Judge Brett Cullum spent three hours on the internet trying to get pictures of "wandaba" in his size before he gave up and just went with the Old Navy cargo pants.
To the moon…or bust!
Wandaba Style Vol. 2: Warp Speed is the middle installment of a trilogy of volumes from ADV. Typically, the second chapter of any three part anime series is the weakest, and this release stays true to that old adage. In the first volume we met the girls of Mix Juice, and were introduced to the wacky scheme to make them the first pop band to sing on the moon. In the next edition of the series we will see if they make it, and get a worthy climax. In this batch of episodes? We get some intrigue, and feel like everything's just simmering, waiting to blast off into giddy highs. There's a certain level of irony in calling this volume "Warp Speed" when it's anything but fast-paced.
Even the plot takes a breather here. The first show is all about the girls getting a much-needed rest after their trial runs into the stratosphere. Sassy Sakaura, rocker Yuri, traditional Himawari, and earthy Ayame ride thrill rides in an amusement park and discover it's not as exciting as space exploration. In the next installment, the girls use Dr. Tsukomo's time machine to glimpse the future, then head back to the past to see the origins of the boy billionaire genius's desire to get to the moon. Mix Juice's manager, Michael Hanagata, gets involved in a shady scheme that seems rotten even for a music mogul. The shows belong to him this round, and we see more of his character's true colors (many of them pretty dark). And it all wraps up on a somber note when we realize how easily the girls are seduced by "the power of the Dark Side."
Wandaba Style is a goofy "manic" comedy series many hardcore action anime fans will scoff at. The comedy is sometimes a little too "Japanese," and jokes are often punctuated with screams and arm-waving (as if that's ever funny when repeated ad nauseum). The girls all have big eyes and bigger boobs, and somehow their clothes spontaneously come off throughout the series. It's not terribly impressive with its art. You see a lot of still shots and recycled sequences—the mark of a show cutting corners in its animation budget. It often quickly transitions from normal looking animation to what looks like the work of a pissed-off second grader (it's a style—one I personally aspire to often). This is not Robotech, or even Devil Lady; it's a good-natured lark you have to be in the right mood for. Think more Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi and less "anything serious." You have to be willing to go along for the ride. Wandaba Style Vol. 2 : Warp Speed is not as funny as the first collection, but I doubt that was ever the intention. To amp up the story they needed these episodes to add some gravitas to the proceedings. Previously we had no sense of urgency other than making Mix Juice popular. These shows illustrate why the mission is so important and give us a new villain for the piece. Look at them as the "the plot thickens" portion of the series, and you'll be fine.
I find it charming, mainly due to the good ADR cast ADV has assembled for the project. Jason Douglas voices Hanagata, and does an excellent job. It's no surprise the disc's most substantial extra is a commentary with the actor and his director, John Swasey. Rather than simply echoing the Japanese performance, he creates a nice new take on the role that is distinctively American. It's boisterous, loud, and funny. He's bringing something unique to the table the reserved Japanese cast would hardly consider. He's the funniest thing in Wandaba Style Vol. 2: Warp Speed, and his performance saves the series from its sophomore slump. The girls of Mix Juice in the English version are less annoying than their Japanese counterparts—Wandaba Style is one of the rare series where I prefer the English track. It's a high compliment to ADV, because they seem to have a passion for making their ADR work stand out among their peers.
ADV skimps a little on the extras with this middle volume. The first collection featured some really funny outtakes and a lot of spunky extras to match the show's energy. Here we get one commentary, a standard portfolio of production sketches, and clean opening and closing credits. Kind of middling when you think about it. The transfers are standard ADV quality. Vibrant colors that pop well, and a robust English 5.1 surround track paired with a dainty Japanese stereo one. Standard and safe all the way around.
Wandaba Style Vol. 2: Warp Speed is worthy of at least a rental if you like silly, fun anime. It's a nice parody of many shows, and there's certainly a lot to take in as the plot actually takes form. It's also worth a look to see why ADV is becoming such a major player on the anime scene. They assemble good casts to perform excellent adaptations of Japanese scripts. That's certainly no small feat in an industry where product is often rushed and substandard. This release seems a little skimpy on the extras, but it demonstrates nicely the power of a good voice cast in elevating the material. Will the girls make it to the moon? We won't know until Volume 3.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: ADV Films
• Commentary with ADR Actor Jason Douglas and Director John Swasey
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