Kodocha Vol. #08 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: C+
  • 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. #08

By Chris Beveridge     August 14, 2006
Release Date: August 22, 2006


Kodocha Vol. #08
© FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.


What They Say
Misako's mother stops by for an unexpected visit and thrusts the Kurata household into maximum mayhem. Adding fuel to the fire, a sneaky tabloid photographer is stalking Akito and Sana, and a shocking revelation unfolds that will shake things up like never before!

Contains episodes 29-32:
Here She Comes, Mama's Mama
Rei and the Jolly Green-Eyed Monster
A Snake Came Slithering in Muddy Shoes
Daddy, You're Busted!

The Review!
While Sana's life is relatively stable at this point, it seems like everyone around her has something going on and she has to get involved..

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.

Menu:
The main menu is a cute simple static piece with a shot of Sana set against a wavy green 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)
The release of the eighth volume of the series is interesting in that you can buy it separately but it makes more sense to snap it up as part of the volume seven box set release since it's in there as well, which means you either in a sense get it for free or get it for half price and take the box and Babbit plushie for free. This set of standalone episodes gets the series up to episode thirty-two and manages to progress the numerous interpersonal relationships very nicely.

As active and busy as any of the previous episodes in the series, there's a lot of fun to be had here as things get expanded and detailed. The opening episode deals with the Kurata family, something we haven't seen all that much about other than the sneaky ex-husband of Misako's. With this one, her mother actually comes to visit from the hot springs inn that the family has run for the last three hundred years in order to do a marriage meeting ceremony for Misako. Of course, she's got zero intent of ever being married again (unless you count Maro, and that only gets disturbing the more you think about it) so the entire process is just comical to watch, particularly as Sana gets involved in it.

Misako's mother proves that her daughter didn't fall from the tree but she does realize that she's not going to get Misako to go for taking over the inn. That leaves Sana and an amusingly obvious attempt by her grandmother to get her to go into a marriage proposal herself. The introduction of Hayama into the equation though is priceless as much of what Misako has said about the young man is echoed by her mother. You can see the gears turning in how she wants to use Sana for her own needs but even Sana finds some appeal in taking over the inn, someday. The episode is solid for bringing in more of the family but it asks a few questions that really need answering, particularly why it's been four years since she's come to visit Misako and Sana.

A couple of episodes on this volume have some good links to past episodes that explore things a bit more which is welcome, since it avoids the problem of constantly adding new characters or really strange situations. Rei finds himself rather distracted by the rumors in the magazines and newspapers about Asako taking up with the lead singer in a popular band (which unfortunately leads to a section of no audio on the Japanese side since music there couldn't be licensed). The rumors are so strong about the relationship that Rei fears he may be losing Asako over it, but it's Sana who gets Hayama and Tsuyoshi to go with her to investigate the reality of the situation. Everything is misheard and it's a standard comedy of sitcom errors but it's a good fun standalone episode that has Sana dressing up, performing music and getting very emotional about everything.

The other episode that touches on the past brings us back to Tsuyoshi again, a character I'm glad to see getting a bit more time as of late. Things have settled down in his household for the most part since the divorce but an incident has happened that gets captured on the news; apparently his father was arrested for beating up a couple of people while drunk on his way home and they couldn't stop him without some force. He's ended up in jail while the situation is sorted out but it leads to a good deal of shame within the family and the need to hide it from little Asako. Tsuyoshi tries to brush it off since he hasn't seen his father in an age and that since they changed their last names, he's unconnected to him anymore. Of course, in a school setting even in Japan, it's a source of mocking and teasing by other students so the boys in his class who used to follow Hayama really get into it with him. There's a bit of a mystery involved in the episode but it's the start of exploring more of the relationship in Tsuyoshi's family, a theme that's quite strong in this series as every family has some form of "dysfunction" to it.

In Summary:
Kodocha continues to be a show that I just soak up and enjoy as the characters are fun, there are so many settings that events occur in and it still retains much of its manic energy that permeated the start of it so strongly. While it's become a bit more balanced since then, these episodes show that there's still a great deal of life in it and plenty to explore. Getting this disc as part of the box set with volume seven only made me want to see more episodes of the show in a faster fashion in the future since getting to watch a pair of discs one after the other was enjoyable and didn't feel like a chore. Sana is love!

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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