Anime Blu-ray Review: Ranma 1/2 OVA & Movies Collection

The Ranma 1/2 OVA & Movies Collection is a three disc set that includes two of the theatrical films on disc one, six of the OVA episodes on disc two, and the third film and five OVA episodes on the third disc. Audio options for the set include English Audio, English Audio with Subtitles, English Audio with SIGNS & SONGS Subtitles, and Japanese Audio with English Subtitles.

Ranma 1/2 OVA & Movies Collection
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Format: Blu-ray
Release Date: September 19, 2017

This release combines the content from VIZ Media’s previous DVD releases for the Ranma 1/2 Movie DVD Box Set and the Ranma 1/2 OAV Series box set. The first thing that’s noticeable is the fact that the translation of the titles for the films and OVAs is different from what was presented in the previous releases. While the meanings of the titles are ultimately the same, I thought the translations used here made more sense. I suspect that these titles more closely resemble the original Japanese titles than the titles used in the previous DVD sets.

The first film on the set has been retitled from Big Trouble in Nekonron, China to The Battle of Nekonron: The Fight To Break the Rules! It tells the story of a girl named Lychee, who suddenly appears at the Tendo Training Hall with her elephant, Jasmine. She has a score to settle with Happosai, but the arrival of Prince Kirin causes confusion. Thanks to a mix-up, Kirin thinks Akane is supposed to be his bride, and he whisks her away to China. It’s up to Ranma and the others to try to save Akane from Kirin and the other six Lucky Gods of martial arts before the marriage takes place.

The story of this film takes what would be a normal Ranma 1/2 story and kicks it up a notch for a theatrical release. Yes, it does cast Akane once again as being a potential love interest, but with a series like this, it basically has to be this way. It had to be one of the Tendo girls, and Akane makes the most sense. While Ranma is friends with Kasumi and Nabiki, their kidnapping wouldn’t have quite the immediacy for action from Ranma as Akane’s does in the film. I have to say that between the three theatrical films, this one would come in second place for me. It’s good, but I enjoy one of the other two a little more.

On this set, the Nihao, My Concubine film has been retitled to, The Battle of Togenkyo: Rescue The Brides! In this film, Ranma, his father, the Tendo family, as well as some of their “friends” join Kuno on his new luxury yacht. A sudden storm shipwrecks them on an island, and the women in the party start to mysteriously disappear. It turns out they’ve been kidnapped by Prince Toma, the ruler of the island. All of the girls who have been shipwrecked on nearby islands have been kidnapped and are all bridal candidates for the prince. It’s up to Ranma and the others to try to save the women in their group.

Hmmm… once again, we have a prince looking for a bride and resorts to kidnapping in order get her. The main differences here are that there isn’t a prophecy involved this time, and that more than one woman was kidnapped. But other than that, this basic premise is the same. Comparing both of these films, I find that The Battle of Nekonron is a stronger film than The Battle of Togenkyo. It’s not that the second film is bad, but I find that the overall story in it just isn’t as interesting as the stories of the first and third films. Of the three films, this one is my least favorite.

The third film, The Super Non-Discriminatory Showdown: Team Ranma vs. The Legendary Phoenix (formerly known simply as Team Ranma Vs. The Legendary Phoenix), is included on the third disc in the set. In this story, Tatewaki Kuno gets a hold of a Legendary Phoenix egg so he can get the Sword of the Phoenix. Unfortunately, the egg hatches on top of Kuno’s head, and it focuses on Ranma as its enemy. Of the three films, this is the only one that came from material included in the original manga source material. It’s absolutely hysterical, and I think it works even better in the animated format than it does in the manga format. I absolutely love Kasumi in this movie, because she’s so unconcerned about the bird on top of Kuno’s head. This movie is easily my favorite of the three films, and I think it’s due to the fact that it has a lot of touches one would regularly expect from a Ranma 1/2 episode, since it’s based on canon material from the manga.

Many of the OVAs included in this set are classics, and several of them are stories that come directly from the manga. My favorite OVA, The Tendo Family’s Christmas Scramble (formerly known as Tendo Family Christmas Scramble), is actually one of the OVAs that’s an original story. Even though it may not have come from the manga, the writer for this OVA perfectly captured the charm, wit, and zaniness of Rumiko Takahashi’s creation.

To me, the other standout OVAs are Oh, Cursed Tunnel of Lost Love! Let My Love Be Forever and The Evil Ogre. For the cursed tunnel of love, it’s amusing to see who’s paired up with who for going through, since only couples can go through it. And it’s also quite funny to see certain characters trying to pretend not to have feelings for either Ranma or Akane as their plan is to try to use this cursed tunnel to break off Ranma and Akane’s arranged engagement. For The Evil Ogre, which tells a story of an oni that escapes from its sealed box and starts possessing people in the neighborhood, it’s absolutely hysterical when it possesses Kasumi. Kasumi’s “evil” urges may seem evil for someone as sweet as her, but most people wouldn’t consider them to be that bad. “Evil Kasumi” is quite a hoot.

The remaining OVA episodes aren’t bad by any means, but most of them just don’t stand out like these three do. Although the final OVA, The Two Akanes: Ranma, Look My Way! has an interesting premise to it; it’s a premise that shows that perhaps Ranma likes Akane more than he lets on for much of the series.

All of the material in this set includes the humor that audiences expect from the Ranma 1/2 franchise. When it comes to the quality of the animation, I have to say that the movies and most of the OVAs seem to have better quality to their animation than the regular series episodes do.

When VIZ Media released the OVAs originally, all of the episodes had the same opening and ending themes. With this new release, however, the company made sure that the OVAs were released with the opening and ending themes that they were meant to have. When I watched this set, there were several opening and ending themes and animations that I finally got to see for the first time. However, I did have to question the choices as to when certain openings or endings were used. For example, there’s an ending with Christmas themed animation that was used after the Christmas OVA. But even with some of these puzzling choices that were made when the OVAs were originally produced in Japan, I was still happy to have the chance to finally see the OVAs presented the way they were meant to be seen.

This Blu-ray release is in 1080p High Definition. The OVAs are presented with 4×3 Native Aspect Ratio, while the films are presented with 16×9 Native Aspect Ratio. Overall, the video quality looks rather good on this Blu-ray. The main exception I can think of is some of the early shots in the first film, which had a bit of a grainy look to them. I don’t know if this is VIZ Media’s fault though, because this could have been in the Japanese masters they were given in order to release this set.

One disappointment with this release is the fact that there are no subtitles for any of the opening and ending themes, or for the song that appears in The Tendo Family’s Christmas Scramble. I noticed this when I watched the set with Japanese audio. However, when I also took a look using the English Audio with SIGNS & SONGS Subtitles option, there were still no subtitles for the songs. I was quite baffled by that, since this English option clearly states there’s supposed to be song subtitles. Also, the subtitles for panda form Genma’s signs were inconsistent. Sometimes subtitles would appear, and other times they didn’t. Unfortunately, if you don’t have the subtitles for Genma’s signs, some of the humor in a scene is lost if you can’t read Japanese. I especially missed the sign subtitles in Oh, Cursed Tunnel of Lost Love! Let My Love Be Forever. In the original DVD release, when Genma’s signs from throughout the series are used to make a raft, subtitles scrolled across the screen to give the audience an idea of what signs they were seeing. These subtitles were gone in this release.

My biggest disappointment, though, is the fact that VIZ Media didn’t acquire the license for the Nightmare! Incense of Deep Sleep OVA that was released in 2008 as part of a Rumiko Takahashi exhibition. This OVA was included in the Japanese Blu-ray release for the OVAs, so I was hoping to see it brought over in this set.

When it comes to bonus features, they only appear on the third disc. These features include the next OVA previews (which can be seen when watching the OVA episodes in the set), clean openings, clean endings, and trailers.

This Blu-ray release also comes with a booklet. However, the one for this set is definitely thinner than the booklets that VIZ Media included with the limited Blu-ray releases of the seven season sets. But like the other booklets, it has a glossy cover and pages. Inside the booklet, there are write-ups for each movie and OVA in the set, accompanied by a still from the film or the episode.

After all was said and done, it felt to me like VIZ Media didn’t put quite as much effort into this release as they had the seven Blu-ray season box sets. I’m grateful that VIZ released this at all, so fans can have just about every episode and movie released for Ranma 1/2 on Blu-ray (with the only exception being Nightmare! Incense of Deep Sleep). If you’re a fan of this franchise and want to own it on Blu-ray, then you will need to add the Ranma 1/2 OVA & Movies Collection to your anime home video collection.

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