Reviewby Theron Martin,
Blu-Ray - Set 3 [Special Edition]
The crew from the Anything-Goes School of Martial Arts and their enemies and suitors are back for another round of fun and battle. Adventures awaiting Ranma and associates in this set include agents from Jusenkyo trying to rein in all of the cursed folk, a couple of time travel incidents, a pair of Amazon twins showing up, Ranma becoming bewitched by his female side turned evil, a possible shield against curse-induced changes in soap form, the appearance of the long-absent principal of Furinkan High, and Ranma being beset by enemies after being weakened by a new curse laid by a pissed-off Happosai. Throughout it all Akane and Ranma start to grow closer – when Ranma isn't agitating Akane (intentionally or unintentionally) into violent action, that is.
The third Blu-Ray set for Ranma ½ covers episodes 47-69 (by Viz Media's numbering), which spans the bulk of season 3 and the first six episodes of season 4. It returns the “Ukyo's Skirt” episode, which Viz had previously classified as episode 63 and made part of Season 3, to its original position as the 69th episode, so this is a “broadcast-pure” release. Several episodes also retain an episode introduction by Happosai that was never dubbed into English, which makes for a weird viewing experience while watching the dub. Original Japanese credits are also retained in both openers and closers.
The content of these episodes can largely be described as “more of the same:” Happosai goes around causing trouble for everyone, Ranma is regularly beset by both suitors and rivals for his suitors, he manages to tick off Akane on a regular basis, Genma and Akane's dad continue to act pathetic in the face of Happosai, a martial arts element is applied to an activity that has no business having martial arts associated with it (in this case an obstacle course), and so forth. Three new characters get added to the mix this time around: the Chinese Amazon twins Ling-Lung and Lung-Lung appear once but will pop up again later, while Furinkan High's long-absent Principal makes an explosive (literally!) entrance in his return from Hawaii and stays on to be a regular nuisance with his exploding pineapples, uber-strict rules, and weird penchant for a tropical island-themed principal's office. Really, though, they are just standard expansions to the craziness for the series.
A few new wrinkles and developments do pop up, however, to liven up the mix. The series' first multi-episode arc happens towards the end of this set as three episodes dwell on Ranma suddenly getting weak due to a curse. A handful of episodes actually try to play things a little more seriously, including one about Sasuke abandoning the Kuno estate and a horror-themed episode about Ranma's feminine side manifesting separately as an evil spirit. A magic mirror which allows time travel also creates a new recurring gimmick, including allowing viewers to see what both Happosai and Cologne looked like as teenagers. Ukyo radically changes her look (unclear whether this is going to be permanent or not) and Ryoga starts to contemplate remaining as a pig so he can always be Akane's pet. Ranma and Akane also inch closer towards actually having a relationship and acknowledging that they do like each other, but given that such things typically take a hundred episodes or more in Rumiko Takahashi-originating series, not too much should be expected here.t
Although Ranma ½ has never been one of the prettiest series around, the average artistic quality takes a dip through this run. In several places (especially crowd scenes) the character renditions are off-model and almost painfully rough, and at times the animation seems even more limited than normal. A couple of scenes do have nudity involving female Ranma, but it is not even close to prevalent. The musical themes remain steadier, although the score does mix things up a bit with the use of spookier themes in the more horror-tinged episodes. Classical music-flavored new opener “Zettai! Part 2” begins with episode 64; it is a distinct upgrade over its predecessor. New closer “Present,” which begins with episode 57, also isn't bad but has a less series-specific feel than its predecessor.
The series' established dub cast remains constant up through episode 64, with roles that have always sounded good still sounding good and roles that have always sounded a little rough in English (Mousse, Cologne in particular) still sounding rough. The only major flaw is the way the grating way that the English cast consistently mispronounces Sasuke's name (pronounced with three syllables instead of the correct two). For episode 65, Richard Ian Cox (of Inuyasha fame) permanently takes over the role of male Ranma, although Sarah Strange is briefly back to being Ranma for episode 69 due to its reordering. This change substantially alters the tenor of Ranma's voice and delivery and so takes some time to get used to. (And, frankly, it's really hard to accept Inuyasha's voice as Ranma, although given that this dub was made years before the one for Inuyasha, the reverse is also likely true: It was probably hard for many series fans to get used to hearing Inuyasha sound like Ranma.) For new roles, Ling-Ling and Lung-Lung are both competently voiced with thick Chinese-style accent by Nicole Oliver (Key in Key the Metal Idol, Katsumi in Silent Mobius), while Scott McNeill (Duo Maxwell in Gundam Wing) takes a much odder approach with The Principal by portraying him with a heavy Jamaican accent and speech pattern, down to Jamaican-style slang. It's an interesting interpretation, but mileage will definitely vary there. The dub script continues to take great liberties, with some lines and meanings being completely different between English and Japanese version.
Viz Media's release follows its now-standard format for its Blu-Ray releases of the series, with the 23 episodes spread across three disks and their case coming in a pink artbox which also includes a bonus art card (this one of Ryoga) and a booklet. On-disk extras include clean openers and closers and part 3 of the “We Love Ranma” special filmed at 2013's New York Comic-Con, while the all-glossy booklet has episode summaries and English cast and production credits. The video is still in the original 4:3 aspect ratio and the Blu-Ray transfer is sharp enough for all of the flaws and graininess in the artistry to show – not always a good thing.
The most important thing about this batch of episodes is that it is, on average, funnier than the last set. Some of the routines are definitely getting old at this point, but the series comes up with enough fresh gags and gimmicks, and enough novel iterations on established gags, to remain entertaining.
Overall (dub) : B-
Overall (sub) : B-
Story : B-
Animation : C+
Art : C+
Music : B
+ Several funny new jokes and gimmicks, more variety in the types of episodes.
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