Paniponi Dash Vol. #4 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: A
  • Age Rating: TV PG
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Pani Poni Dash!

Paniponi Dash Vol. #4

By Chris Beveridge     June 12, 2007
Release Date: June 12, 2007


Paniponi Dash Vol. #4
© ADV Films


What They Say
Whether it's a trip to a picnic gone terribly awry, or the aliens have decided to at last make contact with the girls they've been observing, this volume of Paniponi Dash is even crazier than the last! See the class balance on a cliff in a school bus, possibly teetering to their death! Marvel at a close encounter of the strangest kind! Run to the wildest school carnival ever! With giant cakes! Cute little painted chicks! (And hot chicks in cute outfits!) Laugh at the anime DVD Talk calls "a must-have for obsessive Otaku".

The Review!
The insanity continues as Paniponi Dash dips into even more genres and subgenres and skewers them masterfully.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. Similar to other shows in the genre, it's got a pretty good stereo mix to it but it's not one that has a lot of real directionality to it across the forward soundstage. Some of the dialogue is well placed but often it's just a single character on screen talking so it's not a big deal for the most part. When it does need to feel full, it conveys it well. We did listen to the English 5.1 track as well and it came across as generally the same but with a bit sharper clarity for some of the voices. During regular playback, we didn't have any problems with dropouts or distortions.

Video:
Originally airing in 2005, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. Having not seen the original release of this, I'm not sure if the softness of the materials is intentional or not but it does have a very soft feel to it. A lot of this is due to the pastel color style choice used for backgrounds and character designs but even then it still feels too soft. This doesn't result in any noticeable color bleeding but some of the lines aren't quite as well defined because of it. And it certainly doesn't look as sharp and vibrant as the special opening sequence in the extras which only adds more confusion, since the credits are not translated in the opening sequence in the show itself. Thankfully, the softness doesn't introduce too much noise to the backgrounds or areas such as hair and it still manages to look good and free of issues such as cross coloration or aliasing.

Packaging:
Serving up another parody cover,. Unlike the first three volumes which had a lot of white space to the backgrounds, this one features a lot of flames which gives it a very different feel. The character artwork is fairly subdued in the color design but it's nicely accented by the blues and purples in the logo area. The back cover doesn't have the same clean look as the front but it's well laid out with a number of shots from the show surrounding the summary of the premise. The discs features are nice and clearly listed just above the production information and the technical grid lists everything I want to know about the release from that perspective. The reverse side of the cover is rather amusing as it's made up of the Hekiru Hikawa Theater strips, a bunch of four panel comics that are fully translated. The included booklet for this volume has a history of Earth as seen through pop culture references in the show as well as another piece of the interview with the series director.

Menu:
The menu design for the show isn't unexpected as it has a decent shot of a smiling Rebecca looking out at the viewer while behind her is a chalkboard with the selections. It's a standard design we've seen on many other school themed shows before, though they do add in the quirks from the show such as aliens popping out, shadows walking by and a decent little musical bit. Similar to other menus from ADV Films, it allows instant episode access from the top and basic navigation to the extras and language setup. Since the discs tend to read player presets almost all of the time, it was again a non-issue here. Straightforward and easy to use, we had no problems with this quick loading layout.

Extras:
The extras roll right along for this volume and some of them are just key to understanding things. The closing sequences, which do change throughout the series, are provided for the episodes on this volume. The Vid-notes is again used with this volume and it certainly helps to provide a lot of detail, snarky though it may be at times, about the various gags and settings. This volume also features a featurette with the English voice actors talking about their time in school. It's cute and amusing and an essential piece of humanizing the actors and making them more accessible to fans. It runs about twenty minutes and is amusing in a number of ways depending on how much you're into the actresses. The original on-air opening for episode 18 is also included here.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Seeming to keep in pace with how the first three volumes alternated in terms of enjoyment, the four episodes on this volume ended up being quite amusing and fun to watch. The series still has something of an uneven feel to it since the episodic comedy can go in a million different directions. This set of episodes managed to be pretty enjoyable across the board however.

Some of the material works better than others of course. The opening episode proves to be somewhat unbalanced but has a lot of great moments to it. The premise of the episode revolves around the school bus that contains Class 1-C in it at the end of a cliff. There is a good deal of humor revolving around what goes on in the bus but a lot more of it shows up in how they got to that situation as it's explored in different perspectives. Within the bus you have hilarious things such as Himeko trying to keep it in place by standing still as others flick her food and then steal it from her. Or Becky on her back an practically upside down as she has to stay in that position to help balance things out. The best moments for me though dealt in the stick animation that was last seen in the MiniPato specials from Patlabor. It's such an amusing way to rework a show even for a little bit that watching this series animated in that form is just hilarious.

While there are plenty of characters who seem to inspire insanity, I don't think any of them do so more than Ichijo. The bizarre nature of this character is not only amplified by her younger sister but also in that she provides a real link to the aliens watching from above. Ichijo's antics provide for some really great material on this volume and sets up some fascinating and engaging parodies. The best of which is the first one in which she's basically out and about lamenting not meeting someone she's met virtually. Everyone gets in a panic about her nature and start following her which only incites her to run even more.

Where it becomes completely priceless is in how the search for Ichijo mixes in a lot of RPG/dating sim type of video game aspects. With a lot of top down views, we see the characters running off in search for her and ending up in numerous bad situations. Interactions among the main characters give them pluses or minuses in their various scores which are just far too cutting at times. When two of the girls interact, they get pluses in their yuri levels even though they're just talking casually. With the size of the cast and the diversity in personalities, the little quirks are quite amplified throughout this. Even more amusing albeit minimal overall is that the entire situation has the alien captain actually coming down to Earth to meet with Ichijo. This opens a can of worms with his subordinates later on but it makes the ties between them and Ichijo much sharper and comical.

The show does mix in some traditional elements such as the school festival where the class decides to do a maid café. There are some good moments to that which mostly involve all the cosplay variations and the absurdity of some of the rooms but it's also an area where Ichijo steals the show again with her own Ichijo Festival. Mesousa gets an episode to himself as well which is a plus as they've thankfully kept him low key for a bit outside of some background moments. Running into a jinx spirit, he finds himself subjected to the unhappiness that she wants to infect on him since it's oozing out of him. Putting a bomb in his body that'll go off in a week has him very unhappy and even more so after Media changes the clock so he'll go off in three hours. Mesousa is one of the strangest and most amusing animal mascot characters that I've seen. His journey to be freed of the bomb takes him to meeting most of the class outside of school which only helps to expand the overall view of the characters.

In Summary:
Each new episode seems to move the show further and further into absurdity while still feeling like it's got something it really wants to say. With very little in the way of a linear plot, each episode stands alone pretty well. Small bits of character progression help to keep things tied together and there are mysteries I hope are unearthed here but for the most part Paniponi Dash simply lives to delight in its comedy. With the vidnotes and numerous other tidbits that help to explain some of the jokes, the show is a wealth of pop culture references that cross borders. There's a lot to like here but it is a show that's definitely best taken in small doses over a couple of days rather than all at once.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,AD Vid-notesâ"˘,Video short "In Class With the Cast",CD Spot Medley, On Air opening for episode 18,Clean closing animations

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic DMP-BD10 Blu-ray player via HDMI -> DVI with upconversion set to 1080i, 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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