Reviewby Theron Martin, Jul 19th 2007
DVD 13 - That's a Wrap
When Takeshi is taken to the hospital following his collapse on set, Sana is led to believe that it was just a dietary problem and thus he'll recover soon. In actuality he has little time left, but Misato lacks the courage to tell him or Sana the truth. When finally made aware of his mortality and his real relationship to Sana, Takeshi resolves to spend his remaining time with Sana and do the one thing he has never previously been able to accomplish: finish something that he started. The harsh reality devastates Sana despite her friends' best efforts to help her cope, leaving her in an unstable emotional state that inspires her to take some very dangerous actions. But middle school lurks ahead, and before all is said and done there's still time for a review of the romances to date.
Episodes 49-51 (the first three-episode-only volume in the whole series run) not only concludes the first season of Kodocha but also marks the end of FUNimation's original licensure of the title. At the time of this writing no announcement has been made on whether or not FUNi will pick up the second half of the series, which is probably not a good sign. As with any company, their decision to continue must be based on sales which, by some implications, have been lackluster. Although the end of episode 51 does offer a good break point, to see the American release end without the second half being picked up would be a travesty. Despite mediocre production values, Kodocha has proven to be one of the most consistently entertaining series on the market during the two years of its release, and it has also featured one of the better English dubs recorded in that same time frame. If any FUNimation rep is paying attention, consider this a heartfelt appeal to continue the series from someone who would happily keep buying it. For the true Kodocha fans out there, do what you can to promote the series by buying its DVDs and voicing your desire to see FUNi finish what they have started.
EDIT: At Otakon 2007, FUNimation confirmed during their panel that they have chosen not to pick up the second half of the series.
Continuation questions aside, the first two episodes of this volume feature the most darkly dramatic content to date. Kodocha has regularly shown a penchant for working serious and dramatic subject matter in amongst its high-spirited frivolity, but never before has it been so heavy or so dangerous. Bad things are happening here, and a sense of dread hangs over both. Unlike in previous cases, though, the storytelling too crudely forces the subplot involving Takeshi's health problems to its inevitable conclusion, resulting in content that might be touching if it wasn't so melodramatic. Episode 50 reverts more to normal form, providing a heartfelt look at Sana struggling to deal with the consequences of episode 49's ending. For all the troubles she's had before in the series, nothing put her out-of-sorts quite like this, and the way her friends rally to try to help her is endearing. Episode 51 lightens up with a semi-recap episode focusing on the relationship of Sana and Akito before wrapping up with a look ahead at the new middle school uniforms previously seen only in the intro.
The artistry and technical merits remain consistent with what has been seen in previous volumes: a flat look which lacks the glossiness seen in more recent series and offers only mediocre animation. Character designs and background art are the same as always, serving well to make the characters look distinctive, but offering nothing that will much impress anyone. The age and lower budget of the series shows, but that does not keep the content from serving its purpose. The soundtrack also continues along with the themes used throughout the series, with little or nothing that is new.
As it has throughout the series, the English dubbing offers skillful performances and writing that, while it may stray markedly from the original in places, never loses the essence of the scenes. Laura Bailey has stated that Sana is one of her favorite roles, and her love for the character shows through in almost every line; that she directs herself (while Chris Cason, the voice of Babbit, directs the rest) does not hurt.
The last few volumes have been light on Extras, but this one does offer one significant entry. English VAs Laura Bailey and Jerry Jewell (Akito) do a commentary track for the final episode, where they reminisce about doing the series, discuss their disappointment about how it has yet to be scheduled to continue, and comment on various behind-the-scenes issues in addition to generally acting silly. Only previews accompany it.
The appropriately-named (in more than one sense) “That's a Wrap” may bring the licensed Kodocha content to date to an end, but the story continues. A heavy emphasis on serious content makes this the least light-hearted volume to date, but it does still manage to work in its requisite humor.
Overall (dub) : B
Overall (sub) : B
Story : B
Animation : C+
Art : C+
Music : B
+ English dub, satisfyingly wraps up a major storyline.
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