Movie: As a fan of Japanese anime, I'm always on the lookout for intriguing new concepts and shows in the genre. Although many releases these days, particularly from companies like ADV Films, are series, there are also some decent stand-alone titles. The dynamic of a series is somewhat different though since it has more time to develop a story and characters but there are pitfalls too. More often than not, series tend to have problems with pacing, be it a slow set of episodes in the middle or the need to flesh out weaker material to fill a whole season. One of the most promising series in anime last year was Neo Ranga. The story of a large god-like creature that followed the will of three sisters and set in motion a series of events that pitted them against governments and moral convention. The first three volumes of the show comprised season one and the latest release, Neo Ranga 6: The Search For Paradise, finishes off the second, and final, season of the show.
The final eight episodes of the show dealt with a military coup de tat that was fueled by an unknown force. As the series progressed, Ranga was called on to fight ever more powerful Kyoshin, powerful beings much like himself. With this set of episodes, Ranga met his match more than once and those Kyoshin were supported by the Japanese Defense Force in their attacks. The Shimabara sisters also suffered from a crisis of conscious as the beings behind the coup tried to convert them, as they had an important person in their lives. With the advent of a black hole in nearby space that seems tied to the recent appearances of the powerful beings, the whirlwind of events quickly comes to a head and ends, for better or for worse with a story using betrayal and duplicity.
Rather than break the episodes down individually, as I have in the past, I decided that doing so would involve major spoilers so I gave a general overview of the events. If you've watched the series up to now, you'll definitely want to check this one out too as it concludes the story but the bittersweet ending gave me room for pause. Like most such series, the soap opera aspects of it made the stand alone value kind of suspect but the story itself was better than the last volume (5) by a good margin.
The themes of authority, loyalty, and principled action continued this time, often magnified due to the need to finish it all up, and I think the direction was a bit better too. I'm going to rate this one as a Rent It unless you've followed the series from the beginning, which would elevate the rating a bit for you. The problems this time were swept up in the speed of the story and less noticeable until repeated viewings so casual anime viewers will appreciate it for what it is.
Picture: The picture was presented in 1.33:1 ratio full frame as originally aired. It looked clear but not quite as good as the first season episodes did. I didn't notice any major problems with the DVD transfer and the colors were accurate, making this aspect of the show fairly solid.
Sound: The audio was presented in Dolby Digital English, English with song subtitles, or the original Japanese with optional English subtitles. The vocals in each track were very clear and the music exceptionally solid. There was separation between the tracks in the special effects scenes and during some of the musical pieces and, to a lesser extent, some of the other parts.
Extras: The best extra was a series of written translator notes on the DVD. It explains a lot of the background information making certain cultural aspects of the show more understandable. Another good extra was the paper insert map that detailed the various characters and their relationships to one another, "Who Was That Again?" and a smaller map of the locations surrounding Japan used in the events of this volume. The usual trailers, clean opening and closing, and artwork were also present.
Final Thoughts: The series as a whole has been solid but don't buy this one as a stand-alone volume since it lacks a lot in terms of content. The battles seemed like the director ran out of ideas or at least couldn't properly utilize the short form show (the episodes are about half as long as regular series) any more. Volume 5 was decidedly weaker than this one but you'll be lost if you watch this volume out of order.