Fighting Spirit Vol. #08 - 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: 125
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Fighting Spirit

Fighting Spirit Vol. #08

By Chris Beveridge     October 14, 2005
Release Date: October 25, 2005


Fighting Spirit Vol. #08
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
Ippo fights with Okita, the 5th ranking former Rookie Champion from the Champion Date's gym. If Ippo wins, he will be eligible to fight with the Champ. Ippo, thinking Okita is not a hard puncher, dashes toward him, but the "corkscrew blow" stops Ippo. It is the same punch that Date knocked Ippo down during the humiliating sparring session. Can Ippo come up with the countermeasure to stop the lethal blow in time? Meanwhile Miyata struggles with "hometown decisions" in Thailand.


The Review!
Ippo's journey begins again as his new goal crystallizes for him and re-energizes him after his previous tournament work.

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 release is interesting in either it's an attempt at something different or just completely botched in one respect. The artwork for the release is great with a foggy background that has a headshot of Date as well as a full length shot of him from behind in his robe with the title slung over his shoulder. What's missing here is the series logo which is really surprising. Of course, most releases are only visible from their spines on retailer shelves and the logo is definitely there so it's not a complete loss in a sense. At the same time, the lack of the logo and the completely open bit of artwork just makes this look really good and almost foreboding. 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)
After the results of the Rookie of the Year arc of the series, you know that there are routes that Ippo can follow as he climbs higher and into the main rankings of the tournaments out there but you can't be sure exactly what's going to happen. While a few other fights show up in this volume and we get an update on an important character seemingly forgotten, the real stuff here is the way Ippo and Date simply look at each other.

With Ippo being tenth ranked now due to his win of the Rookie title, he's got a ways to go before he can even really think of getting up to trying to win that. He's impressed people to be sure but now he's in the same realm as the career fighters and those who've been at it far longer than him. To his surprise though, when at one of the matches by the others at his gym, he's actually approached by Date who is doing commentary for the night. Date's an interesting character as he's the number one boxer in the featherweight division and has obvious aspirations to go for the world title, which means giving up his current title. But at the age of twenty-eight, he knows that there's a limited amount of time for that to happen and he likes to play up his age in a way that disarms others.

Ippo definitely admires Date since he is basically the king of the division but he's also scared of him as he rightly should be, especially when you consider that Ippo continues to be rather modest and that he's only been doing this for just over a year. So when he gets an invite at the gym to go spar with Date, the chief is all for it since it's a rare opportunity and Ippo simply can learn a ton from even getting his ass handed to him repeatedly. His respectful nature plays out in a cute way to everyone who watches the sparring match but you can see that even when Date holds back a bit, he's not holding back much and even reveals a new move that his fellows at the gym hadn't seen before. That alone speaks volumes but seems to go over the heads of most of those in the gym except for one man named Okita.

Okita's the type of boxer who has found a particular style and has emulated it and simulated it all his life and it's worked well for him. Being part of the same gym as Date, he's found him to be the person he aspires the most to be like but as good as he is he's still just a shadow of the original. But his hopes to catch up to Date and take him down continue to be his main goal which is why he becomes furious when he sees that someone like Ippo gets the special treatment of being pummeled by a new move. Okita's ranked fifth overall in the featherweight division so his challenge to Ippo is a serious one and one that Ippo cannot turn down.

With Ippo's goal now refocused after his fight with Date to meet him in a real match, his chances are pretty slim of that happening because of Date wanting to move up to the world title matches. But Date is fascinated by Ippo and sets things on a course after the challenge goes out from Okita that he'll be waiting for Ippo to meet him before that happens. That leaves everything in Ippo's hands as he has to defeat Okita who is basically a preview of what Date will really be like. Watching this fight play out as it's done quickly and Ippo lacks the usual round of training and preparation for it is fun since the strategy that they usually go into a fight with is almost non-existent and Ippo is so focused on overtaking Okita that Okita almost isn't really in his way. There's a lot of talk about the difference between a career boxer like Okita and a newcomer like Ippo but the difference really comes down to who is trying to catch up to someone and someone who is trying to overtake someone.

Interestingly, I think this is the same kind of situation that Miyata and Ippo find themselves in now that Miyata's been shunted away from the Japanese matches and is going up against brutal Muay Thai fighters who are in the main boxing matches for the money, which seems to be the focus for a lot of the Thailand people we come across in the two episodes that focus on this. The break from Japan is nice and it's good to see how Miyata is progressing without it seeming like a few scenes. Both episodes are given over to his progress against the biggest name in boxing there with Jimmy Sisfar and how Miyata has to realize what his goals are and what he needs to do to himself in order to really achieve it. The fight matches themselves are brutal and it's a long way from the confidence that Miyata had when we first met him but he's definitely becoming a better and much more interesting boxer as he goes along.

In Summary:
This volume takes us past the halfway mark of the series and it feels good that there's still so many episodes to go but the fear that it's going to be over so soon because these episodes just fly by is scary. Every time we watch this show it just screams something that needs to be on TV. There's so few shows that just have both of us laughing, tense and actually talking boxing strategy like this series does. Fighting Spirit is the kind of show that you really just want to be able to talk about with lots more people and do whatever you can to get it into their hands.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 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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