Real Bout High School Vol. #3 (of 4) (

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Friday, September 27, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, September 24, 2002

What They Say
At Real Bout High School, teachers don't break up fights, they grade them! In a school where martial arts are standard curriculum, Ryoko is kicking butt and taking names!

The Review!
After the second volumes drop in animation quality, the visuals here are back up to where they should be. Unfortunately, the plot went out the window as all three episodes are essentially filler.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. Though this show is very recent, the audio is your basic stereo mix with nothing being thrown to the rear speakers at all. But it's quite a good stereo mix with a nice flair for directionality across the forward soundstage both in the fighting sequences and with normal dialogue and sound effects.

The transfer for this series continues to be extremely strong. Colors are rich and vibrant, there’s no noticeable bleeding and aliasing is pretty much nonexistent along with cross coloration. Now, if only the animation didn’t take something of a dive in episode six…

Presented in a clear keepcase this is one shiny looking package. The front cover has a a large cast shot set against a purple background. The amusing part is that the cast shot has everyone in their special superhero/transformation costumes. The back cover provides a number of snapshots of the animation and a very brief summary of the show. Episode numbers and titles are clearly listed as well as the discs features and extras. The insert provides another shot of the front cover and the two interior panels are all done up with the translators notes which definitely provide some interesting tidbits that come up during the show. The package also features a dual sided cover, which isn't the same as a reverse cover. Since this is a clear keepcase, when you open it you get another gorgeous full color image of most of the women in their swimwear from the big beach episode.

The menu for this volume is in essence the same as the first two, though with a color palette change and the fight sequence animation changed to one relevant to this disc. It does however continue to rock completely, and works perfectly with this series. Access times are nice and fast and moving between menus is simple and logical. The layout is just right, with selections in the extras being show as directional combo moves and so forth. There’s simply a great style to this.

The extras continue to be right on with this series. We get the Special End Corner segments for the three episodes on the disc here. The main focus of these is having character designer Keiji Gotoh coming in to talk with them and giving them drawing lessons. There’s also a somewhat brief interview segment (video) with Ikue Kimura. A few pieces of line art and some amusing dub outtakes are also included.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
My love of the 13 episode series continues to wane as the promise of what they could do with that length instead of a four episode OVA has continually proven to be too much for most series to handle. Real Bout High School manages to suffer rather badly with this, as we now have three episodes on this volume that spend all of maybe five minutes total on the larger plot at hand.

Larger plot? I honestly forget what it is at this point with this kind of storytelling.

You know things are off to a good start when a good number of the characters decide to hit the beach for an entire episode. You can pretty much expect a minimal amount of plot but plenty of fan service, and this series has definitely delivered on that aspect. This episode ups the count with it, as we get the girls running around playing volleyball, baking in the sun and just goofing off in general. There’s some background plot going on with the evil ones who are going to cause trouble during the last episode or two of the series, as well as the arrival of the previous villains, now being chased by Men in Black stereotypes.

Another episode goes off into complete inanity as it focuses on a couple of young children, where the boy is being manipulated by the vice president of his fathers company while his parents are away on business. The girl recruits Ryoko to go and help him out, since she saw her as the Magical Girl Oyster Lulu from a few episodes ago, and believed that she’s a real Magical Girl. This ties in with a number of other characters ending up in the same area, and all of them dressing up in costumes and being magical girls to save the day. It’s amusing in parts, but the episode on a whole feels like a complete waste. The vice president is extremely stereotypical and the way the plot plays out is simply nonsensical at times.

The one thing that manages to save this disc is the final episode. While it again has very little to do with the larger plot, it does provide some rather good character development. This episode goes towards dealing with the feelings Ryoko has for Tatsuya. The two of them are involved in the school play, and have roles opposite of each other. Ryoko is pretty much in heaven over this since it gives her plenty of time with Tatsuya. But this doesn’t last long when she learns that Tatsuya and the girl directing the play have grown up together, and she can see just how strongly connected they are, though they don’t admit it. This cuts deep to her core and provides some really good moments of quiet contemplation and gives her some ways of dealing with it.

So far, this series looks like it could have been just as easily done as a six episode series and had more plot and cohesiveness to it instead of the rambling nature it’s taking. While I really enjoy the first volume, the third volume has me wondering what the story was all about. The animation is great, the look is solid and the transfer is top notch, but the way things are playing out has left me rather uninterested.

Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Special End Corner Making Of Featurettes,Translator's Notes,Outtakes,Line Art Gallery #2,Exclusive "Interview with the Samurai Girl Part 2"

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.

Mania Grade: C-
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: A-
Menus Rating: A
Extras Rating: A-
Age Rating: 16 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: TOKYOPOP
MSRP: 29.99
Running time: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Real Bout High School