Fancy Lala Vol. #2 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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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: Bandai Entertainment
  • MSRP: 24.98
  • Running time: 125
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Fancy Lala

Fancy Lala Vol. #2

By Chris Beveridge     September 05, 2002
Release Date: September 10, 2002


Fancy Lala Vol. #2
© Bandai Entertainment


What They Say
When junior high school girl Miho is given the power to transform herself into the pop star, Lala – the world had better watch out! Life can be pretty scary as a star, but Miho can handle it – boys, concerts, and shopping! What more can a girl ask for?

The Review!
Our confusion about how well we’re supposed to enjoy this show continues, though I’m finding myself less conflicted as the episodes move on.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. While we noted on the first volume that the audio levels seemed a bit low, it does seem to be somewhat better here, though still lower than other shows we were checking out on the same day. Other than that, this is a good sounding track that has a few moments of directionality across the forward soundstage and provides clear and undistorted sound.

Video:
Originally airing in 1998, this is a very fresh looking show with some great vibrant animation. The transfer here is just gorgeous for the most part, though with more cross coloration slipping into scenes than the previous volume and some very minor aliasing. The cross coloration usually shows up during the drawings that Miho makes. Colors are great looking here with a very well layered look to it but still keeping in a real-world style.

Packaging:
The cover for this release tones down the pink a fair bit but continues to have a strong shoujo feel and another piece of great Akemi Takada artwork, showing her in the recording studio for her song debut. The back cover makes up for the lack of pink on the front with a couple of pictures from the show done up as photographs as well as a brief summary of the shows premise and some of what to expect in these episodes. The discs episode numbers and titles are also listed on the back and we get the extra bonus of volume numbering on the spine and on the front cover. The insert provides another shot of the front cover while it opens up to provide detailed summaries of each of the episodes along with some animation shots and a good background image. The back cover provides the full production credits and actor credits for both languages, though once again the English actors are not tied to their roles. That’s the main disappointment with this packaging.

Menus:
There’s a brief bit of animation as the pen that Miho uses gets zoomed in on while the logo goes in reverse. Music with Japanese vocals play along to some animation in a small window on the pen with the selections ringed around it. Moving about is pretty straightforward and access times are nice and fast.

Extras:
The extras get beefed up a bit in this volume compared to the first. A textless ending sequence is included, complimenting the textless opening on the first volume. The beefed up extra here is a text interview with members of the creative staff, including Akemi Takada. There’s some really interesting bits on the evolution of the show and Takada’s desire to do a show like this where she could do more costumes than she was able to on Creamy Mami (though she realizes she made a lot of work for herself). It’s a good interview piece and has all kinds of little bits about the shows origins and the whys of it being made.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
While we did enjoy the first volume of this series overall, I think it suffered a bit in that it did have a fair bit to introduce in terms of characters and general premise, but also in that for someone like me, it caused some conflicting feelings. After all, part of the show is built around fanservice in the 15 year old Fancy Lala as she goes from unknown to a popular and wanted starlet. If it had just been about her, there wouldn’t be any problem. But knowing that inside that 15 year old body is the mind and thoughts of a nine year old whose in over her head, reconciling the two wasn’t all that easy.

While I still don’t think it’s been dealt with much, or that it’s really the premise of the shows longer goals, these episodes played out much more smoothly with there being less of the critical setup going on and introducing of all the characters that are key to the early episodes. The introduction of one real main character here in the form of a competing rival works out fairly well and didn’t slow down the flow of things.

There’s a couple of good themes throughout these episodes. While the main focus is on Lala and her rise through Lyrical productions into the world of acting and being an idol singer, there’s little really done in the way of serious issues outside of the newly introduced rival, Miki. Her introduction plays out two-fold, as Lala initially meets her as Miho and learns that Miho’s mother once dealt with her as a producer, and the two share some fond memories. Miho being who she is, thinks that Miki will be just as fun and pleasant when she meets her again as Lala, only to discover that Miki is very conscious of competition and plays things close and serious. Add in that Miki’s producer is a competing company to Lyrical, and the president of Lyrical has a rather intense dislike of the man who manages her, it provides some tension but nothing that’s truly serious.

One theme that does get nicely explored is the effect Lala’s career is having on Miho’s relationship with her friends. Throughout the episodes she’s constantly canceling plans and time with her friends, and they all find her becoming more remote. When Miho starts going through a problem about the sound of her voice and talks even less, there’s some concern by her friends, but almost as much disdain as she doesn’t really spend much time with them anymore. The relationships between a core group of four of the kids plays out very well, with things culminating in an amusing haunted school episode that in the end reveals some amusing character notions.

More time is also spent on Pigu and Mogu and the entire piece of magic associated with the pen Miho has. Episode eight was particularly brutal in one respect about it, as Miho and the two little critters discover that the pen can do more than just clothes. She attempts to make a compact of her sisters that she’s lost, and upon doing that right, she gets the idea to try more things (like a CD release, only to realize the CD itself is blank since she only drew the case) or a camera, which comes out right in the shell but not in the guts. What really brings the episode to heartache is when she makes a kitten that mysteriously comes alive. The final moments of this episode are just almost mean, but done perfectly by being all off-camera.

Things are definitely improving episode by episode with more laughs coming throughout as well as some really good tender moments and character development. The show is maintaining its look and feel very well with great looking animation and designs. I don’t think I’ve seen a Studio Pierrot show yet that I haven’t liked, so this isn’t a surprise to me. Well, other than a few conflicted moments!

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Textless Opening,Interview with Creative Staff

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Skyworth 1050P Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.

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