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Ranma 1/2 Set 3 Special Edition Blu-ray Anime Review

11 min read

Ranma Set 3With someone like Happosai in your life, things are never going to be easy.

What They Say:
Things just can’t stay quiet at the Tendo Dojo. After a morning ruckus, Ranma hits his head, falls into water, and turns completely into a girl. Now, even when Ranma transforms back into a boy, he still thinks he’s a girl! Things become even more complicated when Shampoo, still in love with Ranma, gets a surprise visit from Chinese Amazon twin sisters Ling-Ling and Lung-Lung, two of her proteges who have it in for Ranma.

Then, after Soun and Genma’s master, Happosai, uses moxibustion to weaken Ranma, Ranma must master a new legendary technique and defeat Happosai to become strong again. Everything culminates in a final battle against Happosai as Ranma fights to regain his strength!

This special edition includes a full-color art card and a 32-page booklet with episode summaries, all housed in a premium chipboard artbox!

Contains episodes 47-69.

The Review:
Audio:
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo as well as the previously created English language mix, both of which are encoded using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. The serie is one that does a good job of balancing what it has for a forward soundstage presentation where it has a full and large feeling to it that keeps you engaged and a part of it. There are some of the quieter moments where there’s a bit of directionality with who is talking, but because it’s a full frame show it doesn’t quite go wide or deep with the material. There’s a good warmth to the whole show though and the characters voices come across very well in both languages, making for a fun and easy to hear series. The music plays well and adds a bit more to it but it avoids dominating or becoming problematic with scratchy sounds or other issues, instead giving us a clean and clear presentation.

Video:
Originally airing in 1989 and 1990, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twenty-three episodes of this collection are spread across three discs in an eight/eight/seven format with a good bit of space available to each of them, which is well used when looking at the average bitrates.High action scenes easily spend their time in the mid to high 30’s while a lot of it is in the low 20’s. Because of the film origin of the series, there’s some good and natural grain here and considering this is using the same remastered materials as the highly regarded Japanese release, there’s nothing to really find fault with here overall. It’s a very good looking show that while it does show its age and some of the minor flaws of film such as a few nicks and bits of dirt here and there, it is in the end the best that Ranma ½ has ever looked and that’s what counts.

Packaging:
Though the packaging for this release isn’t oversized or filled with goodies, it’s exactly what the release needed to be and is fantastic. The set comes with a standard sized Blu-ray case inside a heavy chipboard box that’s just a bit bigger than it, making it compact and properly snug but also having a good bit of heft to it. What really helps is that the front of it is done in this great shade of pink that makes it striking as we get Akane Ranma in the center circle with a lot of gold embossed foil work around him with the framing. It’s simple, elegant and perfect for a title that has earned its classic status. The back cover, under the shrinkwrapped sell sheet with all the details, is done up in bright green (which ties to the spine) and that gives us Gemma in panda form in the middle with the same overall structure as the front of the box but without the series logo. It’s just a perfect looking box in every way.

Inside the box we get the aforementioned case which holds the three discs of the series. The front cover gives us a look at the core cast together in various poses that has a manga style illustration feeling to it. The back cover extends the background while providing a good premise for the series, a couple of shots from the show and a good breakdown of the technical specs and what the box holds as well as all the extras. The included book is really nicely done with a slick and glossy form to it as it provides an episode by episode breakdown for what’s in this set as well as some production credits, both for the show itself and the Blu-ray release itself. Unlike the first book though, we don’t get any manga here. What we do get separately is a nice card that’s the same size as the book which provides the logo on one side while the other has a cute picture of Ryouga in hus human form with a serious look about him.

Menu:
The menu design for this release is definitely what it needed to be as we get something that’s simple but classy and very in-theme. Using the same pink approach as the box cover, we get that and the gold mix that dominates it while the logo is along the upper left. The right provides for three circles, again similar to the cover, where different clips play throughout it. This provides continuity across the volumes but also changes it up nicely. The navigation is along the lower left with the basics there that shift upward when selected and while the text is a touch small, it’s all readable and has a very good flow to it while being easy to use. Submenus load quickly and episode number and title breakdown is a breeze, as is the extras navigation.

Extras:
Viz Media continues to bring something new to the table with this release in addition to the standards we expect. We get the welcome usual suspects here with the clean opening and closing sequences and the separate next episode previews where appropriate. We also get the third “Everybody Loves Ranma” original feature that goes a bit into why it’s such an appealing character, which clocks in at about eight or nine minutes.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The further I get past the first set of Ranma ½, the more wary I become about the whole process. While the first set is pretty much the gold standard of fun for me, memories of the material afterward never really clicked in the same way, especially as I had seen a lot of those in three or four episode single volume releases which certainly dragged it all out. Going into it this time around with a full twenty-three episodes – and just a couple of months after the second set – definitely makes a difference. Getting four sets this year alone, almost a hundred episodes, definitely makes you view the series differently since you can just get invested in it a lot more quickly without the gaps or the short bursts that it felt like.

With this set, there’s very little in the terms of new character introductions in these episodes, and that alone is a plus, since it gives more time to the existing cast and the already fairly sizeable amount of people Ranma is engaged to. A good portion of the episodes also stay focused on just around the household, giving things a very consistent feel. But there is one thing that’s in just about every episode here that gets old very, very fast.

Happosai.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I like the little guy. He’s got some interesting episodes here, such as when we get flashbacks to his past and time spent in China going after women. Back when he had a full head of hair at that! But far too many of the episodes, especially in the first half of this set, focus on Happosai stealing some panties or bras, getting chased by either random schoolgirls or actual cast members, and ending up in some situation. It’s just far too repetitive in that fact, even with the twists they try to introduce.

Episodes focused on Jusenkyo aren’t common to be sure, but when we do get them they have their amusing moments. One of the early episodes in this set focuses on the fact that the gang has become a bit noticeable since falling into the pools and now they’re causing problems with it for those that manage the pools back in China. Their solution is to send one of their ruffians to go and eliminate the problem. That turns into a whole thing as you’d expect, but you have to love that the guy is actually a victim of the pools himself as he’s normally a very shy, quiet type who becomes a thug with power when transformed into his big, muscular self. I do like the idea of the Jusenkyo guys going after those that fall into the pools to make sure they lead quiet lives and not cause problems, since it would cause a lot of interest to say the least, but their methods are once again questionable. You’d think they’d fund a way to get everything fixed more so than hunting down people that fell victim to the pools.

One episode that worked extremely well, though it got revisited in another less pleasing form later, is when Akane hits Ranma into their little pool, but he conks his head and stays unconscious for awhile. When he awakens, as a girl, he has no recollection of ever being a boy. Ranma then becomes the epitome of a very classic Japanese woman, right down to the speech differences which are just hilarious. This unsettles Akane to no end, though everyone else manages to cope with it. Just watching Ranma be feminine because it’s what she feels is right as opposed to doing it to get a parfait is quite a treat.

Another good episode, somewhat slower than others, is when Kuno kicks out Sasuke from the household for not siding with him in a dispute with his sister. Sasuke ends up being brought home by Akane, and he spends a few days there under a completely different lifestyle. Sasuke has obviously been a minor character at best, though he’s had some great lines while working for Kuno, but his seeing how “normal” people live and interact with each other is priceless. But you also realize just how bad off Sasuke has been under Kuno when he talks about the kinds of food he’s eaten and the fact that he only has rain water as his drink. It makes you sympathetic towards Sasuke and his situation, but it also takes your disdain towards Kuno to whole other levels.

Also particularly good, though again dealing with time travel, has a panicked Ranma thinking that Jusenkyo pools may be emptied. So he and Genma steal the time travel mirror from Happosai and head off. Their first stop is ten years in the future, which provides an extremely hilarious set of circumstances. Akane and Ryouga are married, both are in the mid 20’s and act as a perfect couple with three kids (who also transform into piglets when wet). I would have loved to see the series actually play this out to its conclusion. This episode only gets weirder when the three head back to just before their first encounter at Jusenkyo and they try to change things.

While Ranma ½ tends to focus more on standalone stories throughout its run, they do sometimes go for extended pieces. This set has just that as we get a three part storyline that’s actually a lot of fun. When Ranma stops Happosai from having his usual fun, Happosai puts a “curse” on him that turns him weak. Or normal, if you prefer. He’s unable to even cause a whiff of notice from those with meager power and that transformation from skilled martial artist into average guy really strikes a blow to his self image. He doesn’t handle it well after it happens as we see him struggling with it and those around him – particularly Kuno – but he does eventually start going on a sort of vision quest to find a way to heal himself. Naturally, Happosai has the method, but there are some fun hurdles he has to cross before that. What cements it as good though is that while he goes off on this training, initially with Ukyo, others find their way and help him as well. He spent so many of his years with just his father that realizing he’s built up some good friends around him as well definitely shows the growth he’s undergone.

In Summary:
While I’m still wary of the Ranma series based on memories of what certain segments are like, I’m enjoying the revisit and finding that parts of it that I wasn’t a huge fan of a decade ago manage to hold up quite well. Yes, Happosai frustrates me at times with the way he is, but that’s the point of the character. This set gives him a lot of time to reinforce just what kind of ass he is and the kind of dominance he has over his pupils and the next generation. The show thankfully goes beyond him and we get some decent time with Sasuke of all people, some solid Akane material, a quick node to Dr. Tofu and a lot of Ranma material as well. Which is good, since it’s his series. But he can be undercut by others way too often. He makes out well here overall though and there’s a kind of ease to the show at this point with its familiarity. It’s definitely fun and the set as a whole continues to be fantastic.

Features:
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, “We Love Ranma” Part 3 – Favorite Scenes, Next Episode Previews, Clean Openings & Endings.

Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: A
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: A-

Released By: Viz Media
Release Date: September 16th, 2014
MSRP: $54.97
Running Time: 530 minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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