Fighting Spirit Vol. #07 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: C+
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 115
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Fighting Spirit

Fighting Spirit Vol. #07

By Chris Beveridge     August 15, 2005
Release Date: August 23, 2005


Fighting Spirit Vol. #07
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
Even though Ippo's right fist is healed, the psychological damage has been done. His fear of damaging the fist again prevents him from throwing had punches. Sendo is not the opponent Ippo can defeat with weak punches. Takamura suggests that Ippo knock down Sendo with the first punch before he feels pain. After the bell rings, Ippo dashes toward Sendo, but his ferocious presence stops Ippo. Can Ippo even survive the first round!?


The Review!
The final match is upon Ippo and the chance to be the All-Japan Rookie is within his grasp at long last.

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:
The cover for this volume is just perfect with the image of Sendo, surrounded by speed lines, almost leaping off the page at the viewer, while behind him is the blurred image of a tigers face. This fits in perfectly with how the fight first goes and the cover art just says all it needs to about who Sendo is. 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:
While not technically an extra, they did include with this volume a commercial for the US release of the Victorious Fighters video game which is what the Fighting Spirit game was called when ported here.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the seventh volume of the series, Fighting Spirit brings us up through the end of the All-Japan Rookie Championship storyline as Ippo is set to face what looks to be his toughest opponent yet with Sendo. Though he started out with the intention of facing Miyata here and worked hard towards that end, he's truly discovered his love for this sport along the way and has proven himself over and over.

And what better way to prove that than to take the first episode here and run it almost entirely as a best of flashback episode that takes us through all of his fights. While I'm typically no fan of recap episodes, with a series of this length and the nature of it being fighting matches, doing a recap around this time period and just before the big critical fight isn't a bad thing. It reminds you of where you've been and what he's been through and sets the stage nicely for the final match.

The fight with Sendo is still very much up in the air at the start of this volume since Ippo's been so badly wounded in his fight with Mashiba. His right fist has healed for the most part but Ippo's training has left him somewhat gunshy in using it at any real level of power and it's gotten so bad that the chief is already tempted to pull him from the match, letting Sendo win by default. But Ippo is so intent on fighting that he agrees on a special strategy that Takamura had used once before when in a similar situation in hopes of being able to take Sendo down right at the bell and ending the match before it can begin. With a bit of help from the good doctor who gives him some anesthesia just before the match – which surprised me that it was a legal thing to do – he's ready to do his best in the ring.

The actual match is fairly well timed compared to previous ones and runs about two and a half episodes long, leaving an episode afterwards to deal with other issues. After fighting someone truly violent like Mashiba, you have to wonder what kind of fighter Sendo will be like and how it'll work with him as a challenge beyond the entire pained fist issue. It turns into a heavily psychological fight which works out really well. The opening idea is that since Sendo is so popular as the Rocky of the area, it seems like the entire stadium is rooting for him, some with the massive drums and everyone else with the power of their voices. It's a strong thing in Sendo's favor that it would easily unnerve just about anyone. The other psychological aspect comes from when the bell rings and Ippo gets a real look at Sendo who has the best game face on of anyone that he's faced. This simple moment changes the entire plan for the match and puts everything up in the air again.

As edge of the seat worthy as this final match is, it was good to get an episode that deals with things after the match and with Ippo in general. His school life has come to an end and graduation has arrived. This is a great scene in itself as the boy we saw two years prior that nobody really paid any attention to is now someone, teachers included, who want their picture taken with and to remember that they knew him. The interactions of the students with him is great but best of all is his dealings with the one guy who used to bully him but can't quite find the right words. So much gets set up here for the next half of the series that it's fairly subtle but it works out just right. Though the All-Japan Rookie Championship has been dealt with, that's just the first part of a boxers life and the future has so much more to come. Ippo's all set to deal with it on a full time basis now in addition to helping with the family business that it's all bright from here on out.

In Summary:
It does happen with a few series but Ippo is one of those that during it and afterwards you just feel good about the entire experience. From the fights to the personal stuff, it's all very uplifting and enjoyable even when things look the bleakest. It's a rare show that can entertain so well and provide that feeling and to provide it so consistently over seven volumes so far. With thirty five episodes of the show under our belts now this has been one of the best things I've seen in recent years and it only looks to be getting better. Very recommended.

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

Review Equipment
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.

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