Mao-Chan Vol. #3 - Mania.com



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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: 77
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Mao-Chan

Mao-Chan Vol. #3

By Chris Beveridge     February 20, 2004
Release Date: February 24, 2004


Mao-Chan Vol. #3
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
Pint-sized girls, Mao-Chan, Misora-Chan, and Silvia-Chan enlist the help of new alien detective, Kiku Ichimonji the Third, and continue to give it their all to defend Japan against attacks by the cute yet pesky aliens.

Aliens targeting apples, tangerines, and melons pop up from nowhere all over Japan. Where next will these aliens show up to surprise the girls? And can the trio keep it together?

The Review!
The cute aliens continue to invade, but there's a constant change of things at the Defense Headquarters. Plus, hot springs anyone?

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 is set up like the previous volumes with Sylvie taking the lead here with her special craft behind her. It's a cute cover and since Sylvie's my favorite, this one is my favorite so far. The back cover shifts between pinks and purples with a shot of Mao-chan along with the two secret agent aliens and listing the six episodes and their respective 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 front of the insert replicates the front cover while the reverse side of 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.

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 Sylvie'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:
The extras are similar to the last volume, in that at first you think there's a few things here then realize it's fairly small. There's an all too brief bloopers and outtakes section. The second installment of the interview session with the director is here, going over his anime roots, and that runs just under five minutes total.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After two very fun volumes of Mao-Chan, my eldest daughter and I settled in for a Friday night of fun with the third installment. This series, which is aimed at both her and the older men who have a thing for cute shows, just manages to crack her up consistently. With all the cute aliens and the way they act and do things, well, it just hits that four-year-old sensibility in a way that only certain things can. The show is made more fun to watch with her by my side to be sure.

Much of what happens in this volume is fairly similar to before, now that the trio of leads are all in place and comfortable with doing their job. This lets the show basically put them into a few normal situations to deal with and then start upping the stakes a bit. Give them a few easy ones and then really start messing with them. One of the big changes that happens in this volume is that the team gets a new member in the form of a reformed cute alien named Kiku Ichimonji the Third. Kiku, who is basically a small cute dog on skis, is able to detect the presence of aliens so he's sort of an extra early warning detector. This gets all problematic for the special agents pretending to be human, but since they're still dealing with little girls, they're able to fool them well enough.

One area that was horrendously cute was the second episode where the tank, Mee-kun, starts to get jealous of all the attention Kiku is getting since joining the team. It gets so bad in fact that Mee-kun decides to run away from the headquarters. So now we have this imagery of a lonely tank going to all the places people who runaway from home to got, such as the riverbank. In one priceless moment, a mother/son pair see the tank and the son asks what that is. "It's a tank, must be a stray" she says. The boy wants it, but she claims they don't have the room. It's so surreal yet hilarious at the same time all while Mee-kun is listening in to what they're saying while pining for Mao-chan's attentions as well.

And just to get it off my chest, I cried when the preview came up that described an infamous Sapporo episode. You know these episodes. They're the ones where for whatever reason, some of the cast heads to Sapporo in the winter to partake in the ice sculpture festival and something happens while there. I just saw this story a few months ago in Patlabor and a few months before that in some other show. It's like, is that all that's in the rule book for storytellers when it comes to moving up north in the country. "Well hell, there's snow there, let's do the ice festival gig again!" Bah.

Of course, then I don't complain about the hot spring episode that follows a bit later, so I'm a hypocrite. Actually, the reason to not complain about this particular hot spring episode is that it takes the girls and their Chief's of Staff to the Hinata Inn, where an unnamed woman who looks mysteriously exactly like Kagome runs the place with her good for nothing constantly cheating husband. The Inn has a reputation for its baths helping people get into Tokyo University, so they've all decided to go there to try and just rejuvenate their brains a bit. Of course, there's a cute alien attack during their stay, but a lot of the fun is placed on revisiting Hinata as well as some of the gags regarding the people who live there. It's a very cute episode and almost made me pine for more of that particular series.

In Summary:
There's only a few minor movements in these episodes for the overall story with the stealing of the monuments and what the cute alien invaders really want with them, but that's fine since the fun is watching the girls handle the challenges handed to them. Kiku's arrival is an interesting addition to the group and the in-jokes from the Hinata episode are perfect. But the real fun is just in watching the girls deal with things and the obvious intended cuteness of the aliens. This is a show that I doubt I would have enjoyed as much if not for who I was watching it with though.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles, Bloopers and Outtakes, an Interview with Yoshiaki Iwasaki Part 2

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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