Kodocha Vol. #07 (also w/box) - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: C+
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
  • MSRP: 29.98/44.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Kodocha

Kodocha Vol. #07 (also w/box)

By Chris Beveridge     August 08, 2006
Release Date: August 08, 2006


Kodocha Vol. #07 (also w/box)
© FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.


What They Say
Trying to fix a feud with a bunny-suit song and dance? Marrying Aono's noisy chicken to Zenjiro so the neighborhood can sleep? Taking on a top-secret job? Watch it all unravel in the hilariously unstoppable mayhem of Adult-Sized Secrets!

Contains episodes 25-28:
A Bandage for a Broken Heart
Every Chicken Has Its Day
Pity Me and Cough up Some Dough
The Romantic Love Song of Mr. Hayama

The Review!
Keeping to mostly standalone stories, Kodocha hits up some good material as it continues to slowly grow the relationship between Sana and Hayama.

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

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:
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, this cover goes for a larger cast shot of characters who are all key in this volume which works out very nicely. 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 well your eyes are. The colors at least don't clash here. No insert was included with this release.

This volume is also released in a disc + box format so that the next six discs can have themselves a happy home. In a really strange twist, you can get volumes seven and eight in the box which is like getting volume eight for free. The box itself is a nice solid chipboard that lifts off from the top with about 20 percent of the box serving as the base portion. The box is nicely laid out in that it uses the wavy lines we see in the menus done in a mixture of greens. One main panel has a shot of Sana's mom while the other has Rei on it being used in service of a magic trick. The spine panels let you choose which you want to have shown, with one side being a casual shot of Hayama and the other of Sana in some very elegant clothes while holding a bouquet of flowers after a performance. One of the real draws of the release in its packaging is that it has a small plush Babbit inside of it. I've wanted one of these for years and the entire release is simply worth it for that alone, never mind getting two DVDs and a box.

Menu:
The main menu is a cute simple static piece with a shot of Sana set against a wavy blue lines 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.

Extras:
The only included extra for this round is a series of art pieces in a gallery format.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As Kodocha has moved along in its stories and overall plot, we've gotten to a point where some interesting smaller character stories are being told instead of anything really big or expansive. It's been good in that it allows for some of the secondary characters to get a bit more involved in the short term and it lets Sana interact with more people outside of her work/school side of things, even though they are kept in use tangentially. The best material always seems to come in watching how Sana and Hayama are growing together, even though she does still call him her enemy and best friend.

Though the episodes are essentially self contained here, they cover some good ground and touch back on older storyline plots that aren't quite resolved. The first episode is a prime example in that it focuses on Mami a lot as she takes care of one of the rabbits at school, essentially feeling a strong attachment to it in an almost motherly way. The rabbit is used as a central focus that keeps people involved but the real story is more to do with her relationship with Hayama, as we find out that she's still very afraid of being left alone or near him. It's been awhile but we're reminded of how Hayama treated her when he was in his bad boy stage and it's something that has put some scar and fear into her heart. Sana of course wants to fix everything but she doesn't even realize that the problem extends beyond just Mami's fear as her reaction has made Hayama realize the extent of what he caused, which in its own way scars his heart as well. Though the kids are of course a bit too self aware of things, it's a great episode that deals with actual issues within the show.

Another episode that goes back to the past is more comical in nature as we find that Tsuyoshi is like one of the living dead these days. As it turns out, the little chick that Sana had given Aono some time ago has grown up into a rooster and it gets up very early every morning to welcome in the new day. He's unable to do anything about it with Aono since she loves the chick and he can't get much help because he can't let Sana know since he knows that she'll be devastated by it. Though he confides in Aya, it eventually gets out to Sana and she does take responsibility for it by taking the rooster home herself until they can find someplace for it. The rooster is amusing in how it deals with Sana by participating in her songs but the fun and games are over quickly when it's up early to greet the sun and everyone in the house wants to kill it. It's a cute episode that deals with the repercussions of Sana's past actions to make Aono happy and similar to the first episode, it's great how they keep the real full storyline alive by having things from the past still affecting the present.

My favorite episode of this set has to deal with Hayama's father who for some reason I cannot explain simply cracks me up. Between his bland delivery and almost frumpy look, he just strikes me as funny to watch and listen to but also as someone who has learned the error of his ways. There's something funny going on with him this time as he's apparently seeing a rather attractive young woman so Sana leaps to mind that he's potentially going to be remarrying, since it has been quite some time since his wife died. While the easy thing to do would be to simply ask him, they instead go for an elaborate plan to scare off the young woman when she comes to visit the house. Sana's stories and the way she redecorates by using all of her mother's stuff is just priceless. The real highlight was just watching Hayama's father doing a song and dance number with Sana in his standard delivery method. While the episode is the very cliché of many a sitcom, it works great here.

In Summary:
Kodocha's a rather busy and energetic show but even within that context these episodes feel like a bit of a slow down in general since it's doing mostly standalone tales. There are a lot of fun and wacky things that go on during the course of these episodes though and the energy is definitely there, keeping it all just as infectious as it was in the past. But as the characters become more and more familiar, you become adjusted to them and their ways so it's not quite as heightened as it was during the first couple of volumes. With some of the big emotional trauma's now behind the cast, I'm looking forward to seeing how it will progress and how much it will mirror aspects of the manga.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Art Gallery

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Samsung BD-P1000 Blu-ray 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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