Kodocha Vol. #12 - 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: 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. #12

By Chris Beveridge     May 16, 2007
Release Date: April 03, 2007


Kodocha Vol. #12
© FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.


What They Say
It's Valentine's Day, and love is in the air! And so is the smell of chocolate! Sana has decided to be a bit selective this year, giving out only one confectionary delight... and all the boys in class are drooling for a taste! Decisions, decisions, decisions...

Meanwhile, her new book has hit the shelves and it looks to be an instant success! Pages upon pages filled with Sana's life and all her friends, all but one: Poor Mami! How could Sana forget to mention one of her closest friends? Torn between painful explanations or simply running from her problems, will Sana find it within herself to step up and face her left-out friend?

The Review!
While the comedy continues as usual, Sana ends up deeper in a rather creepy relationship with Gojo that has some hidden aspects to it.

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 character artwork for the covers rarely match up with the content inside and this one is no exception as it features Sana and her immediate family as well as an inclusion of Keiko. With her having only a minute or two of screen time whereas Gojo makes up the bulk of it, having her on the cover just doesn't click. 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 and Gojo set against a set of wavy purple 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)
As the first half of the series begins to wind down and the main story arc for it is being laid out, Kodocha hits up an aspect that certainly isn't surprising. With it being patently obvious where it's going, the nature of the relationship that's being dealt with isn't quite as creepy as it would be to those not in the know. But seeing how Sana has been approaching it and her general lack of understanding of what constitutes a relationship still manages to make it uneasy at times. After all, Rei was her pimp for quite a while.

Kodocha runs through a couple of different things in these episodes though it kicks off mainly with the growing depth of the relationship between Sana and Gojo. With Valentine's Day at hand, Sana has shifted gears from her normal method of providing chocolate for, well, everyone. This year she's making a large sized chocolate Sana to give just to Gojo as she continues to deal with him as her boyfriend. Gojo's laid back personality doesn't have him really accepting her as a girlfriend but more so that he's just humoring her and going with the flow. That seems to sum up his approach to life more than anything else as he takes what comes his way and just rolls with it. For everyone else though, they're shocked by how Sana has changed since getting closer to Gojo and Valentine's Day just drives it home.

Sana has had a positive effect on Gojo in their time together though as she's managed to get him to be more into his work. Keeping on top of him and his slightly wishy washy nature has allowed him to show up at work and not be quite so affected by what others say. He's also become more showy in his "magic tricks" that he uses to surprise people on a regular basis. The two have brought some elements of balance to each other and it's paying off for both. More so for Gojo though as he's been able to chip away at the way he's been late or disappearing from jobs over the years. For Sana, she's glad to just have some work to do after the problems with Drea-Pro and the time spent working on her book.

There are a few nice changes along the way here in terms of main plot points. One of them is that Sana's book has finally come out and it causes a small stir among her fans. More to the point, it causes a problem with one of her friends at school since she's never mentioned. Mami takes it badly because she doesn't understand Sana's reasons for it and Sana isn't sure how to talk about it. With Mami's story centering around the way she was bullied by Hayama, it's not an area that Sana feels comfortable talking about since Hayama is doing so well. Unfortunately, Hayama is practically invisible during much of this volume which minimizes how enjoyable it is. The relationship with Gojo is prime here and as good as it is for the direction it is going, I miss Hayama and Sana being so close together and dealing with each other.

The other good plot point is the eventual change in residence for Sana and her family. With both of them having their books out there and Sana bringing in some money, her mother is all about the money now and has put the royalties and advance into building their new mansion. While that gives them someplace new and fun to go, it's not before they have to spend a week elsewhere first. That puts Sana in Gojo's apartment as they live up the boyfriend/girlfriend life with Sana playfully taking up the role as a young blushing bride. Of course, she does it in an over the top comical manner but even her friends are unsure about it and find it kind of creepy.

In Summary:
Kodocha's got a big plot point going on towards the end here that's plainly obvious once a less than subtle hint is dropped. They also tweak it so it's going to be emotional and dramatic which isn't a surprise either. Sana's stories tend to have a lot of comedy to them but they're also often tied to a whole lot of potential angst. These episodes are more of the comedy side than anything else, well, beyond being creepy at times, so the good times do indeed roll here. Hayama is unfortunately very minimal here and that detracts overall but Sana and her antics manage to keep things fun and Hayama does have some good moments. The first half is almost over and it looks like it's going to be interesting to see how it closes out.

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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