Kodocha Vol. #04 - Mania.com

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • 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. #04

By Chris Beveridge     January 05, 2006
Release Date: January 10, 2006

Kodocha Vol. #04
© FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.

What They Say
Akito discovers that Tsuyoshi's parents are getting a divorce. Through all of the moving and settling in, other changes are taking place in Tsuyoshi's life. As he prepares to face the kids at school, little does he know that one of them has been waiting for the chance to face him (and confess her love to him) for quite a long time!

Meanwhile, Sana's mother lets her knows that she is going to write and publish a book about their life. This book has been planned for sometime. Sana's school is set to take a two-day field trip, during which Sana can't stop thinking about the book, and the things that make her nervous about it. Only Akito seems to see through Sana's happy facade to know that something is wrong. Will she trust him enough to confide in him?

Contains episodes 13-16:
My Name's Going to Change
The Promised Summer, Part 1
The Promised Summer, Part 2
Two Pounding Hearts

The Review!
The turbulent lives of these kids becomes all the more apparent as divorce and secrets from the past start to bubble up as well as the arrival of a new rival.

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. As of this volume the issue is essentially down to the opening sequence being different and no audio during the next episode previews as the episodes themselves were problem free.

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.

With this installment starting one of the more interesting storylines of the first part of the series, it provides a good back to back shot of Sana and her mother though the logo unfortunately covers up Maro's intriguing looking headpiece. 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.

The main menu is a cute simple static piece with a shot of Hayama and Tsuyoshi together with a hyper Sana behind them set against a wavy purplish background as a brief bit of instrumental snappy music plays 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.

It took a few volumes but there's the first of an interesting extra included here, recorded fairly recently, with Akitaroh Daichi where he talks about some of the shows he's worked on and the beginnings of Kodocha. Daichi's typically an interesting person to listen to as he's been very descriptive of his projects in past extras so even with the first part being just under seven minutes here, he has some neat things to talk about in regards to Kodocha, a show that's been finished for a decade now for him. A lot of what he did in Kodocha has had an affect on practically everything he's done since. Also continuing on this release is the voice actor commentary track which brings some more light background into the show and the personalities behind the dub..

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Kodocha's fourth installment brings us up through episodes sixteen and plays through a brief storyline that's used to set up the next big stage in Sana's life as well as the continually evolving relationship between her and Hayama. The secondary cast continues to flow beautifully throughout the show as they all move around in Sana's world and have their impact there but still have lives of their own. This is the area where the drama becomes much more personal for Sana and leads to some very well played moments between her and Hayama.

There are three storylines that play out across these four episodes in varying degrees and they all overlap in neat ways so that things don't always end at the end of the episode but sometimes earlier and sometimes elsewhere. The initial storyline has some confusion going on as Sana and Hayama find out that Tsuyoshi's parents are going through a divorce so he ends up out of school for a bit as it all goes through and he and his mother and sister move out. Sana's dealings with Tsuyoshi's father as they learn what's going on is comical since he's such a seemingly uncaring guy, she and Hayama just insult him mercilessly. Tsuyoshi for his part is able to grow nicely with this as he takes on a new role as the man of the family but also because he now takes on his mother's last name and it allows him to try and reinvent himself a bit. He even lucks out by having some female attention come his way as one of the girls makes a most amusing classroom confession. The kids are so touching at times with their honesty of emotions.

The dealings with Tsuyoshi's father has some positives for Hayama as he, in a way only he can say it, reveals how he's now managed to remove two potential rival's for Sana's affections all while really being quiet about the entire thing. He's managed to make his moves on Sana in several ways, most notably the kiss, but he continues to get closer to her without her really realizing it. He does still have some fun with her along the way though but he's definitely serious about making sure he has no competition. With his own problems with his father getting better and now Tsuyoshi's resolved, he finds that he has enough fortitude to ask Sana about her own father but this is an area where Sana asks him to just trust her. Apparently, she and her mother had made a deal some years prior where Sana would become more famous than an average child and she would become a novelist. If that was achieved, she would write a new essay about their relationship and reveal the truths about them that even Sana may now know.

Naturally, once discussion about it starts, Sana's mother reveals that she thinks its time to go that route and write the story, which for her is just a matter of pulling it all together. Sana learns that the story, which she doesn't know all of, will be published at the end of the summer so she decides to just ignore it and have a great summer. This goes by quickly but it leads into one of the new angles of Sana's life as another actor, a very bishonen boy who has a lot of Western look to him, becomes interested in her and even intimates the he knows some of her secrets. With Hayama looking for a way to deal with this potential new rival, getting closer to Sana and Sana's having something that could destroy her family all about to hit just as school starts, things stack up nicely to provide plenty of drama and a lot of the usual kinds of comedy that Kodocha has been able to excel at so far..

In Summary:
The further into the show we get the more and more I love it. The opening of the series was plenty chaotic and had a lot of explanations to go through as well as simply setting the kind of frenetic pacing that is Sana. As it gets further into the various storylines that show that there is a solid drama underneath all of the humor it lets you connect even more to the characters. So many of them have changed so much in just the first sixteen episodes that it's a real treasure to be able to see such great scripting and growth. Kodocha's humor, subversive nature and overall drama just hits the right mark on almost every occasion. There's a reason this show is so revered and continues to be so long after its original airing and that's because it's just that good and that influential on so many shows that have come since.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,English Commentary,Akitaro Daichi Video Interview

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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