Happy Lesson Vol. #2 - Mania.com

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 15 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 125
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Happy Lesson

Happy Lesson Vol. #2

By Chris Beveridge     March 02, 2004
Release Date: March 16, 2004

Happy Lesson Vol. #2
© ADV Films

What They Say
The best piece of wisdom anyone ever gave Chitose was that things get a
lot worse before they get any better. Unfortunately, in his case things
only seem to get worse and worse and WORSE!

The Review!
Moving through a sizeable chunk of episodes, Happy Lesson plays out much of what we saw in the first volume while starting to dig into the characters a bit more as several of the Mama's get their own tailored episode.

Continuing our trend of nearly twenty years of preferring our anime in Japanese, we took this series in with its original language. The show has a pretty good stereo mix with a fair amount of directionality, which isn't surprising considering the kinetic nature of the show and the all over the map feel of the character locations during it. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no issues with dropouts or high level distortions during regular playback.

Originally airing in 2002, Happy Lesson is one of those series that uses such a great color palette that's almost soft but not quite that really shines here, particularly on our LCD projection set. The colors blend so beautifully and fully here that for the bulk of this transfer it's a real pleasure to watch. The only areas we noticed anything looking bad in was a number of scenes where some cross coloration shows up in some of the background items. There's some hint of it wanting to show through in some hairstyles here and there, but not enough to actually become visible. Aliasing is very minimal though it does show up in a few places, but overall this is a great looking transfer with a lot of great color and depth to them.

With a reversible cover, releases uses more of the great Japanese covers for the artwork. The front cover gives Uzuki the main shot this time with her holding numerous paint brushes and all sorts of colors mixed on her hand while all the mothers and family and friends are lined along the bottom in a cute way. The back cover mixes in a number of shots from the show and some menu shots as well as a plug for the manga. The premise is given a good amount of space and the discs features and production information is all quick and easy to find as well as being accurate. The reverse side cover of this clear keepcase uses the image of Yayoi in her doctors outfit looking cute with a thermometer while a few of the mama's and family are bouncing around here in tiny form.. The back cover is laid out the same roughly but with a few differences and different artwork. The insert is nicely done with more shots of the women that opens to a three panel page where three voice actors and their respective characters are profiled.

The menu layout is a cute little piece where the shows logo and character animation bounce in from opposite sides and then disappear to be replaced by another. While this is going on, a row of three chicks does a little jig along the bottom just above the selections, all of this set to an upbeat little tune from the show. The menus are pretty simple with direct episode access and quick jumps to languages and extras. The only thing I wish ADV would change with their menus is a play-all feature on their trailers.

The extras are minimal with this volume much like the first one, with the clean opening and closing animation being the big pieces here and also having a character sketch gallery.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After the first volume surprised us by actually getting us to not only laugh at it but to enjoy it as well, I was looking forward to the second volume to see if it could manage to continue the same feeling. After another five episodes marathoned, I'm pretty sure that it could recreate the same feeling if I hadn't watched them all in a row. Happy Lesson is a show that's best not taken in large quantities at once.

Throughout the five episodes, there are some rather good pieces, though they do fall into the category of giving some reason as to why each mama is the way they are. It's not surprising that they do that since you want to have fans for each of them, but with this many women and such a short series it gets a bit of a rushed feel. The opening episode is a mixed bag but it's also one of my favorites since I've really taken a liking to Kisaragi. Out of the blue, she finds herself the winner of a contest that awards her the prize of a powerful ocean cruiser. So everyone hops on for something of a vacation within the family and heads out to the open sea, only to crash on a small deserted island.

What Kisaragi doesn't know is that her childhood friend Kanna, an outgoing version of Kisaragi, has decided that Kisaragi has betrayed their pact in youth to take over the world and is set to extract vengeance on her. Her plans are thrown for a loop though when she finds out that Kisaragi brought all these other people with her, including a boy. Kanna is the type whose avoided most contact with normal people over the years and just focused on her inventions (which often fail horribly) and the childhood plans for world domination. But now in seeing how Kisaragi is with Chitose, she's come to the conclusion that he's the reason she abandoned the plans and sets out to stop him.

This was a lot of fun just to see how Kisaragi was as a child and the way even then she was building powerful devices and causing trouble. Her trouble was even worse in a way that it is now since Kanna was something of an enabler for her and helped her achieve these new heights. Kanna's something of a difficult character to take in adult form since she's so regressed in so many ways, but it's offset by how poorly her inventions all seem to work. Most of the other mama's don't get much to do here beyond provide some simple comedy in a few areas and to look good in bathing suits, but most people won't complain about that.

One of the reasons I find myself enjoying this show much is the outright physical comedy (aka abuse) heaped upon Chitose. The sports festival episode is a prime example of this where the mama's decide the he should participate and even become the MVP of the sports side of it. Chitose of course wants nothing to do with it be ends up getting wrapped up in it with their cunning plans. The episode is rife with all sorts of physical elements that has Chitose being flung all about, crashing into things and doing all sorts of wild-takes all while screaming along the way. There is just something about how he takes all this abuse that gets me laughing.

There's some good variety to the episodes, with the class president showing up in several of them as she tries to win over Chitose some more. Uzuki gets an episode to herself where she plays the role of an angel to a young boy she meets in the playground and spends a few days with him. There's some supernatural elements to this one, but the story itself is pretty clichéd and overdone in a lot of anime series. But with a character like Uzuki, they manage to make it work ? not fantastically well, but well enough that you're not groaning even though you can see the ending projected from the start of the episode.

One of my favorite parts of this disc was the last episode where it focuses on the clubs in the school. Memberships aren't as full as they should be so they're looking to fix things up a bit. This brings Minazuki into the picture again as she decides she wants to join a club and she gets Chitose of the "going-home" club to help her out after the mama's insist that he expand his horizons. So we get to see all the clubs that the mama's run as well as watching the class president try hard to get people to join her literary club before it becomes the one that'll get shut down. Heck, the opening of this episode was worth it alone as we see a tiny tinkerbell-like Fumitsuki in various stages parading around.

In Summary:
This second batch of episodes wasn't quite as strong as the first volume but it also felt like it suffered from a too-much at once syndrome since we watched all five in a row. The physical comedy and the fanservice are fun and I still enjoy the fact that even though we've got all these women in Chitose's life, they're not interested in him in any way other than ensuring he's properly taken care of. Removing the competitive romantic aspect changes the dynamic a lot, even if you do add in the competitive parental aspect. Happy Lesson continues to be surprisingly fun overall though.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Character sketches,Clean opening and closing animation,Voice actress/actor interviews

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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