Kodocha Vol. #11 - 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: N/A
  • 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. #11

By Chris Beveridge     February 07, 2007
Release Date: February 06, 2007


Kodocha Vol. #11
© FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.


What They Say
Sana's jobs are getting cancelled, one after the other, and her career is looking bleak. Is it truly the end for the pint-sized superstar, or could there be far more sinister forces at work? It's up to Sana to get to the bottom of the mystery...

And although her mother may be the writer in the family, remember when Misako's editorial manager requested the little motor-mouth commit her worlds to paper? Well, neither does Sana! And the deadline's only a week away! It's a pen to paper, marathon mad-dash as she works to pull of the manuscript miracle of all time!

Contains episodes 41-44:
He Got Me Blacklisted!
The Deadline's Here!
Age Difference, Shmage Difference!
Gomi, Gomi, Where are you Going?

The Review!
Kodocha continues to play up the comedy but it has more serious material once more throughout this set of episodes.

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. Unlike previous volumes, the background doesn't get filled up with the small-bodied type designs. The lime green does a better job as a background for hiding how open it would look otherwise while he 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 moves right along with this volume as it nears the halfway mark of the series. With this set of episodes it brings us up to episode forty-four and begins to tweak the series a bit by bringing in more real growth. An area that continues to appeal to me in regards to anime and manga is how the cast often (but not always) deals with having the characters actually getting older. There are only so many stories and events that could really fit into one year of a students' life before it just gets ridiculous. Sana of course pushes past that envelope but with her you can almost believe it.

The series took an odd twist recently as Sana and her mother basically became rather poor and ended up living in a small apartment. Compared to where they lived and the kind of money they played around with at times, this puts them down pretty far. Sana's personality isn't one to be easily crushed however, nor is her mothers, so they work through it as best as they can. Rei is the one who seems to suffer the most but it's hard to tell if it's additional suffering or just what he's usually being put through. Where things become more of a problem for Sana is that she's being blacklisted somehow throughout the entertainment industry and can't get any work anywhere. Even some of her special appearances on Child's Toy are being canceled.

The discovery that it's Matata, the head of Dream-Pro, that's causing all this trouble for Sana puts both Rei and Sana in an awkward position. Each of them are approached separately regarding the other and how they can fix things but it requires them parting ways and Sana signing on with Dream-Pro. There have been plenty of interesting entertainment industry related arcs with the show but this particular one just comes across as a bit weak and without effort to it. It does do a nice job of providing a segue way into the next arc though as Sana is now essentially starting from the bottom again outside of Child's Toy and has to work her way back up.

Sana's start from the bottom puts her in a job that's practically an extra but what it does is introduce us to a new character named Takeshi Gojo. He feels like Akito's father with his mellow style and almost demure approach to things. Sana instantly feels comfortable with him and to much surprise seems to treat him practically like a father figure. They try to bring in a bit of potential drama with him in how the two deal with each other but there is such a feeling of real innocence between them that it's hard to really believe it. Perhaps more amusingly though is that the two of them have a very similar sense of humor and it does nothing but put Sana off balance.

While there is enough of a serious turn with Sana's money problems, the show brings in more serious material as the kids in Sana's class all have to deal with entrance exams for middle school. Since there are plenty of issues associated with it, everyone has a different plan (their own or their parents) and it can cause plenty of riffs and frustration. Sana's grades haven't been good for quite some time though she has been working towards bettering them but work always gets in the way. Even her escalator chances for Jinbo Middle School are in peril. Akito follows similar problems which are exacerbated when he's accused of shoplifting.

Where the episodes focus is on Gomi, the young boy who took up the role of school meanie after Akito gave it up. He's had plenty of run-ins with Akito and the others since Akito attempted to reform himself but we get a good bit of material that helps flesh out his earlier behavior and where it's led to. His background isn't surprising nor is the way his parents are so adamant about which prestigious middle school he goes to. He doesn't surprise much either when he rebels even more against the pressures of his parents by getting involved with bigger bullies and even shoplifting. His slow spiral isn't exactly killer material but it's great in the sense that it works with a long time character in bringing him into a closer feeling with everyone else. Learning about him, what pressures he's under and how his "friends" may or may not stand by him during the roughest times say a lot about how he'll grow.

In Summary:
Kodocha isn't breaking new barriers here but it is building things along nicely with the cast that it has. They're all growing in small ways here and there and the overall effect is a very positive one. The comedy is still very much present, though a bit more amusing now that Sana has someone who is just like her in the show, while the serious material doesn't come across as out of place. Each part of the show complements the other well and creates a much fuller show because of it. Sana and Babbit do get to be a bit grating at times, some of her newer songs really make me cringe, but with Akito's father being more involved and the range of the overall cast it's just solid all around.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles

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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