Ramen Fighter Miki Vol. #3 - 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: 19.99
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Ramen Fighter Miki

Ramen Fighter Miki Vol. #3

By Chris Beveridge     January 10, 2008
Release Date: January 08, 2008


Ramen Fighter Miki Vol. #3
© Media Blasters


What They Say
Kankuro has failed to beat Miki at martial arts for the last time, and now he is after her job as ramen shop poster girl. After she takes him on, skirt and all, her greatest opponents all line up at once. Then, Kankuro, Megumi and Toshiyuki suddenly have a realization. There is one person that not even Miki can beat, a fighter so powerful that she can make the heavens tremble. The true number one fighter on Earth is... Miki's Mom! Miki joins forces with all of her arch rivals in a reckless bid for the title of strongest. But can they find out her Mom's secret weakness before the ramen shop owner's deadly fists split the Earth and them along with it?

The Review!
The series draws to a close far too quickly but likely for the best as some of its initial charms start to wear a little thin.

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 Megumi in a Hell's Bunny costume standing next to the real thing. The colors are bright and they look good overall but it 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 strange extras continue on this volume as we get an eleven minute "voice actress battle" video in which the two lead voice actresses compete in a batting cage as balls fly at their face. It's not as priceless as the Jenga video but it has plenty of good silly moments that just made me smile. In addition to this, we get a clean version of the ending sequence as well.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Ramen Fighter Miki is a series that I really wonder if it falls into the Ranma trap as it goes along. The manga incarnation of it is over twenty volumes at this point and there's obviously enough material to mine for a few more episodes I'd hazard. Yet the series comes to a rather quick close at just twelve episodes of silly fun insanity. That may be the for the best though as by this volume, I'm starting to wonder just how much more they can really do without drawing in more characters to flesh it out.

What continues to work in the shows favor is the format of two stories per episode. With the ten minute average runtime for each story, they don't get bogged down in details or drug out too far. There are definitely enjoyable stories to be found here though, even if Megumi does get sidelined for the most part and Ohta is given a smaller role than usual. One of the opening stories that had me really laughing involved Miki's mother trying some reverse psychology of sorts by thinking that she was a bad parent over the years and caused Miki to be like she is. The result is that she changes her reactions to Miki completely in hope that Miki will then act properly. Of course, acting like a good parent has Miki scared to death and she does pick up the pace some but it just freaks everyone out and leads to some strange situations for all involved.

Kankuro has a number of good moments in these episodes as his character gets elevated slightly. His attempts at taking down Miki, or even getting her to remember his name, have not fared well. So much so that he's having a hard time even getting a challenge in because of her busy work schedule. So it turns out to be a real surprise when Miki heads out for a run that Kankuro does a ton of work in the ramen shop and actually draws in a lot of customers and gets a lot of positive feedback. His motivation and dedication pay off well here and even Miki's mother is quite impressed by what he does. That sends Miki into a fit and like most other episodes, everything goes downhill from there.

What proved to be the best of the volume though came in the last couple of episodes in which we learn what kind of drunk Miki is. Being of recent age to drink legally, Miki hasn't done it much because her mother insists she doesn't partake in it. The reason being is that Miki turns into your standard perfect dream girl in that she's demure, subservient and very compliant to others wishes. In her job, this actually works in her favor as she suddenly becomes a much better work and has all the traits of a desired model employee. Of course, in this ramen shop, that's not a bonus as people come to see the fights and get disappointed when none happen. While there's certainly idle curiosity about this particular Miki, with her being less outgoing and in everyone's faces, it's not a curiosity that will last long.

In Summary:
Ramen Fighter Miki is a hard show to talk about since it's filled with a lot of physical comedy bits that don't exactly translate well to critiquing. What I have found with the series is that it's far more fun than you'd expect based on its name. I went into the show with very – very – low expectations but was pleasantly surprised for all three installments. The writing is crisp, the characters are very enjoyable and the episode breakdown really works in its favor. The main problem with it is that with a fairly limited cast, you start to run out of options fairly quickly. There are certainly plenty of areas to go with it as Ranma has proven over its massive run, but Ramen Fighter Miki ends on a high note and goes out leaving the viewer very satisfied. The only thing that would have made this better would have been a dub as that could have been a really solid work of comedy if done right. If you didn't pick up the cheap singles as they came out, take a chance on the eventual collection and scoop this up.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Textless Closing, Voice Actor Battle

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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