Ranma 1/2 Movie Box Set (of 1) (Mania.com)

By:Luis Cruz
Review Date: Monday, December 11, 2006
Release Date: Tuesday, May 16, 2006

What They Say
The sex-changing antics of Ranma 1/2 were never more hilarious! Ranma 1/2 Movie Box Set contains both theatrical released films on 1 DVD.

The Review!
A double shot of martial arts mayhem only comes with one barrel partially loaded.

Both films were viewed using the original Japanese audio track and were free of any noticeable distortion, hiss, or other defects. Listed as stereo tracks, both Japanese tracks come off sounding more like mono tracks; the bulk of the action and dialogue was through the center channel with no discernible stereo effects during the fight sequences.

Having listened to the English dub back in the VHS days, the English dubs were also spot-checked and were issue free. One thing I have always credited Viz on over the years has been their dubs; not all of the characters fit perfectly, but the key players manage to capture the spirit of the Japanese voices. While I prefer the Japanese cast, I could easily sit back with the English dubs of these films and enjoy.

Hailing from 1991 and 1992, both movies show their age with the occasional scratch and other minor print defects. However, Viz has provided an otherwise solid transfer free from any noticeable digital transfer defects. Compared to more modern shows, the colors look washed out and a bit flat at times, but there are still some great visuals and details to catch the eye.

Both movies are packaged in a double sized case with a flipper insert holding one of the discs. The cover art is a collage of Ranma, Akane, and Lychee from the first movie. The back cover contains the usual disc and content information in a clean, readable format. Inside is a one page insert for the chapter listings and a piece of 3-D artwork.

The main menus are simply static images from the movies with a loop of background music playing. There are no transition delays between menus. They are not flashy, but they get you setup and into the show quickly and efficiently.


Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Long before Inu Yasha, Takahashi Rumiko penned another long running series known as Ranma ½. Viz collects two movies of this classic series into one set: Big Trouble in Nekonron China and Nihao My Concubine. For those unfamiliar with the series, Saotome Ranma is a typical young martial artist with a rather atypical life. On a training trip to the cursed springs of Jusenkyo, China, he falls into the "Pool of the Drowned Girl". Now, cold water turns him into a buxom redhead, and only hot water can change him back. If this is not bad enough, he is arranged to be wed to Akane, the tomboy daughter of his father's friend. Throw in a zany cast of characters that either want to kill or marry Ranma. Add in a dash of Ranma and Akane constantly fighting and refusing to admit them love each other, and you have the standard Takahashi formula.

Formulaic aptly describes both of these films; someone steals Akane away, and it is up to Ranma to fight his way to the villain and rescue her, all while denying that he is doing it because he loves her. Big Trouble is the first film to be released and the best of the pair. Through a series of Happosai related events, Akane ends up holding half of a sacred scroll just as Kirin, head of the Seven Lucky Gods martial artists, arrives to find his bride. She who holds the scroll is destined to be his bride.

Kirin plucks Akane away and takes her to China for the wedding with Ranma and the rest of the crew hot on his trail. With a little help from his friends, Ranma battles his way through the Lucky Gods, defeats Kirin, rescues Akane, and discovers that the scroll contains the ultimate technique... for creating pickles.

Nihao finds the cast stranded on a deserted island, but the girls begin to mysteriously disappear one night. The culprit is the master of illusions, Prince Toma of Togenkyo Island; he is abducting women and forcing them to compete to be his bride. Akane is abducted again and again chosen to be a bride. And once again, Ranma must find a way to rescue her. Where Big Trouble ends with a climatic battle, Nihao ends with a whimper, the showdown between Ranma and Toma brief and utterly boring.

Both films suffer from the same problem; they just do not have enough interesting material to fill their run times. They could have easily been trimmed down to a single TV episode each. Big Trouble tries to make the most of its screen time by having battles sprinkled throughout, but they are all brief and do little to build any tension in the plot. The bulk of the film is bogged down by narrative pieces used to set up who the Lucky Gods are and how the scroll eventually ended up in Akane's hands.

Nihao completely phoned in its performance and reversed the charges for good measure. While Big Trouble's battles were brief, they were mildly entertaining; however, the same cannot be said for Nihao's battles. They were shorter and even more pointless than its predecessor's which is a shame. Nihao has two interesting premises going for it, a master of illusion and his martial arts marriage battle.

Both items did not factor into the plot much providing close to zero action or comedy. The showdown between Ranma and Toma ended up being a very poor man's version of the mine cart chase from Temple of Doom. Nihao's story does not feature much filler narrative but is simply bland and boring. The only thing it has going for it is the brief fanservice and cute outfits the girls are forced to wear.

Neither film requires prior knowledge of the Ranma series making Big Trouble a decent introduction to the series. Will either of them actual turn a newcomer into a fan? Given the low content of interesting material, I would be skeptical that they could.

In Summary:
While both Ranma films provide some chuckles, only Big Trouble provides any decent action and fighting. Nihao's premise was decent, but it failed to build up the villain of the hour leading to a lackluster and thoroughly boring showdown at the end. Big Trouble on the other hand does build to a more exciting conclusion. However, both films suffer from not having enough material to fill their runtime. They are good for a rainy day rental, but they do not warrant a purchase unless you simply must have every Ranma title available.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Mitsubishi 27" TV, Panasonic RP-82, Sony STR-DE915 DD receiver, Bose Acoustimass-6 speakers, generic S-Video and optical audio cable

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: 49.98
Running time: 134
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Ranma 1/2