Fighting Spirit Vol. #05 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: C+
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
  • MSRP: 29.95
  • Running time: 125
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Fighting Spirit

Fighting Spirit Vol. #05

By Chris Beveridge     April 18, 2005
Release Date: April 19, 2005


Fighting Spirit Vol. #05
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
"Ippo fights with the boxing prodigy, Hayami, in the semifinal match of the Eastern Japan Rookie Championship Tornament. Hayami's infamous ""shotgun"" punches corner Ippo. It's obvious to everyone's eyes that Hayami outclasses Ippo as a boxer. Time is running out; there's no way in for Ippo. What's left for him to do? Ippo decides to fight: he fights for those he defeated to get to the semifinal. Can Ippo's fighting spirit connect his right hook to the prodigy before his ""infighter-killer"" uppercut lands? Meanwhile, Miyata boxes with Mashiba in the other semifinal. Mashiba's dirty and desperate ""trick"" produces an astounding conclusion to the fight."

The Review!
Miyata and Hayami take to the ring in these episodes and the series hits its first real fork in the road as the fight is intense.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The series has a very solid stereo mix here that lets you feel a good portion of the oomph from the hits and just the sound of the speed of the boxers. Dialogue is fairly center channel based for most of the show but there are some key areas where dialogue is shifted to one of the side speakers. Throughout regular playback, everything sounded solid and free of distortions and dropouts.

Video:
Originally starting its airing back in 2000, Fighting Spirit is presented on this disc in its original full frame format and has a pretty solid looking transfer. The shows animation style is a mix that plays up some of the feel of older shows with some of its color palette as well as using thick lines around the characters at times, such as when they act goofy, but it also has some very slick fast motion sequences that are very well animated and have much more vibrant colors to them. Cross coloration is pretty minimal overall here even with as much tight line work as there is in some scenes and aliasing is very light. Some of the backgrounds come across a bit softer and more motion oriented than others, but it's barely noticeable for the most part.

Packaging:
Changing from what we've gotten over the last couple of volumes, Miyata has a large head shot here in the background while Mashiba and the bakery girl get the full color foreground pieces that are slightly over and to the side of Miyata. The change in style works nicely here since we get some different colors and away from the big shots of Ippo in his outfit. The back cover has a few shots from the show in a strip along the center and provides a simple if decent summary of the basic premise. The discs episode numbers and titles are clearly listed as well as the discs features. The insert has a shot of a boxing ring with the chapter listings for all five episodes and that opens up to a two panel shot of the front cover but with a different background color. The back of the insert uses the existing cover artwork but with a few less logo's on it.

Menu:
The menu gets a big thumbs down right from the start with the load up of a critical fight sequence with English dialogue before it actually loads the final menu itself, which is fairly decent but like some other recent SpeeDVD menus looks somewhat software in some areas and blocky in the selection text. Once loaded, the menu has some clips of Ippo doing his movements that's layered on top of a motion background that has various scenes from the show playing as well while some of the harder music plays along. The menu just feels a bit too filled up with animation and a near strange blending of two different clips the way they're layered. Access times and navigation itself is pretty simple and easy to use though. The disc also correctly read our players' language presets which continues to be a plus.

Extras:
None.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With another five episodes that brings us up through episode twenty-five, or a third of the way into the series itself, we get some new rounds in the ring but also a change-up in the overall master plan. Between some smaller fights from those in the same gym to Miyata's big number against Mashiba, the results are constantly up in the air in how it plays out.

There's some fun small bits throughout this that helps build up the kind of camaraderie that these guys have, such as when the magazine comes out with the big articles about the Rookie tournament and other matches and Ippo gets a tiny headshot mention. While they don't do it to his face, they have plenty of fun at his expense. Ippo himself gets some good time as he starts trying to make a little more of his presence known to the bakery girl as he goes to the shop a couple of times. This lets him talk to her a bit more and become even more enamored of her. When the guys learn about her, it's a priceless moment when they all come walking into the gym carrying bags from the bakery and eating some of the fine goods from there.

This set of episodes has two real main fights to it once it gets past the pretty much comical piece of one of their fellow gym mates. Ippo's been practicing hard to go up against "pretty boy" Hayami who has the skill to back it up. His method of learning what it is that makes a particular fighter good works in his favor again as he slowly discovers an opening his Hayami's defenses and trains hard to exploit it though it's a one-shot deal in being able to pull it off. Hayami by comparison hasn't paid Ippo much mind at all, a mistake that every one of them seems to make going into these fights and end up learning along the way. It's not really a mistake on their part, or at least among the first couple of fighters, but you'd expect someone like Hayami to have heard what kind of luck that Ippo's having for a first-timer.

The other fight that plays out to much interest is the one between Miyata and Mashiba. Having seen previously just how powerful Mashiba is with his shotgun maneuver, which does look quite silly when he starts with that arm motion even if it is meant to distract his opponent, this is the fight that you really want to see play out since you know Miyata and Ippo are set to meet later on because of their promise. Being able to see the culmination of Miyata's efforts since going to train under his father shows just how much stronger he's become and the growth of the skills he's already had. And with fights like these, we get plenty of time inside their heads to see how they're mentally motivated to fight and Miyata is no disappointment here. This has to be one of the most brutal fights of the series yet as these two go at it with everything they have

At the end of the disc, I'm really curious to see how it's going to go forward now with the change in the plot that's been introduced. Ippo continues to be such a fun character to watch with his naiveté about things as well as his single minded focus. The fights in this volume really pick up the intensity which is saying a lot since past ones have been brutal but not to this level. With the fights needing more animation than a lot of other shows, the series continues to balance nicely between doing the full on animation during the fights and keeping things looking good and lively during the rest of the episodes. There's a good balance being kept here and while the simple character designs help, these are still very well fleshed out characters that are great fun to watch.

In Summary:
With the first third of the series already done, you still want more and more of it as soon as possible. Ippo and his friends provide some really great episodes here both in the ring and out of the ring. The fighters being layered nicely and with individual motivations that usually aren't in the realm of "evil for sake of being evil" helps to continue elevating this show up over so many other ones. And with the fights in this volume, we get shown that the writers have something interesting in mind for the long term as the big storyline suffers a surprising change in direction and leaves us wondering what they're going to do next. I can't wait to see more.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,Spanish Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with upconversion set to 720p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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