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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Azumanga Daioh - Entrance (Vol. 1)
Azumanga Daioh - Entrance (Vol. 1)
ADV Films // Unrated // April 27, 2004
List Price: $29.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by John Sinnott | posted April 29, 2004 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
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A U D I O
E X T R A S
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The Show:

ADV's new anime series, Azumanga Daioh: the Animation is an oddity among anime.  It isn't based on a continuing manga story like most anime adaptations are.  It is based on four-panel humor strip.  Converting a simple strip into a half hour cartoon sounds like it would be difficult, but the creaters were able to carry it off, creating a funny and enjoyable show.
 
Chiyo Mihama is a young prodigy.  Though she's only ten years old, Chiyo has skipped five grades, and is in high school.  Not only that but she's one of the best students in her class.  Chiyo is charmingly cute and instantly liked by her classmates.  Other members of the class are the athletic and competitive Chihiro, and Ayumu (also known as Osaka) the spacey and not too bright girl.  Miss Sakaki is the student who is perfect in every way, the first to physically develop, and a great athlete.  But she can't seem to pet a cat.  Add into the mix a couple of competitive teachers, and you have a very funny show that gets funnier as it goes on.

The program's format is reminiscent of a comic strip, which is natural since that's what it is based on.  Each episode is composed of five short chapters that are usually not related.  Sometimes the scenes in each chapter will be unrelated too, so it's difficult to give a synopsis of each show.  Though there isn't a lot of plot to the program, each episode does have a good share of laughs.  While some of the chapters fall flat, most of them are funny.  At first I thought that the series was just mildly amusing, but as I watched more, I became more familiar with the cadence of the show and it grew more entertaining and laugh-filled.

There are several great bits in every episode, but I especially liked Sakaki's various attempts to pet the vicious cat.  Chiyo and Osaka practicing volleyball, and the episode where the entire group goes over to Chiyo's house only to find that she lives in a mansion are funny also.  A typical chapter is the one in the second episode where Osaka gets the hiccups.  Everyone tried to cure her using assorted remedies that they've heard.  They start with mundane cures like drinking water while holding your nose, but quickly move to more bizarre suggestions such as giving them to someone else (!?) or a hard punch to the solar plexus.

There was a rather odd joke in one show where some of the girls are in bathing suits and the one with the largest breasts is described as being "American."  Being embarrsed by this, she refers to a flat chested girl as being Japanese.  Eventually it is desided that the ones in the middle are from Hawaii.  That's a classification system I never would have thought to create.

J. C. Staff, the same people responsible for Excel Saga and Puni Puni Poemy, did the animation.  They did their usual good job, adding just the right amount of whimsy to the character designs to make the show funny, but not a parody of itself.

The five episodes on this first volume are:

Episode 1:  Miss Yukari
Episode 2:  Osaka's Day
Episode 3:  Nyamo
Episode 4:  Pool, Pool, Pool
Episode 5:  Summer Break

The DVD:


Audio:

This DVD offers the choice of the original Japanese language track in stereo or a 5.1 English dub.  The 5.1 English track was more enveloping than the Japanese track, but it doesn't sound superior.  The English track was actually fairly irritating.  It sounds like it was dubbed by people who have never actually heard a young girl talk, but are trying to imitate other cartoon girl voices.  The female voices were all high pitched and squeaky, not natural sounding at all.  Osaka's voice was done with a fake southern accent that sounded really dumb.  Even though it was only in stereo, I greatly preferred the Japanese track that was clean and clear with no hiss or audio distortion.

Video:

Being a recent production, the full frame video looked pretty good.  The lines were tight and sharp, and the colors clear.  There was a fair amount of aliasing, with the diagonal lines having a stair step effect, but this is common with animated shows.  The colors were a little muted, but I think that this was the creator's intent.  A fine looking disc with only minimal defects.

The Extras:

This DVD includes a clean opening and closing, and a two minute reel of production sketches.

The trailers on this disc are for Panyo Panyo Di Gi Charat, the funny Happy Lesson, the strange Puni Puni Poemy, Kino's Journey, Kaleido Star, and Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi.

The clear DVD case comes with a reversible cover, and there is a 12-page booklet enclosed.  The booklet had comments on each episode by various people who worked on the show.  It also contained explanations of the various cultural references in the series that western audiences may not understand.

Final Thoughts:
 
This was a funny show.  There wasn't a lot of plot, but they did manage to cram a lot of jokes into each program.  While the first episode was amusing, the show definitely had me laughing more as the series went on.  It's a good show to check out if you are looking for some easy laughs.  Recommended.

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