Piano: The Melody of a Young Girl's Heart Vol. #2 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Nozomi Entertainment
  • MSRP: 29.99
  • Running time: 96
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Piano: The Melody of a Young Girl's Heart

Piano: The Melody of a Young Girl's Heart Vol. #2

By Chris Beveridge     August 15, 2005
Release Date: August 30, 2005


Piano: The Melody of a Young Girl's Heart Vol. #2
© Nozomi Entertainment


What They Say
From director Tatsuo Sato (DIRECTOR: COMIC PARTY / ASST DIRECTOR: CASTLE IN THE SKY), with character designs by Kosuke Fujishima (OH MY GODDESS! / SAKURA WARS) and art direction by Junichi Higashi (MY DAYS WITH MIDORI / AI YORI AOSHI: ENISHI TV)!

Unlock the music within your heart!

Summer vacation is here and that means it's almost time for Yuuki's birthday! Since it's over summer break, her birthday is usually a nonevent; but this year, Yuuki has decided that things are going to be different... this year, on her birthday she's going to confess her love to Takizawa! But will the handsome and popular third-year track star reject her? The very thought has Yuuki in turmoil.

Her best friend, Miu, is doing all she can to support her friend, but watching Yuuki struggle only reminds Miu of how troubled her own heart is.

Meanwhile, Mr. Shirakawa is frustrated at the lack of growth in Miu's playing. Trying to inspire her, he nominates her to be his sole representative at the Spring Piano Recital. Not only that, but she'll be the only student who will have to compose and play her own original piece! If she refuses, Mr. Shirakawa won't even have a single student participating. Should she play in the recital even though her heart really isn't in it?

Contains episodes 4-7.

The Review!
Summer hits for Miu and Yuuki and each of them find new challenges to face.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this series in its original language of Japanese. The stereo mix for the show is pretty decent but outside of the music it's not one that has all that much to really offer in that form. It's a very dialogue driven show for the bulk of it and that comes across clean and clear but the music is where the fullness really comes through and much of the piano work sounds great. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with either language track in terms of dropouts or distortions.

Video:
Originally airing in 2002, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. With this being a series that's focused on the real world and taking place in the city, it's very earthy at times with its street and building colors but it's also well balanced with the glitzy signs and lights at night and nicely done outfits that avoid being just school uniforms but also a good range of casual wear outfits. The range of colors here look good and maintain a solid feel as well as avoiding over saturation or bleeding. There's a touch of aliasing going on with some of the long range character shot scenes but they're few and far between here that it's just a momentary problem. This is overall a good looking transfer that keeps the attention on the program itself.

Packaging:
Going again with Miu and Yuuki on the front cover, both are in some simple summer clothes and just hanging out and smiling, a fresh and innocent youthful look. The style is similar to the previous volume in that there's the imagery of flowers all over and both girls are surrounded by a string of musical notes. It's a very soft and pretty color that just feels very laid back and relaxed. The back cover plays up the music note aspect and provides one down the side underneath a few shots of various characters. The summary of the shows premise cover a couple of good paragraphs that talk about it nicely and the discs features are all clearly listed. The technical grid along the bottom does a solid job of containing all that information easily so that it's quick to find and easy to understand. The insert replicates the front cover nicely while it opens to a two panel spread; one panel covers the production notes for this volume and the other has a short story with a cute piece of artwork done up as a photograph. The reverse side of the cover is a full color piece as well, with the left side showcasing a couple of pieces from the show and some character artwork while the right side has the same artwork as the front cover but without the filter, logo or swirling music. I really like how the front cover came out but I also really like the original untouched artwork here.

Menu:
The menu layout uses the style set forth by the cover artwork and has part of that here mixed in with a letterbox style done in purples that is set to a small piece of the piano music from the show. It's simple and understated and fits perfectly with the material. The navigation along the left is nicely laid out and quick to access and load times are nice and fast. The disc correctly read our players' language preset accurately but picked up the wrong subtitle track as the first English track is just the signs and song subtitles.

Extras:
Continuing from the first volume, the special epilogue has a second installment here. Again, this isn't actually an epilogue but rather a piece with the voice actresses talking about the show and their time on it. It runs about half the time of the first one, just under five minutes or so. Two other interesting extras are included though called Visual Monologues. They mix in animation from the show and thoughts of the characters and has live cation pieces of the actresses walking around parts of town and similar settings, sort of a way of saying that the show could be done as a live action piece as well but more so to just let the fans enjoy the voice actresses more. The standard character bio section is included and some of the other standards are here such the art gallery.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The middle arc of the series covers four episodes with this volume and focuses on the summer break that the two leads go through. The series is interesting in that it manages to cover a fairly decent amount of ground with this time period but at the same time it doesn't feel like it's been full or rushed. The laid back manner of things and having only a few key events happen over their break provides that bit of realism that's helping this show to feel so different from many of its contemporaries.

Between the two girls, three central things occur over the summer that end up becoming events that help them to grow up and mature. For Miu, it starts with the apparent decision by her teacher to put her up for the recital that happens in late winter/early springtime. Her practices have gotten much better in recent weeks and due to things in her life being better all around its been making its way into her music which has helped her become more lively with it. Her instructor, Shirakawa, has decided that she's done enough with the current piece that they're on and has given her the option to perform in the recital. The difference being that if she agrees, she has to perform an original piece there and not something else. If she declines, nobody from Shirakawa's class will end up performing. The pressure is on her for it but the opportunity to take the piece that she's been playing with in her mind and at leisure may be enough to push her along, but the decision is all hers.

For Yuuki, she ends up with an interesting storyline to follow in that she decides to take advantage of the fact that her birthday is in the summer, a time when she sees few friends other than Miu and her family, to tell Takizawa how she feels about him. She's decided that the time is right due to the way her birthday falls on a particular racing event and is interpreting that as a sign from god to go ahead and confess. Yuuki's first love plays out like a lot of first time school loves do that don't involve harems in that the two end up doing some dating and one of them ends up building the relationship up more than it really is in a short time which scares the heck out of the other person. Yuuki confides a lot of this with Miu who enjoys living vicariously through her friend since she can't make her own confession just yet. The relationship between Yuuki and Takizawa covers almost all of the episodes here in its up and down nature and provides a place for the two to meet and talk as well as for Miu to learn about things from throughout the summer.

Miu's forced to mature a little bit more in another way as well over this summer. Her sister Akiko makes a surprise visit back home and claims that she's taking vacation time before she loses it for the year so she's spending a week there. With her life being such that she's almost always traveling and doing the tour guide gig around the world, spending time with her family is a real break from things and allows her to decompress some. With her being a few years older than Miu, she's able to do things differently around the house and at the dinner table, such as the kind of conversation and drinking with her father. A lot of her time is spent just sleeping in and not doing things, but her tone and mood is different than someone really on vacation.

Of course, a mother knows all and both she and Akiko's father make amusing little comments along the way about the trip obviously not being what she said it is and wonder if Akiko will tell them. She intimates to Miu at one point that she can't talk to them about it since they'll just say what she knows they'll say and the two start to unearth the real story of her vacation and time away from work. It's not uncommon for sisters at this age range to talk like this but with Akiko rarely ever at the house, and now being the one that's confided to about how they feel about their job and their life, she's forced to be more mature and grown-up about it and to do right by her sister with it.

In Summary:
With all three events combined over the summer plus plenty of little things, these episodes do a great job of showing just how much a girl can grown and change over the summer. The show continues the same pace as we got in the first volume and it works well for it as there isn't anything that really pushes it to move any faster. The two girls continue to be interesting enough and have enough happening to them that their stories are enjoyable to watch and the lack of real pressure provides a very different and enjoyable viewing experience. There are challenges coming up to them and it'll be interesting to see how it's all resolved with the next and final volume.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles, Character Bios, Line Art Gallery,Special Epilogue #2, Visual Monologues #1 and #2, Piano Side Stories #2 and #3, English Production Notes

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI, 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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