When a theme song begins with “かわいいなんてそんなこと言っちゃだめです” (“You mustn’t call us cute”), you know you’re in for something cute.
I had already read the first four chapters of the manga prior to watching this episode, and while they were entertaining little reads, the humor escaped me. The anime has been the complete opposite, with even minor things (such as Nobue’s saying the dog is “a tiger”) getting a chuckle or laugh from me. For the part about Satake, I think it’s the way Nobue says “。。。とら です” (“…he’s a tiger”), as well as the timing, which makes it funny. The line could have been spoken and timed to be completely flat and devoid of humor. The English version would be an example of this. It might not have been flat, but the line is spoken in a completely different way.
Rather than keeping Nobue as 16, she’s been upped to 20. This is probably to keep her drinking and smoking habits within a legal age limit (although I don’t know Japanese laws regarding these). If there’s anything to counter a series trying to be cute, it’s putting in cigarettes. Maybe they won’t go overboard with it, though. Pocky, on the other hand, is fine. Personally, I don’t care for strawberry, but I suppose Nobue eating any other flavor would be sacrilege for this series. Someone please let me know when JBox decides to get mint pocky in (maybe I can write them and request adding it to their stock on a trial basis?)
Miu doesn’t seem to be an evil person as she is in the manga, so that may be a good thing. She isn’t nice to Matsuri at one point, but the rivalry from the manga doesn’t seem to be there. Maybe it will show up later? Also, it looks like there’s going to be a running gag with Miu face-down on the ground. I’m not sure if she just likes a face-to-face with the floor, or if Nobue gets a little violent and throws her down. With these two, I can see it as being either way.
I imagine the “chapter 0″ in the first volume of the manga was made after this episode, as it uses the character designs seen in the episode, as opposed to the rather generic, less recognizable designs used in chapter one. The comic gets extra points for Nobue using her cigarette money to buy the pudding for Matsuri. Can it be that this is a manga chapter based off of part of an anime episode where the secondary material is better than the original? Seeing as the anime itself is based off of the manga, it’s only natural for the manga writer(s) to have a better feel for the characters and where to take them in a story. I don’t know what kind of input BARASUI may have had for the anime.
The different faces Miu makes shows she’ll be the physical comedy character (not that the face-plants didn’t already suggest this). If she’s the physical comedy one, and Chika’s the ordinary one, with Matsuri the innocent one, and Nobue the older sister one, I wonder where this leaves Ana. Maybe she’ll be the out-of-place foreigner, not unlike Momoko in Ojamajo Doremi.
Chika’s Japanese voice reminds me a little of the voice of Nanae Katou (Duck, Princess Tutu; Mustard, Magical Play). It’s a little brash, and fits as an “ordinary girl” voice. I’m not familiar with any other roles for Chika’s voice actress, Saeko Chiba, although I do have Nanaka 6/17 on my to-watch list.
I only know of Ayako Kawasumi’s work as the Japanese voice for Elmina in Petite Princess Yucie, so it’s nice to hear her in another role. Matsuri’s character is different from Elmina (and slightly more like Cocoloo from Petite Princess Yucie), so the voice acting is different. Both of Kawasumi’s voicings fit the character she played for, a true talent.
I must admit, English Miu’s voice sounds a lot better in this episode than it did in episode 0. The voice is very acceptable compared to what I heard from her before. I’m not sure about the English characters’ pronunciation of “Matsuri”, though. It sounds like they’re trying to pronounce it with an accent on the “r”, and they fail miserably to capture a proper pronunciation of Matsuri’s name.
At one point, Chika questions Matsuri being dimwitted and accuses Miu as being stupid. Considering the flashback from when the two turned in the same answers for their homework, I’m sure the Miu part is right. Matsuri on the other hand, we’ll say she’s naïve, simple, innocent, inexperienced in life. Unless Ana’s something special, I’m expecting Matsuri to be my favorite this series. It’ll be the first in a while that her type would be my favorite, as my favorite in Petite Princess Yucie went to Cube and Glenda rather than Cocoloo, and my favorite in Ojamajo Doremi went to Aiko rather than Hazuki, both situations being not what I expected. By type, that would be the shy, quite, naïve, bookworm, short hair, glasses type (or any combination thereof).
The word Chika uses for Miu is “aho” (idiot, fool). As I’ve been watching Korean animations lately, I’m a bit rusty on what a Kansai accent sounds like, but I’m assuming Chika doesn’t speak with one. While “aho” is from the Kansai dialect, it is used commonly in other parts of Japan. I think it just stuck out when I heard it because Aiko in Ojamajo Doremi said it a lot (with that thick Kansai accent of hers). Come to think of it, when Miu hops onto Chika’s bed after their meal, Chika does do that thing with her arm that’s stereotypical of Osakans…
I didn’t pay attention to whether any chan’s made it into the subtitles, but Miu’s ちぃちゃん！ ちぃ〜ちゃん did make it into the subtitles as “Chi-chan!” and “Chi~~chan.”
The park scene gives a better showing of the girls’ outfits. Chika’s sweater is a hooded sweater with a large, single pocket in the front, which happens to be my favorite style of sweater.
Nobue looks extra happy when carrying an armful of cans of beer to her room. Does she really drink that much in one night? They didn’t quite catch the super-cute face her manga counterpart had in a similar situation early in the manga. Either way, when it comes to taking screenshots for the collage each episode, I plan to not include any with a cigarette or cans of beer. I might be a little lenient on the latter, but not on the former. It seems (at least for the time being), we’re to accept that Nobue and Chika live alone, with Nobue able to look after her sister and cover the costs of living in their home.
Overall, I’m pleased with the English dub. It’s well cast, well voiced, with only minor nitpicks which wouldn’t be picked up by someone who only watches anime dubbed. I can’t wait to see how they handle Ana’s completely knowing Japanese and knowing little English, both in the manga and the anime.
As a closing thought, I’m amazed at how much they fit into one episode. Maybe it’s because of a lot of the randomness, but between introducing the characters, Nobue’s efforts to get some money, the scene at the park, then everything revolving around making the gift, the episode felt a lot longer than 20 or so minutes.