Kodocha Vol. #02 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: TV PG
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Kodocha

Kodocha Vol. #02

By Chris Beveridge     October 07, 2005
Release Date: October 04, 2005


Kodocha Vol. #02
© FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.


What They Say
Sana is determined to help Akito cheer up whether he likes it or not! But for all her good intentions, Sana only discovers that getting through to Akito will be anything but easy. Sana thinks she's finally got Akito's problems figured out. She hopes her co-starring performance in an emotionally charged made-for-TV movie is going to solve them all! Meanwhile, Sana is totally excited about being invited to do an interview with her favorite actress, Asako Kurumi! But at the time of the interview, Rei pulls another one of his mysterious vanishing acts... And it seems like Asako is asking one too many questions about Rei... What's going on?!

The Review!
With the first volume and most of its troubles out of the way, Kodocha's able to get past 99% of the foolishness and onto what makes the show so good.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The show is listed as being in stereo but it's very much a product of its time and is a very center channel oriented track that's a touch low overall. While I don't have any problems with the track itself, it definitely does feel less full than a lot of other titles of its time and especially against anything more recent. In general however, the dialogue is clean and clear and we didn't have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

* - In the audio selection section, there is an asterisk that's selectable. Loading this up, FUNimation has provided a text screen explaining the audio issues found in the series. This includes the opening song being unavailable as well as bits of audio from the first two episodes and the episode previews. While I do think they could have made it a bit more noticeable, I will completely give them credit for not only talking about it at conventions and online, but making it clear to the other 95% of the buying market (after purchase unfortunately) exactly why the presentation for the audio is off in a few areas.

Video:
Originally airing in 1996, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The source materials for this series overall look pretty good considering its age and all but it's not completely problem free. With it being done in the traditional animation style, there's a touch more fuzziness around some areas such as the hair but it's very minor. It wasn't all that visible on my 50" set but was more noticeable on the 23" set. The other noticeable issue is that there's a bit of frame jitter during various scene transitions. It doesn't appear during every transition but it's there. The show overall has a slightly soft feel to it which is accentuated by the light color palette used.

Packaging:
Using artwork similar in design and layout to the Japanese releases, this volume gives Sana a bit of a close-up with the family squirrel on her head while the two men in her life stand behind her which is most appropriate. The logo does a nice job of trying to capture the original piece and the color scheme is pretty much as expected. I love that they use Babbit for the volume number for what's apparently being called the "Babbit Box" so you can tell what box the volume belongs in. The back cover is done sideways for most of it with the summary and episode listings being angled like that while the artwork sort of goes across all directions. The discs features, production and technical information fill out the bottom and it's a bit cramped but it's all there and still fairly easy to read depending on how good your eyes are. The colors at least don't clash here. No insert was included with this release.

Menu:
The main menu is a cute simple static piece with a shot of Hayama and Sana together against a green backdrop with a brief bit of instrumental snappy music playing along. The layout is pretty standard and it's bright and colorful and fits the show nicely but it is pretty simple overall. Access times are nice and fast and the layout easy to navigate. The disc doesn't handle the player presets too well for subtitles since they're unlabeled but it picked up the audio fine. However, with FUNimation titles it's always safer to select via the menu since that will change which angle you view it for the opening and closing sequences.

Extras:
The extras are a bit minimal but I don't expect any to begin with so whatever shows up is pretty much welcome. The main extra included in this volume other than the character profiles is the act commentary where they tackle another episode and how they dealt with its production.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The first volume of Kodocha has come and gone and that release was certainly something that caused a number of reactions and had for some people probably wildly high expectations based on how much a lot of people have enjoyed the show in the past. Combined with the problems and all the little issues surrounding it, even as much of a fan as I am I felt that the show got lost in the issues. But with the second volume, the issues are basically down to openings and endings being the problem while the actual show itself is pretty much problem free. Thankfully, it is good.

Watching this volume this week turned out to be an interesting exercise as we had just finished watching an volume of Jubei-Chan 2 which features the same director. While the source material is obviously different, Daichi's style in two shows ten years apart continues to be very strongly similar but at the same time you can see just how much he's grown and tweaked his style over the years. A lot of the things we see in Jubei-Chan 2 are very evident here (and in other shows of his) in a somewhat more raw form. One of the things that continues to strike me as to how much I enjoy his works is that he's able to move from such cutting drama and emotion to humor and back again so seamlessly and seemingly effortlessly. Experiencing the emotional side of these episodes once again brought all that to bear after being brought close to tears with his more recent work.

There are a pair of storylines that work along these four episodes and they go a long way towards establishing the important men in Sana's life and getting it set to move forward. Sana at her age is someone who is ready to move from being a girl to being a young woman and having to deal with so many changes to her life. But like most people, she doesn't realize that she's ready and events around her start to force her to grow up and think of others in ways she hasn't before. The first part of that is to continue to figure out exactly what's wrong with Akito that has made him the way he is. He's past the boss stage of his youth and just wants to be left alone, particularly because of the way he's being blackmailed, but Sana can't let it go at that.

She got a small taste of what his home life is like recently so she decides to try and cheer him up some more. She finagles a way into his house by bringing his sister the autographed Zenjiro piece that she asked for but comes at the completely wrong time. His sister doesn't know she's there and just beats into Akito with her usual routine about how he's responsible for everything that goes wrong with her life because he's a devil child, the one who caused their mother to die when she gave birth to him. His sister is completely horrible to him but changes on a dime when she realizes Sana is there and goes into standard gracious and apologetic polite Japanese mode before disappearing.

Sana really understands what Akito is going through as best as she can here because the role she took recently in a new drama where she plays a daughter who is being held responsible for her mother's illness. This gives her the real reason to truly perform in this role because she wants the happy ending that it has to be something that can inspire the Hayama's to get their act together. In between her performances she tracks down Akito's father and sister and gives them what for and insists they watch the drama. So much goes on about this drama as it leads up to it but what becomes the best part of it is when Sana goes into mother mode, acting and being honest at the same time, she's able to give Akito the kind of comfort that he didn't realize he needed and he accepts it. It's such a beautiful scene and one that sticks with you with the great performances.

The other arc that fills up this volume ties into the drama nicely. Sana finds herself working with a more established actress named Asako whom she gets along really well with. The two hit it off nicely but Asako has something of a secret agenda as she's always asking about Rei and where her manager is. Whenever Sana is on set at the drama, Rei's mysteriously absent as well and does his best to avoid being in the same area as Asako in general. While this is something that it takes Sana ages to figure out because of her age, the viewer figures it out pretty quickly and as Asako starts having more meetings with Sana she's able to start prodding information out of her to find out what's going on. This gets to be amusing since Sana is still in her mindset that Rei's her boyfriend and pimp while not really understanding what either of those phrases mean. This actually goes back to Akito who has realized he has feelings for Sana now and reads Rei the riot act about how he treats Sana.

In Summary:
Between getting Rei's background here and having the changes in the various relationships move forward, this volume has a lot going on in between the wild comedy sequences, sight gags and the numerous verbal puns and general abuse. So much goes on during these episodes on so many levels that it goes back to impressing me again how good Akitaro Daichi is at this but also how he's taken Obana's work and really expanded nicely upon it and basically has filled in the areas between the frames with even more life. Getting reacquainted with this show after so long continues to be a treat and the further we get away from the problematic first volume the better. This is just a hell of a lot of fun and it must be shared.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,English Commentary,Character Profiles

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI, 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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