Papuwa Vol. #5 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: D

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  • 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: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Papuwa

Papuwa Vol. #5

By Chris Beveridge     April 12, 2007
Release Date: April 10, 2007

Papuwa Vol. #5
© ADV Films

What They Say
Burning passions ignite in the blazing sun! Valentine's Day can be tough, cooking for two ravenous little brats, but it's downright hellish when you have a giant, bearded woman after you. Umako's plan to boil herself in chocolate has Liquid sweating bullets, and he's bit off a little more than he can chew. Lonely Arashiyama is recovering from the holiday, but he can't help but reminisce about his days in the Academy. Fitting in was always tough, thanks to his tendency to ignite every time he gets excited. With his army buddies fueling his flames of discontent, he's forced to recall memories he'd probably rather extinguish. Next, at the annual Star Festival, the inhabitants of Papuwa Island write wishes on charms and hang them from a bamboo tree. The tree stretches taller than a skyscraper and is inhabited by a vicious bulldozer-sized panda. But Liquid must make the treacherous trek to the top alone. Umako yearns, Arashiyama burns and Shintaro returns in the fifth, red hot volume of Papuwa.

The Review!
The insanity continues for another four episodes and begins to work its way towards what may be a conclusion.

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.

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.

Similar to the design of the earlier volumes, the layout is framed in the same manner and has a scene from the first episode where a bunch of these weird characters are dealing with Valentine's Day. Similar to the actual animation, the characters are simple and without much detail. 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.

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.

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 is 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 Papuwa the more I feel like I die a little inside each time. The kind of comedy that the show uses isn't bad, but the entire feeling that this is just one massive in-joke continues. Either that or the creative staff behind this have something on the producers and forced them into making it. Papuwa has always been about being weird for weird's sake and this set of episodes no exception.

The four episodes on this volume start working towards the end of the series as you know there will be some sort of big confrontation occurring. Before it can get to that though, there is a lot of time to kill and the show does just that (or at least makes me feel like I'm really wasting mine). The first episode plays around with Valentine's Day which is just plain odd. Umako is the highlight of these episode as she is still completely head over massive heels for Liquid. Her perception of reality is really skewed but what's worse is that she infects ours. One of the first scenes with her is of her slathering warm gooey chocolate all over herself as she dreams about Liquid in a frilly pink dress in pure moe form. The episode is all over the place in how it deals with the holiday, which is no different than any other episode, but Umako is such a heavy fixture in it that it's even more warped than usual.

The series isn't unlike many others in that it wants to play in the realm of flashbacks either. This one occurs around Arashiyama who, after being tormented by his fellow teammates a bit, recalls his days at the army academy he joined. Seeing him in a younger form being tormented in much the same way is amusing at times but even in this area it's filled with all sorts of weirdness that you would imagine would be isolated to Papuwa Island. His background doesn't exactly add much of anything to the show or to him but there are some small bits here and there that show how everyone came up through the ranks and ended up where they are now.

As the show is thankfully getting closer to the end, there is some movement towards a resolution. Namely in having those that the Shinsengumi and others are afraid to actually deal with from back in the real world. This makes up all of maybe two minutes of screen time across the last two episodes as they begin their preparations towards getting to Papuwa Island. On the Island itself however, the inhabitants are celebrating the Star Festival which means it's time to write their wishes on charms and hang them from a bamboo tree. The tree in question though is impossibly high, like Jack & the Beanstalk high, which means Liquid is nominated to climb up and put everyone's charms up there. Nobody else can climb it easily though apparently that's just a lie to get him to do it. The charms are cute and push the idea that everyone is happy with the way their lives are, but stretching it over two episodes was taking the concept far too far.

The only real bright spot in the show is the English language adaptation of it. The Japanese actors did a great job with the material they have and there is a good sense of overacting to it, but the English cast is able to connect with it a bit better through various accents and the like. A show like this lets the usual array of folks that ADV Films uses to really cut loose and just have fun, similar to a show like Super Milk-Chan. Even as culturally heavy as this is, they're able to work it in a way to make it very appealing. Even as much as I dislike the show, the cast here really sounds like they're having fun doing something so completely nonsensical.

In Summary:
Papuwa is the epitome of a show that is a chore to watch. It barely makes me crack a smile once across the four episodes. The characters tend to grate on my nerves and the storyline simply doesn't connect. It's certainly easy to see the appeal in the comedy and the chaotic nature of it all but it simply hasn't connected with me at all, even after these twenty-two episodes. Papuwa makes me long for shows like Slayers and Night Shift Nurses.

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, 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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