Upon the release of Ranma 1/2 on Bluray, Mike takes a stroll through the world of Rumiko Takahashi.
Reviewby Theron Martin, Aug 11th 2006
DVD 1: Co-ed Casualties
All-boys high school Kanenone Academy is isolated from the rest of the world by mountains and hills, but a proposed merger with an all-girls school has brought a busload of high school girls to Kanenone for the summer term as a test-run. Yusuke Takazaki, the most sensible guy at the school, finds himself dragged along on assorted hijinks by his girl-hungry idiot friends Ichibanoshi, Bachhi-Gu, and Tenjin, who also get him in trouble by extension. Yusuke also has problems of his own: one of the newcomers, a girl named Midori, not only aggressively declares her love for him on the first moment they meet but claims that they had promised to be together from long before, a promise he can't remember but which may transcend time.
Although it occasionally intimates that it actually has a plot, the first volume of Green Green is really just an exercise in rampant fan services which panders to the lowest and crudest elements within the otaku community. Granted, crude exercises in fan services are hardly new and often popular; they've been around both in anime and live-action movies for the last couple of decades, whether one's referring to anime “classics” like Kekko Kamen or live-action films ranging from the Porky's of the '80s to the American Pies of the 2000s, but at least those properties were made in the spirit of fun. Green Green is not only unfunny but downright creepy at times in its displays of really bizarre fetishes.
Oh, I don't mean that Green Green is completely humorless; one series of gags involving bears in episode 3 is actually inspired enough to warrant a few chuckles and there are a couple of other laugh-worthy moments throughout the first four episodes. These are rare fresh and original scenes in a piece that is otherwise a morass of crudeness and dull wit. Not only is it drowning in a sea of clichés, but it isn't even using them well. About 95% of the scenes here have been done in other anime and done much, much better.
One also has to wonder if the creators ever stopped to consider whether or not some of the way, way overboard antics of Yusuke's friends are actually entertaining. A guy whose fetish is to call girls he's interested in “little sister” and sniff them while eating rice beside them? Another guy who uses a so-called “douching rod” to find a girl who's run off? (It's a take-off on a dowsing rod involving a certain body part – and yes, that one survives translation intact.) Riiight. . . And anyone who can watch the certain nighttime sequence in the 4th episode involving Sanae and not be at least a bit disturbed by it is someone I'd rather not know.
But of course the main reason to watch Green Green is for the fan service, and in that department it doesn't disappoint. The opener features the lead characters (first the female ones, then the male ones) starting naked but being clothed as if playing one of those computerized “dress the doll” games, while the episodes themselves waste little time getting down to business. Shots of girls' undergarments and bouncing bosoms abound, characters spend significant time talking about cup sizes, and occasionally there's even some complete (though not always defined) nudity.
The one other potential attracting factor here is the underlying weirdness factor. It's strongly implied that Midori is one of a pair of lovers who promised in a past life that they would be together in a future one, and she thinks Yusuke is her man in this one. One of the characters admits to having some mystical sense and two seem to be time-travelers, while another invariably carries around a potted cactus that she's named, talks to, and which may have some kind of special ability. Other very vague suggestions are dropped that other girls are also more than they seem. Not enough is done with this in the first volume to overcome the inherent weaknesses in the writing, however.
Character designs are respectable and widely-varied, providing viewers with a wide range of different physical types among the primarily male and female cast members. Though girls are frequently busty, this is not universally so; Futaba, who stands with Midori as one of the two primary female leads, is actually petite in build, and she isn't the only one. The sharpness and quality of their renderings varies from scene to scene, however; sometimes it's really good, other times it's really rough. Background art is also respectable but not especially remarkable. Animation is another weak point, as frequently characters are seen frozen in the background in mid-word while foreground animation going on, and it's none too smooth when it is there.
The sporadic soundtrack tries to set the tone and mood for each scene but is wholly unimpressive in its attempt. Better are the opener and closer, the former a peppy rock number and the latter a more laid-back rock ballad.
While the Japanese dub does a pretty good job of enlivening its characters, the English dub is awful. AnimeWorks farmed the ADR production out to Arventil Media Productions, whose lack of experience on major projects (they've only done a handful of titles, mostly short and obscure OVAs) really shows. It also doesn't help that most of their vocal talent consists of complete or relative newcomers. Pronunciations of some character names (especially Yusuke and Sanae) are gratingly bad, performances are off the mark or just leaden, and voices often aren't good matches for the characters. The first episode, in fact, has one of the single worst English dubs of any recent-release anime episode to come out in the past couple of years. The dub does get marginally better as the volume progresses and a couple of the performances are at least competent, but overall it's bad enough to cripple a series that was already floundering. Even the most dedicated dub fans are likely to have a hard time tolerating this one.
In addition to common features like company trailers, clean opener, and Japanese TV spots, AnimeWorks does offer up three other nice extras. Two are AMVs of additional original songs, one focusing on Midori, the second focusing on Reika, and both using clips from series content beyond this volume. The other extra is a roughly 9-minute-long Omake Episode, which offers a minor side story solely about the girls that is an even more blatant fan service fest than the regular episodes. Unfortunately AnimeWorks let through a glaring spelling error on the Main Menu and designed submenus that are annoying to navigate.
Despite hints of a plot and some potentially interesting oddities, Green Green has little redeeming value beyond its fan service. It's far less funny than it tries to be and suffers too much from poor writing and an exceptionally bad English dub to be worth a recommendation.
Overall (dub) : D-
Overall (sub) : C-
Story : D
Animation : C
Art : B-
Music : C
+ Lots of fan service.
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