One of the more interesting, recent, titles in FUNimation's lineup easily has to be Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple. This addition to their catalog provided the anime giant with a solid fighting and comedy series all wrapped up in a nice little package. After all, the anime ran for 50 episodes and the manga has been going strong since 2002 in Japan. You can't argue with numbers like that, and today we're looking at the final release for the series in the States.
Released in four parts, Kenichi combines for a total of eight DVDs featuring the 50 episodes. For this release, Season Two, Part Two, the set includes the last twelve episodes of the show. Needless to say if you're new to the show you'll probably find yourself spoiled during this review. Keep that in mind, and if you're interested in what the series is about, head back to check out some of the reviews of the previous volumes. I'm omitting the summary of the series from this review for that very reason.
In the previous installment of Kenichi Ragnarok took on more of a role as Kenichi, Miu, and the gang had to fight their way through their ranks. Hermit, Loki, Thor, and Siegfried all stepped up to cause problems for Kenichi, and naturally a slew of fights ensued. In between it all Niijima, of the Shinpaku Alliance, even found himself kidnapped at some point. Beyond that, and some more training, there weren't many major developments. Then again that's kind of the name of the game with regards to Kenichi. The series has proven to be fun and action packed, but it's a little light in terms of plot.
Season Two, Part Two doesn't necessarily hold any surprises. The show continues to do what it has done best, and fans can look forward to much the same. Considering this portion of the show brings about the conclusion there are naturally some directions the episodes go, but quite honestly it's nothing groundbreaking.
Basically what happens here is Kenichi trains and trains, and trains some more as he goes from one instructor to the next. There's some nice character development for him and you really get a sense that he's starting to come into his own as a fighter. Aside from Kenichi there's some content involving Miu (of course) and other bits with members of Ragnarok as well. Some stuff comes up involving the Shinpaku Alliance, and in the end the series boils down to a climactic battle between Kenichi and Ryuto, who was formerly known as Odin the most powerful member of Ragnarok.
Ultimate Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple is a very entertaining series. The show proves to be irreverent and cliché at times, but there's a certain charm to that. From start to finish this show has been a ruckus affair with a steady brand of humor and a focus more on characters and situations rather than plot. This hasn't been a bad mix, but anyone looking for more substantial content will be left wanting. Then again, this isn't exactly a show you come to for a sweeping dialogue and a Shakespeare-like experience. It's good clean fun that will fit the bill if you're looking for just that. Kenichi<.I> comes recommended and this final installment is equally so if you've been collecting to this point.
Originally released in 2006, it's really no surprise that Kenichi is presented with a 1.33:1 full frame aspect ratio. It's a shame though, because this is a show that would have definitely benefited from an anamorphic widescreen presentation. The artwork is attractive and bright, and comes across quite nicely on DVD. FUNimation's transfer is decent as well with an all around solid showing, though thirteen episodes on two discs doesn't give the compression rate a lot of room for breathing. There are some artifacts here and there, and you'll spot some grain at times. Interlacing isn't entirely predominant, but it's visible every now and then as well. Overall this is a decent looking show with a fine enough transfer, but it's nothing that's going to leave you with a strong impression.
The sound quality for Kenichi is pretty good as well, and in all honesty it comes across slightly better than the video. For audio tracks we have a Japanese 2.0 stereo selection, which is decent in the technical sense, but it's nowhere near as nice as the English 5.1 surround. FUNimation took advantage of this show's excessive amount of action and offered up a track that packs a little punch. It's nothing that's going to give your system a run for its money, but it does create a nice sense of immersion during key moments of the show. The dubbing tracks are both very good as well, with the English and Japanese voiceover teams performing admirably.
Some trailers and textless animation are all you're going to find on this release for the second part of Kenichi's second season.
It may not be a masterpiece by anyone's definition, but Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple is a solid fighting anime with plenty of charm. The series has presented fun characters with an energetic atmosphere and an off-the-wall sense of humor. Right up to the end this show will keep viewers laughing and content with well-written jokes and visual gags. The formula does grow a tad stale after a while, but it's easy to overlook that if you take in the show just a little at a time. Kenichi is recommended.
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