Mania Grade: B
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- Audio Rating: B+
- Video Rating: B-
- Packaging Rating: B
- Menus Rating: B
- Extras Rating: N/A
- Age Rating: 13 & Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: Viz Media
- MSRP: 24.98
- Running time: 75
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Ranma 1/2
Ranma Forever Vol. #7
By Chris Beveridge
June 18, 2003
Release Date: June 10, 2003
Ranma Forever Vol. #7
What They Say
© Viz Media
Having learned (or been the victim of) almost any martial arts style imaginable, Ranma’s nevertheless about to learn a whole new one: Martial Arts Cheerleading! Sure, Ranma’s got the basic moves down, and that uniform is really cute, but then it turns out that it’s Kuno’s kendo match he has to cheer for.
Meanwhile, during an annual cleaning of the estate, Kuno comes across an ancient taiko drum that’s got the devastating power of a howitzer! The Review!
The penultimate volume of the series, Ranma ½ is just a hairs breadth away from being completed at last. And amazingly, these are some of the most enjoyable episodes in quite some time.Audio
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. Though these episodes came quite a bit after the series began, it’s held true to its original stereo mix and not gone beyond it much. Dialogue is nice and clear and we noticed no dropouts, but directionality is very minimal across the forward soundstage with only a few pieces here and there giving any real sense of space.Video
While the show doesn’t look to have an increased budget for the final episodes, things here do look a fair bit cleaner, even if they still use the same somewhat dull color palette from earlier in the series. Colors are a bit sharper than the previous seasons discs, cross coloration is very minimal and there’s not much in the way of aliasing in a large way. These were pretty nice looking episodes all told.Packaging
With the cheerleading theme for the episodes here, it’s no surprise that “cute girls in cheerleading outfits” made the cover, though the obvious attempt to connect to the Hollywood film Bring It On just causes more eye-rolling. The artwork here is nice and eye-catching. The back cover provides a couple of animation shots and mini summaries for each episode. Production and technical information is pretty easy to find but the disc continues to lack and kind of real numbering system to know what volume comes when.Menu
Definitely on the bright side, the menus here are vibrant pieces of static animation of the characters with music playing in the background, a brief portion of the new opening song. The layout is pretty standard with setup information and a separate submenu for the voice actor credits for both languages. Access times are nice and fast and in general this is a good basic menu.Extras
: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the cover artwork being as blunt as it is, at least with Viz’s marketing of it, I wasn’t sure whether I’d enjoy this volume much at all. In fact, I looked at it as three episodes that I could essentially just get over with fairly quickly and move on to something more interesting.
The two part cheerleading episode, something that you know you want to cringe at due to the (re?) introduction of Martial Arts Cheerleading, actually manages to be very amusing and surprisingly creative. It’s almost like a completely different writing team and director jumped into the chair here while the main crew was out and hustled out some of the best material in a couple of seasons.
The episodes kick off with a match between Furinkan and another school going at it in a volleyball game. Akane, being the jock of all sports for the school, is playing here as well. Her team ends up suffering rather badly though but not from the opposing team but rather their cheerleaders. Led by a cute girl named Mariko, she uses her batons as weapons and knocks out the entire team while Akane argues with her over her interference. While she argues, the opposing team simply hits the ball into the court and wins by default.
Yeah, yeah, you’d smack the ref too, but c’mon, you have to give a little here.
This really devastates Akane and she’s in tears afterwards while her recovering teammates try to console her. Ranma’s looking on of course, and is surprised when some of his classmates tell him to go comfort her. He knows better and instead tells her to stop crying and get a grip. Though he says this, he’s concerned about Akane and it becomes more obvious that he has to do something when Mariko and the other cheerleaders come into contact with them and things flare.
What brings this out to a more amusing level is the arrival of Kuno and Mariko’s sudden desire to be his everything. She intends to go cheer for him against her own school during his upcoming kendo match as well as, though an interesting set of circumstances, Ranma in girl form is also intending to cheer for. This sets the stage for combat between Mariko and Ranma as well as some hilarious sequences with Kuno and Akane getting involved.
The writing in these two episodes just feels sharper, more focused and determined to not wander or dawdle on unimportant things. There’s also a great use of visuals, such as kanji text coming up on the screen to reflect emotions that are also used, such as Ranma falling back on a set of words reflecting his own emotions. It’s not something that has been previously employed in the series and it really stands out here, alongside a number of wild-takes by the characters. These episodes just really clicked right for me and reminded me quite a bit of the early ice-skating episodes and how much I enjoyed those.
This last season continues to be a mixed bag, but there are definitely some gems in here that I certainly did not expect. By this point I can only imagine the long-term die-hard fans still picking this up, but I’ll expect that they’ll love this volume.
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.