Paniponi Dash Vol. #5 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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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. #5

By Chris Beveridge     August 15, 2007
Release Date: August 14, 2007


Paniponi Dash Vol. #5
© ADV Films


What They Say
What’s worse than having a sick teacher? Having your sick teacher be a really cranky 11-year old…that’s what. When the sick bug quarantines the whole school, both temperatures and tempers are rising to dangerously hilarious health levels. Things get even weirder when Ichijo electrocutes Himeko turning her into a world-conquering maniac, while the Drama Club and the Film Club finally come to blows in their longstanding war against each other. Later, when Becky doesn’t show up for school, the girls decide to draft an imposter to replace her so she doesn’t get in trouble with the most terrifying presence at the school—the dreaded PTA! Make sure you’re not late for more A+ craziness with the maniac class of Paniponi Dash!

The Review!
Paniponi Dash provides four more episodes with a few hints at the big picture but mostly just a lot more insanity across the board.

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, Becky takes center stage once more with a dark navy schoolgirl outfit with her pumping small iron. The big area of white space behind her once again works well to draw all attention to her and the rawness of her expression. The character artwork is fairly subdued in the color design but it's nicely accented by the pink and orange 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 look at the eyecatches in the show as well as another interview, this time with the voice actress for Becky and another 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 three minutes though and is essentially over before you know it. Yellow Vacation is provided in both the Rei version and the No. 6 version. .

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
For four volumes so far it's seemed like the odd numbered volumes would be the ones that weren't all that amusing to me. This set of episodes breaks that tradition for the most part with only one episode really not being all that amusing when watched without the Vid-Notes. The other three found plenty of humor and amusing parodies and quirks to utilize in order to work well.

Thankfully the amount of amusing material outweighs the stuff that didn't make me at the least smirk and smile a bit. The opening episode hits up the fun of having Becky down and out with a cold which is seemingly going across the entire campus bit by bit. This lets us shift focus to the other main class that the series follows and we see them deal with it. The real problem starts to come from the sheer number of animals that are in the class which could be a real problem. The focus is a bit more on Nanjo. She has some priceless moments as a square of roses tends to center around her when she's in girly mode. This is a normal gag with the square done full screen but here they zoom back a bit and it seems to follow her around. The shift to dealing more with class 1-D is fun and they have some really weird moments but I continue to find it to be the weaker class. Thankfully there are some hilarious moments with the 1-C girls as they find themselves quarantined in skintight biosuits.

The weak episode on this volume focuses around Himeko which is something of a surprise. She's in a bit of straights due to being late to school but that's just a small thing as she really has a mushroom growing out of the top of her head. Ichijo doesn't help the odd situation after awhile as she ends up throwing a volts of electricity through Himeko which in turn causes the mushroom to awaken as it's sentient. A world conquering mushroom in itself could have some good laughs but something about this falls flat as it absorbs some of Himeko's personality without the cuteness to it. The best part of the episode is following the aliens as they see this as a real threat to the Earth and can't figure out how to get involved without killing Himeko. Maho indeed.

While the film club/drama club episode has a number of very amusing moments to it, it's the last episode that seems to capture the humor the most as it deals with the class in a very classic RPG gaming style. The initial gag about the show is that there's a show that deals with showcasing different classrooms around the country and having the students basically going on about themselves while being interviewed. Becky has a real reason for not wanting in on this so there are all kinds of issues that come up with it, from her hiding out as much as possible to the kids in the class getting someone from the drama club to take on the role of Becky. That has a lot of laughs to it but the entire RPG/gaming aspect of it is just so beautifully captured, especially in the background moments, that it's full of humor. It's also a rare episode that builds upon things from a previous episode with the film and drama clubs and what those characters bring to the table.

In Summary:
Paniponi Dash breaks expectations with an odd numbered volume and hits its marks just right across the bulk of the volume. There are some weak moments to be had, such as the world conquering mushroom, but for the most part it's all juts spot on here. The show continues to retain a high replay value with all the gags that you miss the first time around plus all the explanations that come up via the Vid-Notes. It's also the kind of series that you get more out of the more anime you watch, so coming back to it a few years from now will provide even more laughs if you've expanded your horizons. Though the series isn't a full on hit with me, it's continuing to provide far more enjoyment than the first volume lead me to believe it would. This is another solid entry in the series.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,AD Vid-Notes™,Video short “In Class With The Castâ€�,Videos for both “Yellow Vacation: Rei Versionâ€� and “Yellow Vacation: No. 6 Versionâ€�,Clean closing animation

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Sony PlayStation 3 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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