Ranma 1/2: Martial Mayhem Box Set (of 1) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Friday, May 30, 2003
Release Date: Tuesday, May 06, 2003
What They Say
It's not easy being teenaged martial artist Ranma Saotome, but it's even worse when your martial-arts father Genma takes you from home at an early age to go on a decade-long training mission. He doesn't speak a word of Chinese, and yet he insists upon bringing you to the cursed training ground known as Jusenkyo, where falling into one of the many springs there instantly turns you into whoever - or whatever - drowned there last. And then, the two of you have this little accident...
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.
If there’s one thing to be said for most anime shows, is that even if they run for more seasons than they ought to, they rarely change their look or feel as the technology progresses. This is especially true in Ranma’s case as season five looks about the same as the first season overall. 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 format as the previous box sets, season five goes green with orange stripes while giving Genma in panda form the nod for the primary artwork panel that’s here. 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.
There’s a decent inclusion of extras here, though past season box sets have definitely shown that either there’s little out there or little available to Viz. We get a brief line art gallery of conceptual black and white artwork for the various characters. The opening and ending sequences are done up in textless form, with the opening retaining the original logo. The cast list section provides 3 pages of bilingual credits for all the episodes in this set while the actor profiles are essentially the same as the last set, though with some of the credits now including their 2002 releases.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After the fourth season of Ranma ½, I was definitely not all that eager to move into the fifth season for a couple of reasons.
The fourth season left something of a bad taste in my mouth for a few reasons, though overall it was a decent season. The main offense of it was the overabundance of Happosai episodes. At times, it seemed like the series should be named after him considering how much screen time the character got and the way so many of the episodic plots really revolved around him. Now, I like Happosai as a character, but there was just far too much of him.
Season five manages to avoid this problem nicely, which was a huge plus in its favor. I don’t think we even saw him until the third of five volumes, and then only sporadically after that. Episodes that he appeared in then actually became fun to watch since I had gone so long without.
For this season, we squeezed in an episode or two at various times over the course of a few weeks as we’ve had so much to watch that marathoning a box set like this would be suicidal. And as we get further into the Ranma seasons and the quality of the stories continues to go down, I don’t think it’s a good idea for anyone to marathon seasons of this series any longer. There should be a health warning like that on the side of the box.
What really becomes apparent in this particular season is the strain of not having a plot that actually goes anywhere. The characters are still good, but we’re so familiar with them now and they’re so unchanging that it starts to become dull and repetitive. And unlike a show like the Simpsons, going and doing really outrageous and wacky things doesn’t help it, it only hurts. Episodes where they play a “life sized” version of Saotome and Tendo’s favorite game just feels wrong.
One of the usual plots for an episode that gets done, and was done far too much in season four if I recall as well, is bringing in yet another girl that Ranma was promised to in his youth. Thankfully, these are few and far between here and help keep that aspect of disbelief suspended nicely. But this is poorly balanced as nothing at all really progresses with Ranma and Akane. The other plot that does get a fair amount of use though is the varying ways that everyone who can change thinks they’ve found a cure and end up in either some sort of competition or plot with or against various other changers.
The sad fact that I realized after finishing the last volume of this set is, that after watching twenty-four episodes of this series, hardly any of them made a strong enough impression on me that I remembered it. And that to me is something of a shame considering that episodes from the first and second season are still highly memorable years and years after first seeing them. With this set, I’m now only a few discs away from seeing all of Ranma TV that’s available, so there is a bit of sadness to that. But with the quality of the episodes having gone down since the fourth season, it’s an ending I’m also looking forward to.
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Textless Opening,Textless Ending,Line Art Gallery,Cast List,Actor Profiles
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: B
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Viz Media
Running time: 600
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Ranma 1/2