Baki the Grappler Vol. #10 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: TV PG
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
  • MSRP: 24.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen Letterbox
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Baki the Grappler

Baki the Grappler Vol. #10

By Chris Beveridge     November 14, 2006
Release Date: November 14, 2006


Baki the Grappler Vol. #10
© FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.


What They Say
Yujiro Hanma wreaks havoc in the ring as Baki ushers in the first match of the Quarterfinals. However, both immediately encounter the unexpected. While Yujiro is caught off guard by his opponent's strength, Baki is confronted with the most difficult decision of his life.

Meanwhile, a man known as Doctor Buren is on the verge of the greatest breakthrough in the history of human strength training. His serum could give man power beyond the capabilities of any living creature... and a volunteer has just stepped up for the first trial.

Contains episodes 37-40:
Misdirection
Deception
The Ace and the Serpent
How to Build a Better Monster

The Review!
The various Block's continue to go through the motions as the fighters work hard towards the ultimate fight that they want, but similar to the previous volume interest wanes easily.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The show has a very active stereo mix to it as there is a lot of action across the screen and its designed to have the blows whooshing in all different directions. This is nicely done here and while it doesn't have quite the depth or oomph of an original 5.1 mix does, it is an active mix and serves the show well. We took in the 5.1 track briefly and that had a bit more punch to it in terms of directionality. With both languages tracks, we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2001, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1 but is not enhanced for anamorphic playback, just as the Japanese release was not. The series is fairly dark in nature with lots of night time sequences and in enclosed areas so there are a lot of shades of black and gray used throughout which are well represented and mostly maintain a solid feel. Some of the dark greens are bit shiftier but don't outright go into full macroblocking. There is a distinct amount of aliasing throughout this though; most noticeable during mid-range character shots and with some designs where the costume the character is wearing is full of tight lines. It's noticeable enough but is something that I'd wager most people really wouldn't notice. The transfer for the most part captures the look and feel of the show.

Packaging:
Using the stitching style again for most of the cover with the heavily obscured artwork underneath, the background emphasizes the dark nature of the show. The full color artwork for this piece is heavily filled with the characters that have some rather brutal fights in this volume, Baki included. The back cover uses the same kind of collage of images with the same colors underneath everything but without the stitching or the tight layering. There's a few color shots from the show scattered around and the bulk of the text covers the episode numbers and titles as well as the summary. The discs features are nice and clear and with the inclusion of a technical grid, it's extremely easy to find all the necessary information for how the release is designed. The cover does list a feature of "Episode Summaries" but nothing is included by that name in the extras section. No insert is included in this release.

Menu:
The main menu for this series is a decent static piece that features a large head shot of Baki along the left with a mean look to him while the selections are on the right underneath a series of pictures that are taped to the screen. The background is fairly hard to discern but it uses a similar style to the front cover with the murky dark green images, all of which is set to a brief piece of instrumental music. Access times are nice and fast and the layout is easy to navigate and free of any real problems. With the way FUNimation labels and works their language layout, we don't use our players' presets since they never work. Setting it up via the menu works perfectly however.

Extras:
Keeping in tone with most of the volumes in the series, this round has more of the basics such as a character profiles section and the clean songs. A series of character stills are included as well which is basically just a quiet slideshow of shots from the episodes on this disc.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With only two more volumes after this, the saving grace of this volume is that we are getting down to the nitty gritty of what's left of the fighters in the various blocks. After the previous volume of fights between characters who you have little connection with, it ended in such a way that gave hope that this volume would be a change of pace and get back to some very specific kinds of action. Unfortunately, that potential is squandered away quickly and it's back to more of the same.

After a series of brutal but mildly interesting fight scenes, everything changed when Yujiro decided to throw himself into the ring and went to take on all of the remaining fighters at once. A battle royale of sorts that would have been immensely enjoyable to watch. But such things do not go with Tokugawa's plans for the tournament and he's got some sharp eyed sharpshooters with nets out in the audience that quickly take down the Ogre. And he's taken down just a bit too easily considering some of the things we've seen him go through before. If it was this easy to take him down, it's hard to imagine that he'd actually have gotten along as well as he has in the open world up until now. There's honor among fighters but surely there's someone who simply wants vengeance.

When that gets out of the way, we get to take the whirlwind tour through the three block's of fighters once more to go through another round. Baki thankfully gets to fight a bit and his somewhat humanistic nature gets the better of him. Where the problem lays in the fights in this volume is that through the last episode when they head back to Block C is that we're familiar with all of these fighters now. While new moves are introduced and their origins are still being explained away somewhat along with their motivations, there really aren't any new surprises. It's simply a different series of match-ups as their numbers get whittled away.

The last fight on the disc, which will carry into the next volume, is the only one that actually seems to be spending a decent amount of time on one of their backgrounds. Some have had mild explanations and a few flashbacks, but the background for Jack Hammer seems to be going a bit deeper. With it being told by the scientist who augmented Jack's body, it becomes yet another back story that helps to take the show a bit more out of the reality that it's built for itself. Jack's not a bad character in that we do see that regardless of how he was physically that he pushed himself hard. His augmentation takes away from some of that though and makes him fairly different from most of the other fighters that have just worked their bodies as hard as they could. While some of them are gifted in certain ways or use their minds to give them the edge, Jack feels more out of place now knowing his origin.

In Summary:
When all is said and done, it's a real stretch to have much of anything to say about this volume. Even when you get the back story for various fighters, there just isn't as strong a connection to them as you have with the primary people like Orochi, Baki or Yujiro. Even Tokugawa is more fun to watch than some of these fighters. These sets are the kind of fights that other shows do in passing or in very short clips rather than devoting as much as they have here. If you just want to see some brutal fights and watch that play out, this will satisfy that need. If you want that and a bit more, it looks like we'll be waiting till the next volume for it.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Character Profiles,Textless Songs Still Gallery

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic DMP-BD10 Blu-ray player via HDMI -> DVI with upconversion set to 1080i, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

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sharronpaula 5/2/2012 4:40:54 PM

Great review. Thumbs up.

1 

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