Paniponi Dash is a weird comedy series. It follows in the footsteps of shows like Excel Saga and Super Milk-Chan, alternating between hilarious and bizarre. Sometimes within a single scene. It also borrows heavily from Azumanga Daioh, as its main characters are a wacky teacher and 6 high school girls. The premise- Rebecca Miyamoto is a brilliant MIT grad (with an American father and Japanese mother) who has returned to Japan to be a teacher. Except that she's 10 years old. Obviously, this setup raises a lot of questions that you shouldn't bother asking. No, really, don't worry about why she's a teacher when she graduated from an engineering school or whom she lives with or where her parents are, because the show isn't concerned with details like that. It's just here for the comedy and the weirdness.
The first episode spends most of its time wondering where Ms. Miyamoto is. The students in the classroom are bored and speculating all about her, while Rebecca is late and busy getting lost. She and her pet talking bunny, the perpetually sad Mesousa, are stuck in a national forest, where they come upon a vending machine. The vending machine is full of warm drinks, which confuses them until the machine opens up while Rebecca's back is turned. Inside is a human-sized, very simply drawn cat who offers Mesousa some more drinks that have been warmed by his body heat. Mesousa freaks out. The cat also claims to be God and continually pops up in vending machines and elsewhere to torment Mesousa as the show goes on. Finally, Rebecca arrives at school, only to find out that the students have decided to call her "Becky." And then they reduce her to tears and she has to go hide behind the window drapes. This happens a lot in the series, and the rest of the characters constantly have to figure out how to coax her out..
The bulk of the first volume takes place in the school. The second episode is mostly about Becky's refusal to learn her students names, which leads to her nicknaming the kids of the main cast (the rest of the students in the class all look exactly the same, they don't move, and their colors are washed out compared to everything else in the show). But she names one of them "Boring Girl" because of her lack of distinguishing features, and has to spend the rest of the episode trying to get her from sulking in a corner. And on it goes. There's also a camping episode and a slumber party/hot springs episode in this volume, both of which are hugely fun.
This show is really a blast. There are a lot of non-sequiturs, as the chalkboard in the classroom is constantly changing and filled with weird statements, and lots of random stuff appears in the background and other places on the screen where the action isn't happening. ADV is helpfully included a fully loaded Vid-Notes feature on this, which helped a lot with their last two reference-laden, wacky animes- Excel Saga and Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi. So a lot of the stuff that just seemed bizarre the first time around would be explained when seen a second time with the pop-up Vid-Notes turned on. I particularly liked the scene-changing Behoimi wipe, a quick picture of a magical girl in full costume that has nothing to do with the show itself. Except that Magical Girl Behoimi is a student in the classroom next door.
The dubbing is really well done. I'm sure purists will be put off by the colloquial American the girls speak, but I think it works for the tone of this show. Hilary Haag brings her high-pitched voice to the role of Becky, and does a pretty good job. Except that she sounds almost exactly like Tara Strong's Toot Braunstein character on Comedy Central's Drawn Together. That bugged me until I figured out the resemblance somewhere around the 4th episode. Anyway, this looks like it will be a very fun show, and I recommend it to fans of wigged-out anime. It might be a little extreme if you aren't as familiar with anime in general, but that's why ADV's Vid-Notes feature is so helpful.