Ranma Forever Vol. #1 (of 8) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Wednesday, June 12, 2002
Release Date: Monday, June 10, 2002
What They Say
Three new episodes await, beginning with "Tatewaki Kuno, Substitute Principal" in which the principal is off on an inspection tour, and he's put his seventeen-year-old son, Tatewaki Kuno, in charge. As they say, the coco-nutcase never falls far from the tree.
In "Ranma’s Greatest Challenge!?", Ranma is told the Tendo Dojo will lose its successor if he doesn't win, so Ranma trains hard for an upcoming contest. But "kick-the-can" may be just another way to say "kick-the-Ranma!" It's really just thuggery, Tendo Dojo-style.
Then, in "Nihao! Jusenkyo Guide," he claims he's on a sightseeing tour, but surely the Jusenkyo Guide hasn't come all the way from China just for that. Could his surprise visit have something to do with Ranma and Genma’s mishap at Jusenkyo Spring?
The final season of Ranma ½ kicks off with this volume, bringing us three more episodes closer to finally being done with a very long series by domestic standards.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. Though these episodes came quite a bit after the series began, it’s held true to its original stereo mix and not gone beyond it much. Dialogue is nice and clear and we noticed no dropouts, but directionality is very minimal across the forward soundstage with only a few pieces here and there giving any real sense of space.
While the show doesn’t look to have an increased budget for the final episodes, things here do look a fair bit cleaner, even if they still use the same somewhat dull color palette from earlier in the series. Colors are a bit sharper than the previous seasons discs, cross coloration is very minimal and there’s not much in the way of aliasing in a large way. These were pretty nice looking episodes all told.
Chibi Ranma and friends is what’s on the cover and it’s damn cute. With the Jusenkyo guide arriving in town, he gets the main cover shot along with other members of the cast doing their super deformed modes all around him, which is just very cute. The back cover provides a few animation shots and summaries for each of the episodes as well as the discs production and technical information. As with the season six release, there are no episode numbers or volume numbers, just episode titles. The insert provides another shot of the front cover while the reverse side has the chapter stops and more animation shots.
Definitely on the bright side, the menus here are vibrant pieces of static animation of the characters with music playing in the background, a brief portion of the new opening song. The layout is pretty standard with setup information and a separate submenu for the voice actor credits for both languages. Access times are nice and fast and in general this is a good basic menu.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
While watching this disc, my wife commented that while there were still amusing moments to Ranma, it just doesn’t seem to have the life it did during the first couple of seasons. This in general seems to be the consensus of many fans, even those who continue to buy the series past its “prime”. To me, the lack of any real movement on the relationships is what kept it from growing, but to do that, it’d kill its premise. A lot of shows tend to suffer from that.
Barring that, the opening episodes for this season were actually pretty good and had a number of laugh out loud moments for me (yet not for my wife). The opening episode was one I wasn’t sure I was going to like, as it started off with the principal, a character I just simply do not like. I’m just not sure how much of it is due to how his speech is translated (or if it’s even accurately translated) or just the general look of him. Thankfully it moved on to a place where he wasn’t there, since he was going away for awhile and was leaving Kuno in charge of the school as the Acting Principal.
Kuno continues to be a solid character who lacks growth, but is put to good use here. He creates a group of Enforcers dressed in more traditional garb who mete out justice in the halls for any infraction. His own infractions come close to causing him trouble, such as the fraternization with the opposite sex when he sees Akane, but he does an amusing job of holding himself back. This episode plays out in a nice simple and fun way without anything really over the top, harking back to the early seasons style of somewhat realism outside of the gender changes.
The central episode that deals with an ultimate fight match that comes up once every ten years was the weakest episode on the disc, and if it had come much earlier in the series I could see myself quickly fearing that things were turning into a tournament competition, such as Flame of Recca or some other similar show. Thankfully it’s just a standalone episode that pairs Ranma and Happosai together to train against this upcoming event, but in the end it’s a fairly weak episode that just deals with some straightforward martial arts. The only saving graces to it are how the secondary cast members react to the fight and with their relationship to Ranma over it.
The final episode of this volume was a rather nice one, which focused on the Jusenkyo Guide whose come to town on vacation, supposedly. Everyone who has a reason to like/dislike the guy are all scheming ways to have him take them back to the springs so they can find a pool that will better suit them or return them to normal. But it’s soon discovered that there’s a rare spring opening up in the city that will be of help to a number of the cast. The way that they all react and play off of each other, almost with a sense of hope that their travails are almost over, is a good way to bring about some of the more comrade-like feelings they have. It’s timing this early in the season though means you know it’s not going to work out. Heck, it’s a Takahashi show, you know there’s scant chance of any real resolution.
Ranma Forever so far feels a bit better than the Random Rhapsody season did and even holds up nicely after having just watched all of season two less than a month ago. Hopefully the remainder of the season can manage to do the same.
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Skyworth 1050P Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.
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
Running time: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Ranma 1/2