Ranma 1/2: Outta Control Box Set (of 1) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Sunday, December 01, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, November 12, 2002

What They Say
In Ranma 1/2 Outta Control, the fourth season of adventures based on the comics of Rumiko Takahashi, we're introduced to Ranma's high school principal, the infamous Gambling King, Ranma's mom, an all-Ryoga episode and more! The martial arts madness never stops with twenty-four more TV episodes of comedy, romance, and mayhem!

The Review!

For our primary viewing session, we listened to these five discs in their English dubbed format. The audio track is a pretty basic stereo mix with most of the dialogue going through the center channels with little in the way of directionality. Dialogue was pretty clean and clear and we noticed no dropouts or distortions. Spot checking the Japanese track proved it to be pretty much the same thing.

When mixed in with more current shows, it becomes obvious just how flat the color palette used for this show is. The transfer overall seems to be decent, but just won’t look great because of the way it was created. Colors look good without any bleeding or over saturation and we noticed hardly any cross coloration and some instances of aliasing. The transfer does on the downside feature a number of hard subtitles as the masters used to create the dub transfer was used here. It’s quite noticeable that the worst looking aspects of the video transfer here are all the English additions, from the logo with its rainbows to the subtitles which shimmer and the hard to read white song subtitles.

Using the same style as the first box set, but going with light blue and red color combination, the box set looks good with Shampoo featured prominently on it. The back gives a rundown on the series premise and lists the basic features and number of episodes included. Each of the individual discs uses the same color scheme and features a different character along with prominent volume numbering. The back cover lists the episodes (numbered by the total included in this set, not their overall number in the series) and the episode titles and a brief summary of the disc in total. The inserts provide a shadowed version of the cover on one side with the note mentioned above while the reverse side lists the episode numbers, titles and chapter stops. Overall, a pretty solid looking box and layout with only a few things that bother me.

With all the discs except for the last one being the same, just stuffed with episodes, the menus are pretty basic but nicely done. The main menu is a nice piece of static animation with each one having a different cast member. Selections are quick to access and moving between menus is a breeze. Again, while not flashy, these are solid nicely designed menus that get the job done with a minimal of fuss.

The extras section is about as full as the past ones, so there’s a couple of nice things but not a lot. There’s a good selection of pieces in the conceptual artwork gallery from character designs to location backgrounds. The new opening and ending sequences get a textless version provided and the cast list and actor profiles that we’ve seen previously get slightly updated and presented once more.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Season four of the Ranma TV series comes rumbling through, and unlike the past seasons, there wasn’t all that much in the way of memorable material here. On the plus side, there also wasn’t as heavy a concentration on a few characters as we experienced with the third season, where we were almost completely turned off of the show by the near constant inclusion of Happosai in every episode.

Season four does bring some new stuff to the plate, with the main new addition being the return of the school principal. In a moment of Takahashi subtlety, the students all suddenly realize they’ve never seen the principal and don’t even know where his office is. The man has been off in Hawaii learning new ways of education for such a long time now, he’s practically been forgotten. But his return does its best to remind the faculty of why they were probably so happy he left. The man is the absolute embodiment of a Hawaiin shirt, and he continues to wear them as well as shorts and sandals as he takes over the school again. His speech is also quite distinct, as he employs a large smattering English when he talks, but with such bad pronunciation and slang that it’s almost undecipherable.

Well, that’s how Viz’s translations come across for his speech. He’s difficult enough to understand in each language, but the subtitles just make me want to pull my hair out. With his return to the school, one of the first things he decides to employ is a new mandatory haircut style, which has all the boys going to completely shaven and the girls going down to very short and modest looks. Student rebellion looms and other plans of his come out, causing only more chaos on the campus.

The majority of this set is filled with single episode stories, some that are fun such as the actual introduction to the Ghost Cat we saw in season 7’s individual disc release to having Shampoo’s younger sisters come fight for her honor against Akane and all those who oppose the marriage to Ranma. Ranma himself almost seems to get short shifted in this round, though he still is involved plenty. Just the overall focus of things have tended to shift away from him as a pure focal point, letting the secondary cast get a bit more in this time. Unfortunately, it shows just how undeveloped the secondary cast is from their one note premises.

The only arc of length that spanned a few episodes was probably one of the better segments of the season, where Ryouga matches up against a Martial Arts Calligrapher in the forest, and ends up with a pattern drawn onto his stomach. This pattern has caused him to become incredibly strong and just about undefeatable. He naturally uses this opportunity to take Ranma down, which is something that he can do with just the flick of his forefinger. Ryouga and Ranma both get some good characterization added to them here as they figure out ways of solving the problem, plus it’s always good to have more P-chan screentime.

Season four was definitely better than season three in some respects, but it was also much less memorable. There’s little in the way of new characters beyond the principal nor was there all that much movement in either direction in regards to the relationship between Ranma and Akane. This is the area where it really starts turning into the show for the die-hard fans, and it becomes easily visible why.

Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Art Gallery,Textless Opening,Textless Ending,Cast List,Actor Profiles

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: B-
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Viz Media
MSRP: 119.98
Running time: 600
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Ranma 1/2