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Columns



Ranma 1/2, Case Closed, and Air Gear Volume 1

AnimeTalk

a bi-weekly column by Todd Douglass, Don Houston, and Wen-Tsai

This week offered another mild selection of titles but there were definitely a few worth taking a look at (The classic Ranma 1/2 Season One for example). Wen-Tsai brings us some more money saving links as well so if you have some holes in your collection pay attention! Here we go!


The Latest Anime Reviews:
(Click on the links to read the full review.)

Ok, so this DVD came out back in December but you know what? It's never too late to check out Naruto! The second volume of the uncut edition continues the misadventures of young Naruto, Sasuke, and Sakura. Together they fight off Zabuza and Haku only to be subjected to the Chunin Exams when finished. Like Dragon Ball Z, this is one of those shows that is widely popular and accepted among most audiences. Uncut is truly the only way to watch this show unless of course you have kids that are interested in it.

Who would have thought that in the future kids could virtually fly through the air on rollerblades? In Air Gear a new technology has risen that essentially gives them that ability. Air Treks are a powerful type of rollerblade that transform any surface into playground and the sky is the limit. This new show released by ADV features the Storm Riders (people who use Air Treks) and the many gangs that make up their underworld. Air Gear is filled with remarkably unlikable characters and a concept that brings nothing new to the world. It does have some exciting action sequences and there is a gratuitous amount of T&A so I suppose things aren't a total loss. The main flaw here is that the latter were given more priority than the former.

Granted the series might be near the end of its run but Baki the Grappler is a show that's worth taking a look at. If you have been holding off until now FUNimation has just released the first six volumes as an affordable boxed set. These 24 episodes chronicle the younger life of Grappler Baki and show the path that he took to become one of the strongest warriors in the world. Filled with more fighting than you can shake a stick at and a wide variety of combatants this series is a fighting genre fan's dream come true. There are a few episodes here and there where the plot loses track or stalls to extend the experience but overall this is a solid action series worth your time.

Case Closed is one of those shows that just keeps on churning out good content. With years of content and plenty of adventures FUNimation has a lot of DVDs left to release before we see the end of Detective Conan. The whole thing started when 17 year old genius detective Jimmy Kudo witnesses the wrong crime and is given a poison that turns him into a young child. He takes the alias Conan and sets out to solve crimes with his new friends. Six episodes make their way onto this volume and though there are a couple lackluster ones in the bunch they are mostly great.

In a distant world the demonic forces of the Vandels have threatened to destroy humanity and the very sanctity of life. Known as the Century of Darkness the people have been brought to the brink of annihilation but a brave group of warriors have risen to fight the Vandels. Known as Busters these fighters use physical abilities and powerful soul weapons to save their fellow man. Young and brash Beet always aspired to be a Buster like his idol Zenon but did little more than get in the way. After extensive training he has returned and vows to bring an end to the Century of Darkness. For a children's show Beet the Vandel Buster's first volume was pretty entertaining and took some surprising risks with its plot.

Be sure to take a look at other recommendations by DVDTalk's twisted cast of reviewers in their Best Of Anime 20032004, 2005, and 2006 articles.


Wen-Tsai's Anime Bargains
Presented by Wen-Tsai King

Best Buy & BestBuy.com: Titles without links may be purchased at your local store if they are in stock or they can be ordered at the store computer kiosks (BestBuy.com)!
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Original Dirty Pair: OVA Collection (Thinpak): $6.99, [review] retail price: $24.98 - 72% off!
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Rurouni Kenshin - Season 3: Complete Collection (Economy Box): $25.99, retail price: $79.95 - 66% off!
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Samurai Deeper Kyo: Complete Collection (Economy Pack): $28.99, retail price: $89.95 - 68% off!
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DeepDiscount.com:
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Descendants of Darkness: Complete Collection: $21.58, retail price: $49.95 - 57% off!
DNA²: Complete Collection: $26.98, retail price: $49.95 - 46% off!
Dragon Drive - Season 2: Complete Collection: $24.19, retail price: $39.98 - 40% off!
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Final Fantasy Unlimited: Complete Collection (Thinpak): $29.99, [review] retail price: $49.98 - 40% off!
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Revolutionary Girl Utena: The Rose Collection: $21.58, retail price: $39.95 - 46% off!
Revolutionary Girl Utena: The Black Rose Saga Collection: $21.58, retail price: $39.95 - 46% off!
Rune Soldier: Complete Collection (Thinpak): $24.16, [review] retail price: $39.98 - 40% off!
Sakura Wars TV: Complete Collection (Thinpak): $29.99, [review] retail price: $49.95 - 40% off!
s-CRY-ed: Complete Collection (Anime Legends): $30.24, retail price: $49.98 - 40% off!
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Tenchi Muyo GXP: Complete Collection: $54.44, retail price: $89.98 - 40% off!
Those Who Hunt Elves: Complete Collection (Thinpak): $29.99, [review] retail price: $49.95 - 40% off!
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Full Metal Panic? FUMOFFU: Complete Collection (Thinpak): $28.21, retail price: $49.98 - 44% off!
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Noir: Complete Collection (Thinpak): $50.78, [review] retail price: $89.98 - 44% off!
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DVD Planet:
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Genshiken: Premium Collection: $58.47, retail price: $89.95 - 35% off!
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - Season 1 Complete Boxset: $59.97, retail price: $99.98 - 40% off!
Neo Ranga: Complete Collection (Thinpak): $36.95, [review] retail price: $59.95 - 39% off!
Zone of the Enders: Complete Collection (Thinpak): $31.95, [review] retail price: $59.95 - 39% off!

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FLCL (Fooly Cooly): Ultimate Edition: $41.12, retail price: $69.95 - 41% off!
Galaxy Angel A: Complete Collection: $21.02, [review] retail price: $34.98 - 40% off!
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Get Backers: Complete Collection - Season 2 (Thinpak): $35.39, retail price: $59.98 - 41% off!
Gundam Wing: Complete Collection 1 (Anime Legends): $29.64, retail price: $49.98 - 41% off!
Gundam Wing: Complete Collection 2 (Anime Legends): $29.64, retail price: $49.98 - 41% off!
Kiddy Grade: Complete Collection: $52.64, [review] retail price: $89.98 - 41% off!
Love Hina: Complete Collection (Anime Legends): $46.89, retail price: $79.98 - 41% off!
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Right Stuf Weekly Specials / Bargin Bin Closeout Items:
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Cardcaptor Sakura DVD Mega Bundle (DVD 1-18) (S): $79.99, retail price: $539.82 - 85% off!
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Gonzo Double Pack: Basilisk 1/Trinity Blood 1 DVD (Hyb): $19.99,[review 1, review 2] retail price: $49.98 - 60% off!
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Read or Die (R.O.D.) TV Series DVD MegaBundle (Hyb) w/CDs: $79.99, retail price: $239.82 - 67% off!
Saber Marionette J - Ultimate Collection DVD Set (Limited Edition):$69.99, retail price: $199.98 - 65% off!
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For more anime deals, please check out the Official- ANIME Bargains! - ThreadUpdated daily by yours truly! Please Note: Product Availability & Prices are Subjected to Change!
 


Anime Spotlight:
by Todd Douglass

Ranma 1/2: Season One: Digital Dojo

One of the first anime shows that I had ever seen was Ranma 1/2. I was new to the world of Japanese animation and didn't know what to expect. I was thoroughly entertained by the content but the dubbing left a lot to be desired. Still it was a launching board for me to dive into the deep end of the anime pool. For one reason or another though I haven't actually had the opportunity to go back and check more of it out. Naturally when I was given the chance to take a look at the entire first season I had to jump at the chance!

In case you're not knowledgeable about the world of Ranma 1/2 you're missing out on one of the most unique and entertaining shows ever to come from Japan. Created by Rumiko Takahashi (Inuyasha, Urusei Yatsura) the show stems from a manga and has a lofty 161 episodes under its belt. That number climbs even higher when you toss the OVA and movies into the mix but for the purposes of this review we're just looking at the first season

Originally airing in Japan during 1989 the first season of Ranma 1/2 introduced the whacky concept and adorable characters to the anime fan. On the surface this is a fighting show with a gratuitous amount of fanservice and a wild sense of humor. Each of these facets comes together to make a show that is a barrel of laughs the entire way through and the very definition of endearing.

As the center of attention Ranma isn't your average sixteen year old boy. For starters he spends his days and nights practicing kendo with his father and it's a rare thing when you see them actually getting along. The most peculiar part about Ranma is a curse that has befallen him.

In the first episode we see a redheaded girl running through the streets of a rural Japanese town being attacked by a panda. The two kung fu fight and the girl goes off about not wanting to be involved in an arranged marriage. Somewhere else a man named Soun Tendo speaks to his three daughters about the arrival of his old friend Genma Saotome and his son Ranma who is to be engaged to one of the girls. When the redhead and the panda arrive at their door things get twisted and before long it is revealed that they are indeed Soun's guests.

You see, during an exercise in China Genma and Ranma fell victim to an ancient cursed training ground. During their combat Genma fell into the pond of a drowned panda and Ranma fell into a young girl's pond. Whenever the two come into contact with cold water they instantly turn into these alter egos and hilarity naturally ensues. Hot water is the only thing that can revert them back to their normal selves and during the course of an episode it's not rare to see them change multiple times for literally no reason. This is the driving force in Ranma 1/2 and one of the things that makes the show so unique. I mean, Dragon Ball is Dragon Ball but did Goku ever turn into a female when it rained? I think not!

Once the stage is set the first season follows a fairly continuous plot and strays from falling into the episodic trap so many shows do. After the introduction episode, Ranma and Akane (Soun's karate loving daughter) are kind of forced together as the perfect pair. Akane is kind of a tomboy and Ranma loves to goad her because of this fact. He finds it baffling how such a brute could attract the adoration of every guy in school but gradually warms up to her as the first season progresses. Early on in the show seeing their developing relationship is one of the initial hooks and is truly entertaining.

Once you get a few episodes into the season the formula gets a shake up of sorts and more characters are introduced. Ryoga, for instance, is one of my favorite Ranma 1/2 characters of all time. This "lost boy" wanders the countryside looking for Ranma to settle a score but his total lack of direction sends him walking through the same regions for months on end without success. It's hilarious to see him turn a corner and be utterly lost with no hope of finding his way back. We learn soon enough that Ryoga bears the same kind of curse that Ranma and Genma do; he fell into a cursed pool. This means that whenever he touches cold water he turns into an adorable little piggy.

Throughout this first season each of the 18 episodes never misses a beat. From the introduction of Ryoga to the first appearance of Shampoo the secondary characters are just as loveable as the main. Like many other works by Takahashi Ranma 1/2 is iconic and should be considered a staple when it comes to watching anime. The show is wild enough to keep otaku entertained and lighthearted enough to turn somebody on to anime. In my opinion this is one of the best series ever created because every aspect jells marvelously. If you haven't seen it you definitely owe it to yourself to check it out.

The DVD:

Video:

Originally released in 1989 Ranma 1/2 is ancient by today's standards. I mean the show is eighteen years old but that's not to say it is horrible looking; just dated. The video quality is soft with grain, compression, and the occasional bit of dirt making its way into the transfer. There was no aliasing time and to be honest considering the age I was kind of expecting the aforementioned flaws. The look of the show is still intact though and you can expect to see some fantastic character designs mixed with some abrupt animation.

Audio:

Ranma 1/2 receives an audio presentation that like the video is in step with its date of production. The dubbing quality for both the English and Japanese languages is decent though I found the Japanese one to hold more appeal. The English dub was ok but it didn't convey the humor and emotion as much as the original language did. As far as the technical quality is concerned both tracks are presented like you'd expect and offer little diversity on the soundstage. Music and sound effects are fairly dynamic and fortunately do not drown out the dialogue. Balance is otherwise fine and there is no distortion to complain about.

Extras:

The only thing that you're going to find on this four disc set for bonus material is the English credits and Textless opening/closing animations. It's unfortunate that there wasn't more included such as a manga comparison or some such but it's not very surprising given the show's age.

Final Thoughts:

Ranma 1/2 is one of those classic shows that has been overlooked in recent years by many otaku. It's a fun-loving series that stays entertaining from start to finish and the first 18 episodes featured in this season one collection are proof of the quality. Ranma and friends are whacky and the concept is unique. Takahashi has been a well known name in the world of manga and anime but out of all her works Ranma 1/2 has remained my favorite. Whether your new to the show or just haven't seen it in a while this set is worth picking up despite the lack of frills presentation. Highly Recommended.


Name That Anime! :

In our last column we tossed shot at you to test your anime knowledge! Congrats if you figured out exactly what show it was (King of Bandits Jing BTW). Here's another one to boggle your brain!


 
 


What do you think about the column?  Like what you see?  Don't like it?  Have a comment or suggestion?  Drop us an e-mail and let us know!
 
 

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