Real Bout High School Vol. #4 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: C-

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: A
  • Extras Rating: A
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: TOKYOPOP
  • MSRP: 29.99
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Real Bout High School

Real Bout High School Vol. #4

By Chris Beveridge     November 22, 2002
Release Date: November 19, 2002


Real Bout High School Vol. #4
© TOKYOPOP


What They Say
In a school where martial arts are standard curriculum, Ryoko takes on all comers. But this high school girl is in for the fight of her life when she is transported to an alternate dimension to defeat a myriad of evil adversaries.

As the #1 fighter, Ryoko's life revolves around the upcoming Championship - THE FINAL BATTLE! All her strength is put to the test as she prepares her heart and body for this Ultimate Clash against both her Human opponents and the Netherworld Demons!

The Review!
The conclusion to Real Bout High School manages to be just as confused as the middle six episodes of the series, as it continues to move back and forth between what kind of story it wants to tell.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. Though this show is very recent, the audio is your basic stereo mix with nothing being thrown to the rear speakers at all. But it's quite a good stereo mix with a nice flair for directionality across the forward soundstage both in the fighting sequences and with normal dialogue and sound effects.

Video:
The transfer for this series continues to be extremely strong. Colors are rich and vibrant, there’s no noticeable bleeding and aliasing is pretty much nonexistent along with cross coloration. There’s nothing here that I can bring myself to even nitpick with.

Packaging:
Presented in a clear keepcase this is one shiny looking package. The front cover has a nice shot of Miyuki and Ryoko set against an orange background, which was originally used for the first Japanese DVD release. The back cover provides a number of snapshots of the animation and a very brief summary of the show. Episode numbers and titles are clearly listed as well as the discs features and extras. The insert provides another shot of the front cover and the two interior panels are all done up with the translators notes which definitely provide some interesting tidbits that come up during the show. The package also features a dual sided cover, which isn't the same as a reverse cover. Since this is a clear keepcase, when you open it you get another gorgeous full color image of most of Miyuki and Ryoko again but in very different poses and I believe done by Gotoh.

Menu:
The menu for this volume is in essence the same as the previous volumes, though with a color palette change and the fight sequence animation changed to one relevant to this disc. It does however continue to rock completely, and works perfectly with this series. Access times are nice and fast and moving between menus is simple and logical. The layout is just right, with selections in the extras being show as directional combo moves and so forth. There’s simply a great style to this.

Extras:
For the final volume, we get a surplus of extras. The final three end corner specials are provided in the extras menu, though they do play after the final episode itself plays. The Ikue Kimura interview enters its third and final phase, with some interesting and not so interesting questions (as well as a few dodged answers). The dub outtakes provided a few good laughs, with the actors thankfully laughing along at some of it. There’s also three different styles of galleries of various artwork, with some really gorgeous color stuff mixed into it. The textless ending makes an appearance on this volume, but the real treat I think is the original opening and ending sequence with full Japanese text and logos, which I love to see.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Real Bout High School, in the end, has got to be one of the most uneven series I’ve seen in recent years. After the initial volume of the series, I was very much into it, loved the concept, the animation, the designs… the whole thing. But then in the middle of the series they went in several different directions without having a strong focus on what made the series interesting. At the end, they do the unbelievable and then go back to the plot that we last saw around episode six.

At the end of the third volume, it looked the focus was going to be on Ryoko and her relationship with Tatsuya. With the way the two had gone back and forth and then the revelation of the relationship Tatsuya has with the girl whose directing the play, Ryoko was pretty much in ruin. Even her k-fight against Shizuma went poorly. So what does the fourth volume open up with, with only three episodes left in the series in total?

A recap episode.

Unbelievable. My thinking is that, in thirteen episode run series, there should be no recap episodes. It’s not long enough to require one. And if you don’t have enough story to cover the length, you’ve got bigger problems. So we get Ryoko at the temple where Miyuki is as she tries to regain her focus and balance in her sword skills, but continues to fail. In one particular face to face with the master of the house, she ends up revealing through flashbacks to the audience, well, the series so far minus the filler. All of this really just leads up to where we left off on the third volume, and feels like a huge waste of space.

In the end, everything gets into a working mode where Ryoko has decided to confront her feelings about Tatsuya and to go forward with the festival play. So after a quick apology to the group, things are rolling again and we get to see the festival setup and some of the various events that are going on while the play gets ready. There’s some amusing but all too brief k-fight stuff going on as show, but the focus continues to be on the play itself. And as that gets rolling, the show kicks into gear with…

… that silly old plot from episode six. From outer space arrives Gates, whose come to fight the Demon Lord that Ryoko apparently is due to her ownership of the blue gemstone that she can’t remove from her presence. The bulk of people flee, but there’s the few hardcore folks there from the k-fights who end up getting involved and take on the fight of all fights. Ryoko ends up going nuts and striking out hard at Gates, as she was intending to use the festival play to cut herself off from Tatsuya’s life and make a clean break. So she’s pretty ticked. And this goes into about two episodes worth of fight sequences and power increases, as we get the big final battle against the evil from another world/dimension.

With these last episodes, it’s left and then right in trying to follow what’s going on with no clear course. The main plot from the past couple of episodes is quickly pushed aside and then back with the original plot, but without all that much in terms of revelations. Having Nagumo arrive and get involved in everything just feels forced, even with the revelations of who he is. It’s like a couple of novels were just mooshed together and something resembling a plot surfaced.

While it looked great for the most part, the series really fell apart hard in the second volume. In comparison, the manga has felt really awful through the first three graphic novels, with only some semblance of something interesting in the fourth. So in two mediums, I’ve ended up going in different directions in terms of what areas I’ve enjoyed. The anime had potential, but it ended up not grasping it in the slightest and left too many open holes in the plot. I enjoyed various parts of the anime, but as a whole, it’s not something to recommend.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Special End Corner Making Of Featurettes,Translator's Notes,Outtakes,Exclusive "Interview with the Samurai Girl" Part 3,Ultimate Bout: The definitive full color Real Bout Illustration Gallery,Textless Ending

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.

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