Panda Z Vol. #2 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: F

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: All
  • Region: 2 - Europe
  • Released By: Beez
  • MSRP: £19.99
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Panda-Z

Panda Z Vol. #2

By Dani Moure     February 27, 2007
Release Date: November 13, 2006

Panda Z Vol. #2
© Beez

What They Say
The henchmen of the Warunimal Empire continue to be pushed back by Panda Z, but that isn't the end for Panda Z as the Empire prepares for a final attack! Can Pan-Taron stop the last attack of his sworn enemy or will they finally defeat him?

The Review!
No, really?

Given that there is no dialogue, I listened to the only audio track available. It's your standard stereo-mix, and actually sounds pretty good given it's just music and sound effects. There were no dropouts or distortions that I noticed, either.

Presented in widescreen, the video looks really good. It's crisp and sharp, showing off a really good transfer on the part of Beez. Colours are well-produced, and I didn't notice any aliasing, cross-colouration or other artefacts during regular playback.

The English subtitles are white, in a clearly readable font, and I didn't notice any glaring errors.

The front cover features a cute image of Pan-Taron inside Panda-Z, with the logo at the top, and a tagline and the volume number down the left side. It's a cover that really works well for the show, and the back cover is just as good. It has a good description of the show, clearly lists the bonus features, has some nice images of the entire cast, and a technical grid clearly listing the disc's specs.

The main menu is quite funky if slightly irritating. It features an image of Panda-Z and the logo to the right side, while the three sub-menu selections adorn the bottom of the screen. Pan-Taron moves from left to right just above them, avoiding a grip that comes down from the top of the screen to "grab" the menu selection (it's like those games you find in arcades where you have to grab some cheap prize). It is a bit annoying though as you have to wait for the grip to be above your menu selection (there are only three positions) before you press enter so it comes down and grabs it. When you make a selection, it transitions to a sub-menu. The episode select menu is static while the bonus menu has some characters puffing in and out of smoke. Despite the way the main menu is set up to be a bit frustrating if you're trying to be quick, I do appreciate the effort that went in to making something that really fit the show.

The main extra here is the conclusion of the interview with the creator, Shuichi Oshida (not the director as the packaging and menu state), which is really quite interesting since he talks for around eight minutes about how he created the characters and this world. It does seem kind of strange to hear him talk so seriously about it, but clearly he has a passion for it. There are also five minutes worth of animatics, and a textless opening and ending. The best feature though is hidden (although it's not hard to find), and features the adventures of a real life Panda-Z figure.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Dear oh dear. I was very harsh on the first volume of Panda-Z, and managed to rip it apart every way possible in the review I wrote for it. Despite this, I tried to watch the second volume with an open mind. I made sure I left plenty of time between watching the two discs to try and give it as much of a chance as I could. Unfortunately, it didn't really help. My biggest chuckle came when I realised the disc was over and I'd never have to watch this abomination again.

This disc is, essentially, the same as the first. It's made up of random episodes focussing on this group of animal characters. The episodes are extremely short, running at five minutes a piece, but when you take away the opening and ending they come in at less than three minutes each. There's barely enough time for the odd "joke" of visual imagery before it ends. And once again, there's no dialogue so all emotions are expressed through cards on the screen that show text of what the characters are saying or thinking, and their facial expressions.

The "story", which is really non-existant, is fruitless and really only exists in the writing on the back of the box. Pan-Taron is a brave young panda and boards Panda-Z, which is a giant robot (seen in a number of episodes) designed for combat. He must then fight the evil robonimals from the Warunimal Empire one after the other. That kind of sums it up anyway.

In terms of individual episodes, again they're much the same as the first. We have more antics with the Medic, as it tries to give Pan-Taron a shot. We have a follow-up with Pan-Taron bandaged up and Rabinna trying to do the whole nurse routine. The conclusion of the rescue mission, as everyone races to get Rabinna in the pouring rain. We find out that Pan-Taron pines for his father to come home, but his grandfather has no idea when that will be.

There's also the continuation (and conclusion) of the "A Quiet Duel", in which Dr Jangarly challenges Pan-Taron again, first in Panda-Z then to a game of cards. The last episode is just as stupid, but did elicit a slight chuckle at the very end. Dr Jangarly has completed his Black Ham Gear repairs, and challenges Pan-Taron to a duel. It says to gather at the usual place, so Jangarly and all his robonimals await the arrival of Panda-Z as all Pan-Taron's friends watch and wait. Except the fight never happens, because Pan-Taron and grandpa are waiting at the table with a pack of cards, to play him again there. I laughed, in part because it was quite witty but also because they saved the funniest moment till the very end. Perhaps they realised the joke was on us for watching?

I still give kudos to Beez for putting the show on two discs though, since the US release spread it over six volumes, so you effectively got about 15 minutes of new content per disc. But it simply can't make up for the show's severe failings, and after all 30 episodes now I just can't bring myself to say anything good about it at all.

In Summary:
The best thing about this show is still its presentation " it's another quality package from Beez. The show itself, though, I just can't possibly recommend. Sure, I am probably just missing some of the jokes and not getting the humour, but Panda-Z just doesn't work for me at all, and I can't help but wonder why the thing was even made in the first place. Alas, it was, and it's somehow made its way over here. It's great to see Beez contribute to the diversity of the market, but still this is a pretty rubbish show.

Japanese Language (2.0),English Subtitles,Interview with the Creator (Part 1),Cinematics,Textless Opening and Ending

Review Equipment
Philips 28" Pure Flat Widescreen TV, Philips DVP 5100 code free DVD player, JVC gold-plated RGB SCART cable, Pioneer HTP-GS1 5.1 Surround Sound System.


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