What They Say:
Sana Kurata may be a famous TV star, but her life is anything but perfect! Her classroom at school is controlled by the boy bullies, all of whom are led by the nasty Akito and his gang of hooligans, who are at it again, wreaking havoc in the classroom. But has Sana discovered Akito’s secret weakness? Will she be able to exploit it to her advantage or will she just make a fool of herself in front of everyone?
Sana had better be cautious because when she acts on her plan the consequences aren’t exactly what she expected!
We watched this series primarily in English and sporadically in Japanese. The English voice cast did a nice job of matching the performances of the Japanese cast. We love how Laura Bailey voice acting really nailed Sana’s personality. She did a superb job capturing the intensity of the original Japanese voice actress. The show is listed as being in stereo, but appears to be very center channel oriented. In general, the dialogue is clean and clear and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
In the audio selection section, there is an asterisk that’s selectable. Loading this up, FUNimation has provided a text screen explaining the audio issues found in the series. This includes the opening song being unavailable as well as bits of audio from the first two episodes and the episode previews.
Originally produced in 1996, Kodocha is presented in its full frame aspect ratio and looks decent for its age. With it being done in the traditional animation style, there’s a touch more fuzziness around some areas. There was a little bit of grain, in parts, and the show had a very soft appearance. The artwork definitely fits the unique nature of the show in how it allows the viewer to easily transition between scenes with serious dialog to scenes with lots of crazy action. The color palette was easy on the eyes and a pleasure to watch.
The packaging for this collection has some real merit to it in that all of the six DVD’s are exact duplicates of the single releases. However, this makes for a pretty good sized box. No thin cases here, which is a bit disappointing in that this collection will definitely eat up some space on your shelf. The box that houses the collection is eye-catching and very Kodocha-like featuring Babbit on top of the box. Sana and Akito are featured on the sides while small snippets of the supporting cast are featured on the front. The Kodocha logo is also prominently featured on the top and back side of the box. Unfortunately, the box is made out of a thin cardboard stock that was a bit tattered on the edges win we received it. This makes one assume that the cardboard may not hold up well over time. It would be nice if FUNimation would have treated Kodocha like Viz did with Fullmetal Alchemist by using a collector’s tin to house the DVD cases.
The disc menus match up quite well with the overall tone of the series. The main menu has a brief musical loop of the Kodocha theme song. The layout is pretty standard and it’s bright and colorful. Access times are nice and fast and the layout easy to navigate. The disc doesn’t handle the player presets too well for subtitles since they’re unlabeled but it picks up the audio fine. However, with FUNimation titles it’s always safer to select via the menu since that will change which angle you view it for the opening and closing sequences.
As stated earlier, the DVD cases are exact duplicates of the single releases. This holds true for the extras. Voice commentaries from the voice actors give the viewer an insight into how this crazy show was assembled and how challenging it was for the English voice cast. It’s nice when a company decides to keep all of the extras when they bundle a DVD collection together rather than short-changing the viewer because they didn’t buy the single releases.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers).
Sana is a young elementary student and aspiring actress that has become ‘a little more famous’ than other children. She seemingly runs through life in high-gear and doesn’t slow down from the moment she wakes until she falls asleep in her manager’s arms. She often refers to her manager, Rei, as her pimp and boyfriend. Rei is a father figure for Sana and does most of her parenting as Sana’s mother is way too busy writing the novels that she is so famous for. Sana’s mother does take time from her busy schedule to drop some parental wisdom her way. This usually takes place in the form of her mother driving up in her go-cart while wearing some kind of crazy hat for her pet squirrel to live in. Yes, Sana’s mother is just as eclectic as Sana. Sana’s mother deeply cares for her and often helps Sana through major life issues. Rei is left to tend to Sana’s daily needs.
In focusing specifically on the comedic relief in the series, as mentioned before Sana’s mother has a myriad of loud hats which her pet squirrel inhabits, plays but doesn’t ‘crap’ in. Babbit is another source of comic relief. He is the mascot that is often overlooked and disrespected. He can be found at various different points throughout an episode and is often called out by Sana as some type of annoyance who won’t leave her alone. Poor Babbit, he just doesn’t get any love.
Moving on to the episodes, in the first one we are introduced to the anti-hero and arch nemesis of Sana, Akito. This ‘boss-monkey’ is making a mockery of their teacher’s attempts to fulfill her role in the educational system. This leader of anarchy inspires and prods the other boys in the class to prove the second law of physics, namely the existence of entropy.
Only one class member has the cohunes to stand up to this seeming jerk, Sana. Sana is determined to make this brawler a bawler and bring her educational environment to some sort of normalcy. This determination brings about a series of challenges to break Akito down and gain dominance over him. In the process, a secret teacher-love is discovered, a bungee-jumping contest occurs, we find out about rare amphibians, and finally, we experience a lack of undergarments.
In the end, Akito is finally under Sana’s control, and the class comes to a semblance of order. Can that be enough for Sana? Alas, in the second story arc, she finds herself now with a sense of responsibility for Akito, who transforms into a ‘lone wolf’. Sana has a new cause and pours her boundless energy into drawing out and figuring out the man behind the stoic mask. Sana is distressed to find that Akito may have a substantial reason for his dysfunctional attitude about life. His family relationships are found to be shattered after the death of his mother, which Akito is blamed for. Sana has a plan, and her meddling has a positive effect on the family dynamic in the (Akito’s family name) household.
Akito finds himself indebted to the Sana. A slow developing friendship begins between the classmates, but Akito may have a few more plans for their relationship. During a class field trip, as Sana brings Akito juice to help him with his nausea. After Sana dumps the juice on Akito’s head and attempts to clean him off, he takes advantage of her proximity. Sana experiences her first kiss, and Akito experiences the bottom of Sana’s foot.
Spinning off of this story arc, we soon learn that Rei has an ex-girlfriend who just so happens to be a very famous actress that is currently working on a project with Sana. This uproots Sana’s world as this actress threatens her whole perception and security in Rei. How Sana handles this issue is a whole new story. Sana struggles to confront her true feelings and the reality of Rei’s true relationship with her. The loss of a youthful, innocent make-believe world and the lesson of how to confront real life can be difficult, especially for sixth-grade girl who seems to have it all.
The third story arc is shrouded in mystery, emotion, and apprehensions. Sana has a secret; one that she feels may take her world and tear it from its very foundations. How will she deal with the revelation of that secret and will her family and new found friend, Akito, be there for her in her greatest hour of need? Get the box set and enjoy the high-speech journey!
This is a high-energy series that gives the viewer plenty of smiles and light-hearted laughter in the midst of numerous of well-developed plot arcs. There are some substantial issues that are approached in a manner that is playful, yet packs a punch. A must see for any anime fan.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, English Commentary, Character Profiles
Content Grade: A
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: A
Extras Grade: B+
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: August 3rd, 2010
Running Time: 630 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1