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Ranma ½: Set 1(TV) (1989)
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 fiancée! 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?
For more about Ranma ½: Set 1 and the Ranma ½: Set 1 Blu-ray release, see Ranma ½: Set 1 Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on April 11, 2014 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Kappei Yamaguchi, Megumi Hayashibara, Noriko Hidaka, Sarah Strange, Venus Terzo, Richard Ian Cox
» See full cast & crew
Ranma ½: Set 1 Blu-ray Review
"This is it! At last, my real body!"
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, April 11, 2014
Not only have the masters at VIZ Media gone to great lengths to lovingly restore and faithfully present Ranma ½ within an inch of high definition perfection, they've given fans everything they could want and more, righted old wrongs from previous home video releases (the series' original Japanese episode order has been restored for one), and have even made FUNimation -- whose questionable handling of the "Uncut" Dragon Ball Z remastered sets has alienated DBZ diehards -- look positively out of touch with classic anime fandom. And kudos to every VIZ team member involved. If any classic anime series deserved such meticulous care and exemplary treatment, it's Ranma ½.
Summarily cancelled in 1989 after just 18 episodes, the iconic 161-episode anime almost didn't live long enough to see the 1990s. Ratings were abysmal, but the series wasn't; a small glimmer of hope that led to a stay of execution. Reworked and re-planted in a different time slot, the next incarnation of Ranma, Ranma ½ Nettôhen, proved far more successful, delivering 143 episodes over the next three years. Even at the end of its run, though, Ranma ½ wasn't done. In addition to 11 OVA films, the series was one of the earliest to arrive stateside, where it served as the first spark of many that would ignite North America's mid-90s anime firestorm. And Ranma ½ is still going strong today. VIZ has tackled an ambitious franchise-wide resurrection, remastering and releasing the original right-to-left Rumiko Takahashi manga (with a new, more accurate translation, among other improvements) and revitalizing the series -- both the original 18-episode first season and the subsequent 143-episode series proper -- via 7 restored and remastered Blu-ray sets, each one presenting the series in its original 4:3 cropped aspect ratio with lossless Japanese and English audio. The result? If Set 1 is any indication, and let's hope it is, Ranma ½ is about to earn one of the most definitive home video releases of any classic anime series to date. FUNimation could learn a thing or two from VIZ...
From the legendary oeuvre of master creator Rumiko Takahashi, the mixed-up, madcap, martial arts romantic comedy Ranma ½ 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. 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 fiancée. 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?.
Even some twenty-five years past its prime, Ranma ½ is a joy to watch. Addicting as it is funny, it's hard not to like the series, much less fall madly in love with the expressive heroes, zany gender-swapping antics and martial arts hilarity that unfolds from episode to episode. The first 23 episodes take their time (more so than later stretches) and the focus on the characters and their eccentricities and hang-ups pays off handsomely. Not that the fun of signing on to Ranma lies in the action or comedy per se. It isn't the animation either, which frequently dates itself (no surprise there), or the writing, although its wit and effortlessness make it easy to forgive and forget some of the more hit or miss jokes. No, it's the ease and confidence with which the show clips along, the heart that drives the bumbling romances, and the increasingly boisterous energy the characters exude as they deal with light-hearted dilemma after dilemma. Ranma ½ isn't a series with something to prove. It's a series with something truly special to give, and it hands it over with such infectious vitality that there isn't any room for shoulder shrugging, crossed arms or stone faces. Ranma is meant to be enjoyed, savored even, and it's as much a delight in 2014 as it was so many years ago. If you're familiar with the show, there's no better opportunity to revisit an old favorite. If you've never seen an episode... good God, get on it. There's no time like the present. VIZ has made it easier than ever to sink in and soak up everything Ranma ½ has to offer. See what the 25-year fuss is all about.
Ranma ½: Set 1 Blu-ray, Video Quality
Compared to its previously released home video counterparts, the first 3-disc set of the newly restored and remastered Ranma ½ is an absolute revelation. Compared to other classic anime Blu-ray releases, though, it's... an absolute revelation! Apologies for failing to contain my excitement, but the series has never looked better. Moreover, I can't imagine VIZ Media's 4:3 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer will ever be bested. It's that good. No... that ideal. Colors are more vivid than ever before yet never feel cranked up or over-saturated. Contrast is spot on; consistent and vibrant, with crisp whites, strong primaries and inky black levels. And detail is impeccable. Grain is intact, the animators' line art is clean and nicely defined, and the hand-painted backgrounds showcase every brush-stroked texture purists will demand to see. Moreover, artifacting, banding, ringing and aliasing are nowhere to be found, and I didn't encounter a single significant issue worth mentioning.
Add to that the fact that the restoration team's clean-up efforts doesn't appear to have involved any debilitating noise reduction techniques, egregious sharpening or other shortsighted, on-the-cheap shortcuts. Obviously a number of remastering techniques have been employed; many of them used to normalize the grain field and remove scratches and print damage. But none of it has taken even the smallest toll on the original elements or, more importantly, altered or hindered the intentions of the series' creators and animators in any way. No, the newly revitalized image isn't going to leap off the screen, raise the dead, or convert the unconverted. The original animation is what is, at its best and at its worst, and optical softness isn't exactly uncommon in the series' 16mm source. That being said, this is Ranma ½ as it was meant to be seen, as it was meant to be preserved, and as it was meant to be introduced to new anime fans for generations to come. I'm elated, in case you couldn't tell.
Ranma ½: Set 1 Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Less remarkable although no less faithful is VIZ Media's Japanese and English DTS-HD Master Audio stereo tracks. Voices are well-prioritized and intelligible, sound effects are bright and punchy, and every sonic element has been granted new, crystal clear life. The series' music doesn't overwhelm the two-channel soundscape either, nor does it ever seem cramped or crowd. Still, the original audio elements present certain limitations, and tininess, hollow lines of dialogue, slight hiss and other inherent and unavoidable mishaps do creep into the mix from time to time. If you need your 1989 anime to sound as if it were produced in 2014, though, you're doomed to be disappointed no matter how much the lossless tracks accomplish. Those with appropriate expectations will be most pleased.
Ranma ½: Set 1 Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Ranma ½: Set 1 Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
I cannot get enough Ranma ½. The promise of six more volumes to come is too much for my feeble fan's mind to process. I didn't expect to be so smitten with a series I've watched so many times before, but spending time with the new Blu-ray remaster is like rediscovering Ranma all over again. The 3-disc release of Set 1 features episodes 1-23 (presented in their original Japanese broadcast order), a gorgeously restored and faithfully realized video presentation, impressive Japanese and English lossless audio tracks, a solid complement of extras, and excellent packaging. What more could any fan ask for? Other than Set 2... as soon as possible please!
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Ranma ½: Set 1 Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Ranma ½ Blu-ray Plans Detailed - December 27, 2013
VIZ Media has revealed its plans for the Blu-ray releases of celebrated martial arts action-adventure anime series Ranma ½, the first 23 episodes of which arrive on March 25th via a special 3-disc Limited Edition Blu-ray box set. Extensive bonus features, premium ...
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