Hare+Guu Vol. #4 - Mania.com

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Mania Grade: B+

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  • 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: AN Entertainment
  • MSRP: 29.95
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Hare+Guu

Hare+Guu Vol. #4

By Chris Beveridge     August 18, 2006
Release Date: August 22, 2006

Hare+Guu Vol. #4
© AN Entertainment

What They Say
Two of Weda's former servants arrive in the jungle, but their appearance stirs up more than just dust. Meanwhile, Weda's future rides on the results of a wacky traditional village game show. And why is Rebecca's house packed full of pokute?

The Review!
The ensemble show grows a bit more as a pair of characters from the past enter the picture.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The series is fairly standard when it comes to the audio track here for a TV series so there aren't too many surprises to find here. The mix is very well done though with some good directionality throughout some of the more wacky sequences as well as some good moments that suck you in with the depth. We did listen to both tracks in the end and had no problems with dropouts or distortions with either of them during regular playback.

Originally broadcast during 2001, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. Having seen only some second hand versions of the show in the years prior to its license, this transfer was simply surprising with how vibrant and smooth it is. The show has a very good sense of color to it with the kinds of palettes it uses, such as some very vibrant colors for the character designs and things they interact it while the backgrounds have a much more natural and muted sense of color. The characters tend to stand out a bit more but they still feel like they belong where they are. The materials here look really good with a clean look, solid colors and an essentially problem free transfer.

The release uses the same cover artwork as the Japanese release but with the logo translated into English but still retaining the same style and elements to it which really just work perfectly. This particular volume does a nice job of bringing in the two new characters with Ashio and Bell joining Hare and Guu inside the present box, though none of them are terribly detailed. The overall design is bright and pretty much close to garish but it's really in-theme and appealing. The back cover is fairly busy here with lots of little shots and dialogue added to some of the shots so you get a feel for the wackiness. Episode numbers and titles are included as well as a good rundown of the discs features. The production information is kept from taking over a large chunk of territory and AN Entertainment once again nails the technical grid perfectly. While most companies are moving away from inserts, at least the completely useless ones, we get a really good multi paneled one here entitled Jungle News that covers various liner notes for the show in general, particular parts of episodes and other areas such as character designs and other illustrations. Some of this is translated into the on-disc extras which is good but enough of it is unique to the insert as well.

The menu layout for this series is really nicely done with a straightforward static image in the foreground of the two leads together presumably from a dance shot of them while the logo and selections are arraigned around them in very much the word and graphic style of the series. The bottom has some of the jungle grass to root it all together while the background itself is one of the jungle themed strips that rolls past, all of which is set to a little bit of jungle beat music. It's very cute and fits very well overall. Our players' presets didn't make out too well with how the disc is set up though; the audio selection was fine as it could correctly read the label for Japanese however the sign/song subtitle were the first selectable English subtitle track so it went with that instead of full subtitles.

The extras included for the release are solid and while changing volume to volume have a number of similarities between each release. The opening and ending sequences are done in their clean form, a good portion of the cultural and liner notes from the insert are carried over onto on-disc "language lessons" and there's also a production art gallery. And an always amusing extra is included with a series of dub outtakes. This volume also provides a series of Japanese TV commercials used to promote the show.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Making it to the halfway point in the first season of the series, it's time to bring in some new characters to the show that will change the status quo a bit, but more importantly they get to bring us some more information on Weda's past and what may or may not be something of the over arching storyline to the series. Hare + Guu has plenty of standalone material to work well in this manner but there are a few things such as Weda's past and the mystery of Guu that give it something of an ongoing plot feel.

Before this new addition arrives, the show does go for some of the more base humor and fun that's populated a lot of it as a new festival is going on and everyone gets to do their part to make it work and bring it all together. There's plenty of food gags, lots of general material about preparation for it and all, but one of the best moments about it is the play that's put on for it. Most of the regulars get involved in it and they put on a sentai play where Weda plays the female villain with way too much make-up and most of the older kids in the class play the team itself. They have a good deal of fun in mocking playfully with the sentai concept before it devolves into a comical back and forth between Clive and Uighir about who gets Weda.

This in turn goes into a great game show set piece that has Guu running it as the host and others providing a running commentary as four people vie to win Weda for a year, something that Weda's actively interested in being involved with. Of course, she's mildly toasted during all of this and Guu seems like she's sabotaging Hare at every turn, but it's great to see how these guys either work against each other or in the case of Marie are just so oblivious to the competition that she's basically in her own little world. Weda's obliviousness and acceptance of what she understands is just priceless though, as is the earlier moments in the episode with the wild make-up that makes her even more strangely attractive.

The next three episodes on the disc take on an interesting feel as the dynamic changes pretty well due to the arrival of a pair of new characters. Initially just seeming like a stranger on the road that introduce themselves to Hare and Guu when they were on their way to school, the odd pair turn out to be old friends of Weda's from when she lived in the city and in the rather luxurious mansion. The bishie looking guy named Ashio served as something of a bodyguard type while the distinctive featured Bell was Weda's maid for many years. The two have come out on a long vacation to spend time with the old mistress, whom they keep calling princess, and are basically reliving their roles from the mansion in Weda's little house.

They do of course have ulterior motives and a lot of it relates to the past when Weda left, so there are some good flashback moments that help to flesh things out a bit and we get to see things like Clive being a bit nervous about what may or may not be revealed. Hare's genuinely interested in learning things but Weda seems to want to keep a lot of it secret, partially I think because she's forgotten a lot over the years with all her boozing. Ashio and Bell fit into the mix like Hare and Guu do, in that Bell is definitely hyper and susceptible to overreacting while Ashio is more laid back and uses his facial expressions like Guu does to get what she wants. There's also a fair bit more competition for Weda's attention now and that frustrates a surprising number of people.

In Summary:
The wacky humor is still appealing and the core cast of characters, which get a bit less time and weirdness overall, are still fun to watch as the new characters find their place in the scheme of things. I was also glad to see some interesting background presented on Rebecca that manages to show her clueless ness rather easily while giving her an amusing hook to follow. Overall there's still a lot of energy in this show and the weird factor is still pretty up there. At times it feels like maybe the cast is too big and we're not getting enough time with just Hare and Guu but then something completely out of left field happens and it's all good. This show is just a lot of fun all around.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Dubbing Outtakes,Clean Opening and Ending Animation,Japanese TV Commercials,Production Art Gallery,Lazy Sensei's Language Lessons (Translation & Cultural Notes)

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Samsung BD-P1000 Blu-ray Progressive Scan player via HDMI -> DVI with upconversion set to 1080i, 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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