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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: A-
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: TV 14
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 59.98
  • Running time: 600
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Neo Ranga

Neo Ranga Complete Collection

By Mike Dungan     November 07, 2006
Release Date: January 24, 2006


Neo Ranga Complete Collection
© ADV Films


What They Say
The ancient god Neo Ranga awakens from his slumber and is mysteriously drawn to Tokyo. But instead of rolling out the red carpet, the ilitary rolls out the heavy artillery! Is Neo Ranga a messenger with a warning for mankind, or just a big boy out for a good time?

The Review!
Three sisters adopt a giant god-monster from the South Pacific for fun and profit.

Audio:
For the purposes of this review, I watched this show in its original Japanese and the English 5.1 mix. The show has a reasonably good stereo mix in both languages, with most of the dialogue coming from the center channel. Sound directionality is good in the action sequences and the music is well mixed to complement the show without overwhelming it.

Video:
The colors in the show are rather muted, even a bit washed out. It gives the show a decidedly traditional 2D look, somewhat out of vogue in today's 3DCG anime world. Colors are reproduced well, otherwise. There is a small amount of blockiness, mostly in areas with a lot of dark colors, but it's very minimal. For a transfer that is now several years old, it still looks pretty good.

Packaging:
The box is a sturdy chipboard box, in keeping with the rest of ADV's thinpak series. The artwork is beautiful. The three sisters are highlighted, moving in and out of pools of black and red. The same art motif is followed with the individual disc cases. A bit of the nudity that is muted on the boxart is restored on the thinpak covers. The original 6-disc release has been condensed down to 5 discs, each with its own gorgeous image of one or more of the Shimabara sisters on the cover. On the whole, it's very eye-catching and stunning.

Menu:
The menus use the same red tribal designs against a back background as the rest of the artwork. Episode numbers are easily navigated and access times are minimal. The menus are perfect examples of minimalist goodness. Everything you need is right where you want it to be.

Extras:
As with the rest of ADV's thinpak collections, there are no extras. Previews for other ADV series are on the first disc only.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Meet the Shimabara sisters. Minami is the eldest sister, beautiful but frazzled. She works three jobs trying to keep the family afloat. Ushio is the middle sister, idealistic and kind. Yuuhi is the youngest sister, highly intelligent and will not suffer fools at all. And then one day, a giant monster wades ashore in Japan, leaving death and destruction in it's path. And where it's going is the Shimabara home. The monster is Neo Ranga from the South Pacific island of Barou. Once it takes up residence in the Shimabara sister's backyard, there's no budging it. It seems to only respond to Ushio and Yuuhi. Ushio sees it as a tool for helping people, by using it to fight bad guys. Yuuhi sees it as a tool for punishing the stupid, which includes everyone but herself. Ushio in particular begins to trust Neo Ranga's instincts to know the right thing to do in any situation. Not susprisingly, the Japanese government takes a dim view of private ownership of a god-monster, but when you can't kill it or even make it move from its spot, it's bit difficult to enforce their will on the creature.

The Shimabaras do have friends on their side, although none of them are supporting them out of purely altruistic reasons. One of Minami's jobs was as the owner of a talent agency. The company went bankrupt when Japan's bubble economy burst, but she's kept her TV industry contacts in the hope of restarting the business when she's finally worked herself out of the crushing debt the bankruptcy has forced on her. One of those contacts is Mei Omori, a producer at a TV network, who decided to call on her old friend Minami to snag exclusive interviews. Another of those contacts is Haseoka. He now runs a small restaurant in West Musashino, the home of the Shimabara sisters, but at one time, he was quite the filmmaker, and he still carries a video camera around with him, filming everything he thinks is worth the trouble. And Neo Ranga is definitely worth the trouble. Keeping an eye on the sisters is Kazuo Fujiwara. He's young and handsome, and an old friend of the family. He looks out for them as a sort of surrogate older brother. He also has a slightly creepy thing for Yuuhi, who is only in 6th grade. She's aware of it and uses it to her advantage.

The sisters are given tickets to Barou by the Barou government so they can learn about Ranga. The sisters don't realize it, but they're royalty on Barou. They have an older brother, Masaru. He left home for Barou a few years ago and has been gone ever since. It turns out Masaru married into royalty on Barou and became king. He then went fishing one day and was never heard from again. Now that leaves the three sisters as the queens of Barou, and the owners of Neo Ranga, the god of the Barou people. While in the jungle of Barou, Ranga lashes out and kills a native. This devastates Ushio, who believed in him more than anyone.

Back in Japan, the Shimabara house is surrounded by the Japanese military. They are constantly monitoring the monster, tracking it's every move. The village of West Musashino is mostly against having the monster there, but they're even less receptive to the military presence. The military aren't the only ones against having the monster in their hometown. The local Yakuza have a grudge against anyone who might weaken their power. They steal a powered robot from the military in an effort to destroy Ranga, with predictable results.

With that particular threat put down for the moment, it's time for the sisters to take their summer vacation. It's time for some of the more humorous moments in the show, as well as the most fanservicey, but the story isn't forgotten. The sisters and Ranga become involved with a local shrine, which worships it's own ancient monster, which leads to a battle between Ranga and the ancient god.

The Kyoshinkai is an old order of behind the scenes movers and shakers who decide to manipulate the power of Ranga to their advantage. A "Neo Ranga clause" is introduced into the legislature that would make him illegal. The townspeople are cleared out as the military prepares to battle the monster, but the people have become used to Ranga and fight the military to regain their town. The sisters, fearing for the lives of the townspeople, decide to leave Japan and take Ranga to Barou. Three significant things happen while they're in Barou. They meet a reporter by the name of Tojo who knows much more than he lets on. An assassination attempt is made on the sister's lives. And the Kyoshinkai seize the opportunity afforded by Neo Ranga's absence to take over the government. This last event convinces the girls to return to Japan to set things right.

The second season of Neo Ranga begins with the sisters back in Japan and having established their own outpost of the Barou Kingdom in West Musashino. The reporter Tojo has come with them and opened a coffee shop called "Spy House Langley", which should tell you everything you need to know about him. The United States is very concerned about the new hardline Kyoshin government and wants to keep a close eye on everything that is happening with the sisters. A side product of the establishment of the Kyoshin government is a new nationalism that spreads throughout the young men of Japan. Ushio's schoolmate Tsubasa Sasai becomes wrapped up in it. He was a real Ranga otaku, but the ideals of the "Teigoku" movement cause him to turn against Ranga. He is given the Salome robot and fights Ushio in Ranga. The result of the battle brings about the end of the Teigoku movement.

Ranga begins to fight more battles, all instigated by the Kyoshikai. They are doing everything in their power to discredit Ranga and make Japan powerful again. There is a trip to Osaka to fight a monster, then a battle with two show business brothers who are given their own monster. And then Masaru, the sister's long-lost brother, returns. Or appears to. Out of Ranga, a man appears. He looks exactly like Masaru, but he acts bizarrely. He eats ravenously, but doesn't speak. His reappearance causes all sorts of emotions in the sisters, from the more than sisterly love of Minami to the anger of Yuuhi. All of this is a prelude to a battle with a resurrected ancient god-monster with a rifle-like weapon, named Ibuki. Ibuki is the Kyoshinkai's greatest weapon, and is entrusted to Fujiwara, the man who had been looking after the sisters. He's an agent for the Kyoshinkai, and Masaru's best friend from high school and college.

The end of the story is a mad dash through Japanese mythology, with the entire planet in danger of destruction through a hole in space which is pointing a red supergiant star at Earth. The sisters are separated and must battle each other in order to save each other and the Earth.

In Summary:
Series writer Shou Aikawa (responsible for the series structure on "Martian Successor Nadesico") was clearly trying to write a story about the collapse of Japan's bubble economy and the search for meaning in a depressed society, but I can't say it completely worked. While a lot of it did work, it seemed like he was trying to say too much too quickly, and most of the impact of the story was lost. When 3 minutes for the opening and closing are subtracted from the half-length show's running time, there isn't much time to develop a story of this depth. However, I liked the unique character designs of Hiroto Tanaka, creator of the highly enjoyable "My Dear Mari" OVA series. The characters in the show were all well-realized and made the show more enjoyable than it could have been otherwise.

ADV's original translation by Joe Congdon was unfortunately well below their usual standards, enough so that ADV commissioned an entirely new translation from Sarah Alys Lindholm, as well as all new subtitles. Unfortunately for dub fans, the dub script is still based on the original translation, which can make the convoluted story even more difficult to follow. It shouldn't take away from the performances of the main actors. Kaytha Coker as Minami, Kelli Cousins as Ushio and Kira Vincent Davis are all excellent in their roles.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
NEC CT-2510A TV, Pioneer 440 codefree DVD player

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