Mike wonders aloud which anime would be a good fit for the prestigious Criterion Collection.
Reviewby Bamboo Dong, May 27th 2003
Colorful! is a toast to all the men who have ever loved panties, a celebration to all those who have lolled in the thought of licentious activities, an exploration into the gutter that almost everyone has dipped their mind into at least once. A collection of over fifty vignettes from the Japanese variety show Wonderful (a la Saturday Night Live's TV Funhouse), Colorful is a fun and surprisingly refreshing comedy that explores the sketchy humor of raunchy, border-line fetish animation. Released by ADV Films, it's a one of a kind title that will be sure to find a fond place in the hearts of some fans, and just entertain others.
To make the title even more attractive, ADV has thrown in quite a bit of interesting extras to give that added purchasing incentive. Amongst these is a compilation of English voice actor bios, an amusing bit that jokes around with the actors, fabricating parts of their lives and explaining them later. There's also the requisite textless opening and an ADV trailer, but the extra that really takes the cake is something called Colorful: Exposed! It lasts for just under half an hour and follows the staff and cast members around in a “Behind the Scenes” type look at the making of the show. From the initial skepticism at a show about panties, to recording sessions, to outtakes, to crew members getting massive play—everything is exposed in one of the funniest extras ADV has dished out so far. Of course, it's all a ruse (we all know that even the biggest names in the anime industry don't get that much play), but that's what makes it so wonderful. It really gives viewers a chance to meet the actors outside an anime setting, a closeness and familiarity which makes the viewing experience all the more interesting. To top everything off, ADV has packaged the DVD in a reversible cover, proving that life (and the panties that adorn it) never comes in just black and white. Featuring three colors of panties to choose from, fans can choose their favorite pair and display it proudly atop their anime shelves. Truly, this is one DVD that deserves a place in someone's collection.
As interesting and amusing as the vignettes are, it must be admitted that Colorful is not something that would appeal to everyone. Targeting a rather niche market, to anyone else, the contents of the disc could be described as anything ranging from stupid to just plain perverted. For the people that would enjoy such random humor, however, Colorful is a real gem. With a spackling of random fetishes and perverted thoughts infused with a shot of testosterone, there's a lot more to the show than just panties. Ultimately, it's a portrayal of some of the sketchier aspects of human society, showing mankind's fascination with sex and how it affects its views and the people within it. Within the episodes are several arcs, such as one with an American film student named Steve who has decided to make his thesis project on what he fondly terms “the upside-down Mt. Fuji,” AKA the snow-white panties reflected in bodies of water. There is also an arc about a high school coach who lusts after a girl named Yamamoto, an athletic girl in the prime of her youth. With the sheer volume of panty shots and cleavage close-ups, Colorful hits the mark where it no longer seems like fanservice. It's just a blatant expose of humanity and the sex-starved people that dot the population.
With approximately twenty-five segments on one disc, it's surprising that there is still room for opening themes. In such cases, owning a DVD player is a blessing; even though the opening is an energetic and enthusiasm-filled number, it gets tedious watching it twenty-plus times in two hours. Punctuating the shorts are also random eye catches and splash sequences that would be hard to classify as music, or anything else for that matter. Amongst the highlights include comical helium-filled voices that chirp a series of chorused “Colorful, colorful, colorful!” as well as sounds that could only be described as somewhat musical orgasmic moaning, squeaky chattering, and the kinds of sounds that everyone's male friends have made at some point in their lives pretending that their genitals can speak. It's a shame only that none of the chattering is translated, as it'd be interesting to see what the voices are muttering about. As far as the music in the series goes, it's standard fare, with cheesy music here and there to enhance the scenes. The emphasis lies mainly in the sound effects, which do their part nicely in heightening the comedic aspects of the show.
As for the sound goes, though, it's imperative to point out the Japanese and English dialogue tracks, both of which were done exceptionally well. The Japanese cast takes the personas of the characters and truly brings them to life, milking every stereotype that they can, from the desperate college student to the ditzy, pop culture obsessed schoolgirl. Following right on their heels is the commendable English cast, whose voices give just as much life to the characters as the original cast. As far as the actual translating goes, ADV takes a step that is not uncommon for them in completely changing the original script. The lines of both scripts have virtually nothing in common with each other and it seems as if the writers at ADV took the scenes and wrote in whatever lines they thought would be the funniest. Surprisingly, this works. Even with the knowledge that the English lines have nothing to do with the original, they're still absolutely hysterical, more so than the original at times. Interestingly, there's a lot of swearing in the dub, whereas there's virtually none in the Japanese version. This might take some viewers by surprise, as certain curse words, like the infamous f***, are rarely seen in anime dubs at such a high volume and frequency. Of course, the novelty of such may enhance the humor of the series for some people, much like the first time in high school when students first hear their teachers curse. With such different scripts in the series, both equally well written, this is one of those shows that must be watched at least twice, one on each language track.
Another surprisingly well done part of the series is the art, especially the women. Each individual woman is given her own unique features and is carefully drawn with especial attention to her facial expressions and her hair style. Following the latest trends in fashion, the character designer seems to have painstakingly recreated every hair on each woman's head, and the end product is truly visually stunning. In addition, the detailed art even went as far as to give each background face in every crowd its own appearance, complete with facial expressions and definitive style. To top everything off, the characters were animated fluidly, making Colorful one of the most aesthetically pleasing one-volume releases released this year.
The actual content of Colorful may turn some viewers off with its infatuation with lingerie, sex, and borderline stupidity, but for the people who find amusement in such things, it's a real treasure. Focusing more on human reactions to sex than the actual act itself, Colorful gives viewers a glimpse into the minds of the people around them, tracing their hopes and disappointments and the way it relates to sex. If such shows are your cup of tea then you will undoubtedly love it. From funny one-liners to beautifully drawn lace panties and everything in between, this is something you'll want to see over and over again.
Overall (dub) : A-
Overall (sub) : A-
Story : B-
Animation : B+
Art : A
Music : C+
+ Hysterical script for both languages
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