My Santa Special - Mania.com



Anime/Manga Review

Mania Grade: B

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: TV-MA
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: FUNimation
  • MSRP: 14.98
  • Running time: 60
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (Mixed/Unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: My Santa

My Santa Special

By Mark Thomas     November 25, 2008
Release Date: November 18, 2008

For one lonely guy, Christmas is about to get sexy.

What They Say:

Young Santa knows it's tough to be born on Christmas Eve. He feels like he falls between the cracks of everyone's holiday happiness, and even his absentee parents don't even seem to care! There might not be any mistletoe, but good cheer comes down the chimney with a kiss from the crazy young Santa-in-training named Mai!

She has been sent to show sad-sack Santa the true joy of the season... and if he can quit acting like a bummed-out bump on the Yule log long enough to surrender to her considerable charms, the festive fireworks between the two might be hot enough to light up the tree!

What We Say:
 
Audio:
For this viewing, I listened to the English 2.0 dub; the Japanese track is also offered in 2.0. The mix for this release is solid, but unspectacular. There is little directionality; however the dialogue, music, and effects all come through well with no dropout. And considering that this movie is mostly dialogue based, the mix is more than enough.

Video:
This release is shown in its original 16:9 aspect ratio and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. Originally released in 2005, this transfer looks pretty nice. The colors remain bright and distinct, with no blending or haziness. In particular, I really liked some of the effects used during the snowing scenes. When done right, snowing scenes can be some of the more visually impressive effects, and they were done pretty well in this one. Character designs are pretty nice too and distinctive of an Akamatsu show.

Packaging:
This title has some pretty basic packaging, but it has been well designed. The front cover has a montage image of all the characters, including both forms of Mai. This image is set against a picture of a Christmas tree that almost looks like a postcard. The background behind that is a repeat image of a reindeer, a holly wreath, and the series title that almost looks like wallpaper. The back has another picture of Mai in both low powered and high powered forms, along with some still shots and a summary.

The amaray case is clear as the cover has an underneath image; this can obviously be seen through the case when opened. The interior image has another montage of the characters on the left, with the series logo set underneath the disc on the right. This image is set against a dark snowy background. This could be potentially used as a reversible cover, though the interior image does not have any of the standard identifying marks of a DVD cover. The disc has the same picture of both versions of Mai that is seen on the back. It is a pretty nice packaging job overall.

Menu:
The menu for this release has a fairly simple design. The majority of the screen is taken up by the same image that graces the cover, but without the Christmas tree backdrop. It instead just has the cover’s wallpaper background. The selections are provided in white on a red background, with the highlight given in yellow. The yellow is a little pale, and can be a bit difficult to see, but it is not that big of an issue. While on the main menu, a nice Christmas-ish song plays, sounding as if done by a bell orchestra.

Extras:
Aside from some trailers, there are no extras on this release.

Content:  (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
This release is Funimation’s second attempt at getting My Santa out on the market. Originally planned for 2007, it had to be recalled due to a misprinting with the rating, as the original packaging noted a TV-PG rating rather than a TV-MA. My Santa is an adaptation of a short, one-shot manga by Ken Akamatsu by the same name. With an interesting premise and execution, not to mention a virtually endless supply of fanservice, it has some good moments, but at two episodes long—each a separate story—it threatens to overstay its welcome.

For one young man, being born on December 24th is bad enough; Christmas overshadows everything. But when his parents decide to name him Santa in honor of Christmas, it is fated for him to revile the holidays. Adding even more insult to injury, his parents travel for their work, and have yet to make it home for any of his birthdays. As such, he is a regular yuletide grump, with plenty of good reason.

Enter Mai, a cute, young Santa-in-Training. As part of her duties, she has decided to spend Christmas with Santa to try and show him the true Christmas spirit. Santa, however, does not believe her and is perfectly fine being a Christmastime malcontent; he rebuffs all of her efforts, especially as they all seem to backfire. Try as she might, she cannot get him to accept the fact that he has friends who care for him and his situation.

Finally, she tries one last desperation move: with a kiss, she transfers her powers of joy to him in the hopes that he might finally see the positives of his situation. Almost immediately, he receives a phone call from a girl he likes inviting him to a party. Mai tries to explain that it is only her powers trying to make him happy, but he does not believe.

When he arrives at the girl’s house, though, and she knows nothing of the phone call, he quickly realizes Mai was right. And when the attendees of the party try to get Santa to stay so that they can celebrate his birthday properly, he realizes he has done Mai a big disservice. Finding her in the same location where she originally met him, he returns the kiss and her powers, admitting that he now believes her. With her power returned, his belief in her gives her the strength to transform to her real look—a sexier and bustier look—and allows her to set out and teach him the true meaning of Christmas and his existence.

The second episode starts up in the following summer. Mai has been granted leave to stay with Santa and continue to be a positive influence on his life. However, she is given a time limit: at midnight the next Christmas Eve, she needs to return to her training. And now her time is starting to run out. By this time, Mai has fallen in love with Santa but is struggling to tell him so, and she fears that she will never work up the courage. But with the help of her childhood friend, Sharry, another Santa-in-Training, she just might figure it all out.

The first episode has plenty of laughs and not a few moments of sweetness between Santa and Mai. The laughs come early as Mai’s ineptness as a Santa Claus continually make Santa’s life worse. It does not help that she is limited in her experience with humanity, and therefore is constantly saying and doing things in public that might be considered indecent. Fanservice is prominently on display during this time, especially as much of the humor is based on it.

From the moment Mai first transfers her powers, the laughs come down a bit, and the episode settles into more of a romantic comedy groove, and the attraction between Mai and Santa becomes a bit more obvious. The strength of this title comes into play during this time as the efforts of Mai begin to wear away at the barriers that Santa has raised over the years, allowing him to accept who he is. In some ways, this episode is an homage to Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Story, with Mai acting as the Ghost of Christmas Present. However, I do think she is quite a bit cuter than Dickens’ idea of the character.

However, as much charm as the first episode has, it gets diluted by the presence of the second episode. The second episode has much the same setup as the first: humor early, sweetness late. Much of the episode takes place on a sunny beach, and it really gives the impression that this episode has no other purpose than to show cute girls in bathing suits. While this is not necessarily a bad thing by itself, this episode really adds nothing to the story.

In fact, if anything, it takes away from the story. By the end of the first episode, it is obvious that Mai and Santa have a connection that is more than friendly. And as the majority of the second episode takes place at times that are decidedly not Christmas, it kills the effect of Mai being a Santa-in-Training. Even the fanservice does not work as well: in the first episode, the panty shots and nudity are worked into the plotline and humor, in the second episode has no purpose other than showing off.

As such, this is a title that should have been content to leave well enough alone at one episode. The second episode does a fairly good job of killing the momentum the first built up. I suppose the second episode is not so much actively bad as it is just unnecessary. When I saw a teaser for a third episode at the end, I groaned in frustration right up to the point where I realized it was a spoof. I suppose that in a way, my malaise towards the second episode made that joke work better, but I still would have preferred cutting this one in half.

In Summary:
Overall, My Santa was better than I anticipated. The first episode was surprisingly good; the humor worked well, and the relationship built between Mai and Santa had plenty of charm. The unneeded second episode ruined that effect. While not bad, it was certainly unnecessary. Still, as a romantic comedy, there is quite a bit to like here, and fans of Ken Akamatsu’s previous work should certainly enjoy this one. If you like wacky comedy, a bit of romance, and plenty of fanservice, this might be a good holiday title to check out. Mildly recommended.

Features:

Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles

Review Equipment: 

Magnavox 37MF337B 37” LCD HDTV, Memorex MVD2042 Progressive Scan w/ DD/DTS (Component Connection), Durabrand HT3916 5.1 Surround Sound System

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

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jnager 3/13/2012 9:05:38 PM

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