Neo Ranga Vol. #6 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: C+

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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. #6

By Chris Beveridge     January 17, 2004
Release Date: December 09, 2003


Neo Ranga Vol. #6
© ADV Films


What They Say
The paradise built by Ushio, Minami, and Yuuhi is slipping through their fingers. New rampages and resurrections bring forth the most difficult enemy yet-the god Ibuki. Overwhelming Neo Ranga with an awesome display of power, this new foe leaves him for dead in the snowy wastes of northern Japan.

Neo Ranga lives, but barely. Strange beings descend upon the Earth bearing a message: finish Neo Ranga off or face annihilation.


The Review!
Neoranga comes to a confusing conclusion that reads more like the end of a first novel in a larger epic series.

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:
Finishing out with the same look as the past volumes in clear keepcases, all three sisters appear on 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 great image of them together. 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 there is no traditional insert included with this release, a foldout map of Japan and a highly useful “who’s who” of the series and the relationships the characters have.

Menu:
It’s not that often that a menu is as darkly black as this one, but it again fits perfectly with its deep black background offset by some of the red squirlies keeping menu selections to the left side. Like the Steel Angel Kurumi release, 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 continue on the same as 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 also section of full color art gallery images while 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)
The second season of Neoranga comes to a close with this volume, taking eight episodes to close out the last chapter of this particular book. Much of what happens here has a somewhat random feel to it, much like a lot of this season has felt in general. As it moves from episode to episode, sometimes there’s follow through with events while other times it just leaps into completely different areas. With as much that’s going on here, this can get really confusing in trying to follow it, particularly if there’s been a few months between releases.

The Kyoshinkai have really started to get their plans underway with the arrival of their own god, Ibuki. With Fujisawa becoming one with it, and his own desires to create a personal paradise for all Japanese, but one where people must go through a change for it to happen. A common theme in many series, Neoranga continues to push the facet of modern Japanese not being up to the standards needed to handle the future, so with Ibuki, he works with the Kyoshin to eliminate the things that stand in the way. One of those things is the government and its self-serving layer of politicians. Add in the media and other institutions and you’ve got yourself a lot to take care of. In Ibuki’s favor though is the simple fact that the military, long desiring to control their own destiny and help guide the country to its proper place, is all too eager to participate in ushering in this new era and effects a quick and simple coup. It’s a near bloodless one at that until those behind the Kyoshinkai begin unveiling some of their true motives.

When Ibuki makes his move, the first thing that must be done is to take Ranga down and out of the picture. With the knowledge that when Ibuki was unearthed, an ancient weapon was laying next to it, we see the new updated version of it in his hands with powerful grenade like missiles to use. The battle between these two beasts is rather engaging to watch, with seemingly the entire world watching as the potential balance of power shifts with each blow. With Ranga mortally wounded and seeking refuge, everything changes in the world, but particularly in Japan.

One of these surprising changes, and its one that changes the nature of the show even more, is the sudden appearance of an event in nearby space, about a light year away, where a seeming circle of light has appeared with a sun shining out from it. It’s appearance is suggested to be tied to the events with the ancient gods now roaming again, and we’re now awash in tales of when the Earth was filled with nothing but Suura type gods and how the one true god, Tao, wiped nearly all of them out in an effort to maintain control. With the introduction of Tao, which is really just described as a concept and not a real physical being, Neoranga shifts the plane of the story into a higher realm, one where the events that have taken place now look insignificant.

It’s this change in pace that really turns the final couple of episodes into an anticlimactic piece. With the story on Earth now seemingly done, setting things up so that the next event, whenever it should take place, will be out there in space, it takes what’s gone on in the past and makes it seem like the entire series was nothing more than an opening chapter. The first season of the series was a lot of fun and providing some interesting pacing with the short episode format, but once it started trying for the larger themes, it’s felt like it hasn’t been able to tell them properly in the time given.

In Summary:
Neoranga as a series has been fairly uneven throughout, but some of the initial premises were highly intriguing. With the style used combined with the music, there were several hooks in us right from the start. But as the series went for a larger epic feel than the writers were capable of pulling off, the format really started to hinder them and caused the series to buckle in many places. This last set of eight episodes shows this the most, especially in how it seems to promise some sort of sequel to an anticlimactic ending.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Art gallery,Translator notes,Clean opening and closing animation

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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