Panyo Panyo Di Gi Charat Vol. #1 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: All
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.99
  • Running time: 85
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Panyo Panyo Di Gi Charat

Panyo Panyo Di Gi Charat Vol. #1

By Chris Beveridge     June 14, 2004
Release Date: June 08, 2004


Panyo Panyo Di Gi Charat Vol. #1
© ADV Films


What They Say
Princess Dejiko has a mission: to make everyone on her planet happy. Whether she comes across a sleepy baker, a famous film director, a time traveler or a starving artist, Dejiko and her friends are always ready to help.

But will the evil Deji Devil find a way to stop her? Will his sidekick Piyoko ruin Dejiko's career as an actress? Will Dejiko ever be able to tell her friends that she's really a princess?

The Review!
The first full release of anything really Di Gi Charat arrives and it's everything I thought it would be.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to the first half in its English 5.1 language mix and the second half in its original Japanese 2.0 language mix. Both tracks come across pretty strongly with both dialogue and sound effects, though there is a touch more crispness to the English track since it's getting a 5.1 mix and the directionality across the forward soundstage is more precise. Dialogue is clean and clear in both and we had no issues with dropouts or distortions.

Video:
Originally airing in 2002, the first volume has the first twelve of the forty-eight episodes made split into three "episode" chunks. Each episode runs roughly just over six minutes in length, and each of the sets roughly encompasses a particular small arc, so it works out pretty well in how things are laid out. Each of the episode sets has the opening and ending sequences around them. With the transfer itself, this show uses a lot of really bright vibrant colors and large swathes of solids throughout in various shades of pastels and more. The print simply looks great with no noticeable breakup of all these large blocks of color. The shading looks great, cross coloration is virtually non-existent and I'm hard pressed to find much in the way of aliasing, even during a number of the panning sequences. This is a solid and enjoyable print pretty much all the way through.

Packaging:
The cover for this series looks very cute and it lets you know right from the start what to expect with the tiny characters bodies and heads and all the cuteness that it exudes. It's got a simple blue backdrop with some stars scattered about and all of the main characters floating around with big smiles and grins. You could probably wipe some of the sugary sweetness off of it. The back cover goes more pastel oriented with shades of pinks and purples for the fairy tale castle backdrop and princess Dejiko looking all cute. The series premise is given a couple of small paragraphs which isn't bad since this isn't the easiest show to explain, and we also get a nice cast list with headshots above the production and technical information. Unfortunately it looks like this series missed the boat on the technical grid since it's all spread about along the bottom here. There's no insert included with this release in the traditional sense but we do get a cute sticker sheet with Dejiko and Gema pieces.

Menu:
The main menu further reinforces the cute fact as it's an animated musical piece that has the four lead characters doing a little two-step in a row with some of the instrumental music playing. Even Gema's floating above and sharking his arms in rhythm with the episode numbers dancing. Combined with the color changing backgrounds this is a very cute menu that is maddeningly addictive when played over the course of an hour and doing other things. Access times are nice and fast and easy access to individual episodes is available.

Extras:
The first volume gets a couple of good extras with it. The opening and ending sequences are done in clean form which is very good since there's a lot going on in that opening sequence. The production sketch section has a variety of pieces and we also get a couple of Japanese promotional commercials. For dub fans, the voice actress for Dejiko, Luci Christian, provides a commentary for two of the episodes and talks about her experiences with the show and dealing with the characters.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
For a number of years now, there's been the "threat" of the Di Gi Charat properties coming over to the US and letting its insanity spread. The closest that we've come prior to this release was one of the commercials for a Broccoli owned store being show on TV and at conventions and included as an extra on a DVD. The insanity was just the tip of the iceberg but that iceberg hadn't floated south yet.

But now the most kid-friendly of the batch has finally arrived in the form of Panyo Panyo Di Gi Charat, a series of forty-eight episodes that are roughly six or seven minutes in length. This story is set about two years prior to the original series that came before it where the lead character comes to Earth, so we instead follow Princess Dejiko around on her own planet Panyo Panyo. Dejiko, the cute and bubbly little princess, has been actually reading a book about people lately and has come to realize that the majority of them are simply unhappy. Not believing that this could be true in the realm she'll inherit someday, she manages to convince her tutor after an amusing chase sequence that she's going to go into the world and make people happy.

So with her tiny friend Puchiko and her guardian Gema, a strange yellow ball with stick arms, she heads off into Panyo Panyo to try and do good. But how can she improve the life of man and spread happiness? The first that comes to mind is to help out in a bakery she comes across where lots of people are lined up. As she learns from some of the waiting patrons, eating the cakes made inside make them happy, so she starts pooling her efforts towards that by becoming an apprentice to the master chef there, a cute and overly tired girl named Rinna. But while that may help out some, she needs to reach more people. With Rinna opting to come along, she heads out into the world again and ends up meeting up with a girl named MeeK whom they end up helping with their story. But even that doesn't last long because Dejiko is eventually discovered as an actress and with her starring roles by this fairly odd director she'll be able to reach more people than she ever thought she could.

As Dejiko and her friends go about their routines, a regular interruption comes in the form of Digi Devil, a phantom devilish character with the master plan for taking over Panyo Panyo, and his able sidekick the blonde beauty named Piyoko. Piyoko's a hoot herself with her little black bat wings and skimpy outfits, though she does clean up nice for a few scenes. These two bad guys provide all sorts of plans for stopping Dejiko from spreading happiness to the world and making their job harder to do. Of course, most of the time Dejiko and her friends don't even realize what Piyoko is doing and try to keep befriending her and throwing her off of her original mission. As a foil, Piyoko is cute and able but destined to fail for a variety of reasons.

Each of these situations that she gets into leads her to acquiring more friends, a critical element early in the show since friends can do anything and she needs to have a cute cast to go along with her. Each of the situations she lands in provides a ton of jokes and sight gags from dancing and singing to simple craziness with cooking Gema and more. Panyo Panyo is a series that really knows how to take advantage of the six minute running time. Each of the tales hits its stride quickly and finishes out what it sets to tell while still bringing you along the larger arc for each story. And it really does feel like that if they went on for longer than they should, the gag would be ruined and overplayed. So the series moves at a very fast clip and with lots of energy, but it doesn't do it so much that you're unable to take any more of it.

With this one being as kid friendly as it is compared to the others, we listened to about half of the series in English so my girls could enjoy it as well. The dub is one of those dubs that I hate to praise. It's a very well done dub and its well matched for the characters and how its acted and adapted. But so many of the lines are just so far different from the original script that it's something that really gets to me. There's always a lip flap issue but this is like a rewrite in a lot of scenes. But at the same time, it's done so well and is so enjoyable that I hate to praise it. Unfortunately it's not the type where the gist of the story is still gotten across in some cases either. There are such large chunks of changes, particularly early on, that it almost feels like I got two series for the price of one. If only it wasn't so well acted!

In Summary:
Panyo Panyo is a very entertaining hyperactive comedy with endearing characters. While Dejiko is intended to be your favorite, the villains often come in and steal the show and that's exactly what Piyoko does. Between her and Digi Devil, the bad guys really provide a lot of weird wacky comedy and some of the classic Warner Bros. style gags and jokes to the plot. Panyo Panyo almost reaches that limit of being too much but it knows how to use the short running time to its advantage and kept me laughing and shaking my head in disbelief at a number of the gags and jokes.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Clean Opening,Clean Closing,Character Sketches,TV Commercials,Voice Actress Commentary Track

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, 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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