Panda-Z Vol. #4 - Mania.com



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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. #4

By Chris Beveridge     February 08, 2006
Release Date: February 14, 2006


Panda-Z Vol. #4
© Bandai Entertainment


What They Say
Whether on the land or in the air, Panda-Z is defender of the peace!

Pan-Taron gradually gets stronger with each battle, but the enemy is also intent on powering up. Moujumbo brandishes a giant hammer and Wolgaoh secretly possesses the blood of a wild beast; ultimately, the outcome of every battle is anybody's guess. But Pan-Ji is always ready to help Panda-Z with his latest secret weapon...

The Review!
Finishing out the rescue storyline and then going into a few other tales, Panda-Z continues the adventures of this amusing if bizarre world.

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 with a small army of one of the bad guys. It's darkly cute with how it looks and their slightly varied expressions. 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)
With the series feeling weak as it did the last volume, it was interesting to go into this volume slightly differently just because it was viewed a bit more through my kids eyes since they were in the room with me. Now, since one can't read at all yet and the other just started, the show loses some of its value with the silent film nature but watching how they took in just the visuals of it and got exactly the core of the show made it a bit more enjoyable this time around.

With another five episodes, it kicks off by finally completing the rescue mission storyline as Pan-Taran gets into the act and brings out the giant robot to fly over to where the little nurse girl is so he can rescue her. Since they're all still subject to rain which causes them to shut down, grandpa brings out the secret weapon he can use, a giant umbrella. This is just very amusing to watch since seeing the robot with a cute red umbrella flying through the air just has that goofy nature to it that's being played straight throughout there. This storyline definitely needed to come to an end though but it was amusing to see them all return to the base and to see how many of them had gone out and shut down in the rain.

Once past there we get some new material that's pretty amusing, such as a poltergeist scare in the base that has Pan-Taran and the nurse in a tizzy and there's even a really fun action episode that has Wolgaoh makes his attack with the giant wolf like robot that he controls by simply shaking the remote control around in his mouth. The one that was decidedly twisted but had the most laughs involves the guys at the evil base all wanting to go into the room where a female robot inside resides and they all get rejected as they go through it. It's all done through curtains and innuendo but it's very well done and manages to actually provide some surprising sex appeal to a show about cute round robot animals.

In Summary:
Panda-Z is still really the one trick pony we called it in the last volume but this one manages to escape it a bit since it's not doing the one continuing storyline across so many episodes. With that rescue mission piece over at first here, we get to see more varied material as both good and bad guys get more screen time and the weird adventure actually feel like they might go somewhere for the 3 minutes each episode run. It's still hard to justify these releases though even as cheap as they are after discount but for fans of Go Nagai's comic material like this, it's the kind of show that normally would never get picked up. It'd be better off with two "volumes" per disc but with the show having such limited appeal it's fans would probably get it no matter the format.

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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