Reviewby Carl Kimlinger, Apr 11th 2007
So what happens when you transplant Hare and Guu to the city? What else could it be but total chaos? The two, along with their inconveniently homicidal bodyguard, tail Weda when she goes on a date with a visiting Dr. Clive, with predictably messy results (though Hare does make a convincing girl). Later, a bored Hare stupidly agrees to a game of tag with Guu, who promptly goes about reminding the hapless fellow of the fact that she's a bona fide monster. The unfortunate incident has the happy side-effect of introducing Hare to a nice elderly woman who also happens to be his grandmother. As it turns out, both Weda and her mother cart about some serious emotional baggage born from the circumstances surrounding Weda's departure. Can Hare help? Will Guu let him?
If there is one thing that can be said for Haré+Guu, it's that it knows the importance of keeping things fresh. Throughout the series' television run, whenever things got a little too comfortable, new characters or situations would fly in from left field and alter the cast's dynamic enough to keep things from ever getting stagnant. Last volume blindsided viewers with an entirely new setting, a move that initially seemed a mistake—removing Hare and company from the jungle accentuated the extremity of their personalities, with unflattering results—yet, as befits a series whose writing has always been a little better than its "wacky comedy" tone would indicate, the move ultimately proves a smart one.
Each of these three is built around a central comic conceit which the writers take and run with—Hare following his mother on a date with Dr. Clive in episode 24, a game of tag with Guu in episode 25, and the conflict between Hare's desire to go home and his desire to help his mom in episode 26. The difference is that, woven in between the jokes, craziness, and Guu-mayhem, is Weda's attempt to reconcile herself with the circumstances of her departure from the civilized world. The results are sometimes surprisingly affecting, as with Hare's genuinely childlike confusion when his attempts to reunite his mother and grandmother don't work as intended. Unfortunately some of the serious passages periodically feel like unnecessary lulls between the all-important laughs. It doesn't help that Weda is far and away the series' least sympathetic character. Fortunately, the show also has enough sense to retain successful elements, no matter how regularly they are used. Which is another way of saying that Guu is always on hand to screw things up, ensuring that no serious development is safe from her hilarious crisis-inciting machinations. And of course every episode is simply rife with belly-laugh sight gags, often stemming from Hare's overreactions to Guu's harassment.
Many of the sight gags (e.g. Hare running away from Guu, only to be followed and retrieved by her ever-extending arm) stand out for the care given over to animating them, as—like may comedies—Haré+Guu is often more concerned with maintaining its energy and cramming as many gags into as small a span of time as possible than with impressive technique. Any qualms one has about the moments of outright cheapness, however, are ultimately outweighed by those animation choices that are dead on, such as the lazy, inhuman way that Guu moves, Hare's panicked dashes, or the aforementioned sight gags. Nevertheless, some technical decisions will rankle with the more obsessively minded (like myself), especially characters' unnaturally still faces and massive overbites (sure, some people put a premium on keeping a stiff upper lip, but there's such a thing as taking it too far). Children's faces, especially Hare's round cuteness and Guu's oversimplified deadpanning, easily surpass the sometimes awkward adult designs in appeal and appropriateness. Backgrounds are sufficient to their purpose and little more, which is all they need to be as they are inevitably subordinated to the antics of the people occupying them; although the layered paper-backdrop appearance of the jungle is sometimes distracting.
The best way to describe the scoring is "simple." The music tends towards single-instrument pieces, and is used most prominently in serious scenes. The humor is thankfully left to carry itself with its own energy, without intrusive (or any) support from the soundtrack. Other than its surprising restraint (and outside of the maniacally upbeat tropical-flavored pop of the opening theme) there is very little remarkable about the musical choices made by the show.
AN Entertainment and Bang Zoom! have outdone themselves with this production, which has to be one of the smoothest, most natural dubs to be this faithful. Usually extreme faithfulness to the subtitle script spells certain doom for things like flow, delivery and comic timing (nothing like an unnatural pause to upset the timing of a joke), yet somehow Haré+Guu manages to perfectly balance accuracy and dub quality. Casting and acting are also accurate and of superior quality; the English rendition of Guu is so pitch-perfect as to be eerie. If one really wants to stretch for some criticism, then perhaps Dr. Clive just doesn't sound perverted enough (how's that for petty?).
Everyone's favorite staple extras, such as textless opening and closing (which keeps pace with the subtly changing end sequence) and trailers are supplemented by an on-disc version of the translation notes and English outtakes (actors flubbing lines, not humorous alternate dialogue).
This volume does, for those unaware, mark the end of Haré+Guu's television run. There are still the Haré+Guu Deluxe OAV's to come, so never fear (and don't sweat the abrupt cutoff at the end). Being the climactic volume and all, these three episodes are a little (emphasis on the "little") less hectic and little more sober than those that precede them, but no less funny. It's a fitting send-off for of one of last year's better comedies.
Overall (dub) : B+
Overall (sub) : B+
Story : B
Animation : B-
Art : C+
Music : B-
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