Ninja Nonsense Vol. #4 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Nozomi Entertainment
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Ninja Nonsense

Ninja Nonsense Vol. #4

By Chris Beveridge     November 13, 2006
Release Date: November 28, 2006


Ninja Nonsense Vol. #4
© Nozomi Entertainment


What They Say
Combine one totally cute (and naive) ninja-girl trainee, a horde of ninjas under the perverse tutelage of her headmaster: a strange, yellow, spherical, pudgy... creature... named Onsokumaru, and you get the craziest, most hilarious anime show ever created!

Contains:
10A: The Ninjas Have Christmas
Deck the halls with ninja stars! The ninjas are having their first Christmas ever and it's up to Kaede to teach them about the holiday spirit! But what kind of gift do you get for a ninja?

10B: The Ninjas Are Cursed
A little "end of the year cleaning" yields a box filled with misfortune! While Kaede, Shinobu and the rest of the ninjas are subjected to one bizarre curse after another, Onsokumaru and Sasuke are left out! Hey, that's not very fair!

11A: The Legend of Sasuke Begins
The real star of Ninja Nonsense finally gets his own episode! Expect more explosions, more naked girls, and more full-throttle Sasuke action! So good, you'll need to watch it a second time!

11B: The Grateful Ninja
The ninjas are putting on a play of the "Grateful Crane" story! But how did that go again? Onsokumaru does his best to recall the classic fairy tale... but was the story meant to be twisted and perverted?

12A: Onsokumaru's Secret
The mysterious secret that Onsokumaru alluded to in episode 6 has finally come to light (thanks to a little "persuasion" from the ninjas)! The shocking truth may change everything for Shinobu...

12B: Farewell to Ninja Nonsense
Shinobu's goal of becoming a full-fledged ninja is finally within her grasp! Now she just has to pass the dreaded Ninja Graduation Exam! She'll need to use every technique that Onsokumaru's ever taught her! ...Her chances don't exactly look promising, do they?

The Review!
Drawing to a close, Ninja Nonsense hits up its last three episodes and provides more solid comedy and fun.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. With it being a kind of wacky comedy series, there are a lot of things going on across the screen which means characters flying every which way and an audio mix that has to handle that. There are some really good standout sequences where the dialogue moves around beautifully across the forward soundstage and really helps the scene work even better. We listened to a good bit of the English track as well and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback of either track.

Video:
Originally airing in 2004, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The source materials are in fantastic shape here and the encoding has captured a lot of the visual beauty of the show in its rich palette of colors. There's a great mix of colors between the traditional ninja motif and that of the normal world and they blend very well. In particular, the many gray outfits of the ninjas maintain a very solid feel while the backgrounds and sky areas don't show any blocking. The animation quality is quite good and fluid and the lack of cross coloration or aliasing means this is great looking transfer.

Packaging:
Somewhat typical of final volumes, this one provides for a full cast shot of the entire series and it's just filled with all sorts of characters that made even brief appearances. It's not quite as colorful as some previous covers but it has a good feeling to it for the one that brings it all to a close. The back cover is broken out into a couple of sections where each of the episodes is covered with a short summary and an accompanying shot from the episode, shots that highlight Onsokumaru a lot and point to the weirdness of the series. The discs features are clearly listed while the technical information covers everything in a quick to easy form. The cover is also reversible though the only change, a good one though, is that the logo is swapped out from its English version to its original Japanese one. The included booklet appears to do a lot of translating from the Japanese ones as it has a few production journals that are illuminating, some character profile pieces and a number of very useful liner notes to the various gags and visuals in the show.

Menu:
The menu replicates the design of the front cover and expands upon it a bit with some simple but effective animation; there's a great bit of mild animation to it as in the overall background you have the rays from the sun rotating around. Set to a bit of bouncy vocal music from the show, it's a good looking menu that's easy to navigate and with quick access times. In another plus, the disc correctly read our players' language presets and played accordingly.

Extras:
The final set of extras is pretty solid and is similar to previous installments. There is another set of the original TV spots promoting the series, something that I always love to see since it's interesting to see how shows are promoted differently, as well as a clean version of the Japanese ending sequence. Completing the extra that started in the previous volume, the second half of the interview with the Japanese cast is here. Also neat to see is the full version of the closing sequence which manages to be even more amusing with its dolls and claymation.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The final installment of Ninja Nonsense brings us the last three episodes and manages to hit things just right with it. While it plays through some standard setups for the most part, it's thanks to Sasuke that the series gets something of an actual ending as well as making sure past plotline hints come back to be dealt with. Having a group of "gentle otaku" in the show itself certainly helps to ensure things are done right!

In dealing with some of the basic kinds of plots that you expect in a show like this, we get a couple of holiday themed half episodes. The opening episode shifts between a Christmas Eve celebration and an episode focused around the New Year holiday. Each of them have plenty of merits to them, especially in how there's the discovery of the passageways within the ninja compound. Mixing in some amusing traps and Onsokumaru's general obnoxiousness, it's very cute and fun. Onsokumaru really gets tortured in some very amusing ways in the second episode, such as when the rope rides up him and the ants start making their way towards him. He continues to be a character that's amusing not only when he's being obnoxious but also when he's being horribly abused.

One of the more interesting episodes in the series is one that focuses around Sasuke and the ninjas in general. Giving Sasuke a chance to stand out and not just be supporting all the hilarity manages to work well, though it certainly wouldn't carry an entire episode. The first half is a more traditional action piece where you get to see Sasuke as a real man but even then, like most things within this series, reality doesn't quite match up with what Sasuke is believing or seeing. The second half is a bit weaker as they do a play with the story of the "Grateful Crane" being the subject. This isn't quite so much a Sasuke episode, though the ninjas do feature prominently, but more of an abuse piece for Onsokumaru.

The show does manage to close out with a very amusing episode where they deal with the plotline dangled before us a few episodes ago about how Shinobu has some deep dark secret associated with her. Thanks to Sasuke who has it on tape and the rest of the ninjas who want their show to not end like other anime series, they force it out of Onsokumaru. It takes a few tries to get the real story but in the end it's just very well done. A lot of shows don't hold up well when they're self referential but Ninja Nonsense manages to play the line just right. The ninjas go into a small spiel about how animation quality is only good on first and last episodes and hope that it doesn't happen here. Then they make the spot on statement about how it's something that should be done right the first time and not fixed up on DVD. You wonder whether they're echoing the thoughts of the creators or just playing up to fans, but it's nice to hear it actually said in some way. The gags are plenty mocking about how most shows end, the silly formulas used for it and so forth and it just brings the show to a very satisfying close.

In Summary:
Series that are strictly comedies, as opposed to action or romance shows that have a comedic element to them, have always been very hit or miss with me. There have been a number of them that have come out this year and that trend has continued as there really aren't any that seem to fall between those two feelings. Ninja Nonsense landed squarely in the funny category for me, particularly with the somewhat raunchy nature that Onsokumaru brings to the table and the manner in which the show is told. Keeping it to half-episode plotlines ensured that the jokes setup didn't get old, there wasn't a need to stretch out the humor to fill time and it just generally felt much sharper. The release itself was no slouch either as the technical side was just right and a lot of effort and work in the design of the package and the liner notes and booklet translations gave it all a much richer and fuller view. This was a show that was completely off my radar until it got licensed and turned out to be a real gem, one with a good amount of replay value I think.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Interview with Japanese Cast Part 2, TV Spots 15-18, Character Bios, Kuru-Kuru Rin (Closing) Full Size

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic DMP-BD10 Blu-ray player via HDMI -> DVI with upconversion set to 1080i, 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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