Doki Doki School Hours Vol. #3 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: C-
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: C+
  • 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. #3

By Chris Beveridge     March 24, 2006
Release Date: March 28, 2006


Doki Doki School Hours Vol. #3
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
The end of the school year is near! Mika-Sensei must overcome her fear of public speaking in order to emcee graduation. During a class trip to Kyoto, rumors fly that Seki and Iincho have eloped. Later, the school is buzzing upon the arrival of a beautiful student teacher. While all the boys fantasize about her, she seems to have a mysterious past with Suetake?! Finally, Mika-Sensei takes on the cursed job of summer student advisor, hoping to unlock the secrets of its curse!


The Review!
It's back to school for more of the silly fun that fills up the Doki Doki School Hours show as they hit a number of familiar themes with just the right skew on them.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. For episodes 10 through 12, 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.

For episode 9 of the show, the audio for both tracks is out of synch by a fraction or two. This is more noticeable in my opinion on the English language track due to the way directors work to ensure lip flap but it's still noticeable on the Japanese track, especially during the opening sequence when certain music cues are timed to animation events. It's less than a second but depending on how sensitive you are to such things it may be distracting or a complete non-issue.

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:
The Japanese artwork continues with this volume as we get a cute shot of Mika in her tour guide mode from the school trip with some of the standard "tourist traps" that they almost always hit in these things. 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 only extra included on this release is a series of very simply character profiles where we get some of their basic stats and then a few words about their habits, which is done in a way that it's cute but often a bit biting.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Crossing the halfway mark in the show, Doki Doki School Hours is most definitely at a point where you know whether you like it or not. While it's not quite as biting as some of the other school comedies that have come out in recent years, the series does have some good moments where it gnaws at the clichés while also playing up its cute factor quite well. In a way, it's a show that I know I shouldn't enjoy quite as much as I do but a lot of the characters are simply adorable and the students have so many nicely done quirks that each of the episodes just make me smile. And in the end, I am entertained and come away happy which to me says a lot.

A show like this doesn't have a lot of growth to it but it does push the student body forward through various new events that helps them become more than they were. And with this kind of cast, the students are already much more than their teacher so it's almost like she's trying to catch up to them at times. Many of the situations just have the students trying to minimize the problems that Mika gets herself into, such as having to give a speech at the graduation ceremony. She hates public speaking and having had graduation related issues of her own from the past she ends up being coached by the kids about it. Getting to hear a bit about her own graduation fleshes her out a bit more but it's more about how the kids mess and manipulate her at times.

The episode that I think was the most enjoyable here is the third one where the focus is on the rainy weather that's hitting the region at the time. There's plenty of focus on what people try to do to pass the time " including some of the usual comical moments with her far to doting father " but it also brings a new character into the mix for a little bit with Horie, a student teacher who has come to Okitsu for her two week trial run. She's been assigned to have Mika as her supervisor for it so the class is all excited to have someone new to deal with. Of course, they give her more respect than they do Mika, not that Mika is truly treated badly, but overall she gets treated better and is surprisingly involved in the students lives. Some of the students get into amusing moments with her, such as the Old Man almost looking like he's Horie's significant other due to his nature while Nakayama views her as a threat to her relationship with Watabe. Young jealous love is always fun.

The show does hammer home some of the traditional cliché episode material pretty well. One of them has the group heading to Kyoto for their field trip and it does a lot of the usual material while hitting up a few quirks. I continue to love the bits where they speak with foreigners and Mika is continually outclassed by her students. I also had to adore the way her father tried to see all the way to Kyoto by climbing up on a step ladder so he could make sure she was ok. It's a similar kind of story when it comes to the last episode on the disc with the show playing up a local school curse that seems to have found an attraction to Mika. It goes from one thing to another, including a possessed soccer ball, before finishing out essentially as you know it would if you've seen any amount of school based anime. Again, what saves even the weakest episodes is the quirks of the characters, from Kudo's love for Suetake or the way Kitagawa always seems to have the right (wrong) kind of eyes for Mika.

In Summary:
Doki Doki School Hours doesn't break any new ground but it continues to be a very competently done show that definitely has its own quirks. Some of the second volume seemed overplayed as we went through a new year with similar situations to the first volume but this one breaks that up a bit and hits some new areas. Or at least, new for this show. All told, it's still a fun little romp and one that has me smiling throughout a lot of it but it's not a show that really hits any highs. It's a good comedy with a nice cast of quirky characters across the board as well as those that just roll their eyes at the rest of them. The balance on this volume is about fifty/fifty with what it gets done but even the mediocre episodes have a lot of good zingers that it more than makes up for the clichéd storylines.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Character Profiles

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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