Ranma 1/2 OVA Box Set - Mania.com

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  • Audio Rating: D
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: F
  • Menus Rating: A-
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 119.98
  • Running time: 375
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Ranma 1/2

Ranma 1/2 OVA Box Set

By Jim Lazar     February 18, 2002
Release Date: May 09, 2000

The Review!
Menus: A-
Video: A
Subtitles: A-
Sound: D
Packaging: F (B- if you don't mind cardboard)
Extras: B-
Story: A
Effort: C
Overall: B

Menus: A- (due to the looping sound annoyance)

All three discs are arranged similarly: A brief title shot of Viz's Ranma 1/2 logo, then a bubble filled screen, with big bubbles containing the menu items, disc number, and a few video clips from the episodes on that disc. A song plays on the main menu. The only real problem I have with the menus is the looping music stops abruptly as the menu loops back to the beginning. Even a simple fade out at the end would have been preferable.

Video: A

This is the one place that the DVDs vastly outshines the VHS set, in my opinion. The video is very crisp and clear and I saw no problems. Considering they obviously took this from their VHS masters with all the hard subs and replaced OPs and EDs left in place, the video is very clear and problem free. It looks better than the very recent Nazca footage, which looks very grainy and of unusually poor quality on Pioneer's DVDs.

There were reports by several people of video problems (particularly around the final fight between Ranma and Miss Hinako), but I never encountered any on my two viewings of these discs.

Subtitles: A-

Yellow, with maybe just a trace of a border. A bit of ringing around them on my setup, but readable.

One oddity I noticed in the subtitles is in the Christmas episode. Although the video was altered to show the names in English during the poker game, the DVD subtitles also contained the appropriate subs for those names. Obviously, the subtitle script included these and the DVD makers never noticed that they were already changed in the video itself. I don1t know if there are other places were the DVD subs show up in addition to the hard subs, but I'd be surprised if this is the only place they missed it. Not a big deal, but interesting.

Sound: D

Although clear and crisp on both tracks as far as I was able to tell, there are major problems with the sound due to reversed left and right channels on this disc.

It appears that most, if not all, of the DolbyPro Logic stereo sound on the English tracks on all three discs have reversed left and right speakers. This has been observed by various forum members and using my system (Sony DVP-S300 to Sony DB-930 receiver with a digital link) I was able to clearly hear several spots where the swapped channels could be heard with the naked ear. Here is the list of identified spots (some were originally identified by other forum members):

Disc 1 - 34m 30s
English audio only: Mousse runs by left to right and crashes to the right, but the crash clearly comes from the left speaker. (the Japanese audio is correct)

Disc 2 - 38m 03s
English audio only: Akane's voice is heard from the right, but Ryoga looks to the left and the next scene shows that she is where Ryoga looked. The Japanese audio is centered for this scene, with no
left/right distinction.

Disc 2 - 38m 34s
English audio only: Crows fly from right to left, the audio clearly goes from left to right. (the Japanese audio is correct)

Disc 2 - 1h 1m 00s
Both English and Japanese audio: Ranma gets hits by a magazine and crashes to the right. The audio crash is heard from the left.

Disc 2 - 1h 20m 34s
Both English and Japanese audio: The old man calls out from left speaker, but Akane looks left.

Disc 2 - 1h 48m 25s
Both English and Japanese audio: lizard runs left to right, but sound is heard from right to left. This is one of the harder ones to hear, but if you close your eyes, it is notable that the sound starts at the right and goes left.

Disc 3 - 42m 58s
English audio only: Ryoga runs from right to left, but sound goes from left to right. (the Japanese audio is correct)

So what does all this mean? Well first, the Japanese audio for episodes 7 and 8 on disc 2 is clearly swapped between the left and right channels. I can't tell where along the line this happened (masters from Japan, VHS masters, DVD authoring), but it clearly affects the quality of the listening experience.

The same goes for at least three episodes on disc 2 and at least one each on discs 1 and 3 for the English audio. The other episodes could be inverted as well, but here were no clear spots where I was able to discern the audio flaw (it's most noticeable when something goes off-screen and the audio engineers placed all the sound on one channel).

Now these few instances might not seem that important to some people (insert flashbacks to the Tarzan audio problems here), but these spots do indicate that the audio for these entire episodes are more than likely swapped between left and right. Hence, the sound may seem okay during casual listening, but it's never going to be as dynamic or balanced as the original stereo sound was meant to be. I don1t have the sound equipment to check the entire audio for these discs for the extent of this reversal, but I wouldn't be surprised if more of the English audio is swapped and at least all of the Japanese audio for eps 7 and 8 are.

Packaging: F (B- if you don't mind cardboard)

Well, no surprise for people who know my stand on this subject: It's cardboard and the hubs are poorly designed (at least this set didn't have loose discs like the other four cardboard sets like this I've received). Fail.

Unlike the Tenchi OVA set and the FY set, I can't even say I like the choice of graphics or design of the Ranma OVA set. Only one picture is really great in my opinion. That being the Ranma-chan in a tiger suit on the back (for the record: I don't drool over it or anything perverted like that, he's a guy after all and I don't swing that way... okay?).

Anyway, The other graphics are kind of nice, but considering Akane is in all 12 episodes and Nodoka is on *one* episode, I question the logic of using a large picture of Nodoka (Ranma's mother) on one of the flaps instead of Akane. Shampoo (in human form) and P-chan are also
mysteriously absent from the package. Overall, the artwork looks like it was put together by someone with little to no knowledge of Ranma 1/2 and approved by the same. A shame really, since there are many good graphics I've seen connected with the OVA in the past.

The see-through disc trays show the duck, cat, and panda and correspond to the artwork on the discs. This is a nice touch, but one that could be easily replicated by using clear Amaray keepcases (hint... hint).

Overall, I could live with the graphics used, but the cardboard construction and hub design make this packaging a failure in my book. If you don't mind the cardboard or the hubs, then the design basically puts this at a B- IMHO.

Extras: B-

The extras are all contained on the third disc (which thankfully they made a DVD9 to hold the additional footage).

The 'music videos' are actually all the original openings and endings from the twelve episodes without credits and are identified as 'Non-Credit Opening and Ending' on the Extras menu instead of 'music
videos' like the box touts--marketing and production should have some meetings once and a while :) ). These were also included on the last three VHS tapes. One nice thing they did do for the DVD release is to indicate which OPS/ED belonged which episode (I was amazed to find out that the Christmas ending didn't go with the Christmas episode... go figure).

Unfortunately, it would have been nicer if Viz had taken the time to undo their mistake with the VHS tapes and return the OPs and EDs to their original places in the episodes as well as providing the
creditless openings and endings, but this is a minor annoyance with the DVD set.

More annoying the absence of a 'play all' selection on the non-credit opening and ending sub-menus. This would be a great thing to start playing and sit back and relax while the music and animation unfolds in front of the viewer. Having to select the next item in the menu and press select may seem trivial, but it does interrupt the viewing of these 14 openings and endings.

I'm sure some people would have liked DVD subtitles for the song lyrics, but I'm glad they weren't hard subbed.

There is some character info screens as well as drawings of the Tendo house, which are interesting to see. The Viz English trailer for the OVAs is also available (not a big deal).

One nice touch is a complete listing of the cast (with both English and Japanese VA's listed) and crew for the OVA production on DVD screens that you page through.

Finally, a text interview with Rumiko Takahashi is available on the Extras menu. It would have been nicer if it was a video interview, but it's okay.

Not really an extra, but this is the best place to mention it. There is a Viz information section. This is a first for Viz DVDs, since they have up to now used the same title information that are on all Pioneer DVDs. Putting aside my personal distaste for Pokerat getting a whole selection off the main Viz screen (while everything else is on a separate screen) it's at least a sign that Viz is taking DVDs a little more seriously.

Story: A

Well, it's Ranma, so if you like the Ranma movies or the first season of Ranma TV, there's no reason that I can see that you shouldn't like these OVAs. A good mix of comedy, romance, and action that should appeal to many people.

Although I know some people dislike the anime-only episodes (the Christmas episode and the two-part Akane and Her Sisters story), I find them likable for the most part. I can't really find fault with any of the episodes overall. Some are better than others, but no real bad ones, in my opinion. One warning: The English dubbed version of the song the girls sing on the Christmas episode is hard to listen to, so you might want to switch the Japanese track to avoid it.

Effort: C

I had hopped Viz would see fit to restore the openings and endings to their original places on the discs. Unfortunately, they chose to just use their VHS dub masters directly for the DVD. Although the video is very good and clear, It would have been vastly preferable to see the Ops and EDs were they belong. I know it would take more time and a little more money, but this oversight makes the decision to upgrade from VHS to DVD less appealing (especially in view of the sound problems)

I only hope this isn't a trend Viz will continue and will see fit to repair these little things in future releases. For instance, restoring season 2 of the Ranma TV series to it's proper order as it was
originally broadcast in Japan and maybe even the odd ball episodes they pull forward from the next season to fill the last tapes on seasons 3 and 4.

After the almost straight VHS->DVD transfers of the two Ranma movies, I was hoping they would put a little more effort into the DVD OVA release. The video is much better than the movies and some of the extras are a nice touch and are welcome, but this set really doesn't offer much over the original VHS release. The sound problem itself removes much of the reasons for upgrading from VHS (IMHO), but these other items above just add to the disappointment of what Viz and Pioneer could have done with the Ranma OVA set.

One thing that is missing from the VHS release is several little audio clips shown with the FBI notice at the end of several of the tapes. In the clips, the English VAs for Ranma/Akane, Nabiki, and Kasumi read the warning in their characters. So if you can track down Nabiki, she'll make you copies. For a price. :) A shame they weren't included (unless they are Easter eggs somewhere on the discs), but not the end of the world.

Overall: B
A tough call if you're upgrading from VHS tapes that are still in decent condition. The video quality is better, but nothing else really makes the DVD set stand out compared to the VHS tapes.

If you don't have the tapes and want the Ranma OVAs, then it's worth it, flaws and all.

But it's still nowhere near what it could have been. I hope Pioneer and Viz follow Manga's example and do a fix and recall for these discs. These discs deserve better treatment.

Review Equipment
Sony DVP-S300 DVP player, Sony DB-930 receiver (S-video and optical AC-3 connections), Sony Trinitron KV-32V15


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