Reviewby Carl Kimlinger, Mar 6th 2008
Ramen Fighter Miki
Sub.DVD 3 - Shoyu Showdown
Miki may be the boss of the block, but what if her two most ardent rivals were to join forces to defeat her? The possibility becomes reality when Megumi and Kankuro join hands to defeat their nemesis, but when Megumi, swept away by Kankuro's misplaced confidence, discovers the depths of his idiocy while being convinced to combine trains and unicycles for an ultimate anti-Miki move and Kankuro discovers her backstabbing nature, the two realize that the only person they may hate even more than Miki is each other. But that's all right, because Kankuro it turns out, can whup Miki's butt at her own poster-girl job (complete with skirt) and Megumi gets the chance to show her up during a high-stakes smiling competition. And anyway, everyone knows that the real boss of the shopping arcade is Miki's mom, as Miki finds out to her own misfortune when she makes a concerted effort to discover her indestructible mother's weakness. Though even Ms. Onimaru's fists of fury ultimately cannot compare to the horror of a drunken Miki who is, of all terrifying prospects, cute.
The most frightening prospect of all in Ramen Fighter Miki is that its writers will effectively remove the "fun" from "dumb fun" by trying to wring pathos from their paper-thin premise. It is to some relief then, that the series ends without showing even a passing interest in anything besides pure entertainment.
It will come then as no surprise to those familiar with the series that this final volume is brimming with enough lowbrow fun to make a Stooge smile. Be it Kankuro experiencing firsthand the glorious freedom of a miniskirt (reduced wind resistance!) or Miki mistaking her mother's attempts at gentle parenting for a novel form of punishment, each half-episode of senseless violence and comic idiocy has at least one moment tailor-made to plaster a silly smile on your face. It isn't weird, self-referential, or cutesy—just funny. It knows when to deliver a punch-line, when to draw a situation out to comic lengths, and when to add an unexpected twist to turn a stock situation into comedy gold. It's also quite repetitive and there isn't anything terribly new or sophisticated going on, but that's all part of its scrappy, dopey charm. Its characters are a means to a joke, its unexpectedly well-choreographed fights relentlessly comic in effect. Depth means nothing to it, and emotions are merely things to build gags on. It's fun-loving to its very core, a pure good time with nicely consistent laughs.
For better or worse, nothing in the series' execution has changed. The fights remain to the end enjoyable, surprisingly well-animated, and every so often, kind of exciting. The cast, despite Miki's amusing shifts from bishoujo to lazy blob to comic monstrosity, is on the boring side of normal, the animation is on the upper side of reasonable, the backgrounds unusually good-looking, and the music appropriate but unobtrusive enough to be underwhelming.
Media Blasters' treatment of the series hasn't changed either. There's no dub and the only notable extra is the last installment of what has become a sadly one-sided series of competitions between the two lead actresses. Compensating for that is the series' low price-point, making it—along with most of Media Blasters' current catalogue—some of the most affordable anime out there.
As it finishes, Ramen Fighter Miki does the smart thing and resists that seemingly omnipresent urge to turn comedy to drama. So, rather than Miki dealing with an estranged father or the shopping arcade being threatened with demolition or some other such cheap grab at the heartstrings, we are instead treated to Miki trying to ride a dog and Kankuro cross-dressing not once, but twice. Like junk-food treats, the series serves up vicious smiling contests, drunken reversals in character, and a terrifying attempt at mother-daughter bonding. Maybe it ain't the healthiest of diets, but damn is it tasty once in a while, and thankfully this time there's no tofu chaser.
Overall (sub) : B
Story : B-
Animation : B
Art : B-
Music : C+
+ Fun, if not for the whole family, at least for those members who enjoy a good pratfall or lowbrow yuk.
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