Viz Media has begun a new release for the Ranma 1/2 television anime series by reissuing the series in seven DVD sets and seven limited edition Blu-ray sets. The Blu-ray sets include remastered high definition video straight from the Japanese Blu-ray masters, while both sets restore the order of the episodes into the intended Japanese airing order.
Ranma 1/2 Set 1
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: March 25, 2014
On March 25, 2014, Viz released Ranma 1/2 Set 1, and this review will focus on the Blu-ray release, since that is the version that I watched.
This set includes 23 episodes of the series, and includes a change to the episode order. When Ranma 1/2 was originally airing in Japan, the story arc about the martial arts figure skating had to be moved to later in the series; the episode talks about abducting the character of P-chan, and several kidnappings took place in Japan shortly before this arc was intended to air. Unfortunately, moving these episodes created a plot hole in the next story arc, because Akane has a flashback to something that happens during the martial arts figure skating arc which hadn’t happened yet. This release puts the martial arts figure skating episode back to its intended spot.
Another thing I should mention is that since this release uses the Japanese Blu-ray master, the episodes include the original Japanese title cards instead of the title cards that were created for the English dub.
After watching all of this set, I can say that the Blu-ray remastering looks incredible. You can definitely see more detail than you could in the previous DVD release, and the colors are noticeably brighter.
There were a couple of things that I noticed, however. The most major issue I saw had to do with the subtitles. I found occasional grammatical errors on the first couple of discs, but they weren’t enough to bother me. The third disc, however, contained a lot more grammar mistakes in the subtitles; and when I say this, I’m not talking about the broken English that characters like the Jusenkyo Guide and Shampoo use. What I’m referring to is dialogue said by characters who have been portrayed as speaking normally prior to that point in the series. One of the worst issues I saw was during the martial arts rhythmic gymnastics arc. There’s a line of dialogue in the subtitles that is so garbled that I have no idea what was supposed to be intended. It felt like whoever was typing in the subtitles had changed their mind as to what they were going to put there but hadn’t finished making the change before moving on. Hopefully a little more effort will be put into double-checking the subtitles for the other releases to help avoid having these kinds of errors appearing in the future.
My husband and I also noticed that the opening was missing from the final two episodes included in this set. We went back to the DVD we have that includes these episodes, and the opening appears there. However, I don’t know if the missing opening is an issue created by Viz, or if it simply hadn’t been included on the Blu-ray master that the company received from the Japanese licensor.
My husband also commented that he was a little disappointed that the extras menu on the final disc didn’t include submenus, especially for the clean openings and endings. Since there’s no submenu for the viewer to choose which opening or closing they want to see, the viewer is taken to the beginning of a continuous piece and then has to skip ahead with their remote to find the opening or ending that they want to see.
Speaking of the extras, there are a total of six bonus features. The first is “NYCC 2013 Ranma 1/2 Panel,” which is about 33 minutes in length. It’s a recording of a panel that Viz had during the 2013 New York Comic Con that detailed the history of the Ranma 1/2 franchise and the forthcoming remastered releases of both the manga and the anime. The panel featured Charlene Ingram, Hope Donovan, Urian Brown, and Mark DeVera.
Next is “’We Love Ranma’ Part 1 – Manga Remastering with US Editor,” which runs for 10 minutes. During the featurette, manga editor Hope Donovan explains the remastering process, the differences between manga editions, the challenges of working on the release, what she thinks of the project and Ranma’s place in manga, her first experience with the franchise, what she’s excited about for the release, and what she thinks makes the franchise universally appealing. This feature was done in a way where a question is shown on the screen, and is then followed by Hope’s response. Sometimes, footage of Hope and her staff working on the remastered manga is intercut with footage of Hope talking. This was a decent feature, although some of what was said here was also said in the previous bonus feature.
The “NYCC 2013 Highlight Reel” shows Charlene Ingram interviewing some Ranma 1/2 cosplayers, and they talk about their favorite parts of the series. It runs for about three minutes, and I suspect that this was originally produced to be aired on Viz Media’s Neon Alley service.
This is followed by “Next Episode Previews,” and it’s a continuous piece that includes all of the next episode previews that would have aired with the episodes that appear in this set. With the episode rearrangement that took place for this set, some of the next episode previews don’t appear in the main program. This feature allows the viewer to be able to see all of the next episode previews.
“Clean Openings and Endings” is one continuous piece, and it includes the two openings that appear on the set, as well as all four endings on the set. These are truly clean openings and endings, because there’s no text all; both the credit text and subtitles have been removed.
The Blu-ray edition also comes with a 64-page booklet. One half of the booklet provides brief episode summaries and a screen shot for each summary, as well as production credits for the original release of the series as well as the credits for those involved with this Blu-ray release. The other half of the booklet is a preview of the first chapter of the first volume of the remastered omnibus manga volumes that Viz is releasing. The booklet has glossy pages; while this may look nice, it makes the pages a little slippery for holding when you’re reading through it. It’s still a nice booklet, though, and I’m glad to see that it was included.
The box that the Blu-ray case and booklet come in is very sturdy and looks nice. The back of the box that gives a description of the product is actually something you take off of the box after you unwrap it.
Even though I may have had some issues with this Blu-ray release, I would still highly recommend it to fans of the Ranma 1/2 franchise. This is the best way to get the franchise in high definition on Blu-ray without having to pay an arm and leg to try to import that Japanese Blu-rays; also, like I said earlier, the remastered video on the Blu-rays looks fantastic.
Buying these Blu-ray sets will also show Viz that there is a demand for the product and should help ensure that all seven volumes will be released in North America. I also hope that these Blu-ray releases will perform well enough for Viz Media that it could eventually lead to the movies and OAVs being released on Blu-ray as well.
I wrote this review after watching a copy of Ranma 1/2 Set 1 that my husband and I purchased.
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