Fancy Lala Vol. #3 - 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: 24.95
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Fancy Lala

Fancy Lala Vol. #3

By Chris Beveridge     November 05, 2002
Release Date: November 05, 2002


Fancy Lala Vol. #3
© Bandai Entertainment


What They Say
From beloved anime illustrator, Akemi Takada (Kimagure Orange Road) - 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?

With Lala’s debut CD a hot seller, she's very busy these days! Throwing the first pitch for a regional baseball tournament and appearing on various television shows, life has certainly changed! But just when things are going well, Miho encounters all sorts of troubles when there’s a hitch in the "Memories of Time". No one seems to remember who she is anymore! Is this real or is Miho dreaming?

The Review!
The appeal of Fancy Lala grows more so with this volume, as we spend more time with Miho at her real age and get to know the girl more, though there are some fun moments with Lala as well.

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:
Akemi Takada does up another great looking piece, with Miho going down the stairs with her clothes moving in an interesting flowy way while Pigu and Mogu fly alongside her. 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.

Menu:
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 long interviews of the first two volumes appear to be no more, but there’s a real treat here as there’s a commentary on the Japanese DVD covers (which are the same as these, just more) in text by Akemi Takada, describing how she positioned them and what the inspiration for some of them were. Anything Takada talks about, I’m there to listen. This series has been great for getting more tidbits about her and her work.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
This volume brings us into the middle of the series, and things have slowed down nicely that we get to spend some quality time with Miho herself and deal with the issues of the young girl as opposed to the hectic schedule and life of Lala. That’s not to say Lala isn’t here, as she does have some sizeable moments here, but the focus is definitely on the child.

And it’s well done at that. As it seems with most real-life styled series, there’s some sort of baseball interaction and Lala is no exception. Lala manages to toss out the first pitch in the regionals as well as getting her first song played during the opening, which leads her to having a really good discussion after the game with the POL’s pitcher. Lala’s ability to listen and ask the right questions makes her a very good discussion partner and the two get along well. But it’s also done up to set a coincidence of sorts, as we later learn that Taro plays baseball, and his team is up against one where the POL’s pitchers young brother is the pitcher.

Miho takes the knowledge she’s learned from there and starts telling Taro what to do, which only ticks him off more. With Taro’s father as the coach, he ends up having to really suffer through it since he ends up agreeing with everything she says. The way their relationship grows nicely here, though Miho does continue to insist she’s not Taro’s friend nor does she like him.

Miho manages a couple of really sad-tinged episodes here as well. One of them has something go wrong with her transformation from Lala to Miho, which results in her being in some sort of parallel world where there’s already a Miho and to others, the real Miho doesn’t look like herself. The loneliness pushed forward here, combined with all of her friends not even acknowledging her, gives her a taste of a reality she hasn’t had to deal with much and starts adding some depth to her. This is also done in a later episode that deals with what happens to toys you throw away, as she starts to really empathize with a toy bear her mother threw away a few years ago. That episode is very heavily focused on toys, which really kept the attention of my two year old.

Lala gets to shine in an interesting way as well, as during one of her TV drama shoots, she and her manager end up taking a ride home from Hiroya as their car broke down. The face time spent with Hiroya is pretty good, as we get to see that he seems to be more “real” than some of the other people in the industry, such as Miki. Their little ride goes well, with some interesting little bits about Hiroya revealed. What causes all the trouble is when he helps Lala out of the car, and she trips into his arms. Just like a blade of grass, there’s paparazzi everywhere, and one of them catches an off-angle picture in the dark that makes it look like the two are kissing.

Miho reacts badly when that hits the magazines!

I really enjoyed these episodes, since they had a good balance of the two halves of her life while avoiding the problematic parts of being Lala. While that’s a usual part of a show like this, I find the Miho moments to be far more engaging, as does my daughter who sat and watched most of this disc with me. Though she just kept waiting to see more of Pigu and Mogu.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,DVD cover art commentary by Akemi Takada

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.

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