Panda-Z Vol. #2 - Mania.com



Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: C

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Bandai Entertainment
  • MSRP: 14.98
  • Running time: 30
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Panda-Z

Panda-Z Vol. #2

By Chris Beveridge     November 23, 2005
Release Date: November 22, 2005


Panda-Z Vol. #2
© Bandai Entertainment


What They Say
The invincible Robonimal Mecha, Panda Z! Wherever he may be, Pan-taron always comes to the rescue. No matter what evil plan the Warunimal Empire devises, no matter what new Warunimal Mecha they send out, he'll take them out in one blow!

The Review!
A series of five shorts, follow the adventures of Pan-Taran and Mougyu as they wage an eternal war.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. At first I was really confused as to why Bandai wasn't dubbing this show since the Japanese track is the only one available and I knew so little about the title that it was just odd. Well, after viewing the show, it certainly makes sense as there isn't any real dialogue. Any spoken lines are done in the old silent film style of title cards on the screen which are soft subtitled. The stereo mix otherwise is pretty decent but it's not a really expressive track and it does feel more like a full mix than anything else.

Video:
Originally released to video in 2004, the transfer for this OVA is presented in its original full frame format. With it only being one episode and being very simple but effectively smooth animation, this is a simply gorgeous looking piece for what it is. There's definitely detail to be found in the designs and layouts but the majority of it is bright bold colors and simple expressive character designs. The plus is that with as much of the bitrate thrown at it as possible, there's pretty much no problem with how this looks here. This simply looks fantastic and is kept in its original release format completely.

Packaging:
The cover design for this release is really simple and cute with the grid background while the foreground works with the basic colors of gray and white and red, we get a cute image of the Warunimal with Mougyu riding it at the top. This is a cute looking cover and the more I look at it the more I just start chuckling cause it's cute and is well laid out here. The back cover has a similar design and gives you a quick rundown of the premise (as if there really is one) as well as a screenshot for each episode number and title listed here. The discs production information is clearly listed along the bottom though I still pine for a real technical grid.

Menu:
The menu layout uses the same kind of style as the front cover with one side gridded out and the other a black section where the navigation is laid out. The usual selections are here, including a setup section because Bandai rocks and ensures that you can run the show without subtitles if you want, and access times are nice and fast. The menus are fairly basic but they work nicely and are in theme for the show. With the minimal audio on the release, the player preset issue isn't exactly an issue this time around.

Extras:
The extras are minimal but cute with a 3D clip of the show and a series of bonus clips.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Panda-Z's second installment brings another five mini episodes of the strange little series to the DVD format and it again presents the main issue with the show. If it was seen on something like Adult Swim, you can see the little five minute clips being ideal bumper pieces here and there as opposed to a full on half hour block. At the same time, getting the half hour block on the disc release feels like a waste of space knowing that there's still several more volumes to go. It's the kind of show that would have been ideal as a full series set but with it being a limited appeal release it's not something that would be able to attract the casual buyer at higher prices.

The first volume of the show had been fairly entertaining in its own way but now that some of the initial surprise over the way the show is done it loses some of its appeal. The repetitious nature of the jokes is amusing at first but it also slowly starts to burn out as it progresses. One episode here has the bad guys trying to figure out the way to stop the Panda-Z from winning in the next battle but they're continually distracted by the meals that keep being served. Each time they stop to eat they have to restart their plans once again and never get any further with it. It's cute at first but by like the fifth meal you just want to get it over with.

A good chunk of the episodes here focus on the actual attacks started by Mougyu and his Warunimal team as they land on the island where the Panda's and their friends live. These are cute as well, particularly when Mougyu gets whupped pretty good and then acts all haughty about it in order to stop Pan-Taran from being able to work him over in the long run. The back and forth is cute as is the earlier moments such as when one of the good guys gets stuck out in the rain and everyone else tries to come up with a plan to rescue her without falling victim to the rain themselves.

Much like the first volume, the animation is pretty simple and clean with basic character designs and layouts but it works really well for what it's trying to get across. The way it's all done in a silent film format still has its cute flavor to it, especially when Mougyu really starts ranting, but it's easy to see how this could get really annoying in the long run.

In Summary:
Panda-Z's a really hard show to talk about since there's so little to it that even the 30 minutes that it runs here is really about fifteen or so when you take out the opening and ending sequences. The episodes go by fast and it's really over before you know it and in the end they are pretty unmemorable. Panda-Z works far better as a show watched in a group with some kind of colorful commentary going on because otherwise it tends to be something that you might get a couple of chuckles out of but then wonder where the time went. I've been able to pick up each volume for just about eight bucks each but even that feels like it's far too much to spend.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Bonus Footage,3D Clip

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI, 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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