Wandaba Style Complete Collection (Thinpak) - Mania.com

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: TV PG
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 44.98
  • Running time: 300
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Wandaba Style

Wandaba Style Complete Collection (Thinpak)

By Chris Beveridge     July 04, 2006
Release Date: June 06, 2006

Wandaba Style Complete Collection (Thinpak)
© ADV Films

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 mo

The Review!
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.

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. 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.

Taking the original three discs and putting them in thinpaks inside a slim hard box, the Wandaba Style box overall is something that's really attractive. With a green based border, one main panel has a shot of the four girls in very cute idol-esque schoolgirl uniforms with garters and unique colors for each of them that's beautifully illustrated. The other main panel has the four of them with their hair down so to speak in bathing suits and smiling together against a tropical setting. The illustrations are really nice and the design works well for the show. The three thinpaks are also nicely designed with similar illustrations with different single characters getting a cover to themselves. With the discs not intended for resale, the back cover design is much simpler as it provides a similar background across all three of a launch gantry while showing off screenshots from each episode next to the episode number and title. The bottom quarter is the same across them with the basic production information and the technical grid.

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.


Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
When Wandaba Style was originally released, it was something that didn't seem like it'd really appeal to me and I wanted to give another reviewer a chance to do a new series. I also looked at it as the rare opportunity where I'd actually get a chance to marathon a show by checking out the eventual thinpak collection, something I'm rarely able to do since I tend to deal mostly in singles and regular releases. Being able to tackle Wandaba Style in one set instead of the bi-monthly releases of the original three volumes did one very important thing; it kept the pain to just one long viewing session.

The premise of the show 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.

In Summary:
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 5.1 Language,English Subtitles

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.


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