Papuwa Vol. #2 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: C

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: TV 14
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 125
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Papuwa

Papuwa Vol. #2

By Chris Beveridge     September 27, 2006
Release Date: October 03, 2006



What They Say
There goes the neighborhood! The crazy creatures on Papuwa Island are preparing for the annual Obon festival, where their undead ancestors return to life for a giant zombie dance party. Unfortunately, Liquid's old war buddies, the Special Battle Unit, have come to crash the party, kidnap Kotaro and send everyone's grandparents back to their graves. If that wasn't enough, The Ganma Army has sent reinforcements to reclaim their boss' son -- even if it means restoring his memories and destroying Papuwa Island. Plus, the dastardly Shinsengumi have show up and aim at nothing short of Kotaro's demise. Island life with never be the same for Papuwa and his friends. Zombies, samurai and towering bearded women await in the second, side-splitting volume of Papuwa.

The Review!
Once again, I feel compelled to ask - What the hell? No, seriously, what the hell?

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. While this is mostly a wordplay kind of comedy, there's a lot of action effects and reaction noises to what's going on that's well played across the forward soundstage. The track is pretty effective overall with some of the creative things they do with voices and making it fit the various situations. The English stereo mix is essentially the same though I think they manage to take it a slight bit further, in a good way, with a bit more variety to the accents and some of the sound effects with the voices. Dialogue on both tracks is clean and clear through and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2003, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The design for this show is very bright and inviting, almost too colorful at times, but it's trying to capture that entire South Seas kind of atmosphere with the beautiful water and the lush island life. This is kept with the character designs as well which have a lot of life to them and bold colors and styles. The transfer for this captures it pretty well with only some minor video noise being visible in a few scenes that stand out. Some of the slow panning scenes introduce a bit of pixilation around the edges of the characters but these kinds of scenes are very few and far between and may be less noticeable on smaller monitors.

Packaging:
Similar to the design of the first volume, the light green background with lots of flower prints combined with the bright and happy looking characters that populate it makes the show look very friendly. Looking a bit closer though you can see some really twisted elements showing their way here and it's even more obvious if you actually watched the first volume. The back cover has a number of shots from the show that highlight the weirdness of it all while through the center is a decent summary of what to expect from the plot. The discs features and technical information are all quite easy to read and find and the production info is much easier to read this time around due to the lighter background color. No insert was included with this release.

Menu:
The menu design for the show is one that we've seen before in a couple of other shows but it's using a slightly common theme from a lot of ending sequences. Using the animation from there of Papuwa walking over the round green hill, we get that here set to a bit of music while the episode selections are lined up over him in the sky and the rest of the navigation along the bottom. It's an effective and cute piece since it uses the animation itself but we've seen it pretty recently in another ADV Films title. Access times are nice and fast though and it's easy to navigate and the disc picked up our players' language presets without any problem.

Extras:
The extras for this release essentially mirror the previous volume and that's a very good thing. The clean opening and closing sequences are definitely worth checking out without the credits so you can see the details to it and the character art gallery is about as expected. What's useful is the translators notes which cover some of the more esoteric cultural and language references made in the show in quite a bit of detail.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The more I watch of Papuwa the more I come to the same conclusion. The series is like watching a group of really good friends going on for twenty minutes at a time about some positively hilarious and gut wrenchingly funny inside joke between them. You just stand there and on some level admire the way they are so into it and the level of depth to it but you're still on the outside and can't quite join in the fun. There are moments of Papuwa where the humor is basic enough and obvious enough with its physical accent that you can laugh and enjoy it. But at the same time, you feel like you're missing the real joke.

Having just sat through five episodes of it again, the feeling is that the first volume had a lot more going for it simply because it was introducing the setting and getting all the pieces in place. Events here are more firmly rooted in taking place on the island itself and keeps to the surprisingly large cast of characters that are roaming around. A new group is added later on but the gags are essentially the same throughout. Liquid tries to keep Kotaro from realizing who he is while doing the duties of a maid. Papuwa and Kotaro run around doing silly stuff around the island or just living their daily lives. All this while the various forces that are coming to capture Kotaro make their way closer and often end up dealing with each other first.

In a way that feels like it's hard to explain, each of the two sides that are going after Kotaro at first here are very distinctly different but also feel very similar. The characters are almost interchangeable with which side they belong to and the designs for some of them make this even easier to visualize happening. Even worse is that there's someone in each group that looks very close to Liquid that at first glance during a scene you can completely misinterpret it. Of course, it doesn't really seem to matter in the long run as each scene is quickly changed into something even stranger as it goes along. How else do you explain early on seeing Liquid having his brain sucked out by a lizard whose companion is one of those quintessential little gray alien types. So much bizarreness is brought into almost every scene, something that was strong in the first volume as well, that it feels like Dennis Miller is being channeled by some high school kids for a series of skits.

The two main groups after Kotaro tend to ease off a bit after the third episode on this volume and we instead have a new group that's come to hunt him down. Even Papuwa isn't free from the Shinsengumi it appears as several of the key popular names from that group arrive on the island. There is enough commonality among the characters designs and personalities that you can easily imagine them wandering in from a better show and getting caught up in all of this. But they too quickly fall to the quirky and offbeat humor here, including having one of the big burly male characters actually be a woman. Parodies abound in it and it certainly feels like a riff from Project A-Ko to western fans, especially in how she becomes completely enamored with Liquid.

But that's just another area where the shows main intent seems to disappear and it shifts to going into more basic comedy with the joke that's hard to pin down. Papuwa is very heavy in its references and word play, which makes the translators notes extremely useful, but other shows have been like this as well. Papuwa doesn't have enough to allow it to be enjoyed without catching every single reference or just being in tune with the absurdity of it all. Watching the Obon festival sequence again. I keep wondering if it would be more enjoyable if I was drunk or high. Or a combination of both. There is a fair deal of obvious humor here and several laugh out loud moments, but even the obscure references that I do get and the sight gags don't really get me all that enthused..

In Summary:
Papuwa's likely to find a real niche audience here and those that do get into it are going to be laughing themselves to tears when they watch it. It's very focused in some of its humor and the way it plays up a number of parodies and other gags. What it isn't is a show that's easily accessible to mainstream fans and even a lot of self styled hardcore fans. This volume really cements that feeling to me as it feels even further out of reach even as more of the material is centered around jokes and word gags that I do know and have learned over the years. Something about Papuwa just isn't clicking with me in the end even if I do get some good laughs and chuckles along the way. At this point, it's more a morbid curiosity to see what they really want to do here than anything else.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Translator notes,Character art gallery,Clean opening animation,Clean closing animation

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Samsung BD-P1000 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.

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

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jnager 3/13/2012 7:36:02 PM

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