Leave it to Piyoko Vol. #2 - Mania.com

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • 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. #2

By Chris Beveridge     February 07, 2006
Release Date: March 07, 2006

Leave it to Piyoko Vol. #2
© Synch-Point

What They Say
Piyoko and the Black Gema Gema Gang are settled down in the city of Akihabara, waiting for the chance to kidnap Dejiko. But they keep getting distracted by things like drawing contests and a tent that leads to the fifth-dimension - until they actually capture Dejiko!? Can they get enough ransom money to rebuild their home planet?

The Review!
Piyoko and the gang return for more weird fun while trying to remember why they came to Earth in the first place.

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 again very cute with a detailed illustration of Piyoko, this time in a surprisingly dark outfit that's all brown including the hat, where she's playing up the nurse role. She's surrounded by some pale flowers and tiny-sized versions of her three guardians milling around her. The pale pink background draws more attention to the dark outfit bit more so to the blonde hair and light face than anything else. 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 four songs but it compliments the first CD nicely. 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.

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 section mirrors the previous volume a fair bit. While the clean opening and ending sequences don't make another appearance, we do get another illustration gallery and there's also a new set of commercials included. Following up on the first volume, we get the second part of the PKO Live! Concert. But very similar to the first volume, the big extra that is sure to get the attention of fans of this material is the Koge-Donbo commentary track provided with the sixth episode on this disc.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The first installment of Leave it to Piyoko proved to be just about everything I was expecting from it with the welcome addition of its quirky nature and solid dub ended up appealing to my eldest daughter. Getting her into more shows that are in the cute but off kilter manner is exactly the kind of thing I want to expose her to so the first volume got a lot of replay and the second volume ended up getting a fair amount in the day or two that we had it before getting to do the review itself.

While there is an overall plot for the series in that Piyoko and her gang came to Earth in order to kidnap Dejiko and ransom her off for a boatload of money so they could revive their own planet, it's really not the focus for most of it. It was dealt with more in the first volume since it had to set things up but in this one it's relegated mostly to the last episode as the characters try to remember why they even left home. Prior to that though the group hangs out, engages in various projects and for the most part just does the same thing they did before they got here but on a much pretty looking landscape.

One of the fun things that they do is get involved in a bit of an art contest with each other where they come up with drawings of what each other looks like. It's all pretty hit or miss and generally in the miss department, particularly when you have Piyoko drawing some of the people as potatoes with faces. The best is when Dejiko and the others show up and they get into some real drawing contests with each other but it's all based on describing how to draw it through song. Several of them sing it in different ways and the results of everyone's drawings is just hilarious, especially since it seems like Piyoko can't draw anything but blobs or potatoes.

They dip into other amusing areas such as a tent that leads to weird places in the fifth dimension, such as all red or all blue places as well as an episode that starts off beautifully with Piyoko and some of the others riding small horses where one of them is feeling a bit… constipated of sorts that Rik ends up helping out with. It's just flat out weird and comical with the way they animate the characters and then add in the little bits of oddness that fill out the show. The series does get back to trying to achieve their overall goal though of kidnapping Dejiko but like everything else for Piyoko and the Black Gema Gema gang, it goes horribly wrong and double so because it involves Dejiko. But like everything else in the Di Gi Charat universe, nothing is ever really final and as settled as things are it's pretty wide open come the end of the show.

In Summary:
Leave it to Piyoko is a really fun show that fleshes out the Di Gi Charat universe a bit more and is definitely a welcome addition to the quirky and hyperactive family of titles that have come out so far. One of the things that is best about these for me is that they really do cross age groups where it has plenty of appeal to kids but still a lot of fun for adults. While I had hoped for a bit more of a story to go along with the show overall since we were finally getting to see things from the bad guys side, it fits in fairly well with what we have seen of them from Dejiko's point of view. Leave it to Piyoko is a good bit of fun with some very cute show that finds, for the most part, the right balance between hyperactive cuteness and real honest heart tugging cuteness.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Illustration Gallery,Commentary by Koge-Donbo (Creator),Commercials,PKO Live! Concert

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI set to 480p, 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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