Reviewby Theron Martin, Mar 15th 2007
Marie dreams of experiencing snow, something which Haré also knows nothing about, and with Guu around even a freak snowstorm in a jungle is possible. The incident inspires Weda to return to her home in the city and take Haré, Guu, Bell, and Ashio with her. The whole village gives them a warm send-off, but the plane trip is a stressful one for Haré, especially once Guu starts popping up as a stewardess and pilot. Once there Haré meets Robert, a bodyguard loyal to Bell who's more than a bit paranoid and trigger-happy, traits which Guu mercilessly eggs on. Although Weda proves that she can act refined when she wants to, Haré seeks a way to prove that she has respectable traits so that she will get along better with Robert, and he and Guu accidentally walking into the middle of a bank robbery led by a game-obsessed bandit may be just the ticket.
The hijinks continue as the plot (if it can be called that) of the series advances by shifting the setting from the natural jungle to the concrete jungle. Perhaps it and the snowstorm story were done because the writers were running thin on jungle-feasible material, but whatever the reason the switch offers up a new recurring character as well as fresh opportunities for Guu-based mischief and Haré-based spaz attacks. Or, in other words, business as usual.
Haré+Guu was widely-regarded as one of the funniest anime series of 2006, and its sixth volume only further supports such praise. Haré's neurotic behavior frequently walks the line between comedy and annoyance – this is a kid who has extensive therapy in his future – but it is still entertaining to watch him cope with all the weird situations Guu puts him in and deal with the ongoing joke that no one else seems to find Guu that unusual. Guu amply does her part as Haré's foil and set-up woman, with that delightfully sardonic smile always signaling that trouble's a-comin'. Most of the time it's hard to tell whether her actions are intended to torment or ultimately help Haré, and often one gets the sense that both are true. The change of setting does not affect that dynamic at all.
Amongst supporting characters, newcomer Robert's own neurosis offers great promise as a manipulative for Guu, while Bell and Ashio blend into the background. The video game-obsessed bandit's constant game references fall short of being reliably funny, but it is one of the few humor failings in the volume. Though not seen at all past the early stages of episode 21, most of the villagers use their brief appearances effectively, especially in the farewell song sung to the departing Haré and Weda. Mysteriously absent for most of the volume is the doctor, although previews for the next volume suggest that we haven't seen the last of him.
As usual, episodes 20-23 offer a few parodies, although not any moreso than at any other time during the series. More noteworthy is one exchange in episode 21, where Weda is teasing Haré at the airport by insisting that the airlines make you take off your shoes before getting on the plane. Though intended to be a joke aimed at the Japanese tradition of always taking one's shoes off before progressing into a house, it becomes unintentionally ironic in light of post-9/11 airline security precautions which have required exactly that. (The episode originally aired in August of 2001, well before such precautions were put into place.)
While it has never been a top-quality series artistically, neither do these episodes suffer for it. The pattern of bright, colorful, and distinctive background and character art continues, with animation plenty smooth enough to handle all of the visual gags. It entirely lacks fancy CG effects, but that also keeps the series from dating itself; the series does not look like it's already almost six years old, and probably won't show its age much more six years from now. Its capable musical score remains constant, with themes changing little even after the setting transition. The opener also remains unchanged, although the closer (which is supposedly not the original closer) has been updated a little bit by the end of the volume if one watches carefully.
The English release of Haré+Guu has always been blessed with a terrific English dub by Bang Zoom, and after hearing this volume one may gain new respect for the job Alex Simon is doing as Haré. Maintaining that level of anxiety and panic certainly can't be easy, but Alex does a splendid job, while Jennifer Sekiguchi continues to remind people why her performance as Guu was widely-considered to be one of the best comedy performances of 2006. The rest of the cast also delivers capable performances, especially on the surprisingly good English version of the farewell song. The English script sticks remarkably close to the original for a comedy series, which occasionally proves to be a detriment when a joke doesn't carry through the translation well.
The Extras offered by AN Entertainment have changed little since the first volume. The liner notes still include translation notes and other assorted minor tidbits, while those same liner notes can also be found on the DVD. Other Extras include the standard clean opener and closers, a limited Production Art Gallery, and English dub outtakes (the blooper real, not the alternate dialogue stuff).
Sustaining a heavy dose of comedy over 20+ episodes is not an easy task, but Haré+Guu has proven plenty capable. The jokes and fun just keep rolling on despite the change of venue.
Overall (dub) : B+
Overall (sub) : B+
Story : B+
Animation : B
Art : B
Music : B+
+ Consistently funny, strong English dub.
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