Neo Ranga Vol. #4 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 15 & 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. #4

By Chris Beveridge     August 29, 2003
Release Date: August 19, 2003


Neo Ranga Vol. #4
© ADV Films


What They Say
Neo Ranga's back! And a warm welcome is the last thing on the Japanese government's agenda, though there's not much it can do to move a gargantuan monster with god-like powers.

On the fringes, Neo Ranga's enemies continue their attacks, waging war both in the streets and in the minds of people. Spreading lies, kidnapping loved ones, resurrecting new gods - nothing is off limits when the stakes are this high. Will the Shimabara sisters be able to win the people over? Or will they face an entire country's wrath?

From intrigue to ingnues to battles with behemoths, this gripping volume of Neo Ranga has it all!

The Review!
The second season of Neoranga kicks off here with another eight episodes of intrigue, politics and swimsuits.

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, Minami takes the front cover this time with the retail-friendly black and read skinsuit. While I think it looks good, it does provide some chuckles when you compare against the original and notice that they “trimmed” down her nipples too. Fans of the original ‘skin’ version get a great reversible cover here with the striking image of Minami. 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 shot of the ruined temple of Ranga back on Barou. While there is no traditional insert included with this release, a foldout map of the area around where the Shimabara’s live, showing it off in nice sketch conceptual form

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 is 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 intriguing season of this series and the high point at which it ended, I found myself glad for the three month break between seasons to take the time to step back from it a bit. With the episodes being short but plentiful, there’s a feeling of burning out quickly on these kinds of shows. Neoranga is one that I definitely wanted to avoid burning out on.

The second season picks up relatively close to where things left off. The Shimabara residence and the area around it has now become a part of the nation of Barou, completely with fences, checkpoints, passports and armed guards on both sides. This really starts to heighten the political tension among the populace as a lot of the people in the area that are now on the Barou side have stayed, but find themselves being called traitors at times or being assaulted when crossing the fence for business or other needs. There isn’t a lot of imagery really given over to it, but it does provide a feel to the Berlin wall as well as more recent events of fence building in Israel.

With the Shimabara residence now being set up as something of a makeshift embassy, Minami and the others try to deal with making things sustainable. Minami focuses on using Ranga for monetary purposes, such as being able to clothe and feed the family as well as looking out for Yuuhi and Ushio’s future as college students. Ushio ensures that Ranga is used to help out in emergencies, such as a rescue unit, while Yuuhi continues to push the need to use Ranga for her acquisition of power. Yuuhi continues to be the main one to sense something dark and sinister really at work here and is trying to discover just what’s going on.

The main enemy that shows up throughout these episodes, fomenting dissent and trying to change the way people perceive what’s going on, is the Koshinkai. They take a couple of basic approaches to dealing with Ranga and what they see as a major threat to their power and stability, particularly since foreign powers are afraid and concerned about the rise of this creature into the modern world. One of their tactics comes from financing and manipulating people who can raise other Kyoshin “old gods” and try to use them against Ranga. This is done either seriously and straightforward or in an almost comical vein, such as towards the end of the volume when they try to use the tactics of a TV entertainer duo to spin Ranga on an umbrella sized for him. But even then, while it sounds comical and is played that way for part of it, they manage to insert material into it that makes it become exceedingly serious and critical for movement on the shows future.

Another aspect that gets played out in a really interesting way here is the introduction of a group called the Teikoku. Mostly made up of young men, they wear red gloves as a symbol of their allegiance, pushing for the strong red in their national flag. Like a virus, they multiplied as they entered the Barou side of the fence and begin their watch of Ranga while acquiring more and more followers. Their main push is to return Japan back to power and pride, bringing in something close to a civil war of sorts with their methods. The way they’re introduced and mingle with the existing population is intriguing, again harking back to various real world political moments that help give this show something really flavorful.

The break between seasons really helped and this volume, with a great little recap in the opening credits of the first episode, got me primed up for more of it. This is a series where I really have no idea where it’s going or what’s going to happen next and I’m enjoying it quite a lot.

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.


COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

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jnager 3/13/2012 8:46:51 AM

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