Grrl Power - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: A
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 14.98
  • Running time: 30
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Grrl Power

Grrl Power

By Chris Beveridge     June 12, 2004
Release Date: June 08, 2004


Grrl Power
© ADV Films


What They Say
Umi, Sora, and Ao are all sisters in the sixth-grade who together run the best little do-it-all shop in all of Shonan Beach, near Kamakura. And what's more, their business is a roaring success because of their reputation for being the best at what they do. But hey, what's this about them not going to school? They are grade-schoolers, after all. Why aren't they in school?

And on top of that, they're all in the sixth grade. Are they triplets or something? What's the deal? Evidently, they don't have any parents. Even stranger, little Ao, the youngest, speaks in sign language.

The girls seem to be completely self-sufficient, even generating their own electricity using solar and wind power. Yep, there's a story behind these girls - that much is for sure.

The Review!
Akitaro Daichi returns to the short form OVA style once more taking the manga series into anime form in the way only he can.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. As this is a brand new release on both sides of the ocean, the stereo mix is pretty up to date in its nature so there's some good expressiveness across the forward soundstage. Dialogue was clean and clear throughout though it was indeed a fair bit sharper and more distinct in the 5.1 track, but that may be due to it being easier to discern some of the English dialogue by itself. This is a good solid track all around with no notable issues.

Video:
Released simultaneously in Japan and the US, this OVA is presented in its original widescreen aspect ratio and enhanced for anamorphic playback. With lots of bright colors and fast action, this transfer really shines well here. Colors are solid and vibrant, cross coloration is non-existent and I'm hard pressed to find any aliasing. With only twenty five minutes of running time here, there's plenty of space to ensure this looks good and it does.

Packaging:
The front cover goes with the very cute image of the three girls riding the water sled set against the clean ocean background. ADV has pulled a "CPM" here with the "From the director of" quote above the logo for the show, which itself is done in a bubbly almost arcade style font. It's a cute cover for a show that's somewhat hard to describe easily in one image. The back cover is just filled with lots of information. There are a number of small animation bubbles showing bits from the show but it pales next to the amount of text. There's references to what other shows the crew has worked on, a paragraph that summarizes the show and a full listing of the discs extra features, which are pretty copious. Add in the production credits and the handy technical grid and there's just a lot of things here. The insert is a cute piece that has one side showing Ao giving sign language lessons with the alphabet for the shows English title while the reverse side has a quick cast list and biography section for the three main girls.

Menu:
The main menu is a cute but simple static shot of the trio of girls on one of the water ski sleds splashing through the water with a great looking backdrop of the blue sky with fluffy white clouds set to some of the hyperactive music playing briefly. The layout is pretty simple and easy to navigate, particularly since there's only one episode, so it's a good clean design with no issues and fast load times.

Extras:
There's a ton of extras included in this release that help flesh out the 25 minute running time of the standalone OVA itself. One of the big extras is the interview section with Akitaro Daichi himself which runs just over forty-two minutes in length. He goes into a lot of detail about it, his work and more as he's definitely got plenty to say. The Q&A section with the Japanese voice actresses is pretty well done even though they're just text pieces. Each actress gets their own section and go through a few basic questions and the usual routine. For the English voice actresses, they get a twelve minute video interview session with all of them together on a couch answering questions. The best part was just having Monica use sign language to introduce herself. There's a full length commentary track for the episode by the English language voice actresses that were in the interview session as well. The commentary is amusing since they shift between talking as the characters talking about the show and themselves talking about the show. Not enough? How about a twenty minute presentation piece prior to its first showing at the Tokyo Animation Fair in Japan? And just to be complete, there's even a production art gallery.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Akitaro Daichi has managed to become one of my favorite directors over the recent years with the variety his projects encompass as well as the kind of wit that seems to attract him to things. For a director to be able to go from a very fast paced over the top show like Kodomo no Omacha and then delve into something as slow and meandering as Fruits Basket, he's got the ability to deal with some very different material and do each of them justice.

With Grrl Power, or known as Makasete Iruka in its original manga form, Daichi takes another stab at the OVA market, something he did with some noteworthy success with Animation Runner Kuromi a few years back. Why the name change is beyond me, especially with something as already dated as "Grrl Power" is. With this being a manga that he created and was apparently serialized in Animage for a couple of years, this is a project that's near and dear to him and one that would probably be hard to get off the ground if it wasn't for the foreign investment. That continues to scare the crap out of a number of fans, but the track record so far of shows heavily funded by US money has been fantastic, so I'm still liking the idea.

Grrl Power centers around a trio of school age girls who don't go to school and seem to be sisters, though it's not gone into much detail. This trio spend their days doing all sorts of jobs and projects for whoever requests things to be done. No mission to small is their basic motto and no fee is too small either. Everything they do is towards earning more money to help support themselves and their operation. They're up at the crack of dawn and work through the end of the day and then they focus on themselves. Sora, the red head, is the take charge type and fills in the leadership role of the group. She's got the guts mentality and a can-do work ethic. Umi's the one more concerned with beauty, particularly since she's one herself, and does things like help break up relationships and the like. Add in Ao, this cutie works in sign language and acts as something of a chief of staff for the group and does a lot of coordination and financial calculation. Between the three of them, they can do just about anything they decide to.

The opening of the episode is designed to show the trio doing the kinds of jobs their suited for and then segues into the actual plot for this episode, which is taking on the job of trying to convince grade schooler Riku to go back to school for his mother's sake. This backfires when he finds out about how they don't go to school and have their own business so Sora decides to hire Riku and make him part of the company. You can see the obvious where he learns that it's not as easy as he thought it would be and it's Sora's way of convincing him that he needs to go back to school. While it's a straightforward plot, it's the zany energy of the trio and the world around them that makes this a fun little comedy. Riku even gets into it when he's brought along as a cheerleader at a baseball came and shows off his panties.

The main draw of a show like this, much like with Animation Runner Kuromi as well, is in how the world operates and the over the top antics of the characters as they deal with their jobs. The trio can handle anything sent their way by putting their all into it. The design of Grrl Power is set to a rather cartoony style with the near-super deformed style of characters and the way they simply exist. A lot of the tricks Daichi's used in past shows are done here as well, so his style is quite evident even if overall the design of the characters in general isn't his norm. Then again, with someone like Daichi, I'm not sure there is a norm.

In Summary:
Grrl Power is a very cute and mildly amusing hyperactive way to spend about twenty five minutes of your time. If you're a dub fan and if you're into the voice actors themselves, this disc is a cornucopia of good stuff that'll make you happy. With it only being one episode there is of course the running time issue itself, but with it as well priced as it is and able to be snapped up for under ten bucks if you shop well, it's a very easy recommendation to make and a good intro to the kind of material that Daichi is very interested in. This is one of those projects that our favorite creators have wanted to do for years so I'm excited that it got done and we not only got to see it, but we technically got to see it three days before the Japanese release.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Interview with Akitaro Daichi,Q & A with the Japanese voice actresses,Interview with the English voice actresses,Commentary by the English voice actresses,Grrl Power at TAF special,Production sketches

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, 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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