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The Daichis – Earth’s Defense Family Vol. #3 Anime DVD Review

7 min read
The Daichi's continues to be an under the radar show that's been quite a lot of fun so far.

The family dynamic gets even worse as promise are broken and trust issues are the game of the day in the finale of the series.

What They Say:
The Daichis are broke! To compensate for their lack of teamwork, the family members have been relying upon upgrades to their battle suits and weaponry to defeat the aliens. Now, despite getting paid 9.8 Million Yen ($98,000) per victory, their upgrades have cost them 129.3 Million Yen ($1.293 Million)!! Under the mother’s forceful guidance, the family redoubles their efforts to work as a team to drive off the alien threat as well as their debt!

The Review:
Audio:
The audio presentation for this series brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo along with the English dub, both of which are encoded at 192kbps. The series is one that works some decent directionality across the forward soundstage as there’s a lot of activity and wackiness going on in general within the show but also with the dialogue. It may not be as sharply placed as more modern shows but it has a good feeling about it and moves about better than a number of shows from the era.  The mix seems pretty similar across both language tracks as well. In listening to both tracks, we didn’t note any dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally broadcast in 2001, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full-frame aspect ratio. Animated by Group TAC, the series is one that has a good look and feel but it’s also the kind that’s really just a very busy one with lots of detail and almost a traditional animation style to it but with the benefits of the digital side of things. The show is pretty much clean outside of a bit of aliasing but it lacks that oomph that just screams that it’s a gorgeous transfer. Colors maintain a good solid feel through, especially with the dark blues and blacks, cross coloration is non-existent and the color gradation issue isn’t here at all. It’s very dynamic and detailed and I think it holds up pretty well in general, especially with its animation style.

Packaging:
The release comes in a standard-sized DVD case where it uses the Japanese artwork where it’s a busy and colorful piece with the Earth muted in the background while the cast flies out from there in their outfits and full of energy. Though it’s a bit busy, it’s a decent looking cover and it gives you a good idea of what to expect in terms of cheesy costumes. The back cover has a large shot from the show through the center with a couple of smaller shots below it that highlight the characters and monsters to be found within. The upper half has a brief summary of the premise and a listing of the discs features, extras, and episode numbers and titles. The bottom half has the usual array of production information and technical data, most of which could be laid out much better in a technical grid. The insert has another shot of the front cover with fewer logos on it while the reverse side provides chapter marks for all five episodes and a rundown by month for the two future volumes.

Menu:
Some of the worst looking menus in recent memory call this disc home. With a strange multi-colored layout of yellows, blues and oranges, and simply various shapes bouncing around on the screen, some bits of animation play underneath the logo and selections to the hyper music from the show. The submenus use various clips from the eye-catches and elsewhere but the scheme, colors, and style used here just doesn’t suit the show at all in my opinion. This is also the first disc in recent memory from Geneon where there’s no credits page so I can’t even tell who did it. The menus do load fast however and access times are good. The other plus is that it did read our players’ language presets and played accordingly.

Extras:
This volume sort of takes the cake in terms of extras. An alternate scene from episode 12 is included and a new collection of TV Commercials as well. What’s really interesting here is a bonus episode, an alternative version of episode 11 entitled “Into the Depths of Marital Hell.” This is a full-length episode that I have to wonder why it wasn’t used or what I’m messing with it being included as an alternative.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With three volumes and technically fourteen episodes, the Daichi’s was a series that ended really quickly and went apparently unnoticed by a lot of people which is a real shame. It’s a fun, quirky, and highly energetic piece with a real crude side to it at times that never failed to entertain. The series itself does come to an end at the right time as I’m unsure whether this highly dysfunctional family would be able to manage twenty-six or more episodes without driving the viewer insane.

With the four main episodes to the show, we’re treated mostly to what we’ve seen in the past volumes. A different alien arrives each episode to provide something of a challenge and the family dynamic has to come back from a near-crumble in order to deal with the threat. The threats not only get worse this time but the reactions of the family to them gets taken up several notches to the point where Shiratori has decided that it’s time to get a more stable family. The individual fights are fairly fun though, from a giant Hachiko from Shibuya who threatens the entire area to a massive plant that lands in China and soaks up the crap left from a previous attack as its nutrients. The plant also ends up becoming a sizable villain in a later episode here since the original gets destroyed but not before it spreads its pollen to the winds.

The family dynamic goes through some of its worst phases yet. With Seiko, she continues her relationship with her cameraman where it’s mostly flirtatious at most to her and generally nothing because she’s generally past him after earlier encounters. But things get taken out of context at one point where when the two of them get completely sloshed they end up crashing at a hotel in the city and it just looks bad in general. While the kids expect the worst from Seiko from what they learn of the situation, her husband instead can’t believe she’d do anything wrong and believes her firmly, which only lessens how the kids feel about him since they can’t believe he’s just so undeniably naïve.

Where the dynamic gets the worst though is between Seiko and Dai as the two have gone to such extremes over things in the past that when they make a promise this time to get together for a party and then both end up failing, it just seems like a breaking point. What’s even worse is that Dai gets sidetracked due to getting her present in order and ends up coming across her on the bridge where Seiko is once again with her cameraman and slightly tipsy. When she sees him though, instead of dealing with it she says she’s never seen the kid before and walks past him which only destroys what little he had left in himself for her. It’s a brutal scene but it sets things up for how they have to work through things in the final episode.

In Summary:
The Daichi’s has been a really fun series but even with no real conclusion to the show, it plays out in such a way that you can easily imagine this as a decent closing to a chapter of a much larger story. The show was surprising in a lot of ways from its retro style, bizarre aliens that get thrown into the mix, and the way it could be so surprisingly crude at the strangest of times. With just three volumes it’s a great little show to check out with little commitment and definitely qualifies as one of those rough gems that you come across when you aren’t looking for it.

Features:
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles

Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-

Released By: Geneon Entertainment
Release Date: May 3rd, 2005
MSRP: $29.99
Running Time: 125 minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1

Review Equipment:
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.


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