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Ranma 1/2 Set 2 Blu-ray
VIZ // Unrated // June 24, 2014
List Price: $54.97 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Ranma Saotome of the Anything Goes School of Marital Arts meets new antagonists, has gets in more awkward situations, and even gets a chance to break the curse that is haunting him in the second set of Ranma 1/2 from Viz. These remastered episodes look and sound great and fans of old--school anime should make a point of checking this series out.
The story revolves around Ranma Saotome and his father Genma, a man who has devoted his life to training as a marital artist. Genma is a master in the "anything goes" school, and he's trained Ranma since birth. Once Genma felt that he had learned all he could in Japan, he took Ranma to China (they swam there!) to train at the legendary facility at Jusenkyo. What he didn't know (and he was in too much of a hurry to start to listen to the guide who was trying to warn him) is that the 100 springs that make up the training camp are all cursed. Anyone who falls into one of the ponds takes on the form of the last creature that drowned in that particular spring. Genma soon falls into the Spring of the Drowned Panda and emerges as a giant bear. This startles Ranma so much that he falls into... the Spring of the Drowned Girl. Now whenever Ranma is doused with cold water he turns into a girl. The only way for Ranma or Genma to change back is to become drenched with hot water.
After making their way back to Japan, Genma heads to the dojo of his old friend Soun Tendo who is also a practitioner of the 'anything goes' school. Years ago the two friends agreed that their children would marry, so when they arrive Ranma, who is a sophomore in high school, is promptly engaged to the youngest of Soun's three daughters, Akane. She's the best fighter of the family, and she's attractive, but she's also very headstrong. Neither Akane nor Ranma want their parents to choose their mate, so it's hate-at-first sight, even though the two are very well suited for each other.
Add into the mix an ever growing cast of supporting characters, most of whom want to destroy Ranma for one reason or another, and you have a fun, action filled show.
This collection starts off with a very old lady arriving in Japan, Cologne. She may be 300 years old, but she's an Amazon warrior and very, very tough. This tough old bird happens to be Shampoo's great grandmother and is looking for her "future son-in-law," Ranma, to make sure he's worthy of marrying the Amazon's champion. The fact that Ranma doesn't want to marry Shampoo has little bearing on Cologne's mission. She decides to stay in and opens up a restaurant the Cat Café, while generally making Ramna's life miserable. The first thing she does is attack him with the "Full Body Cats Tongue," a technique that makes Ranma's body incredibly sensitive. So sensitive that he can't stand even luke warm water... meaning he can't change back into a boy.
If that wasn't enough for the poor guy, the man who was hoping to marry Shampoo, the nearsighted Mousse, comes looking to challenge Ranma too. Mousse may not be able to see very with without his glasses, but he's a strong opponent and has some devilish tricks up his sleeve.
There were some other great stories in this collection too. One of my favorites involved Ranma frenemy Ryoga. He and Ranma team up when they discover a map to the cursed 'spring of the drowned man' which causes anyone who falls into it to change into a man (which would effectively end both of their curses). It's supposed to be located in Nerima too! Unfortunately the map locates the spring underneath the high school girl's locker room.
The show is episodic in nature, though stories will be told over the course of 3 or 4 episodes, and it's great fun. Thought the cast is fairly big when this collection starts, the show has no problem throwing in more amusing characters. In addition to Cologne and Mousse, there also introduce the man who trained Ranma and Akane's fathers, Happosai. He's a very strong martial artist, as well as a dirty old man and lecher. His interactions with the two fathers are some of the funniest parts in this collection.
This second Ranma 1/2 collection arrives on three DVD discs that are housed in a single-width case.
Viz has done a great job with the technical aspects of this release. FUNimation take note: This is the way a classic anime series should be presented in the 21st Century. The 1080p, MPEG-4, AVC encoded discs look amazing, and Viz wisely kept the original aspect ratio (1.33:1). See, that wasn't so hard. The image has been remastered from the original 16mm film, and it looks impeccable. The colors are strong without being overly boosted, the definition is amazing, and they left the original grain in the picture instead of smoothing it out with digital tools (which smooth out other aspects of the image at the same time). Part of one of the extras has a short comparison between the original DVD release and this Blu-ray set and the difference is like night and day. It's a huge improvement. Since it is coming from 16mm film, the image isn't as crisp as 35mm film would have been, but that's just a limitation of the way this anime (and most others from this period) were created.
If you're wondering if it's worth an upgrade from the old DVDs, the answer is "yes."
The show comes with a choice of the original Japanese language track or an English dub, both in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, and there are optional English (and sign-only) subtitles. Once again Viz gets everything right with this release. They give fans the original product without trying to 'improve' it artificially. That means that they didn't use the original stereo track to generate a fake 5.1 track. There's just stereo, the way the creators originally made it.
As for the sound quality, it's pretty good. I alternated audio track for the first handful of episodes before deciding I liked the original Japanese track better. (That's what usually happens, but I like to sample the dub for my reviews.) That's not to say that the dub is bad, it is good. I just preferred the Japanese case. There aren't any really impressive aural parts, but the stereo effects are decent and the sound is clean and clear.
Not much in the way of extras this time around. Just clean openings and endings and some trailers.
Just as fun and amusing as the first collection, this is a great set of classic anime. Highly Recommended.