Ranma 1/2: Random Rhapsody Vol. #3 (of 8) (Mania.com)

Review Date: Tuesday, August 21, 2001
Release Date: Tuesday, August 21, 2001



What They Say
"Watermelon Beach" - The residents of the Tendo Dojo take a family vacation to a local beach, only to find Kuno washed up on the shore wearing a watermelon on his head. Even more confusing, Kuno seems to have lost his memory and gained incredible skill, making him possibly more powerful than Ranma! The answers lie on a deserted isle called Watermelon Island.

The Review!
Not the most exciting moments in Ranma history, these episodes are still somewhat amusing. At three on a disk, though, they may be a bit overpriced.

Audio:
Surprisingly, this disk sounded pretty good. I kept getting flashbacks to other shows every time Megumi Hayashibara came on as girl-type Ranma, but that's her fault for being good ^_^. In general, the sound filled the room nicely, for a comedy, and the depth and directionality were quite satisfactory.

The dub also made me smile, though in different places. Some of the jokes were changed or moved, so I found the dub experience to be slightly different from the original one, but the voice actors knew their characters (not that this seems like it would be too hard), and the timing and such technical details came out just right. Thumbs-up!

Video:
This disk had bright colors, but rainbows surrounded the characters almost any time the background was lighter than they were. Other than that, I noticed few problems, but these episodes mostly lacked dark backgrounds, so that may be the reason. In general, the animation in Ranma matches the content: bright, repetitive, and funny.

Packaging:
The front cover is girl-type Ranma in a watermelon bathing suit. I don't have to tell you this scene never occurs in the actual episode. The back features a washed-out Kuno and Watermelon Island, along with screen shots from the three episodes. It's a little busy and hard to read some of the huge quantity of text. The insert has the same shot of Ranma on one side and of Kuno on the other, with more scenes from the series and the chapter listings. Finally, the disk is blue, with Ranma from the front cover and Kuno from the back, and the logo in silver at the top. The disk was definitely the nice part of this package.

A side note: yet another pet peeve of mine is a lack of volume numbers on disks. Yes, I do know people who have watched a series out of order because they didn't know which disk came first! Is this so hard to fix? With such late series Ranma, where the plot doesn't exactly progress so much as hop around episodically, there's no real way to tell just by reading the back.

Menus:
The main menu features girl-type Ranma from the package cover. The setup and scene access menu backgrounds had montages of episode scenes, and each chapter had a button made from a scene in that chapter. Moose and his chicken form made the language setup clearer. In all, this was pretty basic, though a little livelier than some menus.

Extras:
There were no extras, unless you count DVD credits.

Content:
It has been said, even by me, that Ranma is a one-trick series. Well, that's not exactly true. It's more like a one- or two-trick per character series. The first episode on this disk basically unveiled them all at once in a way that would have been funnier in earlier seasons.

Through another of his Kasumi-blinded moments, Tofu-sensei found himself taking the entire Tendo family to the amusement park. The focus of this episode was to get everyone in go-carts and watch their natural personalities emerge. Since we've seen their natural personalities before, it was worth only a mild chuckle, except when Ryouga... well, watch the episode. While everyone else behaved inappropriately as usual, Akane worried about poor Tofu-sensei never getting a chance to be alone with Kasumi. In her own strange way, Nabiki also seemed to worry, and I found that part somewhat touching.

The second episode presented a masked man who was chasing all the girls in Akane's school and scaring them with bugs and reptiles. Rumors spread fast and furious after the girls realized that the masked man has a pigtail. Akane almost had a crisis of faith, but seriousness was quickly thwarted by her memories of Ranma's previous bad behavior. There followed a predictable ending that certainly had its entertaining moments, but this episode really failed to grab me.

The watermelon beach episode came last. Akane and Ranma had just started one of those quietly romantic scenes that happens once in a blue moon, when Kuno washed up on the beach with a watermelon on his head and no memory. In the process of trying to help his enemy remember himself, Ranma became convinced that Kuno injured his mind while training to beat Ranma. The way Ranma's pretensions were deflated and the way he found himself trapped in girl-type form at all the wrong times were classic for this series, and I laughed in spite of myself.

In all, the first and third episodes are worth watching, while the middle one was only mildly funny. But at full price for only 3 episodes, you would need to be a fan to pick this one up, unless you've never seen the jokes before at all.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
25" Samsung Stereo TV, code-free Pioneer 333, Sony STR-SE391 receiver, Sony speakers, and the cables that came with the set.



Mania Grade: B-
Audio Rating: B
Video Rating: B-
Packaging Rating: B-
Menus Rating: B-
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Viz Media
MSRP: 29.99
Running time: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Ranma 1/2