a few twists but the twists are cute and work. One of the things that I think really works in the shows favor though is that it is more of an ensemble cast piece and there's less of a focus on a particular set of relationships, so even if there is a romance it doesn't dominate, so it gets to avoid a lot of very well worn material in that way. The show is just plain fun and enjoyable to watch.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Textless Opening,Textless Ending

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI set to 480p, 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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