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"Kodocha" Vol. 2 Cranks Up the Drama

The title of this volume, “Hayama Hijinks,” would have you believe it was as completely crazy as the first volume. In fact, while it’s still very funny, the drama is kicked up a notch and the heartfelt moments are out in force this time.

Child TV star Sana Kurata, armed with an embarrassing photo, has Akito the “Boss Monkey” right where she wants him – tamed. But Sana finds that ruining Akito’s life isn’t as much fun as she thought it would be, especially when the boy breaks down and asks her to kill him. Naturally Sana imagines all the different possibilities to hilarious (and age-appropriate) effect. A visit to Akito’s house and a talk with his best friend Tsuyoshi sheds light on Akito’s problem, and Sana, crafty as always, devises a made-for-TV movie that she hopes will solve the boy’s family issues. Fans of Sana’s agent and “pimp,” Rei, take note. This volume also reveals his origins and how he met Sana, one of my favorite scenes. Finally, a new character and co-star in Sana’s movie, Asako Kurumi, appears. Strangely, she’s never around at the same time as Rei.

Only seven episodes into the show and I’m already on the edge of my seat. That shows the strength of characters and relationships in Kodocha. Though likeable, Akito was more annoying in the first volume, but here his character and that of his mean sister are more sympathetic. Sana is a lot like the reverse of Tohru Honda from Fruits Basket, another Akitaroh Daichi production. While they are both extremely kind and mean well, Sana is quite capable of extortion, public humiliation, and other acts of mischief if her enemies deserve it. The fact that Laura Bailey plays both characters wonderfully in the English dub also brings out their similarities.

The DVD extras are standard fare, but there are a few things to keep people interested. One of these is a dub audio commentary, containing a funny and interesting chat between John Burgmeier and Luci Christian, Rei and Asako’s actors respectively. Good stuff for dub fans. There’s also an oddly entertaining CGI animated short of another series.

Kodocha volume 2 skews more to the dramatic than its predecessor, but that’s not to say it isn’t funny. I don’t usually laugh out loud at anime, but I still found myself giggling a few times, especially in Rei’s rap scene. To top that off, the drama is damn near perfect, making the trade-off more than fair. With the plot in full swing, I’ve set my clock and begun the countdown to Volume 3. I suggest everyone else do the same.

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