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. #15
By Chris Beveridge
December 29, 2006
Release Date: December 19, 2006
Fighting Spirit Vol. #15
What They Say
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
Takeshi Sendo vs. Ippo Makunouchi. The final showdown begins. Ippo knocks Sendo down with his lethal "Dempsey Roll" in the first round, but Sendo soon recovers and throws his devastating right. Power vs. Power. Determination vs. Determination. Who will win?The Review!
It's all led up to this rematch for the title and the last five episodes of the TV series simply does not disappoint.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 cover had to go with the image of Sendo and Ippo locked in combat and it delivers nicely, though as usual the designs really don't look all that great in this format. It works well in the show but here it just looks a little exaggerated and simple. But for those that have followed the show through to this point, it's a great cover that signifies what this last round of episodes is all about. 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 expanded nicely. 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:
(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After fifteen long but highly enjoyable volumes, the TV series has come to its conclusion and it gives the viewer almost exactly what they needed. Not necessarily what they wanted, but a very satisfying conclusion to this particular chapter in Ippo's life. With the original manga still running strong after sixteen plus years in publication, the TV series certainly wasn't going to have a true finale but rather one that closes out a specific arc of it. Where it doesn't give us what we expected is that we don't have the return confrontation with Miyata that has long been a given since the early episodes of the series.
Instead, the final five focus entirely on the match that pits Sendo and Ippo back together after nearly two years. Their previous match was one where the two of them had gone through such an ordeal with each other that it never truly felt like it had finished properly. In their minds, they've been imagining what it would have been like if they had been able to continue on. Each of them has gone through all kinds of training and issues since then but mentally they've not really been able to progress forward until this was resolved. The lead-up to the fight is fairly minimal with these episodes as they're in the ring by the end of the first one. The tension and eagerness to get it going is so strong that they both have the titular "fighting spirit" in them and the crowd just roars along with the fight.
As we've seen from previous fights, there is plenty of unpredictability with them and the four episodes over which the fight really plays out are just intense. So much of it has you on the edge of your seat as the two trade blows. The crowd that watches on is so intently into the fight, with such solid cheering sections behind each of them, that the Hall becomes unlike any previous fight experience and just overwhelms. Naturally, commentary about the fight is provided by not only the boxers in the ring but their coaches and key members in the audience. Mashiba in particular is fun to watch during this as he realizes just how far Ippo has come. While the fight isn't the culmination of Ippo's career, it's a huge milestone in his growth that's very well played out.
The series as a whole has simply been one high after another. When it first came out it didn't seem like a show that would be able to sustain seventy-five episodes without getting old along the way but it really surprised both me and my wife. Neither of us are boxing fans by any stretch of the imagination but the series really won us over very quickly with its very surprising sense of humor, tense fighting scenes and rather strong male camaraderie. It broke usual traditions by not really going with an ongoing relationship for Ippo with a woman that could throw off his fights nor were there any serious familial conflicts. The show has such a strong supporting cast of characters behind Ippo that only want him to succeed that it just feels very unlike many other shows.In Summary:
Sometimes you don't get what you want, but you get what you need. The fight between Sendo and Ippo is what we needed, though we've wanted the fight with Miyata again for some time. Fighting Spirit is such an inspiring and uplifting show with positive themes throughout that even when you face off with the tough opponents, nobody is truly a bad guy. Everything that has made the series great in its first seventy episodes, minus the bathroom elephant waggling, is here in the final fight. These episodes did not disappoint in the slightest nor did the entire run of the series. We've been recommending this series since the start practically and that hasn't changed here at the end. It's taken awhile to get here, but I'd do it all again if they made another seventy-five of them. Few shows really give me the simple joy and excitement that Fighting Spirit does and I hope other discover what we've seen here.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,Spanish 2.0 Language,English Subtitles
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic DMP-BD10 Blu-ray player via HDMI-DVI, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.