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Ranma 1/2 – Set 1 (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

April 4, 2014 by  



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Featuring a hilarious and delightful storyline written with non-stop humor and action, “Ranma 1/2″ is at true anime classic that will forever entertain many generations of anime fans and will forever be remembered for its characters and wild and crazy stories.  And it’s a Rumiko Takahashi anime series that I highly recommend!  If you can, avoid the DVD release of “Ranma 1/2 – Set 1” and go for the Blu-ray version!

Image courtesy of © Rumiko Takahashi/Shogakukan. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: Ranma 1/2 – Set 1 (らんま1/2)

DURATION: Episodes 1-23 (450 Minutes)

DVD INFORMATION: 16×9 Widescreen, 2.0 Stereo Surround Sound, Bilingual (Japanese & English), English Subtitles

COMPANY: Viz Media

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: March 25, 2014

Original Creator: Rumiko Takahashi

Series Director: Tomomi Mochizuki

Director: Junji Nishimura, Koji Sawai, Tsutomu Shibayama

Series Composition: Hiroshi Toda, Shigeru Yanagawa, Toshiki Inoue, Yoshio Ursasawa

Music by Miko Endo

Character Design: Atsuko Nakajima

Art Director: Satoshi Miura

Director of Photography: Mitsunobu Yoshida

Anime Production: Studio DEEN

Featuring the following voice talent:

Kappei Yamaguchi/Sarah Strange as Ranma Saotome(Male)

Megumi Hayashibara/Venus Terzo as Ranma Saotome(Female)

Noriko Hidaka/Myriam Sirois as Akane Tendou

Hiromi Tsuru/Kelly Sheridan as Ukyou Kuonji

Hirotaka Suzuoki/Ted Cole as Tatewaki Kunoh

Ichirô Nagai/Paul Dobson as Happousai

Kenichi Ogata/Robert O. Smith as Genma

Kikuko Inoue/Willow Johnson as Kasumi Tendou

Kouichi Yamadera/Michael Donovan as Ryouga Hibiki

Minami Takayama/Angela Costain as Nabiki Tendou

Miyoko Asou/Elan Ross Gibson as Cologne

Rei Sakuma/Cathy Weseluck as Shampoo

Ryunosuke Ohbayashi/David Kaye as Souun Tendou

Saeko Shimazu/Teryl Rothery as Kodachi Kunoh

Tatsuyuki Jinnai/Scott McNeil as Principal Kunoh

Toshihiko Seki/Brad Swaile as Mousse

Yuji Mitsuya/Ian James Corlett as Ono Toufuu-sensei (Dr. Tofu)

From the legendary oeuvre of master creator Rumiko Takahashi, the mixed-up, madcap, martial arts romantic comedy RANMA 1/2 returns! After taking a surprise dip in a cursed spring while on a training journey in China, martial artist Ranma Saotome and his father, Genma, aren’t quite themselves anymore. Now Ranma turns into a girl whenever he’s splashed with cold water, and Genma turns into a panda!

Their new forms cause nothing but confusion at the Tendo dojo, where Soun Tendo is waiting to introduce one of his three daughters to Ranma – as his fiancee! Turns out Genma and Soun arranged the match long ago, but the girl, Akane, and the boy, Ranma, aren’t exactly crazy about the idea, or each other! Or are they? Watch the gender switching, jealous rages, and martial arts battles unfold all over again!

Mangaka Rumiko Takahashi is no doubt a legendary mangaka who has had amazing success in Japan.

Many know her from her popular series “InuYasha” but decades before, she won over manga and anime fans through her series “Urusei Yatsura”, “Maison Ikkoku”, The Mermaid series and of course, her well-known series, “Ranma 1/2”.

“Ranma 1/2” was created back in 1987 and lasted through 1996 and serialized in Shogakukan’s “Weekly Shonen Sunday” with a total of 38 tankobon volumes (graphic novels) published.

The series like most of Rumiko’s work received an anime adaptation and in 1989, a total of 18 episodes were created and aired in Fuji TV before being canceled.

But unlike most cancellations, “Ranma 1/2” would get a second life on television a month later with a new name titled “Ranma 1/2 Nettouhen” which was based on the manga but featured also a lot of filler episodes and characters not featured in the manga series.

While “Ranma 1/2” was popular and would help jumpstart the careers for voice talents such as Megumi Hayashibara (“Video Girl Ai”, “Meitantei Conan”, “Slayers”, “Pokemon”), Kappei Yamaguchi (“Meitantei Conan”, “InuYasha”, “One Piece”), Noriko Hidaka (“InuYasha”, “Gunbuster”, “Nadia – The Secret of Blue Water”), Hiromi Tsuru (“Dragon Ball Z”, “Anpanman”), Kikuko Inoue (“Ah! My Goddess”, “Mobile Suit Gundam Seed”), Minami Takayama (“Meitantei Conan”, “Starship Girl Yamamoto Yohko”) and Rei Sakuma (“Mobile Suit Gundam 0083”, “Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ”).

The series would become popular overseas as it was one of the first anime series to receive a fan sub and because it would help jumpstart the anime and manga craze during the early 1990’s including “Ranma 1/2” released in comic book format. Viz Media would then bring an English dub of the anime series to the United States.

And while the anime series was released little by little with two episodes on VHS and then later with season box sets on DVD, in America, “Ranma 1/2” has always been a fan favorite.

But when it was announced that Rumiko Takahashi’s earlier hit series “Urusei Yatsura”, “Maison Ikkoku” and “Ranma 1/2” would be remastered and released in Japan on Blu-ray as part of Shogakukan’s 90th anniversary, suffice to say, fans became very excited and wondered if the series in HD would be released in America.

And sure enough, Viz Media surprised fans with the announcement that “Ranma 1/2” would be released on Blu-ray and DVD plus an omnibus release of the manga series in March 2014.

Unlike the first season box set which features the first 18 episodes of season 1, “Ranma 1/2 – Set 1” will feature 23 episodes.

“Ranma 1/2” is a story about a teenage boy named Ranma Saotome.  His father Genma Saotome and his good friend Soun Tendo have made a deal that Ranma can marry one of Soun’s daughters and so both are headed to Japan after training in China.

But because both Ranma and Genma have fallen into cursed lakes, whenever they come into contact with cold water, Ranma turns into a girl, while Genma turns into a panda.

And because Akane hates boys and Ranma is half boy/half girl, her older sisters Kusumi and Nabiki volunteer Akane to be Ranma’s betrothed.

But both Ranma and Akane are like oil and water and don’t get along.  Both often tease each other and Akane tends to beat Ranma up.   And as the two are to try and be a happy couple, also in school, both must put up with a cast of fascinating characters including Tatewaki Kuno and his sister Kodachi, Ranma’s eternal rival Ryouga Hibiki, the Chinese fighter named Shampoo and others who are happy to destroy their relationship.

The main characters of “Ranma 1/2″ are:

  • Ranma Saotome – The series protagonist and martial artist who is often training with his father.  He and Akane tend to not get along and he often says things bad to her, which leads her to beat him up or get him into trouble.  Because he fell into a cursed lake where a teenage girl had died, he transforms into a teenage girl when he comes into contact with cold water and reverts back to a male when he comes into contact with hot water.  Due to his father’s arrangement with Soun Tendo, he is the fiance of Akane Tendo.
  • Genma Saotome – The father of Ranma Saotome and is often training with his son.  He is the childhood best friend of Soun Tendo and together, they made a promise that their children will marry.  Because he fell into a cursed lake where a panda had died, he transforms into a panda when he comes into contact with cold water and reverts back to a male when he comes into contact with hot water.  He and Genma were trained by their master, Happosai.
  • Akane Tendo – The female protagonist who is a tomboy that loves martial arts.  She is popular at school and many guys want her to be their girlfriend.  Due to her father’s arrangement with Genma Saotome, she is engaged to Ranma Saotome.  She also has a hot temper and is often arguing and beating up on Ranma.
  • Soun Tendo – The owner of the Tendo Dojo, he is the father of Kusumi, Nabiki and Akane.  He and his childhood friend Genma had an arrangement that their children will marry.  He and Genma were trained by their master, Happosai.
  • Kusumi Tendo – She is the most ladylike of the Tendo family, the eldest sister who is always kind, she is often seen taking care of her sisters and cooking for the entire family and also cleaning the house.
  • Nabiki Tendo – The middle child, Nabiki likes to make money and spend it! Often trying to find ways to make money.
  • Tatewaki Kuno – From a wealthy family and has a cocky attitude and because of his inflated ego, calls himself “Blue Thunder”. He is in love with Akane and female Ranma.  He is an expert with a wooden sword.
  • Ryoga Hibiki – Ranma’s rival .  Ryoga is terrible with directions and whenever he is planning to fight with Ranma, it would take him days or weeks, because he walked hundreds of miles in another direction.  One day he followed Ranma and Genma all the way to China and was kicked by a girl and landed in a cursed lake where a small black pig had died.  Whenever he comes in contact with cold water, he will turn into a black pig and whenever he comes in contact with hot water, he reverts back to his normal self.  As a pig, named P-chan, he is taken in as a pet by Akane Tendo.
  • Kodachi Kuno – The captain of the St. Hebereke School for Girls Gymnastic team and while a great gymnast, she also uses poison and other methods in combat which has earned her the nickname “The Black Rose”.
  • Dr. Tofu Ono – A very good doctor, it’s that people worry when Kasumi is around because Tofu is in love with Kasumi and he begins behaving unusually towards everyone.
  • Shampoo – The hero of her village in China.  She despises female Ranma and loves male Ranma.  She also fell in a cursed lake in Jusenkyou and turns into a pink cat.  Whenever she comes into contact with cold water, she turns into a cat.  When in contact with hot water, she reverts back to normal.  She runs the Neko Hanten Chinese restaurant.
  • Mikado Sanzenin – One half of the Golden Pair figure skating duo.  Conceited and wanting to kiss pretty girls.
  • Azusa Shiratori – One half of the Golden Pair figure skating duo.  She believes anything cute must be owned by her and will do anything to keep it.  She badly wants Akane’s black Pig, P-Chan which she has named “Charlotte”.

VIDEO, AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Ranma 1/2” is presented in standard definition and English and Japanese stereo.

It’s important to remind people that the version I am reviewing is the DVD version.  So, if you owned the previous DVD set, there is not going to be a huge difference unless you purchase the Blu-ray version.

The primary difference that you will see is that “Ranma 1/2 Set 1” has visible grain and that reds and blues are much more vibrant and colors are much more pleasing but I can only imagine how gorgeous this series would look in HD versus SD.

Having compared the original season box set and this 2014 DVD release, the differences are there but not enough for me to tell fans to throw away their older DVD box sets.  In fact, if you own the previous release, don’t even bother purchasing the DVD release, upgrade to the Blu-ray release instead.

Also, one should not come into watching “Ranma 1/2” and expect major restoration work such as “Akira”.  This is a TV series from the late ’80s utilizing cells and is old school animation.

But as for differences from the original first season DVD box set and the 2014 “Ranma 1/2 – Set 1” release, please look at the following (top photo version is from the original season 1 DVD box set, bottom photo is from the 2014 DVD release):

Original Season 1 DVD Release Screen Capture:

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“Ranma 1/2 – Set 1” DVD Screen Capture:

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Original Season 1 DVD Release Screen Capture:

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“Ranma 1/2 – Set 1” DVD Screen Capture:

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Original Season 1 DVD Release Screen Capture:

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“Ranma 1/2 – Set 1” DVD Screen Capture:

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As for audio, on DVD, you get both the wonderful Japanese soundtrack and the English dub.  It’s important to note that the English dub back in the ’90s were a much different style than the English dubs that people are accustomed to today.  At the time, Viz Media and other companies were entering a new field for English dubs after many people have seen the Japanese version (due to fan subs).

So, back in 1995, Viz Media was criticized for its English dub soundtrack.  The dub was no doubt subjective to the listener.  Some didn’t mind, some were very vocal about it but the good news is that on this DVD, you have a choice between Japanese or the English dub unlike the VHS release which you had to choose separately.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Ranma 1/2 – Set 1” comes with the following special features:

  • NYCC Highlights – Highlights of “Ranma 1/2” cosplayers at New York Comic Con.
  • Trailers – Viz Media trailers

While many Americans had their first exposure of Japanese animation during the 1970′s, with “Battle of the Planets” and in the ’80s through “Robotech” and “Voltron”, for the anime fans of the early ’90s, many discovered Japanese animation (anime) through a series known as “Ranma 1/2″.

I was among those who grew up with “Ranma 1/2″ and discovered the series back in 1992.  I credit this series for introducing me to Japanese animation and while the series has not been forgotten, a new generation of anime and manga fans would grow up with another Rumiko Takahashi series titled “InuYasha” in the late ’90s and early 2000′s, while those of us who were fortunate to have grown up with “Ranma 1/2″, “Urusei Yatsura”, “Maison Ikkoku” and other Takahashi titles, will always remember that moment of time when anime and manga was fresh and new in the United States.

For me, being a long time “Ranma 1/2” fan, from watching “Ranma 1/2” in original Japanese when it first came out on LaserDisc and watching it at a local club viewing back in the early ’90s, purchasing nearly every “Ranma 1/2” CD soundtrack to meeting Megumi Hayashibara (voice of female Ranma) and also meeting Venus Terzo (English dub voice actress for female Ranma) and Myriam Sirois (voice of Akane) and literally purchasing nearly everything or anything “Ranma 1/2” related in LD and VHS… What a great time to see “Ranma 1/2” released for a new generation of anime fans but also for those who have wished for more old school anime to be released on Blu-ray!

While I was not able to obtain a review copy of the Blu-ray release, I did receive a review copy of the DVD release and I’m going to be blunt about this…  Don’t buy “Ranma 1/2 – Set 1” on DVD unless you have to!

Part of the enjoyment of watching “Ranma 1/2” in 2014 is for its HD release on Blu-ray and this is where you are going to see an improvement in picture quality.

Having compared the original Viz Media “Ranma 1/2” DVD box set and the 2014 “Ranma 1/2 – Set 1”, what you will notice in the newer release is more grain, colors that pop but also colors that are not so dark and better color where skies are lighter blue instead of having this aqua tinge.  There is no doubt that the 2014 DVD release looks much better on DVD than its older counterpart but not a whole lot.  That’s why I can only recommend the “Ranma 1/2” released on Blu-ray.  Sure, it would have been great to have a Blu-ray +DVD combo pack but

Also, you get 23 episodes in the 2014 DVD release (so you get both “Ranma 1/2” and a little of season two of “Ranma 1/2 Nettouhen”) as opposed to the 18 episodes of season one.  While in Japan, our counterparts are getting 54-episodes on Blu-ray but they are also paying over $350 per box set.  So, considering that 23 episodes are being sold for under $50, the price is great, considering the VHS and LD for “Ranma 1/2” for a few episodes was quite expensive back then.

As for audio, it’s stereo and for special features, you get a short two minute NYCC highlight and trailers.  As much as I would have loved more special features, I wish the textless opening and ending themes were included.

The “Ranma 1/2” series was a big part of my older teenage years and I feel it’s a wonderful experience for today’s readers to discover or re-discover one of the more well-known Rumiko Takahashi series that has had a worldwide impact for longtime fans.

While I do wish I can give a huge recommendation for the “Ranma 1/2 – Set 1” DVD release, the truth is that it’s not a whole lot different from the original DVD release.   But if you want to watch “Ranma 1/2” in the best quality possible and own the definitive version, then the Blu-ray is the way to go. The Blu-ray not only has better picture quality but Viz Media has included more swag and a better case, while the DVD is left with zilch.  I only recommend this DVD set only if you don’t own a Blu-ray player.

And assuming, you don’t have a Blu-ray player, then you are getting a great deal for one DVD set with 23 episodes.

Featuring a hilarious and delightful storyline written with non-stop humor and action, “Ranma 1/2″ is at true anime classic that will forever entertain many generations of anime fans and will forever be remembered for its characters and wild and crazy stories.  And it’s a Rumiko Takahashi anime series that I highly recommend!






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