Mao-Chan Vol. #2 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: C-
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 89
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Mao-Chan

Mao-Chan Vol. #2

By Chris Beveridge     December 28, 2003
Release Date: December 16, 2003


Mao-Chan Vol. #2
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
Mao-Chan, Misora-Chan and Sylvia-Chan are called to duty and the Unified Defense Force is now formed. It is evident that the cute aliens are attacking once again and their secret mission is to steal all of Japan's Landmarks! It is up to the girls to prepare themselves for the big confrontation with the aliens, but they get distracted with a sports meet?! The battle has already begun for the UDF, but it will be a short one without Mao, Misora, and Sylvia! Can the girls make it on time?

The Review!
The United Defense Forces are born with all three girls working together to defeat the ultimate in evil, the cute aliens.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its English dubbed form. The series sports a decent stereo mix that has some nice moments of directionality, mostly with the aircraft or the sounds from the tank while the majority of the dialogue is center channel basic. During regular playback we had no issues with dropouts or distortions on the English track and noticed no issues on the Japanese track in spot-checking that.

Video:
Originally airing in 2002, Mao-Chan has a very sharp looking and vibrant transfer here that really showcases the colors well. The only real problem that cropped up for us was some chroma noise like issues with the red plane in a few areas where it seemed a touch more pixilated and alive than elsewhere. Other than that, colors are rich and solid throughout with no noticeable cross coloration or aliasing. This is one of those nicely vibrant recent shows that really display how far the digital coloring has come.

Packaging:
The front cover works things much like the first volume by taking Misora and letting her ride astride Hayate and managing to look very cute while doing so, as well as sneaking in a shot of Mao herself in the lower corner. The back cover shifts between pinks and purples with a shot of the main trio of the series and listing the seven episodes and the episode titles. A little summary is there as well as a good listing of the discs features and basic production information. With this being a clear keepcase, the reverse side of the cover has a full color series of sixteen various images from the show, each showing off a character or location or some other little item. The insert replicates part of the back cover with Mao-chan and lists the individual episodes and their titles as well as the various chapter stops. Surprisingly, the reverse side of the insert is the old white page with a link to Pioneer’s site, something we haven’t seen in too many releases lately.

Menu:
The menus here bothered me right from the start with a load-up segment of one of the girls talking in English that goes on briefly before loading to the menu itself. It is thankfully skippable. The menu layout itself is similar to one of Mao-chan’s poses in the show with the green rising sun behind her while wearing her official uniform. The actual static menus themselves again aren’t all that good either; the character artwork looks decent but all of the selections look very blurry and out of focus. Submenus load quickly and access times are fast, making navigation a breeze.

Extras:
There’s some interesting extras included in this round, starting with the textless ending that’s addictive to bop ones head to. The Bloopers and Outtakes section makes another appearance, running about two minutes, but again they did it in such a strange way of having the animation be just stills itself and not the actual animation from the session. Finishing out the extras is an eight minute interview with series director Yoshiaki Iwasaki where he goes into detail about working on another Akamatsu piece of work and other questions about the project.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After the first volume of Mao-Chan, I wasn’t too sure what to think. The opening episode didn’t get my interest at all, but after getting through the other seven episodes, it warmed up a bit and provide a serious amount of military style cute and light humor. At most, I didn’t really like some of the nods towards Love Hina with the character designs, even though they’re likely just part of the joke.

Going into the second volume, I decided to watch the entire show in English since it’s obviously very much aimed at kids as well as adults, mostly because my daughter was with me and she had shown an interest in it during the one episode she saw in Japanese on the first volume. With her able to understand it even more now, she became fascinated by the show, wondering at the creepy moments, laughing at the outrageous ones, trying to guess what kind of cute alien would come next. The show even got her asking questions afterwards about what kind of aliens are out in space and whether there are any mean ones.

Whoops, damage control time!

Much of these episodes plays out in similar feel to the first volume, with the exception of the trio of heroines now being joined up to work together by an order from the Cabinet. As the United Defense Forces, with their headquarters all merged for combat situations, the trio work on a new defense plan that allows for the capture of the cute aliens by setting a triangle field around them via their batons which will then put the alien asleep. There’s some trials and tribulations about getting it to work, usually in some form of dealing with how non-athletic Mao-chan is, but the method gets put to the test a few times, from such cute aliens as a giant sheep that grapples onto buildings and landmarks it steals into space or a massive beef-bowl styled image cow that invades the city.

Maybe it’s just that these episodes feel better, though they seem to be about the same, or maybe it’s the dub that’s won me over more. I think it’s more that I’m enjoying being able to watch a show with my daughter and be able to laugh at the right places and answer the questions she comes up with about it. The dub itself is rather accurate with only some minor changes, such as how Misora ends every sentence. I’m loving the accent that Sylvie-chan uses particularly because it reminds me of the voice used in a kid series in the US called Connie the Cow. It provides for some amusing parallels at times.

In Summary:
Much like I said in the first volume, there’s just something that seems to make this show click when you’d think all odds are against it. Cute aliens? Elementary school girls in the military to save the world? Insane grandfathers in control of the armed forces? Heck, they even got an entire beach episode into this series to provide fan service. But it works, amazingly, it really does work.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Textless Ending,Bloopers & Outtakes,Interview with the Director

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, 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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