It's hard to translate comedy across cultures and languages, especially
in anime. For every hilarious Japanese cartoon that crosses the Pacific,
there are three that just fall flat. That's why I approached Pani
Poni Dash with a bit of hesitancy. Was this going to be one of
those shows that just didn't work? Luckily the answer was "no."
The program is constantly amusing and sometimes hilarious, and while some
of the humor was lost on this westerner, overall the show is good for some
Rebecca Miyamato is a brilliant scholar. Though her mother
was Japanese, she spent a lot of her life in America where she graduated
with honors from MIT. After graduation she returned to Japan to teach in
a public school. The only problem is that she's only 11 years old,
younger than the students that she's teaching. Not only that, but
while Rebecca (or Becky as her students call her to her chagrin) is smart
as a whip, she has the emotional stability of a tween girl, something that
doesn't mix well with a class of rebellious teenagers.
Miyamato is assigned to class C-1 and, as befits a comedy, it's filled
with wacky personalities. There's Himeko who constantly calls out
the nonsense word "Maho", has limitless energy thanks to her cowlick, and
is Becky's biggest fan. Miyako is a studious girl with a forehead
that grows brighter and brighter as the series goes on (eventually people
have to wear welding masks to look at her) and Rei is the tough girl of
the class who will threaten Becky if she gets out of line.
Rebecca has a 'pet' in the form of Mesousa, a sort of talking rabbit.
Unlike most anime mascots (like Babbit if Kodocha), Mesousa isn't
hyperactive and always happy. In fact he's often depressed because
he has no thumbs and isn't very useful.
Oh yeah, let not forget the aliens. Rebecca, being the youngest
MIT graduate ever, is being watched at all times by aliens orbiting the
Earth who occasionally cause problems for her.
I have to admit, after the first episode I wasn't sure how I was going
to get through the show. It came across as stupid and dumb rather
than funny. As I watched more however, the show's style of humor
started to grow on me and the wacky "anything goes" comedy started to hit
home. By the fourth episode I was totally hooked and started to love
The style is similar to that of Azu Manga Dioh mixed with a dash
of Excel Saga. Each episode stands by itself and there's little
continuity (though several running gags,) but the shows are crammed full
of rapid fire jokes and unusual situations. Many of the gags make
fun of pop-culture icons, both from the US and Japan. While I'm sure
I missed a lot of jokes, anyone who has a few anime series under their
belts will get a majority of the humor. Everything from movies
and anime to the internet (one character ends all of his sentences with
"dot com") to food and fashion are pilloried with good effect.
I'll be the first to admit that this series isn't for everyone.
It's filled with silly humor and the show is very kinetic with a lot going
on at once. The jokes fly fast and furious and it's easy to miss
a gag while you're thinking about the last one. This isn't really
bad, because I found myself smiling through the entire show and often laughing
The entire 26 episodes of Pani Poni Dash come on 4 DVDs housed in two
thinpak cases. The cases are kept in a thin pressboard slipcase.
As is becoming the standard for anime, this disc offers the choice of
a 5.1 dub in English, or the original Japanese audio in stereo. I
alternated languages while watching the first few episodes and found them
to be about equal in quality. I like the Japanese voices a little
bit more; they just seemed to fit the characters better. The English
dub made good use of the soundstage though, with voices and sound effects
panning both from left to right and front to back. There were no
audio defects worth noting.
The anamorphic 1.78:1 widescreen image was pretty good over all.
There was a slight problem with aliasing, causing fine lines to sometime
shimmer and diagonals to have a stair-step effect. Other than that,
it was a fine looking disc, with the colors being reproduced faithfully
and the image sharp and clear.
I'm not a big fan of amine extras (if I have to sit through another
English dub cast commentary track I'll scream) but I was disappointed to
discover that this series didn't have any bonus material at all. I was
really looking forward to the pop-up trivia track that appeared on the
ADV releases. These would have gone a long way towards explaining
some of the jokes I missed. As it is, there isn't even a clean opening
While it took me a few episodes to get the hang of this show, once I
did it was hilarious. A fast-paced show that throws a lot of gags
and jokes into every show, it will be a sure fire hit with people who enjoyed
Excel Saga and Azu Manga Dioh. If you like silly, bizarre,
off the wall humor, give this show a try. Highly Recommended.