Panda-Z Vol. #3 - 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: 14 & 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. #3

By Chris Beveridge     December 28, 2005
Release Date: December 27, 2005


Panda-Z Vol. #3
© Bandai Entertainment


What They Say
Panda-Z is strong, but Pan-Taron wouldn't be able to win a battle all alone. He has the help of his grandfather, who built Panda-Z along with his friends who cheer him on to victory. Because he has so much support, Pan-Taron is able to give his all to protecting everyone!

The Review!
Continuing their strange little adventures, Pan-Taran and friends go about their daily lives in a way only these bizarre creatures can.

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, Pan-Taran takes the cover once more with his combat suit on complete with goggles and seemingly eternal smile. 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)
As the third installment of Panda-Z runs across my TV, I realize that the mostly one trick pony that is this series is starting to wear thin. Some shows certainly do work better when you get a ton of episodes at once and others work better a bit at a time but I don't think either work out well enough for Panda-Z in the long run.

This set of five episodes, which if you skip the openings and closings you can finish out in fifteen minutes or so, ended up feeling like I was spending my time fast forwarding through a DVR recording to the good stuff and it being over before you realize it. What worked against this volume more than the previous ones is that a couple of the episodes were continuations of past episodes so they're basically doing the same gag again or just stretching it out even further. The rain storm episode continued in this volume as everyone tries to figure out how to rescue the one lost female out there after the first few that went ended up breaking down when they got caught in the rain. This has two quick but cute gags to it, one showing the underground like an ant farm and another just showing how the weather is going to change. The weather change portion of it just negates the entire episode though since it's the idea of just waiting and everything will be fine.

Another episode that gets covered again is the "Quiet Duel" piece where Pan-Taran is playing a form of Go Fish and Grandpa is there smoking, causing the game to move at a crawl – again. It's just repeated gags once more before it finishes out with a whimper. The newer material is mildly amusing such as Pan-Taran and the group coming across Mugyou and offering him some sustenance only to turn on him at the end, leaving him homeless and abandoned by his friends. Another cute one has Pan-Taran trying to figure out why a date on the calendar is circled and coming up with ideas about what it could really be and going off from there. But between the mix of new and sort of old, the balance isn't really there. The show doesn't exactly become a chore if you skip the opening and closings though since it's over before it gets to that point.

In Summary:
Panda-Z's offbeat humor and overall style has its moments but this volume gets into that repetitive nature much more than the previous two volumes. I still can't figure out which is the best kind of release for the show. Singles like this are over far too fast and even at eight bucks it still feels like too much but a full collection would be mind numbing. The best place for this show is probably still on TV in between other shows late at night on weekends that will have the college kids coming up with drinking games for it. The show had me at first but it's getting weaker by the volume.

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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