When a mixed format all girl band gets signed on by its manager to be the first band to play on the moon, hilarity is supposed to ensue as madcap scientists, robots and more try to make it happen.
What They Say
Destiny takes an unpredicatable turn when Mix Juice, the unknown girl group, teams up with Dr. Susomo Tsukumo, a genius scientist, to become the first band on the moon! Will they be the hottest thing on the charts? Or will they freeze to death in space?
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The series has a fairly straightforward stereo mix that's mostly a full feeling mix that doesn't have all that much in the way of real directionality to it. There are a few instances where things seem to move about but it's relatively minimal and nothing that really works towards enhancing the show. The dialogue tracks we do get are clean and clear though and suit the material well enough. We had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2002, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. This release contains the original discs as released in single form spread across three volumes. The series is fairly colorful in its presentation with lots of bright colors and sections of solids but there's a general softness to it as well that keeps the colors from being too vibrant. They look good but have a slightly muted feeling to them. The softness has some of the backgrounds looking a bit shifty at times but from a regular viewing distance on a 50" screen it wasn't even noticeable, only when we got it down to about a foot or two away could we really see it. Colors do for the most part maintain a solid feel and the print is free of cross coloration and most aliasing so it's good looking overall but not something that will really stand out.
Wandaba Style hits its third iteration in this set, coming after the singles and a thinpak collection. This set is decent but certainly nothing that’s going to really sell it well. Done in a single sized keepcase, the front cover has a bit of retro looking artwork to it with the core cast of girls in their various uniforms looking mostly serious with some slight smiles here and there. It’s a very soft illustration design and there is certainly appeal to it, but it’s not something that’s going to stand out as it feels older than it is. The back cover has much the same feel, though it does look amusing as it has what looks like a giant pink studded vibrator that the girls are riding on along the bottom. The layout is decent with a few shots from the show along the lower section and a good looking illustration shot included as well. The summary runs through the basics and the layout is standard but thorough in covering what it’s all about. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menu layouts are nice and simple as expected with each of them using the artwork from their respective cover in a close-up. The logo and episode numbers are in the same font and take up a good amount of space while the basics are along the bottom for navigation with mostly just the language option there after the first volume. Keeping it in the simple method works well as the draw here is the show itself and no fluff. Access times are nice and fast and we had no problems navigating the disc. As is usual with ADV's releases, the disc correctly read our players' language presets and played accordingly.
Unlike the thinpak release, this set contains the original extras since this is the original set. There are some good pieces here, particularly in comparison to the extra-less thinpak release as we get a clean version of the opening and closing sequences as well as some production sketches. That’s what most shows get but Wandaba Style goes a little further. A factoids section is included as well as a piece with the cast. The ADR outtakes are mildly amusing and they’ve also included a commentary track. It’s unfortunate that none of this made it into the thinpak set but it’s good to see this iteration containing the extras as seen during the original release.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The premise of Wandaba Style isn't really that far fetched when you consider that something like Space Channel 5 is popular. We're introduced to a world where one of the most brilliant and wealthiest minds, Dr. Tsukumo. He's a boy genius who would easily fit into the shouta category when he wears the shorts. Tsukumo is concerned about the future of the planet and the way mankind is using space shuttle technology to escape into space as that is more damaging than other more natural methods, methods that he believes mankind will find when it's truly ready to leave the cradle world of its birth. He also doesn't believe that mankind has been on the moon before since he can't see the flag there so he's working on some new system of getting there by hiring out a massive fleet of aircraft carriers and using a giant slingshot to send out his faithful assistant, Kiku #8 the robot, to get to the moon. Her "sisters" have all been previously launched and now reside in low earth orbit in various kinds of satellites.
When his latest attempt fails he's unsure of what to do but has time to think about it since it'll be a week before Kiku #8 comes back down to Earth (in an amusing scene where she falls through the atmosphere and all her clothes disintegrate except for carefully place pieces of underwear). This times out well for Tsukumo as he comes into contact with a Nabeshin wannabe named Michael Hanagata. He's a poor excuse for a manager of an all girl band called Mix Juice and he can't seem to get them any work, even if he promises exposed breasts. In collusion with Tsukumo, they're intent on putting the four girls on the moon (the first true lunar landing in Tsukumo's mind) and they can put on a concert there that will inspire others to move forward into space. Of course, the publicity of the stunt will earn the girls plenty of fame and money which Hanagata will of course skim plenty off the top.
The four girls end up being all for it when their tiny brains start to process the idea and for most of the show we see the various attempts to get them up there and actually stay there to make it to the moon. The band is made up of four very distinct girls and musical types which is why the group is called Mixe Juice. You've got Sakura who used to be popular but isn't so much anymore, Himawari is an enka singer that moonlights as a construction worker to make ends meet, Ayame is a real basket case as a folk singer who claims she sees small green fairies shaped like men who sit on her shoulder. And then there's Yuri, a real down on her luck rock star and self-proclaimed artist that can't hold down any kind of job which frequently gets her into a lot of trouble. As you can see, the group doesn't seem to have any central focus yet they can all sing in key together and form some good harmonies and end up being popular once they're given a chance.
Much of the show is made up of their attempts to get into space and dealing with various character issues along the way, but there's also something of a couple of epilogue episodes that deal with truly bizarre things. My initial impressions when I got the show in single form is largely backed up by actually watching it in that I can't find the appeal at all. There are elements of it that have been done better in other shows and plenty that doesn't work right here, notably Hanagata as well as a lot of what Tsukumo does. Hanagata is a real drain on the show since as a manager he's completely incompetent on so many levels. Tsukumo has the mad boy scientist idea down fairly well but his goals are so poorly followed through with the basic concept of the show in how he's going to work with four unknowns to throw a concert on the moon. With the money and apparently influence he has, you can imagine him getting far better material and personalities for such an event.
The girls themselves aren't much better though as it progresses since they remain basically a group of ciphers with little in the way of real background material to latch onto. They're pretty to look at from time to time and some of the antics are amusing but there's not much in the way of chemistry between them. There's always the story of a group of musicians who get together and realize they click well and become something more. These girls have nothing in common and don't click in any real way, leaving a lot of the music (and songs interspersed throughout the show) to feel even more forced. When you then add in characters like Kiku #8 and her personality quirks and general lack of understanding humanity or a sense of humor, along with other robots and borderline silly/stupid technology, it all starts to fall flat pretty quickly and unfortunately only goes downhill from there.
Wandaba Style is essentially utterly forgettable. Like most shows there are always some moments to latch onto and bits that are amusing when you're watching it, but this is a show that not only is the first volume hard to get through but the first episode up through the eyecatch is hard to get through. The combination of themes isn't the problem as it's been done in similar manner before, but the execution, writing and overall character concepts just fall flat. This may have been more appealing to me twenty years ago though or if you've not seen much anime, but for me, it's a title that I'm glad is now in my past.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing, Production Sketches, Factoids, ADR Outtakes, Commentary Track
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.