|Reviews & Columns|
TV on DVD
Reviews by Studio
Collector Series DVDs
Easter Egg Database
DVD Talk Radio
The M.O.D. Squad
DVD Talk Forum
DVD Price Search|
Customer Service #'s
Ranma - Season 7
One of the first anime shows I had ever seen was Ranma 1/2. I was new to the world of Japanese animation and didn't know what to expect. When my friend brought some VHS tapes over and told me I simply had to watch the show I was naturally intrigued. After a couple of episodes I fell in love despite a sub-par English dubbing and it drew me into the world of anime; a place that still firmly has its claws rooted in me.
Over the years Ranma 1/2 has been released at numerous times. Recently VIZ has taken a look at their catalog once again to bring the classic out on DVD. 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. Through the seasons several characters were introduced and as things went on, it's safe to say that situations just got weirder and weirder. Unfortunately, as the show went further into its run the franchise grew tired as well as the creators seemed to have ran out of steam and ideas felt more or less half-baked.
In case you're unfamiliar with the Ranma character by this point then let's fill you in briefly. Basically Ranma is a young kung fu master who fell into a cursed pond that transforms his body into that of a cute young girl whenever he's hit with cold water. Likewise there are many others such as his father who turns into a panda, Ryoga who becomes a pig, a girl who becomes a cat, so on, and so forth. It's just a shame that over time situations repeated themselves, jokes grew tired, and just about everything began to wear thinly. It's not surprising considering how long-running this anime was but despite the fact that it overstayed its welcome, it's still endearing in some regards.
One of the biggest recurring themes here is love, promises of marriage, and all of the awkwardness that comes in between. It's a theme that Ranma 1/2 has employed a little too liberally and because of that it's definitely grown old hat. Considering this season features some episodes along these lines, it's only natural that they are equally droll. The other thing that Ranma has done to greater and lesser degrees of success is the exploration of the secondary characters. Realizing that for a show to go on for longer than it probably should have, the sub-characters would need to be fleshed out. This season contains a slew of one-shot episodes that do just that. Ranma and his father are more or less pushed to the wayside in an effort to introduce new characters and get to know older ones a little better.
A few single episodes stand out as highlights from this season including a day at the beach with the girls, another adventure with the martial arts tea ceremony master, and there is even an episode that revolves around mushrooms. Despite these few enjoyable adventures the other one-shot episodes (which make up the majority of this season) are easily forgettable. A few two-part storylines come into play with a cheerleading contest, another battle with Ryoga, and Ranma's mother. These are arguably the moments where Ranma 1/2 shines the most but unfortunately they are few and far between.
Like other seasons as of late the show is fun if you take it a little at a time and with a grain of salt. Don't expect each adventure to be something new, and be prepared for tiresome jokes to be scattered about. These episodes continue the trend of offering a lot of filler with very little of that spark that made the earlier seasons so enjoyable. Diehard Ranma fans will undoubtedly buy this for their collections but everyone else can give it a rent and basically get by.
Originally released nearly twenty years ago Ranma 1/2 is ancient by today's standards and as such it looks 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.
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.
Once again a line art gallery, clean animation, and profiles for the actors are included as the only bonus content for this series.
Ranma 1/2 is one of those classic shows that has been overlooked in recent years by many otaku. This fun-loving series has been a mainstay for quite some time, but you can't argue that the series degraded over time. The show simply latest beyond its intended lifespan and at this point it's quite obvious that the producers were pulling stuff out of thin air. A handful of episodes are pretty good this time around, but 2/3 of this season is easily forgettable. It's unfortunate because the show's concept is a lot of fun. In the end this season winds up being a rental for casual fans and a purchase only for diehards.