Kodocha Vol. #10 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • 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. #10

By Chris Beveridge     November 29, 2006
Release Date: December 12, 2006


Kodocha Vol. #10
© FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.


What They Say
It's the holidays, so it's time for Sana and Akito's Middle Birthday Party. Will the cheer be ruined when Sana has to kiss Naozumi for a commercial? Prepare to witness the first ever-battle of karate versus trumpet! Speaking of Middle Birthday Parties, Akito can't decide on a gift for Sana. Will Naozumi take advantage of Akito's indecision to win Sana's heart? She might be a bit distracted... The Kurata family is bankrupt and must move into a rundown apartment!

Just as a mysterious stranger shows up, Rei suddenly can't seem to find any more acting work for Sana. Things may get a lot worse before they get better... Oh, and this week Sana is in the Stone Age - The Stone Age?!

Contains episodes 37-40:
Karate and Trumpet Compete for a Kiss
The Special Christmas Kiss
100 Haya-Moths / Ooga Booga Boo
Suddenly One Day, I'm Homeless Sana!

The Review!
Providing some fun character growth and a trip into the bizarre, Kodocha makes a radical change in the characters lives.

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. 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:
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. The background does get filled up a bit more this time as there are a few small-bodied type designs around the central figure of Sana and Hayama and the lime green does a better job as a background for hiding how open it would look otherwise. 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 set of wavy lime green lines background as a brief bit of mellow instrumental 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:
None.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Kodocha's been running at a fairly even pace as of late by doing mostly standalone tales without any of the kind of significant emotional impact pieces that we saw more frequently towards the start. This certainly isn't bad, as it's allowed a bit more of the wacky comedy to play out while still tweaking the character relationships along the way. This volume starts to change that in a strong manner towards the end, putting a potential short term new spin on the show.

With the characters actually slowing growing and aging here, time has moved forward once more and it's now that time of the year when there's a birthday party. But unlike the one that Sana and Hayama shared before, the two of them have had some very different experiences since then. Sana, oblivious as usual, isn't aware that her doing the party again and inviting Hayama puts pressure on him to figure out exactly what to do for her for a present. His feelings for her have grown considerably and it's making him quite unsure of himself. Just the changes in kids in general is felt here, such as when Hayama's father is ready to do his Santa gig on Christmas Eve but both kids have plans. Depending on your age, or if you have kids, you'll likely favor a certain view. It was also priceless to see Hayama's sister realizing her younger brother was growing up and starting to like girls.

Between the party episode and the Christmas episode, there's a fair bit of competition and noise going on for Sana and everyone else. Throwing Naozumi into the mix as being paired with Sana in a show that has them kissing only adds to all of it. One of the best parts was watching Rei go from being completely ecstatic about the holiday and his plans to watching them crumble before his eyes. Every now and then he acts more and more like Sana does without realizing it. But even in the middle of all of this insanity, they still manage to sneak in some very tender moments as well as some good fun competition between the boys.

They don't follow it up well though, as the next episode is just plain bizarre. I'm not sure I can really explain it beyond the same statement that everyone takes on the roles of bees or moths or bugs and they do a completely fantastical tale that makes little sense and is just plain out there. It's a very unusual episode even for this series since it seems to not be grounded well within the shows reality. Even worse, it serves as prelude to the episode that puts the show in a bit of a tailspin as it's learned that Sana's mother is under investigation for financial issues and their entire residence and all they own has been placed under custody. Forced out into a small apartment, the small family now has to figure out how to go forward. Easy enough in theory, but once these kinds of issues creep up, the labels get applied by the mainstream and media very quickly and the usual avenues they would use become difficult to take advantage of.

In Summary:
Beyond the third episode that still leaves me scratching my head " and not laughing all that much " this is a solid volume that finally gets the show moving again. The small amount of character growth we've seen in the leads over the last arc of stand alone stories has been decent, but it's the adversity that really builds character and this new arc will do it. The comedy is there, the silliness, the singing but also the small quiet moments. Hayama I think steals much of the early episodes while it's harder to pin any one character down later on. The show may not have quite the same charm it did at first (or even several years ago) but it continues to be a solidly entertaining piece of work that for me just clicks right.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitiles

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic DMP-BD10 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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