Neo Ranga Vol. #3 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 120
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Neo Ranga

Neo Ranga Vol. #3

By Chris Beveridge     June 10, 2003
Release Date: May 27, 2003


Neo Ranga Vol. #3
© ADV Films


What They Say
It's fun in the sun for the Shimabara sisters on the island of Kyushu. The locals have even planned a festival to honor Neo Ranga. But when sinister forces awaken another old god, all plans for fun fall to the wayside. And this ancient god isn't the only thing trying to tear down the town...

Meanwhile, anti-Ranga sentiment is on the rise. In Tokyo, ugly rumors have started to spread that Neo Ranga is no god, but a devil! With the National Defense Force and the U.S. Army standing by, what kind of welcome will the girls receive on their return? Will they be able to convince the people that Neo Ranga is truly good? Will they show themselves to be true kings? Get ready for a gripping showdown as the girls go up against criminals, politicians, and gods alike!

The Review!
Neoranga continues to be a very interesting show, but things start having a bit of a disconnect between episodes here that allows things to be a bit more difficult to follow.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. The show has a pretty decent stereo mix for both language tracks, though the majority of dialogue is center channel based. The action sequences provide a number of good moments of forward soundstage directionality while the music does a solid job of filling an overall field.

Video:
Originally airing back in 1999, Neo Ranga’s transfer is reminiscent of a more traditionally animated show. The color palette used for the majority of it is very muted and earthy, giving it a darker and slightly dirtier feel. The area where this makes things look not so hot is in some of the water scenes or dark night sequences where the dark blues look very grainy and shifty. Colors otherwise look good, though there are some moments where you can see some blockiness in Ranga’s brown face when they have him move up and down. Cross coloration is non-existent and aliasing is very minimal, so overall the transfer is pretty good looking.

Packaging:
Continuing with the same look as the past volumes in clear keepcases, we get Yuuhi in the black and red clad outfit for the “clean” cover for retail. Fans of the original ‘skin’ version get a great reversible cover here with a striking image of Yuuhi. The back cover of the modified version has more of the squirlies and provides a brief summary of things and a listing of the discs features and extras while the reverse side of the back cover provides a nice shot of Ranga making his way down a city street. While there is no traditional insert included with this release, a foldout map of the Musashino Ginza is included with descriptions of the places and who we know works or lives there. With so much of the show taking place in this small area, this is a neat little extra.

Menu:
It’s not that often that a menu is as darkly black as this one, but it again fits the Ranga character perfectly with its deep black background offset by some of the red squirlies keeping menu selections to the left side. Like Kurumi, you can jump to any of the eight episodes right from the top while the remaining selections provide quick and easy access to the extras and setup. Access times are nice and fast as well as being free of transitional animations.

Extras:
The extras here are about on par with the previous releases, which is a good thing. The translator’s notes provide a lot of interesting and useful information for the eight episodes here. There’s a new section of production sketches and the remainder of the extras are things we’ve seen previously, such as the clean opening and ending sequences and the shows trailer.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After the first two volumes of Neoranga, I was pretty safely enjoying the show and really curious about where it was going. The plot has a somewhat lackadaisical mood to it where it lingers in some of the strangest places and then whips out the action so suddenly that it does become surprising when it happens.

This does continue pretty much in this volume, which brings the first season to a conclusion, but there is also to me more of a feeling of a disconnect between episodes, as if they let more happen off-screen so they could get things done a bit quicker. This doesn’t work badly if you view the show as if it’s something you’re seeing through news reporting and only getting small glimpses of what’s going on as opposed to the full picture.

There is some great material here though. The opening episode, which picks up from the previous volume nicely with everyone out where the Neoranga festival was to be held, brings the Shimabara girls into contact with their aunt and uncle who are the only real remaining protectors of the shrine of Lord Reiya in the mountains. The relatives want absolutely nothing to do with the due to things their mother did years and years ago, but none of that sits well with Yuuhi.

When she gets frustrated enough by the simplest of problems, she simply takes control of Ranga and heads off into the sacred and forbidden forest to where Lord Reiya remains, something that Ranga has been anxious to do for some time. When everyone else catches up, they arrive only in time to see the destruction Yuuhi and Ranga cause, but also the results which is the release of Reiya from his captivity. It’s a sickly looking god for sure, reminiscent of scenes from Nausicaa, and plays out in a very creepy manner.

There is a lot of other forces that take movement throughout these episodes, as the political side of things really starts to come into play as more and more politicians are seeing Ranga as the threat he could be, or is in their minds. The domestic side of things take shape in the form of one Senator who tries to use his influence and connections to try and have Ranga kidnapped by a third world power while at another time the defense forces using the ASE gear try to get more influence in the government with their fears about Ranga.

The big threat though comes from, naturally, the United States. With this powerful unknown moving all over Japan and causing as much trouble as it has been, it’s not surprising you’d have a concerned President nor a concerned Congress. Using their powers through the joint security pacts that arose after World War II, the treaty gains a new addendum about living creatures over a certain height that can fight being refused rights and access to both Japan and America. This essentially places Ranga in a box and tries to keep him from being able to do anything at all.

There’s a lot going on between the political side of things as well as the slow growth and understanding of the three Shimabara girls. A lot of their understanding really grows once they return to Barous and deal with Ranga and the problems there. But there’s a lot of small moments throughout the episodes that bring things to a head, such as Yuuhi’s refusal to not bring Ranga to school anymore.

Neoranga continues to be quite enjoyable, though I sometimes think it might play out better if I wasn’t watching all eight episodes in one batch session. The plotting and pacing isn’t the way things usually go and the short 12 minute episodes adds an interesting dimension to it. As soon as the opening sequence plays, I’m pretty much hooked right into it.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Production sketches,Translator notes,Clean opening animation,Clean closing animation

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.

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