Panyo Panyo Di Gi Charat Vol. #4 - 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: B
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • 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. #4

By Chris Beveridge     November 09, 2004
Release Date: October 12, 2004


Panyo Panyo Di Gi Charat Vol. #4
© ADV Films


What They Say
Dejiko and her friends become tightrope walking firefighters who must save the planet. Later it's the Di Gi Charat Olympics as team Dejiko squares off against the evil Piyoko in a baseball game, a soccer match, a marathon and more!

The Review!
Coming to a conclusion as best as a series like this can, the final episodes of the Panyo Panyo world are much like what the past three volumes were.

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, this volume has 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 background problems of the first two volumes seemed to mostly disappear during a lot of this and the previous volume but it may be attributable to the new player we're using. 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 still a good looking and enjoyable print pretty much all the way through.

Packaging:
Capping off the series the final cover brings everyone into play again as they all skip down the main road from the castle to the town and it's just filled with a lot of bright colors and happy characters. If the sugar level hasn't killed you yet then you may be impervious to this as well, but it's very cute. The back cover goes more pastel oriented with shades of blue and yellow for the backdrop and Piyoko doing her fastball pitch. The episode premises are given a couple of small paragraphs 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 Rinna pieces and a sampling of the others.

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. The disc also scores well here for reading our player presets and using them.

Extras:
A mix of old and new is here. The usual pieces include the clean opening and ending sequences and a new round of production sketches. For English fans, Allison Sumrall provides a commentary for an episode. Also included are a couple of character description pieces that go for a couple of screens per character, giving their vitals and talking a bit about them.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As Panyo Panyo comes to a close, it strikes me as a series that probably would have worked better on half the number of discs or as a box set right from the start. As the shows gags are relatively similar from episode to episode but with different settings, having it all in one sitting or over a couple of days to get completely high on the sugary sweetness of the show may have worked better. By the fourth individual volume though, it's almost got a been there and done that feel to it and there's just a curiosity to see how it'll finish out.

And just like previous volumes, you get a trio of episodes that each have a theme to them and have a good spot of fun with it. Some work better than others but that's just the nature of the beast. The entire first episode is designed around the gang being part of a rescue squad and they wear firefighter style outfits for much of it. There's some cloyingly cute material such as trying to rescue the cat from the telephone pole but there's also some more amusing material where the spirit of the planet cries out in pain and the girls try to help without realizing who it is they're helping. Most of it's fairly weak but I did enjoy the bit about putting out fires and they go after everyone who has any sort of open flame near them.

The series even does an entire episode focused around sports, which definitely had some amusing moments such as Rinna's amazing abilities and the entire baseball episode. Piyoko continues to be my favorite of the girls and seeing her up on the mound and just getting into the game was a lot of fun. But the best material on the disc is the last full episode itself which is almost a full regular episode with mini-breaks between the episodes that focuses on the arrival of Christmas on the planet. Santa's left a note saying that he's taking the year off so there won't be any presents or fun, which means the girls head to his place to find out what's happened and then take on the role of Santa themselves.

This has a lot of good jokes and visual gags as they get all the presents made and go through turning Gemma into a floating Rudolph while Deji Devil and Piyoko try to stop them from doing this so that they can spoil the holiday. I just loved the way they got tricked themselves into the "most wonderful present in the world" and Piyoko kept it with her for the rest of the episode. Deji Devil gets some really good screen time in this episode as well as he finally shows some of his real powers and tries to ruin Christmas hard and almost feels some regret over it. Of course, there's lots of singing and that's probably one of the more addictive moments of the show as everyone gets into that pretty heavily. Normally the holiday themed anime episodes can go poorly or terribly clichéd but this one was a lot of fun and helped to balance out an otherwise repetitive set of episodes earlier on the disc.

In Summary:
Panyo Panyo's been my first introduction to the Di Gi Charat world and it's definitely been cute and fun and way too sugary at times but it also suffered from a lot of repetition. The shortness of the episodes at times both worked for and against it depending on the stories being told and the lack of any real continuity to it didn't help either, though it certainly made it easier for its intended use as a six minute commercial that just happened to tell a story at the same time. As much as I enjoyed it, I definitely see this one becoming a very affordable brick in the near future and hope that people pick it up at that point so they can check out the "softer side" of the franchise. The individual volumes, which you can watch in under an hour if you skip the openings and endings, just wasn't the best way to go with this show.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Voice actress commentary by Allison Sumrall (Rinna), Production sketches,Clean opening and closing animation,Character descriptions

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with upconversion set to 720p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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