Magical Meow Meow Taruto Vol. #3 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B-

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Bandai Entertainment
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 69
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Magical Meow Meow Taruto

Magical Meow Meow Taruto Vol. #3

By Chris Beveridge     June 16, 2005
Release Date: June 14, 2005


Magical Meow Meow Taruto Vol. #3
© Bandai Entertainment


What They Say
Taruto finds new challenges (and new threats!) in some very unexpected places, even as she continues trying to be a proper princess. First, when her master is frustrated in his search for the perfect snow cone, Taruto tries to help and finds herself face to face with a ghost! Then, while on a hike in the local mountains, Taruto and her friend end up in a place where nothing is as it should be and danger lurks around every corner. Finally, Taruto and her friends meet an old wildcat who is trying to get to a faraway land, but his journey may come to an end before he gets there. What will Taruto do?!

The Review!
Taruto continues to explore her world and the strange way it operates but we also get a bit more on the other world this time around.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The stereo mix for the show is about average and there isn't anything really noteworthy about it. The dialogue comes through clean and clear and the bulk of it really feels center channel based, though the music makes good use of a full sounding stage for both the opening and ending. We listened through the English track as well and didn't note any problems with it during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing back in 2001, the transfer for this show looks really good for the most part. It's a very bright and vibrant show with a wide range of colors but has a certain softness to the background ones. The only area where we really noted any trouble is during a couple of the scenes with the eye-patch characters as the black eye-patch showed some blocking throughout it while the character moved. The transfer is otherwise pretty much free of problems such as cross coloration and aliasing. This release marks a surprising change for Bandai though in terms of how they present their shows. The opening and ending sequences are done via alternate angles based on language selection. One angle has the original Japanese text credits while the other has the translated credits. The end credits provide both voice casts in the English translated credits which is a plus as it's something that's often forgotten and the Japanese actors are never credited. The actual show logo is the same in both versions and the title cards are also done via alternate angles. The only thing that's noticeable between the two is that the English one appears to be a bit brighter. While I'm not huge on alternate angles because half the time they're not done properly, they're well done here and done as I like to see them done.

Packaging:
Using the same art as the Japanese release but accentuated by the purple keepcase that brings in the color all the more, Chitose gets the main shot this time in her kimono and looking all cute and proper while some of the others are lined around her but she herself is surrounded by a number of pretty flowers. It's a soft looking piece with the illustration style used but it really sets the visuals right for the show and just looks adorable. The back cover keeps the same simple feel to it with an off-white/pinkish background that's littered with little cat prints. Small circles showcase cute images from the show and each of the episodes is given a summary. The staff for both sides of the production are kept together and a small block of technical information is provided at the bottom, though it's a bit odd. It actually lists that there is a single DVD inside and there's no listing of any of the extras from this release here. The keepcase is actually clear and the reverse side of it uses the cat prints all over it in varying colors and looks really cute. The insert lets the humans have a chance and has a good illustration of Iori holding Taruto while some of the others are behind them and opens up to a two panel piece that has the episode summaries on one side and small character profiles for the bulk of the main cast not covered in the previous volume. The back of the insert has the full translated production and voice actor listings and the English cast is tied to their roles which is a plus.

Menu:
After a brief animation at the load-up that sets into the background of a tree household, the menu pieces float in on bubbles and the menu finally becomes usable. A brief bit of instrumental music from the show plays along here and it's overall a very cute menu and one of the better ones from Bandai as of late, which is why I'm feeling forgiving about some of the transitional animations. Moving to the submenus has a brief piece play as well but it is very short and keeps everything in theme. The only area that works right but could be done better is in the language selection area as once you have your languages selected (or preset), it doesn't provide any way of telling on the screen what you're actually set at. This happens across a number of releases from most studios and it's something I still consider one of those "step 1" procedures that just must be done.

Extras:
The extras are relatively the same as the previous volume with this one having a fouth music clip and the second textless opening sequence.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Taruto with its third installment finally starts to give in more to what we think is its overall story as an episode is devoted to the other world but for the most part it continues to be about Taruto discovering the magic in our own world, or what's as close to our world as can be when we're dealing with one filled with catboys and catgirls. The perceptions of reality between the two still don't meet but once you understand the dynamic the show becomes much easier to settle into.

The opening episode for example plays out something that's already fairly consistent in the series in that it has Iori doing something and being unsure how to continue with it so Taruto tries to find a way to help him. This time around, it's got to do with food (big surprise) as he's trying to get a new blend of shaved ice just right but needs to find someplace that serves it. Taruto finds out about a place called Shiozu Beach which is just beyond the jagged mountain at the edge of the city but requires going through an abandoned ginza to get through. The ginza has been abandoned for some time because it's supposedly haunted. When you go inside, something either spooks the person or they get led around in such a maze that they end up right back at the outside. But with Taruto and her nature, she's able to break through and discover the secret on the other side due to her magical nature if not her general obliviousness to a lot of things. There aren't any real surprises here but it is a nice and simple episode that pushes that magic is all around us if we're able to look.

Another world expanding episode is the last one where a Iriomote wildcat ends up in Oshikana and his arrival causes all sorts of problems. Luckily, he ends up running into Taruto fairly early on and she's able to get some help from her friends in caring for him. Through him, we learn of the more wild side of the creatures where they live on an island far to the west. Seeing this particular wildcat as a youth is interesting especially since it brings in a master and cat from Ameringo (which leads to a number of amusing puns that even my pre-school level vocabulary could grasp) and how this particular wildcat became close to them. They ended up having to leave when their research was done so he's been trying to get to Ameringo ever since, which is a massive job when these guys are the size they are. The wildcat, Nougat, is a cute character in his youth and amusing as an old man but he provides something of a larger view of the world and of the cats in general which is a real plus.

The most interesting episode here is the center one which has an interesting occurrence in that Taruto and Gallette get separated from the group when on a hike on Mount Ararei. They end up going through a strange mist which somehow transports them to the world of myth and legend only to find that it's real. Taruto is completely oblivious to what's going on but Gallette, ever cool in his suit and shades, realizes how much danger they may be in since Taruto really does have the possibility of being the one of legend. This becomes even more apparent when various catpeople start showing up and wanting to eliminate them right on the spot. We don't get a huge amount of new material on this place but the proof of its existence is a huge step forward here and it was simply a lot of fun to watch with Gallette playing the straight man to Taruto's innocence. He's arguably been my favorite character in this show so far so getting him to have such a big presence was really welcome.

In Summary:
Taruto continues to be a charming show that outside of a few questionable moments in the first volume has been something that's been fun to share with my kids due to its nature. This volume plays much like previous ones though it's less focused on some of the humans this time around but it provides a number of interesting new things to flesh out the way this world operates. If there's any real downside to the show it's that it simply goes by far too fast with each episode. Taruto really strikes me as one of those shows that should have been done as a full season set since otherwise it's likely to be lost in the sea of releases unless someone is a catgirl fanatic and attuned to all such things. An innocent show like this really needs to be seen more and pushed more to the younger crowd to get them hooked early on.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Music Clip Video featuring Japanese Voice Actors,-Textless Closing #2

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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