Ranma 1/2: Hard Battle Box Set - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+/F
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 119.98
  • Running time: 600
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Ranma 1/2

Ranma 1/2: Hard Battle Box Set

By Chris Beveridge     September 23, 2002
Release Date: July 30, 2002


Ranma 1/2: Hard Battle Box Set
© Viz Media


What They Say
It's the third season of adventures based on the comics of Rumiko Takahashi, the best-selling female comic artist in the world!

Ranma comes face to face with some of his greatest adversaries yet. There’s Ukyo, a friend from his childhood who bears a mysterious grudge; Tsubasa, the incredibly persistent suitor who comes chasing after Ukyo (and Ranma… and Akane); a secret Jusenkyo society that punishes transgressors to the "rules" of the magical springs; a pair of Amazon "sisters" who pack a mean punch; plus magic soap, magic mirrors, and more!

Contains the entire 3rd TV season (all 24 episodes) of all the comedy, romance and martial arts mayhem of Ranma 1/2!

The Review!
As the third season rolls out, I’m finding it to be mixed much like people said, but since I’ve not seen these episodes before, it’s at least something new.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to these discs in their original language of Japanese. With the exception of two episodes on the fifth disc, as there is no Japanese track and only an English one, due to a “technical oversight”. Dialogue is nice and clear throughout all of the discs with no noticeable problems, though they’re just a simple stereo mix. There’s not a lot of directionality, but the audio is pretty solid all told, excepting the major screw up on disc five.

For those wanting to swap their defective discs out, here’s the information (though there is no listed closing date):

Attention Ranma Fans:
Viz Communications has found a problem with the recently released 'Ranma 1/2 Hard Battle DVD Box Set'. The error occurs on Disc 5 of some of the Box Sets. The Japanese audio track on Episodes 22 and 23 are missing and only the English soundtrack is available. This was an error that occurred during the manufacturing of that disc.

To receive your free replacement DVD with the corrected Japanese language track, please send your defective 'Ranma 1/2 Hard Battle' disc 5 to:

Ranma Hard Battle Disc
Viz Communications
P.O. Box 77010
San Francisco, CA 94107

Be sure to include the following information:

Full Name
Return Mailing Address
Email Address

We will send you a replacement disc and a small gift for your trouble, and notify you via email once the replacement disc has shipped. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you.


Video:
When mixed in with more current shows, it becomes obvious just how flat the color palette used for this show is. The transfer overall seems to be decent, but just won’t look great because of the way it was created. Colors look good without any bleeding or over saturation and we noticed hardly any cross coloration and some instances of aliasing. The transfer does on the downside feature a number of hard subtitles as the masters used to create the dub transfer was used here. It’s quite noticeable that the worst looking aspects of the video transfer here are all the English additions, from the logo with its rainbows to the subtitles which shimmer and the hard to read white song subtitles.

Packaging:
Using the same style as the first box set, but going with an gray and red color combination, the box set looks good with Ryouga featured prominently on it. The back gives a rundown on the series premise and lists the basic features and number of episodes included. Each of the individual discs uses the same color scheme and features a different character along with prominent volume numbering. The back cover lists the episodes (numbered by the total included in this set, not their overall number in the series) and the episode titles and a brief summary of the disc in total. The inserts provide a shadowed version of the cover on one side with the note mentioned above while the reverse side lists the episode numbers, titles and chapter stops. Overall, a pretty good looking box and layout with only a few things that bother me.

Menu:
With all the discs except for the last one being the same, just stuffed with episodes, the menus are pretty basic but nicely done. The main menu is a nice piece of static animation with each one having a different cast member. Selections are quick to access and moving between menus is a breeze. Again, while not flashy, these are solid nicely designed menus that get the job done with a minimal of fuss.

Extras:
There’s a small selection of extras included on the fifth and final disc of this box set. We get a small but good line art gallery, showing off most of the new characters design sketches. The textless opening and ending make an appearance here, with the opening having the original logo for the series. The cast list provides main actors for both languages, while the actor profiles goes over the English actors credits from various live action and other Ocean produced dubs.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
This season of Ranma surprised me in that I enjoyed more of it than I thought I would. That doesn’t mean I can’t see the flaws in it, especially when you marathon twenty episodes of it in a day, but with these being new to me, they proved to be more enjoyable than if I’d seen them a dozen times, much as I had for the first season and parts of the second season.

There’s very little in the terms of new character introductions in these episodes, and that alone is a plus, since it gives more time to the existing cast and the already fairly sizeable amount of people Ranma is engaged to. A good portion of the episodes also stay focused on just around the household, giving things a very consistent feel. But there is one thing that’s in just about every episode here that gets old very, very fast.

Happosai.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I like the little guy. He’s got some interesting episodes here, such as when we get flashbacks to his past and time spent in China going after women. Back when he had a full head of hair at that! But far too many of the episodes, especially in the first half of this set, focus on Happosai stealing some panties or bras, getting chased by either random schoolgirls or actual cast members, and ending up in some situation. It’s just far too repetitive in that fact, even with the twists they try to introduce.

Another aspect that bothered me, mostly because I don’t believe it really fits into the believability aspect the show tries to keep going for the first couple of seasons, is the two time travel episodes. What’s even more bothersome about them is the fact that they’re actually good episodes. But it just goes against what the series has tried to do in terms of keeping some form of reality. Now, I know, expecting reality from a series about people who transform when wet, but each show builds its own rules of what works. I just don’t find these to be within that realm.

One episode that worked extremely well, though it got revisited in another less pleasing form later, is when Akane hits Ranma into their little pool, but he conks his head and stays unconscious for awhile. When he awakens, as a girl, he has no recollection of ever being a boy. Ranma then becomes the epitome of a very classic Japanese woman, right down to the speech differences which are just hilarious. This unsettles Akane to no end, though everyone else manages to cope with it. Just watching Ranma be feminine because it’s what she feels is right as opposed to doing it to get a parfait is quite a treat.

Another good episode, somewhat slower than others, is when Kuno kicks out Sasuke from the household for not siding with him in a dispute with his sister. Sasuke ends up being brought home by Akane, and he spends a few days there under a completely different lifestyle. The changes are just perfect, and the way he notices the differences between living there and living with Kuno are spot on.

Also particularly good, though again dealing with time travel, has a panicked Ranma thinking that Jusenkyo pools may be emptied. So he and Genma steal the time travel mirror from Happosai and head off. Their first stop is ten years in the future, which provides an extremely hilarious set of circumstances. Akane and Ryouga are married, both are in the mid 20’s and act as a perfect couple with three kids (who also transform into piglets when wet). I would have loved to see the series actually play this out to its conclusion. This episode only gets weirder when the three head back to just before their first encounter at Jusenkyo and they try to change things.

While there’s plenty of repetition throughout these episodes with Happosai being far too much of a key figure in causing mayhem, there’s a lot of really good and funny episodes throughout this set. It’s just a matter of finding the time to properly marathon it, as that’s how Ranma feels it was made to be seen.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Line art, Textless opening and ending

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Skyworth 1050P Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.

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