Best Student Council Vol. #1 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B-
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: TV PG
  • 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: Best Student Council

Best Student Council Vol. #1

By Chris Beveridge     December 25, 2006
Release Date: January 09, 2007


Best Student Council Vol. #1
© ADV Films


What They Say
At first glance, Miyagami Private Academy seems like a typical all-girls' school. But beneath its placid surface is a highly-disciplined student council engaged in an unceasing struggle to keep Miyagami Private Academy safe from the outside (adult) world! Complete with covert and assault divisions, all student council members have their own special abilities. So how did cute little transfer student Rando Rino make the cut?

The Review!
When Rino Rando arrives as a new transfer student, her life suddenly hits the fast track when she becomes a member of the Best Student Council.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. Both this track and the English language track are done in a 224kbps stereo mix and sound good for what is essentially a dialogue driven show. There aren't a lot of action effects to it or even much in the way of incidental sounds, leaving it mostly to mild background music and the continual dialogue. Both tracks come across well but there isn't much oomph to it in general. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2005, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. Bright and colorful and filled with decent animation but not so much that it really leaps out at you, the transfer for this looks really good outside of a few very small problems. Because of the way it's animated, there isn't a huge amount of movement in a lot of scenes so the colors maintain a very solid feel and backgrounds are very good looking. Cross coloration is absent from it but there is some aliasing and jaggies to be found during a number of panning movements with the camera. These typically affect backgrounds more than anything but aren't a huge distraction. The show overall is very pleasing on the eyes and doesn't exhibit any kind of real showstoppers.

Packaging:
What better way to sell a show like this than to take a couple of the characters and have them in bathing suits? With Rino taking the lead and a couple of the other girls, they all look good here while showing some but not a ton of skin against a really nice looking blue background. Pucchan adds a nice bit of levity to it with his bathing suit as well as how they stuff him into the shows logo. The logo is a bit larger than I would have expected but it seems to fit the nature of the show. The back cover continues the blue theme and provide some additional character artwork as well as a few shots from the show. The summary does a good job of covering the basics of the premise and the features are clearly listed. I'm a bit surprised they don't push the episode count a bit more outside of the runtime and a small mention in the technical grid though. While no reversible cover is here nor is there an insert, they do provide a very cute sticker sheet that has a number of Pucchan images that can be strategically placed around.

Menu:
The menu design for this volume is fairly weak and surprisingly text heavy. The static background image is a decent shot of Rino and another girl in their pajamas while the light background has shadows of other characters. What's surprising about it is that they do use their standard method of providing quick episode access but they add the episode titles next to them. This has the menu looking a bit busier and not quite as empty if they had just used the episode numbers, but I'm not quite sure it looks all that good. Access times are nice and fast however and submenus load quickly. The disc, like just about every ADV Films release, correctly read our players' language presets and played accordingly.

Extras:
The extras for this installment are pretty basic but good ones to have in that we get the clean opening and closing sequences as well as a character artwork gallery.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The arrival of another school based comedy show manages to send me into something of a fearful mode every time it happens. Best Student Council comes on the heels of a number of other ones during 2006 but it manages to surprise me a fair bit. Where this one manages to be a bit different comes from those behind it, especially when you look at some of their prior works. Directed by Yoshiaki Iwasaki, you can see much of his influence from other shows such as Bottle Fairy, Mao-chan and Doki Doki School Hours in here.

The story for the show centers around a new transfer student that's arrived at the Miyagami Private Academy. Rino Rando has recently lost her mother and her funds have disappeared since then. Thanks to the help of a mysterious benefactor she knows only as Mr. Poppit, he's arranged to have her go to the Miyagami Private Academy and has taken care of all of the costs involved in it. He's even gone so far as to set up an apartment for her and she's already sent her things ahead. Unfortunately for her when she arrives, the apartment already burned down and all of her stuff is gone.

Figuring that she could at least crash at school, Rino finds her first day there to be something quite bizarre. She quickly makes a friend with her desk neighbor, a girl named Ayu, who them decides that in order to help Rino out with her problem she should run for the Best Student Council. This Council is actually very powerful, more so than most of the teachers, mostly because the young woman who founded the school is also the Council president. The Council is made up of her, two vice-presidents and a few other positions as well as an "assault squad" and a "covert squad." The assault squad works as general problem solvers and police for the campus while the covert squad handles all of the intelligence issues. The advantage that people on the Council have, in that Ayu felt it good to nominate Rino, is that they live in a special dormitory and have all of their food and housing needs taken care of.

Rino's quick succession from a transfer student to class rep and then to Secretary on the Council does not sit well with some people. Most notable is Kaori Izumi, a member of the assault squad who actually wanted that position herself. Most of the girls in the all girl academy want to be on the Council and have longed for it for years, so they're quite confused by Rino's quick rise. They're even more confused by the fact that Rino seems to be such a favorite of the beautiful and highly admired president, Kanade. Kanade takes such a liking to her that it comes across almost as an actual girl/girl relationship to those who see it from afar. Under these circumstances, Rino has to adjust to the new school, the weirdness of the campus and being a member of the Council and all it entails.

There's an added bit of quirkiness to the show that at first I really thought would be lame but actually manages to steal the show. Rino has with her a constant companion named Pucchan, a rather creepy yet adorable puppet that is always on one of her hands. It talks without her lips moving and manages to be rather insightful at times and completely unlike Rino's fairly ditzy personality. Pucchan has some great one-liners but also manages to fit into the way the school works very well. He's also the only thing that qualifies as a male presence, something that is very amusing when he gets caught up in staring at some of the girls and Rino has a hard time dragging him away. There's obviously something more to Rino, and Pucchan seems to be connected to it even if we do get a rather good background story about him and Rino's mother. He simply adds a really cute bit of flavor to the show.

The visual design of the show is very reminiscent of a few other shows that we mentioned at the top. The use of the screentones along the tops and bottoms or coming in from various angles is used fairly heavily throughout. It's something I've gotten used to across a few releases in the last couple of years but it hasn't been prevalent in a lot of shows in general, so it doesn't feel like it's being overly used. It works well here to give the show something of a time out for a few seconds to do something. The animation for the show looks quite good as well, though as mentioned earlier it's not exactly the most active show out there. A lot of the dialogue and humor is done in a way that the characters are still and only their lips move, so it allows for things to maintain a much more solid look. For what the show is trying to do, the animation style suits it and the somewhat minimal approach with the animation lets them do some good looking designs and color layouts.

In Summary:
Best Student Council wasn't a title I was particularly keen to check out since there have been so many school themed shows lately. It turned out to be a rather enjoyable show and one that watching the first five episodes of in one sitting actually had me laughing during each of the episodes and wanting to get to the next one right afterwards. The general lack of a male presence, the good looking character designs and the fun that is Pucchan, the show works well and does exactly what it intends to. There is more to the show than it lets on at first here but what we get here at the start of the series is entertaining and very well done.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Clean Opening,Clean Closing,Character Gallery

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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