Rumiko Takahashi: Anthology Vol. #2 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B-
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 3 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Rumiko Takahashi: Anthology

Rumiko Takahashi: Anthology Vol. #2

By Chris Beveridge     March 14, 2005
Release Date: March 22, 2005

Rumiko Takahashi: Anthology Vol. #2
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.

What They Say
From housewife rumors to bankrupt businesses to changing careers after 30 years, Japan’s social customs and expectations can create heavy stress without any more identifiable source than gossip. Rumiko Takahashi (Inu Yasha, Ranma 1/2, Urusei Yatsura) explores three individuals under duress and the bizarre situations that spring from their lives!

From the creator of Inu Yasha and Ranma 1/2-Rumiko Takahashi! Based on the Rumic World anthology manga published in North America by Viz communications.

The Review!
Picking up with three more tales from three more distinct years of stand alone stories she's written, the Anthology serves up more Takahashi diversity.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this series in its original language of Japanese. The series is very much a dialogue driven piece with it being slice of life stories and the like so there isn't much wide use of the stereo channels here. The mix sounds pretty full in general but most of the dialogue comes across as center channel based. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during either language track.

Originally broadcast in 2003, this Anthology series is presented in its original 16:9 aspect ratio and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The series is done with a real-world intent so a lot of the colors and designs are somewhat mild and almost bland, but they reflect the show properly and look good here. There's a certain bit of softness and grain to the print that causes some of the wide sections of colors to look a bit shifty but there isn't any visible blockiness or break-up. The transfer in general looks good as there aren't any visible cross coloration issues and the aliasing is kept very minimal. There were only a few instances of some noticeable color gradation problems as well, mostly just in some of the sky sequences.

The layout for the cover is really nicely done; the background is set as some red curtains draping down while in the center is a frame that has the various characters from the episodes on this volume together. I really like the way it's designed and brings everyone from these episodes together into one piece. The back cover works in a similar fashion but with a series of marble steps leading down that has a red carpet along it. This lets other characters sit around and fill out the artwork nicely. The shows premise is clearly presented as are the discs features and extras. The production information and technical notes are all listed along the bottom in usual fashion. The insert replicates the front cover on one side while the other lists the chapter marks for the episodes.

The menus for this release are nicely done, to a point. The imagery used is that of a series of stairs that lead up to curtains and the various characters from the episodes are all huddled together on the stairs. When it moves from menu to menu, a brief curtain comes down and back up. Normally transitional animations bother me but this is fairly quickly and nicely in theme. The strange downside to the menus, especially the main one, is the lack of music associated with it. You almost wonder if something's wrong with the disc since it's so quiet. Access times are nice and fast and the layout pretty easy to navigate. The disc also correctly read our players' language presets which are a big plus.

The extras for the second volume are pretty much what you'd consider the standard selection. We've got a clean ending sequence as well as a section of production sketches.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the opening volume setting the tone for the series in how it'll draw a different story from each year of publication over a certain period of time from Rumiko Takahashi's many writings, it's easy to get into this series if you like her works and the kind of quirky tales she tells, as well as the simpler ones that don't have anything really strange about it. While her big titles are often the ones that draw the most attention for obvious reasons, some of her best works and most concise pieces are the smaller stories that get little notice.

This edition of the anthology has three new tales in animation form and they're all a good spot of fun but they do go by fast, much like the first volume of the series. The opening tale goes for the creepy factor after a bit but it starts off with a funeral for an elderly woman who was living with her son and daughter in law in the complex. While there, one of the women in the complex who knew them, as most people tend to know each other there at least, ends up hearing a few stories about how the older woman was abused by the daughter and how the mother was always being forced to make the meals and tend to the house while the daughter hardly lifted a finger. Small recollections come back in a more meaningful way but it all falls to the side of daily life as the event passes.

The neighbor, Mrs. Asakawa, is surprised some short time after the funeral was over by having the woman come to her door to ask her to watch over a number of potted plants that she has while the family returns to the country so that they can spread her mother in laws ashes out properly. Asakawa's been good to avoid this woman for so long but now finds herself directly involved with her and is really ambivalent about it but she helps out regardless. It's a minor duty but one that turns into a creepy mystery when one of the pots is knocked over and she's convinced she's seen bones inside the dirt and her mind comes up with all kinds of stories about what it could really be about.

I think that was the weakest of the stories but mostly because the other two are comedies and play out to more humorous moments. The second tale focuses on a lifetime corporate man of thirty years who finds himself out of a job after the company goes under. While nothing happens for the first month of his new exile, during the second month his wife becomes rather ill and can't work at the food shop that she does part-time work for. So with his mentality about work, knowing that her absence will cause problems at her work, he heads in to take her place. The social commentary material here is very good, right from when he meets the store owner who happens to be something of a meek man and is quickly overpowered by the lifetime of corporate experience. To his credit, the lifer does try to learn as much as he can about the job and dealing with people in this kind of industry which is so different from his own, but every time he does it just gets creepier. His smiles are unnerving the customers and his overpowering style that made him what he was in the other world just isn't suited here. It's a very fun episode as each side tries to learn from the other and adapt each other to what's needed.

The last tale is the most comical of all I think as it has a family going out on something of a splurge of a road trip. The family of four is fairly typical with the two slightly older parents, a young teenage girl and a younger son, so there'd normally be nothing to worry about. But the daughter had learned through some gossip recently that her father had lost all of his savings in an investment with a friend who took the money and ran, leaving the family pitifully broke. So when the road trip starts and her father starts going on about buying them whatever they want, staying at luxury hotels and so forth, she quickly realizes that her parents are planning a family suicide. She spends the bulk of the episode trying to derail their plans as she sees them while her brother is oblivious and her parents are missing the clues that she knows. It's a touchy subject in a lot of quarters but it's curious and interesting how it's all handled here and the young girl does a great job of adding over the top moments in her attempts to keep them all alive, even when she's not positive it's a suicide attempt.

In Summary:
Though I haven't been able to read as many of her shorter works as I would have liked since the manga companies are more focused on her big lengthy titles, what I have read has been enjoyable and what I've seen adapted to anime form here has been a lot of fun to watch. They're not stories that are going to work your brain hard or be something completely amazing, but rather just a number of simple tales with the style that Takahashi has certainly made her own over the last quarter century. It's easy to pick her style out both in writing and in artwork and it's one that I continue to enjoy. Hopefully the arrival of things like this anthology series will kickstart in some other quarters to release some of her many smaller works in manga form someday. Until then, these are great to have and enjoy.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Textless Ending,Production Gallery

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with upconversion set to 720p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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