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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Puni Puni Poemy
Puni Puni Poemy
ADV Films // Unrated // April 6, 2004
List Price: $29.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by John Sinnott | posted April 19, 2004 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
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The Show:

One of the odder anime series to be released last year was the delightfully irreverent Excel Saga.  In each episode of this show the heroine, Excel Excel, was placed in a parody of a different movie genre.  (All this while trying to take over the city.  After all, taking over the world is a big job, and she thought she should start small, and build her way up to the larger task.)  It was a fast paced show, very funny, and well received.  So the logical step is to make sequel.  But nothing with Excel Saga was logical, so the creators decided to make an OVA series based on a fictional cartoon that makes an appearance in an episode of ExcelPuni Puni Poemy.   This two episode series is very similar to Excel in tone and feel, with jokes flying by at breakneck pace and many parodies of other anime shows.

There really isn't a story to this series.  If there was one originally, it soon disappeared among the jokes and gags that populate the show.  What little plot there is involves Poemy, a 4th grader who wants to be a voice actress for anime shows.  After her father (Nabeshin from Excel Saga) is killed by an alien, she moves in with the Aasu sisters, seven young women who live alone in a large house.  Poemy goes to school and tries to break into show business, but whenever invading aliens threaten the Earth, she chops up a dead fish to become Puni Puni Poemy, magical girl!

The cover of the DVD announces that this disc is "an all new exercise in breaking the weirdness barrier," and they are right.  There are many bizarre aspects to the show that will make viewers laugh, or at least scratch their heads in confusion.  One of the stranger parts of this show is 10-year-old Futaba, Poemy's classmate.  She has a crush on Poemy and is always trying to get her into bed (often successfully I might add.)  Then there are the rest of the Aasu sisters.  When aliens threaten the Earth, the seven sisters use their super powers to protect it!  Unfortunately their powers are totally useless against any invaders, but they still try.

If you've seen Excel Saga, you can expect more of the same with this series.   The show is filled with very quick dialog, rapid-fire jokes and a lot of sight gags that fly by in the background.  The jokes are often very silly, and since this in an OVA series, there are a lot of sex jokes and a lot of fan service.  The biggest problem I had was that things happened too fast.  The characters talk so quickly, with several people often speaking at once, that it's hard to catch everything.  I found myself pausing the show so I could read the subtitles and look at the background gags so often that I switched to the English audio track.  That didn't help much since even then the dialog was just too rapid.  It is one of those shows where you are not supposed to get all the jokes the first time through.

The more you know about anime, the more jokes you'll get.  Not only do they parody many styles of anime, but they also lift character designs and even scenes from other shows, making it fun to play "where have I seen that before."  But even if you are new to anime, there are a lot of jokes you will get.

I though this show was definitely stranger than Excel, I can't say that it was better.  The series was so short that there wasn't any time to set up running gags, which were used so successfully in the parent series.  The Aasu sisters were wonderfully peculiar, but with the whole series running less than an hour, you didn't get to focus on any of them.  But the main criterion that I use to judge comedies is how much I laughed.  While there were some very funny parts (the 1st time the Aasu sisters use their powers, Poemy fighting the transforming space cruiser, and the way the soldiers talk in code all stand out in my mind) I didn't find myself laughing as much as I did with Excel Saga.  I think the speed at which the dialog was delivered and the rapid-fire gags were a little overwhelming.

One final warning, this DVD is rated 17+, and while there is no graphic sex or explicit nudity, there is a lot of fan service and suggestive situations.  This wouldn't be a good DVD for a young child to view.
 


The DVD:


One complaint I have with this DVD is the price.  This disc contains only two shows that run a tad less than ½ hour each.  The retail price of $29.98 is too high for a series that doesn't even last an hour.  While I realize that OVA shows cost more than TV series due to the time and expense that to takes to produce them, I think $25 retail would be a much more reasonable price.

Audio:

This show was has both an English dub and the original Japanese language audio tracks in stereo.  The show sounded very good, with no noise or hiss, and clear dialog (something that this show really needs!)  The sound was a little light on the bass, with the explosions lacking punch, but that wasn't really a big deal.  This is a comedy after all.  There was a lot of directionality in the mix, with voices and sounds being placed near where the characters appeared on the screen.  It must have been complex to mix, and it was done very well.

There are optional subtitles in English or, get ready for this, pig latin.  This latter set of subs was funny for about a minute, but then got old.  Listed on the menu as "weird subs" I was hoping that they would do more with it, but they didn't.  In any case, it's a good chance to brush up on your fake languages.

Video:

The video quality was also very good also.  There is a lot of motion in this show, something that is hard to transfer to DVD without digital artifacts, but the authors did a great job.  There wasn't any noticeable aliasing or other common defects that plague animation.  The lines were tight and the bright colors stand out well.  This is a good-looking DVD.

The Extras:

This DVD does have a good number of extras, but I didn't care for many of them.  They included a clean opening and closing, something I always appreciate and thing should be standard on anime discs.  There is a 2½-minute reel of productions sketches, and another 2-minute reel of character art.

There was also the world's first Dolby Digital 5.1 audio commentary.  This was a really unique offering.  There were two groups of three voice actors that would add comments from the left and right speakers.  The ADR Director, Matt Greenfield, was in the center channel acting as a moderator.  The rear channels were used to occasionally bring up sounds that were in the background that you might have missed.  I really like the concept, and hope that ADV and other studios continue to use it.  Unfortunately, I didn't like the commentary itself.   What you mainly heard was a bunch of actors laughing and speaking in partial sentences.  It seemed like every time there was a bit of fan service, one of the female actors would yell "Boobies!  Look at the boobs!" and the others would join in.  Mr. Greenfield did an admirable job trying to keep everyone on task, but he just wasn't able to.  His comments were always interesting and informative, and I would have enjoyed the commentary track much more if he had done it alone.  He pointed out some of the jokes that most viewers would get (like the fact the Aasu sisters' names are the numbers one through seven in Japanese.  But they are in reverse order, with the oldest being seven and the youngest being one, which makes no sense.) and gave a lot of interesting background on the production.

There is also a 13-minute behind the scenes featurette that show some of the recording of the commentary track.  This was pretty much a waste.  After a brief view of the cast sitting in a waiting room before they began, the rest of the reel is taken up with seeing the contributors sitting in a sound booth recording their comments.  The camera work was very bad, with jerky movements and badly framed shots.  It looks like this was the raw footage from the camera, with no editing done to it (something they make fun of in an opening title card.)  The featurette ends in mid-sentence, as if they just ran out of film.  I wouldn't have objected to them leaving this extra off the disc.

Enclosed in the DVD case, there is a mini poster of Poemy with a text piece on the reverse, and an iron-on Poemy patch!

There are also trailers for Excel Saga, Azumanga Daioh, Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi, Cosplay Complex, Super Gals!, and Wedding Peach.

Final Thoughts:

I enjoyed watching this strange and bizarre spin-off from Excel Saga, just not as much as the original series.  The jokes seem to come at too fast of a rate, and there wasn't enough plot to follow.  It wasn't as funny as I was hoping, but there were some great moments that make it worth viewing.  Recommended.

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