Ramen Fighter Miki Vol. #2 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Media Blasters
  • MSRP: 19.95
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Ramen Fighter Miki

Ramen Fighter Miki Vol. #2

By Chris Beveridge     November 23, 2007
Release Date: November 20, 2007


Ramen Fighter Miki Vol. #2
© Media Blasters


What They Say
Miki's serving up a second bowl of punishment as she squares off against neighboring shop girl, Megumi. Megumi is full of everything the straightforward Miki hates: fake smiles, fake tears, and the ability to wait on tables.

Megumi infiltrates Miki's ramen shop to learn the secret of its success. She finds the only reason customers pack in is to watch the chaos and violent fighting, and Miki learns valuable life lessons like "Don't poison the food; it's basic customer service."

With this information, she sets a plan in motion to bring down the ramen girl for good. Will the sneaky Megumi find victory in the restaurant where the greatest fighters in the world have only tasted defeat?

Contains episodes 5-8.

The Review!
Four more episodes with eight fairly different stories carries the series forward with more wacky, silly moments than should be allowed.

Audio:
Media Blasters has again elected to go with the single language route so there is only the original Japanese language track available here. The stereo mix is decent enough, encoded at 192 kbps, as it deals with the simple directionality across the forward soundstage and some of the ambient sounds. The music is loud and brash at times, which fills it up nicely, but otherwise it's a fairly stable mix without anything to really challenge it. Dialogue comes through clean and clear and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2006, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. Filled with lots of bright colors and fairly simple character designs, the show just leaps off the screen and has a very good look and feel to it. The colors maintain a solid look for the bulk of the show, though some noise does come across in a few background scenes. The usual small moments of line noise during panning sequences is apparent but it's very minimal overall. With no cross coloration or any kinds of real issues to it, this is simply an appealing looking transfer that serves the material well.

Packaging:
The cover design for the show is pretty well in theme but admittedly a hard sell. With a red background and border that's used on many ramen book designs, it's covered largely by the character poses of Kankuro and Kayahara. Unlike the first volume which had smiling characters, this one almost seems angry which fits well with the characters.. The colors are bright and they look good overall but Megumi's design has a bit of softness throughout. The back cover uses the same background design which works really well here as it mixes in various food shots and pieces of character artwork. The summary runs through the basics and the discs features are cleanly listed. As is usual, the bottom quarter of the cover has the standard production information and an always solid technical grid. No insert is included nor is there a reversible cover.

Menu:
The menu essentially takes the character artwork from the cover and changes out the background with a bright red backdrop which clashes well with the foreground. In the foreground for the menu selections though are numerous ramen cups, all in red, which look like small Pringles containers. The navigation across these is a bit awkward as the direction the cursor goes in isn't terribly clear but navigation design has been weak on several Media Blasters titles recently. With a bit of upbeat vocal music playing along, this is a bright and loud piece overall but it sets the mood fairly well. Access times are solid and since there's only one language on here our player presets were pretty much set.

Extras:
The extras are rather weak in comparison to the first volume but I don't know that they could top the game of Jenga that had me so fascinated for some reason. This time around we get a couple of brief TV spots for the series and a clean version of the opening sequence..

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The opening volume of Ramen Fighter Miki completely blew away all my expectations for the show, much like Miki's mother giving her an uppercut. With bland looking manga releases a few years back and a title that just doesn't inspire confidence; I dreaded watching this even though I knew nothing about it. At the end of that volume, I found that I had been laughing throughout and had a very big smile on my face. Thankfully, this installment of episodes manages pretty much the same thing.

Though the series is titled after Miki, it really is an ensemble piece since if it was just her by herself, she'd just sleep the day away or goof off doing nothing. It's the fact that people are challenging her and there are those that frustrate her that keep her alive and so invigorated. The only time the show gets weak to me is when it brings in the Star Rangers material and that's mostly since I simply don't care for sentai material like that. Yet even in that area they do have some fun that gets me into it and laughing all the way. When the Star Rangers' main villain is the luscious Hell Bunny and she has a striking resemblance to Megumi, it doesn't take much for some fun cosplay battles to start happening. It's purely the male aspect in me I'm sure, but getting the lovely Megumi in those outfits is made of pure win.

Megumi and Miki's sparring doesn't reach new levels here but it continues to be a lot of fun. The two get into it once again right from the start when each of them wants a particular stuffed pig at a department store. That leads to an amusing battle as they're almost like dogs with a bone, to the point of each of them having it in their mouths. That doesn't settle the battle but instead leads to a festival that the shopping arcade runs yearly that involves a sumo contest. The previous year went badly when they allowed women to participate for the first time and Miki basically slaughtered the competition. This year the prize includes one of the stuffed pigs which means the pair are going head to head once again, but a safe and fair contest for others to enter must be decided on. It's all very silly yet strangely it works within the context of this bizarre shopping arcade.

The back and forth between the pair is amusing in general, but I do like it when they start to really look at each other to figure out what the other is doing. One episode, through which two stories are told, looks at the business side of each character. Megumi's bakery is doing boffo business in the mornings and throughout the day which just confounds Miki. Learning that it's partially coming from the allure of a hot young woman who is very friendly to her customers has her investigating first hand which turns out to be a shock to the system. When she learns that Megumi actually makes really good food, it surprises her more than she expected. The reverse can't be said though when Megumi goes to the ramen shop to find out what Miki is up to. The lunchtime draw is big enough that it siphons off her business and she wants to find out why. Miki spends more of her time trying to poison Megumi which in turn just attracts more and more people. And as usual, Akihiko ends up becoming the real victim in all of it.

Some of the best fun comes in the form of Toshiyuki, this strange little dog that I can't quite figure out why he's so appealing. One of the first stories on this volume is very amusing in that Megumi and Miki end up in an enclosed space in the middle of some buildings with no way out. Slowly but surely, everyone else ends up in there as well, including Toshiyuki who just gets to Miki in a way nobody else does. Later on, even Kankuro recognizes this and starts walking Toshiyuki in order to train with him so he gets better in dealing with Miki. Seeing the two of them go at it is hilarious but it's even funnier when you see the two starting to work together out of necessity. All the characters are one-note deals in some form, but Kankuro is the weakest of them all, including that of Toshiyuki. The dog simply has more personality.

In Summary:
Ramen Fighter Miki isn't a show with a plot or a real goal, it's simply a way to have a lot of fun. And not school based fun and games either, but an interesting one where the characters are all working for a living. The lack of an entire class of characters or just purely outlandish episodes where anything goes really gives this a strong feel. Its tempered style really helps to set it apart from the sea of other comedy shows that are all so similar. Much of this is familiar but it comes down to both execution and characters which makes it so much fun. I still lament the lack of a dub for this since it would be quite a good show to draw in folks with, but in the end I'm simply glad it was licensed and that I took the time to watch it. Ramen Fighter Miki is simply a very good time.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Clean Opening,TV Spots

Review Equipment
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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