Mania Grade: A
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- 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: 29.98
- Running time: 125
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Fighting Spirit
Fighting Spirit Vol. #06
By Chris Beveridge
June 16, 2005
Release Date: June 21, 2005
What They Say
As the final match of the Eastern Japan Rookie Championship tournament takes place, Ippo faces Mashiba with his damaged right fist and a vow to keep the promise he made with Miyata. Mashiba draws his "flickers" incessantly; Ippo decides not to protect his fist any more. Mashiba clinches to block Ippo's body punches, but Ippo keeps punching with all his might. Who will win?The Review!
It's the match for the first title that Ippo can get but he has to face down his strongest opponent yet with Mashiba and his flickers.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:
Though not terribly different, the feel of this cover is much less cluttered with the movement of the logo to the lower right and more of the artwork visible along the top, which is also nicely accentuated by the black background and the way the character art has a hue around it. Ippo looks really good here. 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:
(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
It's hard to believe with this volume that we're now thirty episodes into the show and it still feels like it's really just getting started. It's great that there's so much more ahead and that the series wasn't revolving around just the first title that Ippo has to go after and that there are some bigger challenges ahead to him, both professionally and personally. And there's always the background promise of his fight with Miyata that will have to happen somehow someday.
This volume is extraordinarily difficult to really talk about as the first three episodes encompass the fight entirely. They do a great job of providing lots of tension as it goes on, some surprises and numerous turns of the tide of who will win. There are so many moments throughout it where each of them is so close to winning that you can feel that it would be called any second only to have these guys realize there's just another ounce of strength left to tap into and they push back again. Each of them has their reasons for being there and even as evil as Mashiba tends to look a lot of the time and with the way he fights, you can't help but to almost root for him as this goes on. Watching how his sister deals with it only makes it all the more personal as well as making the viewer more conflicted since Ippo's got feelings for her.
Will she be relieved if he wins and her brother loses and thereby not harbor any ill will towards him? Or will she understand her brothers dreams of winning and hold it against Ippo? Or if Ippo loses, would she want someone who was defeated by her brother or feel pity for him or something else? Or is all just something that's no more than a whisper on a breeze and Ippo's poor attempts at getting to know her before barely registering on her radar? There's so much riding on the match that it slowly does pile up over time without realizing it.
After such a brutal match, things do slow down a bit more and they provide some more comedy to lighten things up. The introduction of Sendo from Osaka serves as a perfect counterbalance to things and gives Ippo something to focus on after the match as he comes up to see him. He's in the same class as Ippo but has something that some of the other boxers have had in wanting to fight someone stronger than them and be challenged. Sendo's heavily influenced by Rocky Marciano so we get plenty of inspirational boxing stories related to this and Sendo comes off really well if only a touch cocky. He has a great sequence where he takes on Takamura for a sparring session but turns it into a full match because he wants the real experience. Watching the two different class boxers go at it is hugely interesting since it's generally just not seen and it shows just why there are such classes.
And to my great pleasure, Fighting Spirit practically goes yaoi with a shower scene involving a few of the guys here, mosaics and all. There is such an undercurrent of raw bawdy comedy to this show that comes up at the strangest of times and is so surprising that it really just bowls us over when it happens. From the previous gags about Ippo being hung like an elephant to this latest gag, it's just beautiful. Though the thought of true yaoi with men looking like this will scare off the women, it's certainly done out there. It's not all about pretty boys, ladies! Sometimes real men need real men.In Summary:
Quite frankly, Ippo rocks. It is one of the most anticipated new arrivals when it comes in and is almost always the first thing that gets played when a new stack shows up. The show plays out fast due to its nature of the fights but they're addictive and unpredictable. This is the show that crosses into the mainstream and across genders as well. While it is probably fairly standard within the sports genre, it just has such spot on writing for some really fun and engaging characters that it stands out. I cannot recommend this series enough.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.