What They Say:
When your neighbor’s and angel in training, there’s no telling what could happen!
Kotarou used to spend most of his time alone, but when the apprentice angel Misha moves in next door, his life is thrown into chaos. Misha immediately clings to Kotarou, but since she doesn’t know much about life on Earth, her “divine intervention” is anything but helpful. She constantly breaks things, gets into trouble, and causes all sorts of misunderstandings.
Now, Kotarou finds himself in one weird situation after another. Where will he end up next? The accidental lead in a school play? Literally glued to his friends? The victim of a voodoo doll? Who knows, but at least he won’t be bored!
The audio presentation for this series brings us the original Japanese language only in stereo encoded at 192kbps. The series is one that doesn’t do much in the way of traditional action, but it has its silly and wacky moments where it gets to play things up a bit. These areas work well as they’re fun and well played across the forward soundstage, but they don’t really stretch the show in a big way. The bulk of the show is fairly straightforward dialogue based material and it works well while keeping it relatively basic. While there are areas where a few characters talk at the same time, most of it is kept to the center channel without a lot of placement or directionality. There are a few moments of it but they’re far between overall across the whole series. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback
Originally airing in 2002, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The twenty-six episode series is spread across five discs with five on each except the final that has six. Animated by Madhouse, the show has a very clean and appealing look to it with its designs, going for a simpler approach while not looking completely cartoonish and cheap. It works the kids oriented angle well and the transfer captures the color design in a good way that keeps it bright and vibrant without being overexposed. The character designs have some decent detail to it and we get solid backgrounds, both of which are mostly problem free with little in the way of line noise and no cross coloration to be had. The show has plenty of space to work with on each disc and the results are solid.
The packaging design for this release is done up in a standard sized DVD case that holds the five discs on hinges. The set has a good bit of weight about it and there’s always a bit of appeal with that in making it feels like it has value. The front cover is one that’s definitely cute as we get Misha in the foreground along the top, dominating the landscape, while along the bottom we get the rest of the main cast in cute form just above the logo. It’s nicely laid out even if the angle feels just a little weird, but it all works to reinforce the cuteness factor significantly. With a simple white background with just a bit of shading, all the draw is with Misha and her color design before being drawn to the logo, so it works well. The back cover goes for a couple of illustration shots of two of the main characters as well as a pair of shots from the show, giving it some soft color that contrasts with the soft white background. The premise is covered well and the extras are listed clearly as are the production/origin credits. Add in a simple but effective technical grid and things are covered well. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menus for this series are pretty cute and set the tone well with its design as we get a mostly split screen format that uses a mix of soft whites and purples for the backgrounds. The left side uses different illustration pieces for each volume of the main cast of characters and these add some great color and detail that helps to set the expectations for the series right. I also like that we get a good variety of characters over the five discs. The right side goes with the kind of vague background that works well against the brightness of the logo that dominates with its pink and pale yellow. The navigation is simple and clean in its look and use, so getting around is a breeze and it all works smoothly and without problems.
The extras for this release are spread across the set and we get some good things with it. The clean opening and closing sequences are here, which are always welcome, and there’s a good selection of commercials from various aspects of the show – including some cute trading card commercial material. The event promo gives us a very good look at the show through this form, but the best extra are the solid liner notes that have new installments with each disc that covers a range of cultural and entertainment topics.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the eight volume manga series from Koge-Donbo, Pita-Ten is a twenty-six episode anime series that aired back in the spring and summer of 2002. Animated by Madhouse, it’s a show that plainly and simply goes for the younger set and makes no bones about it. You could see this as a spiritual cousin to Cardcaptor Sakura in a way, though without any real long ranging story elements to it. But the idea is there to present these young kids, elementary school students, who are going through their tween years or so and have a whole lot of fun together while discovering that one of their friends is actually an angel in training while the other is a devil in training.
Having read some of the manga before and being somewhat familiar with the bigger end plot points, this series essentially avoids all of the serious material and just goes for the heart with light, fluffy and enjoyable things. In a way, it’s both good and bad depending on whether you think kids/audiences should be challenged or not. The manga does the hard stuff that you wish more series did in really making choices and bringing closure to events. Here, it’s all about keeping it open ended with the potential to produce more. But by avoiding the complex (and complicated!) relationships that the book establishes along the way, it takes a lot of the drama out of this series. In fact, outside of the final two episodes, there’s no real drama at all. And amid watching a slew of very dramatic shows and films, I can totally get into that.
The series focuses on this group of sixth graders where the glue of it all is Kotarou, a young boy who has lost his mother and now lives with just his father. The two get on very well and things are good, though there’s that background sadness that naturally exists. Kotarou has a decent group of friends with his best friend Takashi and a girl named Koboshi who really has a big crush on him. They’re a solid group for this age range and while there’s no depth to it because of said age, you don’t come away feeling that it’s all false. The false comes in the form of Hiroshi, the wealthy family son who is just far too stereotypical, and his younger sister Kaoru, who has some serious hots for Takashi and makes for some uncomfortable situations at times. It’s just that aspects of it within the context of their ages doesn’t jive well, though at least Takahashi seems mostly disinterested in actually dating anyone.
The catalyst for change in this series is that of Misha, an angel in training that has suddenly moved in next door to Kotarou and is working through her exam to become a full fledged angel. She’s not exactly the same age in a sense, though she acts it. Physically she’s about half a foot taller and far too stacked for the kind of show that this wants to be, making it pure fanservice when it offers nothing in-story to work with – especially in the swimsuit episode. I know kids are like that at this age (believe me, I’ve got two girls!), but the way it’s presented here in contrast with the other kids is pretty blatant. Misha’s your basic loveable goof that tries her best and through sheer luck and a big heart tends to succeed. You can see her arc a mile away, mostly because that’s where it exists. For the bulk of the series she essentially just plays around and occasionally helps while simply enjoying the time with everyone. Most know what she is so it’s not exactly a secret within the core group, but it’s also not talked about much or exploited.
To balance out Misha a bit we get Shia, a demon girl in training whose entire story from the manga is wiped away so that she’s essentially just another trainee gaining experience on Earth. She’s your typically quiet and always smiling Japanese stereotype here, always there to lend a hand, have a meal ready, and assist in whatever way is needed. There’s no real “demonic” aspect to her that we get to work with, though some of the “darker” elements comes from her mentor, a cat named Nya that watches over her and tries to work her through the process. That’s mostly off camera, however, and Shia herself is often more talked about than actually involved. Half the time she feels more like the mother of the group than just another of the gang that she gets together with from time to time.
The series is one that adheres to the familiar and there is something comforting about that. We get episodes that focus on the sports festival, albeit by drawing in some old timers that challenge the kids, and we get the requisite beach episode where there’s a lot of silliness. We even get some time out in the woods adventure where Koboshi and Misha pretend that they’re drowning to try and help fix a difficult situation that Kotarou and Takahashi are involved in. We even get the ever standard school festival episode that involves the Princess Kaguya play being put on, which means drama. These and other episodes really do work the familiar tropes and cliches in a big way, yet I kept finding that the simplicity of it all and the basic charms of the cast – especially since they’re not truly playing them up for fanservice or overly complicated plots – end up working because it runs in just that kind of way.
While Madhouse doesn’t go above and beyond with its animation or design work, they hit the right tone for it overall here. It has that lighter color palette to it that definitely helps and it works in some bolder primary colors at times, such as the uniforms and some of the hair colors. it’s not looking for truly real world here or highly detailed, but it makes everything feel like it’s inhabited and a part of a larger whole. Both at school and at home. While the group does get out and about a bit, they’re never really unique places and that kind of diminishes things a bit as you can imagine any number of other characters from other shows walking through and not feeling out of place at all. But at the same time, that’s a factor that makes it feel comfortable and accessible.
If you’ve watched any amount of school based anime before, you can see most of what’s going to happen here. So it really does come down to whether you connect or like the cast, setting, and premise that’s established. While I don’t think it’s something that stands out against the sea of other shows, it has its own charm and it does work because it knows what it wants to do. Part of me is curious as to what an adherence to the source material would have been like as going really dark would have been a lot more interesting in the back end of it, especially compared to the mildly serious way it gets before resetting back to zero. Still, Pita-Ten knows what it wants to be and executes it solidly. It’s a tween show that doesn’t try to be more than that and succeeds because of it.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening and Closing, Event Promo, Liner Notes, Commercials.
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B
Released By: Nozomi Entertainment
Release Date: February 2nd, 2016
Running Time: 650 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.