Wandaba Style, Volume 1: Rocket to Stardom!

Mike Ferreira (Editor) — April 22nd, 2005
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Every so often, a series comes around that can only be described as "wacky." In the case of Wandaba Style, the word becomes an understatement, as one begins to wonder just what substances (or common household cleaners) the folks at WonderFarm were inhaling during the planning phase. The series brings a welcome, offbeat strangeness that only helps to further distinguish itself from other titles in the genre.

The basic premise is a deranged tale that revolves around a group of aspiring pop stars that will be sent to the moon for a lunar concert. The transportation, naturally, comes from an Eccentric Billionaire Child genius that seeks to find a method of interplanetary travel that is both efficient and eco-friendly. Did I mention that the members of the band loathe each other, and would rather argue than sing? Or that the scientist follows a measurement system that is so antiquated that it was cast away in feudal times? As odd as everything sounds, all of the elements manage to come together to form a twisted, yet hilarious show. Much of the action comes courtesy of the manager, Michael Hanagata, who looks to be the lovechild of Onizuka (of GTO fame) and Nabeshin (eccentric director extroadinaire), and serves as somewhat of an antagonist in the entire scheme of things. Viewers are hit with a barrage of sight gags, jokes, and parodies that simply refuses to let up until the final credits roll.

Meet Michael Hanagata: Genius manager, and afro for hire. Mix Juice isn't your typical group of pop singers.

Since this is a series about idol singers, one would expect a bevy of gorgeous girls. Character designer Shoji Hara succeeds admirably in delivering just that with his eye-catching interpretations of the lovely protagonists. The secondary cast proves to be just as varied, and brimming with personality. The animation is typical television quality for the most part, with fairly fluid movement by the characters. The exception to this, naturally, is Genius Manager Michael Hanagata, whose omnipresent blonde afro and garish clothes are impossible to miss. Hanagata typically receives the most attention for character animations, and seems to be more of a caricature of himself than anything else.

In some amazing stroke of luck, the musical composers at Try Force managed to run the entire gamut of possible tunes for Wandaba Style. Everything from surf guitar to hip-hop beats, and everything in-between finds a place in the soundtrack. The three vocal songs featured are all of the bouncy, peppy variety, and are performed by the four protagonists. The Japanese cast rounds up a varied cast that includes fresh faces, such as Kana Ueda (Tsukihime, Angelic Layer), as well as more experienced actors like Susumu Chiba (Banner of the Stars, Naruto). The actors interact well with each other, and really help to set the mood of the show. The English cast members really seem to have enjoyed themselves with this series, and it shows through in the final product. The actors bubble over their lines and give a surprisingly natural performance. Technically, both the English and Japanese tracks are sound, with no audible signs of dropouts, distortions, or other defects.

ADV has succeeded in crafting a package that matches Wandaba's innate eccentricity and sense of style. The cover features an eye-catching image of the major cast members as they pose in front of a space-themed background. The back of the packaging contains a brief plot summary, a listing of the disc's contents, and a series of shots from the show, as well as the requisite staff and technical listings. The menus are simple, yet attractive and set the selections alongside a piece of character art. On the extras front, viewers are greeted with a bevy of offerings aside from the clean opening and closing (which are also included). Production sketches, dubbing outtakes, "Wandaba Factoids," and commentary by the English cast for the first episode present a smorgasboard of bonus goodies. The most notable of these extras is the "Wandaba Factoids" section. The extra serves as a narrated set of liner notes for the show, and clarifies several instances of wordplay, as well as the somewhat confusing measurement system used by Dr. Tsukumo.

The first four episodes of Wandaba Style have proven to be what can be simply described as insanity, with a dash of cuteness. This reviewer eagerly awaits to see what future volumes have in store for MIX JUICE.

Distributor: ADV Films
Creator: Juzo Mutsuki/WonderFarm
Released: 2005

Video Quality: A-
Audio Quality: A
Presentation: A-
Content: A-
Overall: A-