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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Hare and Guu Box Set
Hare and Guu Box Set
FUNimation // Unrated // September 11, 2007
List Price: $99.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Jeffrey Kauffman | posted October 8, 2007 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:
There are times one is left speechless, which is not a good thing for a DVD reviewer. Hare and Guu, a long-running Japanese anime series based on a popular manga (serialized comic book), is without a doubt one of the most bizarre things I have ever seen. But I think I mean that in a mostly good way. This 7 DVD boxed set brings together the entire 26 episode broadcast run of the series.

Playing like a slightly demented--well, extremely demented, actually--version of Lilo and Stitch (and with an original release date of 2001, it well could have inspired at least some elements of that Disney feature), the series concerns the travails of Hare (HA-ray), a young boy ostensibly being raised in the jungle by his frequently drunk and/or sleeping mother (you can't make this stuff up, folks). Despite his locale, Hare enjoys the electronic comforts of "home" (such as it is), including video games (don't go looking for logic here, it simply can't be found).

One day Hare's mother, coming off a bender, brings home an adorable little girl named Guu (Goo). Hare soon figures out that Guu is not all sweetness and light, and in fact may be a monster who has previously been chasing him.

Things only manage to get weirder from there, if that's possible. It turns out Guu, like Stitch, likes to eat any and all things that come her way, including large animals and humans. In fact, it turns out an entire alien world is alive and kicking in Guu's stomach, something at least some of her gastrointestinal denizens don't seem to mind. Unfortunately, only Hare in the "real world" (an extremely relative term in this case) seems to be aware of Guu's secret nature, and much of the comedy arises from his panicked attempts to set things right once Guu has done something reprehensible. Guu turns out to be something of a shape-shifter, with powers that are revealed over the course of the series, all of them seemingly designed expressly to drive Hare crazy.

The series is marked by a minimalist though effective anime palette and style, with excellent if not overly developed character design. Several of the more magical creatures who inhabit the jungle seem to have wandered over from a nearby Hasao Miyazaki feature.

There's a subversive element to this series that perhaps adults will enjoy more than children, though kids will certainly understand the sibling rivalry that is the general undercurrent of Hare and Guu's relationship. Indeed, there are elements to this series (e.g., the frequently drunk mother, a teacher who likes to sleep all day, as well as some content, like a supporting Doctor character who sexually harasses the kids, not to mention gifts them with girlie magazines) that seem inappropriate for children, though the whole series is so surreal that it's hard to take anything seriously enough to warrant a real objection. The series is also unusual in that its characters display an "arc" over the course of the 26 episodes. This is no mere "situation comedy," anime style.

The English voicework is mostly excellent, if over-the-top in the usual anime way. A special note must be made of the rhumba-calypso theme music, sung in Japanese, with some of the most hilariously translated lyrics ever, presented via subtitle.

Evidently most of the character names in this series are translatable as weather events (Japanese ideograms can have more than one meaning), and it's interesting to note that Hare (which can be translated as "fair weather") seems to whip up storms when he gets agitated. There are no sunshiny rainbows at the abrupt endings of most of these episodes, which only adds to their peculiar and extremely unique charm.

The DVD

Video:
The full frame 1.33:1 image is clear and well-authored. The extremely colorful look of the series is beautifully reproduced.

Sound:
Two options are offered, standard stereo English and Japanese. There are also English subtitles, which come in handy in deciphering some of the idiomatic Japanese names for various magical creatures.

Extras:
Several (repeated) extras adorn each of the 7 discs: English recording outtakes, the opening and closing title sequences without the credits overlay, and some interesting translations and (non-repeated) episode specific notes about the mythic aspects of the series, as well as various trivia items.

Final Thoughts:
In the vast cultural wasteland that is the bulk of major-label DVD releases, this one of a kind series provides something different, if nothing else. Frequently very, very funny, and weirdly compelling in its own very strange way, this is almost like an animated feature directed by David Lynch--surrealism pushed to an extreme to where it seems somehow absurdly normal. Parents may want to preview episodes to make sure they want their (younger) children to watch, but teens and adults will find this a bizarrely entertaining experience.

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"G-d made stars galore" & "Hey, what kind of a crappy fortune is this?" ZMK, modern prophet

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