Reviewby Theron Martin, Jun 27th 2007
Hare + Guu Deluxe
Haré, Guu, and Weda have returned to the jungle from the big city for another round of wild misadventures. In Haré's absence a young substitute teacher from another village has replaced the ill Lazy, and as Haré quickly discovers, she has an intense dislike for most kids and serious issues over her lack of a relationship, issues which Haré finds himself unwittingly drawn into. Marie is also dreaming up ways to entice Haré's attention (with Guu's help, of course), while Guu introduces Haré to a couple of Goth roaches who, thanks to Guu, have taken human form. Dama is also still on the prowl, as Haré soon discovers. Even bigger developments are in store for Haré's family, however; Weda is pregnant and the Doctor is the father, which encourages the initially reluctant Doctor Clive to agree to marry her. But what will Weda's family and household staff – and especially her infatuated maid Bell – have to say about that? And is it something Haré can grow to accept?
The original Haré+ Guu TV series stood as one of the most consistently funny anime series released in North America during 2006 and early 2007, but the first volume of the first of two follow-up OVA series is more hit-or-miss. Each of the three episodes is divided into two half-length Illusions, with each possessing its own independent gag theme. Some of them are much funnier than others; the “New Character” and “Wives are Deluxe, too” Illusions in episode one fall flat as they get overwhelmed by the overblown, stylized reactions of Haré and Doctor Clive, as does the “Love Love Grandpa Berserker” Illusion in episode 3 focusing, naturally, on Dama. The series gets back to peak comedic form in between, however, with “Wait a Minute, Marie” (which features Marie both in more mature forms and in cosplay get-ups) and “The Black, Hard, Glistening, Dark, Narrow, Creature That Likes Damp Places And Is Rather Fast” (about the Goth roaches) especially being riotously funny.
For being an add-on OVA series, however, Deluxe does quickly offer major plot developments. That Weda is pregnant by the Doctor (again!) and seems likely to end up marrying him is certain to throw a whole new batch of character dynamics into the situation, but the series needed some freshening up on that front anyway. Less successful is the introduction of Miss Yumi, whose behavior is just as extreme as the stewardess's but lacks an upside; the series already has other uber-excessive characters who become uber-strong/scary when it comes to love, does it really need another one? As usual, Guu continues to delight with her sardonic wit and mischievous nature which, as per normal, gives Haré many additional opportunities to exercise his neuroses. Although Haré does occasionally get the odd serious moment, Guu's constant presence assures that it never lasts long. And rest assured that the OVAs are not ignoring the supporting cast, either, as most significant supporting characters from the TV series make at least brief appearances here.
The character designs and supporting artistry remain completely unchanged from the TV series, with new characters Miss Yumi and the roach brother/sister duo also fitting perfectly into the normal character design mode for the series. Getting to see Weda in a formal Western wedding dress is a real treat, as is the nicely age-extrapolated appearances of the older versions of Marie. The only significant artistic changes come in the graphics for the opener and closer, the former of which retains much the same look as the original opener but adds some CG effects. The closer visuals are entirely different and, this time, seem to be the original ones. Animation, while not spectacular, is good enough to support all the visual gags.
The new version of the opener uses the same tune as the original but updated lyrics, while the closer features lounge singer Haré singing in an over-dramatized style. Though a definite improvement on the closer used for the North American release, it is not particularly impressive. The rest of the soundtrack mostly just recycles musical themes used throughout the original series.
The English voice acting remains as sharp and witty as ever, with Jennifer Sekiguchi continuing to impress as the sardonic Guu and Alex Simon continuing to maintain a proper amount of manic energy for Haré. Amongst new roles, the brother/sister roaches capture just the right degree of monotone delivery to suit their characters. The English script remains a little closer to the original than before, with cases where wordplay doesn't translate well into English explained in the accompanying Translation Notes.
And like with each volume of the regular series, the Translation Notes for each Illusion can be found both on the disk and in the liner notes, the latter of which also includes the typical complementary tidbits concerning specific episode content. The key on-disc Extra is the promo video for the series, which is available subbed or dubbed. It features much less refined character designs in a collection of random scenes similar to ones scattered throughout the original series. Other Extras include clean opener and closer and company previews.
This volume may not represent Haré + Guu at its best, but the truly funny parts are good enough to balance out the lame ones. A must for fans of the original TV series.
Overall (dub) : B
Overall (sub) : B
Story : B-
Animation : B-
Art : B
Music : B
+ Strong English voice work, some Illusions are very funny.
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