Kodocha Vol. #06 - Mania.com

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Mania Grade: B+

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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. #06

By Chris Beveridge     May 01, 2006
Release Date: May 02, 2006

What They Say
Sana takes the day off to see the orphaned children's academy where Naozumi was raised. But when one of the kids starts acting like a "mini-Akito," the visit takes one hilarious twist after another, leading to her impulsive decision to take a vacation from acting - forever!

Contains episodes 21-24:
Look Out! It's a Pint-Sized Akito!
Karate Heart, Quitting Blues
Sunny, With Occasional Disappearing
Math Mess

The Review!
Sana's past the big upheaval in her life but now that it's all over she has to figure out exactly what she wants to do next.

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. With this volume the issue is essentially down to the opening sequence being.

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.

The covers continue about the same here in that it's an interesting layout in how minimal it really is with the amount of empty space. With little in the way of things to fill up the background, the focus on the main three characters of the show for the next little bit is more apparent but it still feels a bit stark and doesn't quite capture the energy of the show. 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 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.

Following up on what we got in the previous volume, the third part of the interview with Daichi is here and he continues to explore more of what makes up the show and how they handled it and the differences between it and the manga.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Kodocha has ridden a rather sizeable emotional wave over the previous volume or two as the secret of Sana's origins was revealed to the world and she had the issues of dealing with finding her birth mother at long last and that it entailed. It also spawned more issues with the mother who actually raised her since there were fears on both sides about how the entire thing was going to play out but it was all well resolved and for the most part done and over with. With that in mind, it's important to dip back into the comedy pool a bit more while still riding the emotional side.

The recap episode in a way probably helped a lot more in its broadcast run than it would in any home video version but now that it and the down time has been taken care of, the show is moving into a few new areas. Sana's past does get explored a bit more as Nozomi brings her back to the orphanage he grew up in and that she spent about a month there at before finally ending up where she did. It's actually a really cute episode as all the kids there are mostly big Sana fans since she showed that you could be an orphan and still make something of yourself. There's a trio of girls who simply adore her in a near fanatical fashion but there's also one boy who doesn't like her at all who is very reminiscent of Hayama. There's lots of little gags and jokes that play out that mock the older kids situation but there's plenty of just pure wacky stuff with her singing and dancing as well as the usual antics.

Sana's continued to spend most of her time away from commercials and the like, only doing some occasional bits on Zenjiro's Child's Toy where she gets to mess considerably with Zenjiro. Since she had become famous for the purpose of attracting attention to herself and her mother's story when the time was right, she's unsure whether she wants to continue on with it now that the primary goal is over with. She wants to spend more time with her friends, something that we've seen her express in the past, but it comes with a bit more trouble than she anticipated. One area where she's close to losing her friends is when she realizes she's not likely to pass the current grade which could mean going back into public school. She's fine with that until she realizes that it would mean losing all her friends which then puts her in comically studious mode.

Sana's struggles and trials have affected others around her and they get some nice face time during these episodes as well. The men in Sana's life have been affected by everything and are dealing with it as best as can be. Rei for his part finds that he may be out of a job soon if she doesn't continue her career so he's trying to balance what's good for Sana and her outlook on life while she decides what to do. Sana's mother has a lot of fun tormenting and mocking Rei during all of this since he can't exactly say anything to Sana. Hayama is also dealing with the impact that Sana has made on his life after she talked about having something that they want to do with their lives. It's motivated him to start taking karate lessons which aren't exactly what he expected them to be. Hayama's changes are creeping out his sister which is priceless but not as much as the way his deadpan father deals with it all. Combined with the friends who come by to watch, Hayama has managed to really surprise a lot of people and his continued growth is a real highlight of the show, sometimes more so than Sana herself.

In Summary:
Kodocha's managed to find the right kind of episodes to follow-up the more serious material we've had recently and it goes back to some of that core humor and wackiness that defined the show early on. There's a lot of good material here that helps to show how much everyone has changed and the growing up of the leads continues, especially for Sana as she starts to learn just how much of an impact her words and appearances on TV can really have for everyday people. The touches on the past, the progression of events for Hayama and Sana's questioning of her future makes all of this a very enjoyable set of episodes that's laying the foundation of what's to come. Very good stuff and recommended.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Akitaro Daichi 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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