Nonsensical comedy anime is a polarizing genre because you either get the brand of humor or you don't. So many shows have come along to test viewers' funny bones such as Excel Saga, School Rumble, and to some smaller, more refined extent Azumanga Daioh. In 2002 a manga created by Jun Sadogawa came out and instantly found itself nestled in the company of bizarre off-the-wall comedies.
Noodle Fighter Miko turned out to be reasonably successful in Japan and a few years later it garnered an anime spin-off. Presented as a twelve episode series the whole thing came out in 2006 and found its way to America in 2007 thanks to Anime Works. Dubbed Ramen Fighter Miki, the tone of the series was more or less the same as the manga and featured outlandish characters and even kookier situations.
The star at the center of everything is a young girl named Miki Onimaru. She works for her family's ramen shop in a local shopping arcade but she is more or less the poster girl for the restaurant. She possesses a plucky attitude and despite her immature nature she's actually older than she lets on. In so many ways Miki causes problems for her mother Makiko and it's safe to say that she definitely draws attention to the shop (which I suppose is her job after all).
Across the way from the Onimaru noodle shop is the bakery where Miki's rival and arch nemesis works. Megumi may be blonde and prettier than Miki but that doesn't mean she has a better personality and disposition. In many ways she and Miki are virtually identical. This causes frequent clashes between the two and in almost every instance they are at each other's throats. This all creates an amusing dynamic for the series but it all lends itself to the random appeal of the sense of humor. What can seem like a normal day will turn into a royal rumble between the two and in such a case there are no innocent bystanders.
Caught in the middle of all this insanity is Akihiko who works in a grocery store next to the Onimaru's. He's a rather level-headed character who seems out of place amongst the insanity but he brings a rather straight form of comedy to the show with his personality. The fact that he also apparently has a thing for Miki doesn't help matters. Despite Akihiko's presumed normalcy an appropriate character named Kankuro joins the ranks soon enough. This guy has some issues with Miki because she tormented him for so many years. He returns looking for vengeance and adds to the craziness of the program just be appearing. The amusing thing about Kankuro is the fact that Miki has no recollection of him whatsoever.
Once the characters are in place and the series is set up the rest just kind of falls into place. Each of the four episodes here is broken up into two sections so it helps to keep the content from being dragged out or tiresome. To say this first volume moves at a breakneck speed would be an understatement but if you're a fan of slapstick comedy and randomness then you'll love every minute of it.
As far as what actually transpires in this volume it's very hard to put into words as every event is completely off the wall and haphazard. There are a lot of fights that break out here between Miki and Megumi, Miki and her mother, Miki and random strangers, and, well, you get the point. This isn't a shopping arcade that you want to go to if you enjoy peace and tranquility but it definitely provides a fun slice of anime to watch if you're looking for a laugh. For my money the quality of writing isn't as good as some of the shows I mentioned earlier and the jokes just aren't quite as good. If you're bored with everything else on the market and desire something fresh and obscure then give this a spin and you may be pleasantly surprised.
Originally released in 2006 Ramen Fighter Miki is presented with a full frame aspect ratio and hits DVD with a nice clean transfer. The show features some very vibrant colors and simplistic designs which virtually pop from the TV in every scene. There's definitely a unique look to the show and thankfully there are really no digital flaws to complain about. Grain, aliasing, and compression are nowhere to be found and overall Anime Works did a fantastic job with this release. If only the show were produced with anamorphic widescreen in mind.
Keeping in step with other Anime Works releases the only track you're going to find on this release is a 2.0 stereo Japanese language one. English subtitles are included but no dub for the English langue is available. That's not necessarily a bad thing in my opinion but then again I'm typically partial to original languages anyway. The presentation for the audio is decent but the 2.0 feels somewhat flat with all the insanity going on. A 5.1 presentation would have gone a long way to bringing us into the action but as it stands the 2.0 feels somehow inadequate.
The bonus features here are rather unique to Ramen Fighter Miki. Up first is an alternative Star Rangers opening sequence which acts a rather amusing parody of sorts. The second inclusion is a Voice Actor Fight which features the original Japanese actors playing games and being goofy in a manner that keeps in step with the show. I've never seen content quite like this before and it was definitely interesting to watch.
Ramen Fighter Miki was kind of a surprising show in many ways for me. Slapstick comedy and haphazard situations generally aren't my cup of tea (or noodles in this case) but this particular series had enough personality to make up for any shortcomings. The characters add a lot to the zaniness of the program and each stands out in their own right. If you're looking for a funny show that never takes itself seriously and often parodies other anime then this may be one to check out. With only three volumes to pick up the investment is relatively small and if you've got a crazy sense of humor then you'll love every minute of it.