Leave it to Piyoko Vol. #1 - Mania.com

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: All
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Synch-Point
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 60
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Leave it to Piyoko

Leave it to Piyoko Vol. #1

By Chris Beveridge     November 07, 2005
Release Date: November 15, 2005

Leave it to Piyoko Vol. #1
© Synch-Point

What They Say
Piyoko is the princess of Planet Analogue and leader of the evil Black Gema Gema Gang. But she’s a poor royal figure, with little food to eat.

When Piyoko’s Upchuck Bazooka destroys a whole city, she’s forced to flee the planet! With the help of her minions Rik, Ky, and Coo, they plot to kidnap the Princess Di Gi Charat, a.k.a. Dejiko, in another exciting series with the staff at Gamers!

The Review!
When evil is this cute you can't help but to want to squeeze it and hug it and call it love.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. Having watched the other shows in Japanese and being familiar with that cast we wanted to keep to that plus in checking out some of the dub some of the jokes just don't seem to translate as well. The mix is a fairly standard stereo mix with decent usage of the stereo channels as there's often some movement across the entire forward soundstage with the activities that are going on both from actions and dialogue. The opening and closing songs do a good job of a full sounding mix and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback of either language track.

Originally released to video in 2003, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. Animated by Madhouse, the production values here on this show look fantastic with great vibrant colors that maintain a beautiful solid feel. Usually in most shows you'll find some element of break-up in some of the solid sections of color but this just looks fantastic throughout. While the show is fairly minimal in terms of detail, the animation is crisp and clean with smooth lines and very fluid animation to it. The transfer here simply looks great throughout and is essentially problem free.

Packaged in a standard single keepcase, the cover artwork for this release is adorable with a great illustration of Piyoko in her outfit surrounded by some leaves and flowers and tiny-sized versions of her three guardians milling around her. The pale pink background accentuates the light nature of her costume and the illustration style itself with its great level of detail and overall very adorable look. The back cover is fairly minimal with a pink bland background that has one side showcasing a small selection of brightly colorful shots from the show and the other side a couple of short paragraphs covering the premise. The discs episode numbers and titles are colorfully listed as well as the discs features and production information that fill out the bottom half. The discs technical information is fairly minimal though and not in any sort of technical grid. The keepcase itself the kind with the flippy hinge inside to hold the DVD while the soundtrack CD is behind it. The music CD is pretty short with three songs, one live version song and a voice message. The insert for the release is a good mini booklet that has the usual high production values I've gotten used to with Synch-Point releases as it covers translation notes, character information and show bits as well as promoting the merchandise they have.

Also included at least in the first pressing releases is a postcard that requires a sticker to be placed on it from the second version that you can send in to get a Piyoko figure.

Done in crayon fashion for a cityscape background, the menu layout for this release is cute with the more detailed character designs in the foreground on the right side. The left side has the selections nicely lined up in alternating colors while at the top of it the series logo bounces back and forth lightly to the music which plays for the usual thirty seconds or so. The layout is nice and straightforward and has a cute look here while being easy to navigate. The disc also correctly read our players' language presets properly and played it accordingly.

The extras have a nice healthy selection to them with some neat items. The standards are here such as the illustration gallery and the clean opening and ending sequences. One cute piece is the PKO Live! Concert that runs about five minutes in length. The big extra that is sure to get the attention of fans of this material is the Koge-Donbo commentary track provided with the third episode on this disc.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After several years worth of very cute Di Gi Charat episodes, manga and more, the time came that they decided to tell the story from another point of view and show exactly the motivations behind what Piyoko is up to and let her have her origin story. The resulting short series, Leave it to Piyoko, is an interesting twist on the established stories while letting the bad guys have their day. Told in fifteen minute segments, we get the background episodes first and then the time on Earth as Piyoko and the Black Gema Gema Gang make their moves against the princess Di Gi Charat.

The show opens on Planet Analogue where we're introduced to the cute princess Pycola, affectionately called Piyoko, who ends all of her sentences with the pyo sound just like Di Gi Charat's nyo sound. Piyoko is in the care of a group of three men that we're slowly introduced to. Rik is the General of the Black Gema Gema gang and is a top notch doctor, Ky is the Lieutenant General of the gang and is an excellent dentist while Coo is the major and is basically Piyoko's childhood friend and physician. All three of them have the job of keeping her healthy and happy while Piyoko's parents are away. It's revealed early on that her parents are in hiding or possibly dead until she's several years older and can take over the planet for the family as they failed in their attack on their sister planet where Di Gi Charat comes from. As a result, Planet Analogue is dirt poor and its people are pretty much living in poverty but still are mostly happy.

As such, it's hard for the three members of the gang to make money in the normal way through their medical professions since nobody has any money for it. Even when they try to be cut throat and evil about it by not accepting patients who are sick, they end up treating them anyway. As evil as they want to be, they're still pretty good people. But the need to feed their most favored girl is strong and after explaining the situation about her parents to Piyoko, they try to figure out a way of making money off of the sister planet so that Piyoko can become the new queen of Analogue and make everyone happy. Since her parents failed at a full on invasion, it's decided that they'll kidnap the princess instead and ransom her for money. Even better, she's not even on her home planet now but on Earth and mostly defenseless.

So after a few episodes of introductions and exposition done in a very cute and comical manner, the show moves to Earth where we see Piyoko and her gang trying to come up with ways to kidnap Dejiko so they can ransom her off. The methods are just cute, especially considering the kind of members she has in her gang beyond the three pretty boys who make up her top guys. Dejiko and the others are a lot of fun in this as well as they play up their usual roles and they look fantastic in this very slick looking production. The animation and colors done through the digital format really shine here and make you wish they'd re-examine the original episodes, which as cute and fun as they are in the traditional method, would just be so much smoother and shinier if done this way.

In Summary:
With the four episodes on here, the show goes by very fast overall and it's fun to watch. It very much keeps to the style and nature of the Di Gi Charat show itself and Piyoko is more than able to carry it off on her own but she brings her own sense of style to it so that it doesn't feel like we're watching a retread of what we've seen before. The animation is great, the characters are a lot of fun to watch and the commentary track by Koge-Donbo is practically worth the price of admission alone if you're interested in the little oddities behind the character and setting designs. This is good simple fun and one that can be shared with the entire family at that, if you're willing to hear your kids add pyo or nyo to the end of their sentences for days to come.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Illustration Gallery,Commentary by Koge-Donbo (Creator),Creditless opening & ending songs

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with upconversion set to 720p, 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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