Fighting Spirit Vol. #13 - 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: 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. #13

By Chris Beveridge     August 29, 2006
Release Date: August 29, 2006


Fighting Spirit Vol. #13
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
Ippo is eager to return to the ring., but Chief Kamogawa's trainingemphasizes solely on defense. Facing his tough opponent fromThailand, Ippo develops his own fighting style that combines bothoffense and defense. The bell rings, determined to win, his opponent absorbs Ippo's hard punches and launches fierce blows. When Chief Kamogawa advises Ippo to go slowly at the end of round 1, Ippo replies, "I will K.O. him in the next round." Can Ippo live up to his word that seems totally out of character?!


The Review!
Ippo gets back on track after his down time and we also finally start to get some very amusing background on some of the cast.

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:
This installment lets Ippo take center stage once more as he's unbloodied or even wounded in any way and looks like a shining example of a boxer with spirit as he makes a fast move at an opponent. The design for it is really nicely done with a lot of detail and it blends well with the swirling blue background giving the overall cover an impression of power. 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 SpeeDVD menus looks somewhat soft 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)
Every volume takes us closer to the end yet every volume just builds beautifully upon past ones and you cannot wait to get it in your hands. Volume thirteen is no exception as we get to see a bit more of Ippo's downtime after the title fight but I think more importantly we get to see some real background on other characters that gives us the understanding of what drove them to this particular sport. And there's a ton of humor along the way in the form that only Ippo can deliver.

Ippo's been itching to get back into the ring for some time now but he's definitely needed the downtime after the title fight and the way it played out against Date. We've had some good material with how he's handling it but now it's been five months and he's really chomping at the bit to get back into all of it. This times out well as the all-knowing Chief has already put things in motion and sent Yagi off to Thailand to bring back a number of fighters to go up against his gym. It's not just Ippo that's making his way back into the ring " and as the main event no less " while Kimura and Aoki will be making their return as well. There is some very amusing set up to this and the fight itself is pretty good as Ippo has to face an opponent that he knows nothing about which makes him a bit more shy in his style.

What's really good about it is that it gets Ippo back in the ring but it has Sendo coming out and formally calling Ippo out for a rematch. This is one of those really good moments because we get to really understand both of these guys as it unfolds; neither of them really consider the title fight having been over but more so just on pause until they can get back to it. There's an unease that each of them feels until that happens neither of them really believe that Sendo won that match and they're going to use his position as the winner as a way of making sure they will eventually face each other. This is as close as something of honor between two warriors as we've seen in a series like this and it just has a really great feel to it, something that you often feel is simply lacking in real sports a lot of the time.

Though we do get the main arc that will be the focus of the remaining two volumes of the series, the show takes a very pleasant and enjoyable side story as it goes through the past of not only Aoki and Kimura but also Takamura. The three have been at the gym for what seems like ages and it's hard to believe that we've really had nothing on how they came to this place or anything else other than some mild nods towards their past fights in the ring. The two episodes that focus on this before the show goes back to the present day with its grueling training shows us how Aoki and Kimura have been best friends since pre-school and were basically a pair of thugs in high school who had overly violent tendencies. Kimura in particular is great with his standard punk hair that reaches out a foot over his forehead. Their meeting of Takamura comes by accident as the two of them were taking down anyone they found from a rival high school and it happens just as Takamura is about to drop out of school so he can go full time at the Kamogawa Boxing Gym.

Since he's so easily able to defeat the two of them with just a few basic boxing moves, they get the idea of joining up with the gym so that they can pick up a few moves quickly and return the favor. Of course, with both of them smokers and really out of shape for what Takamura is doing, they take months upon months of following the training regime they fall into before they can even get in the ring with him, but it's a beautiful thing watching the two of them have their focus change slightly in the long run as they realize what they've stumbled upon. During one of the quiet moments, they complain about how they can't even have a smoke anymore since it would mean they'd be completely out of wind the next day during either the massive amount of running they have to do or an actual fight. The three of them have a really great history together and it serves to really flesh out the series even more in such a wonderful way. It provides the necessary variety of reasons for joining up in this sport, something we haven't seen outside of Ippo and his opponents which is often more focused on why they need to win rather than why they box at all.

In Summary:
Fighting Spirit simply manages to continue to kick serious ass this far in the show and presumably right up to the end. With only ten episodes left in the series, there is a real sense of things reaching a climax soon obviously but also that we're just now starting the next arc so there is a lot of anticipation as well. These episodes do a fantastic job of alternating between the humor and the passion of the fighters while also fleshing out the cast and bringing in some great new characters in the mountainside training episode. Nearly every minute of the show has me either smiling at what's going on or on the edge of my seat as the fights play out and I simply cannot recommend it enough. This is a show that continually reaffirms my love of anime.

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

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Samsung BD-P1000 Blu-ray player via DVI, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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