Viz Media

Review: Ranma 1/2 Set 5

Jun 11 // Jayson Napolitano
Ranma 1/2 DVD Set 5 Publisher: Viz MediaRelease Date: March 3, 2015MSRP: $44.82 DVD / $54.97 limited-edition Blu-Ray (reviewed) I'll open by saying that 100 episodes in, Ranma fatigue does tend to set in. Fortunately for fans, however, Set 5 contains some of the most entertaining and hilarious episodes yet. That's a good thing, because at just over the half-way mark in the series, there really needs to be something compelling to keep fans wanting more, and this season rarely lets up. There isn't much that I can say is new in this season. You get the same cast of lovable characters, starring the heir to the Anything Goes School of Martial Arts, Ranma Saotome, and his fiance, Akane Tendo. The two are promised to each other by their parents, and thankfully in this season, we start to see that the two are actually starting to fall for one another. The art style holds up well, and the music ranges from appropriately quirky to downright moving. Perhaps taking some of our past reviews to heart, the episodes in this set have been cut to feature only one opening theme, "Earth Orchestra" (which first appeared at the end of Set 4) and the same closing theme, "Hinageshi." In case you've forgotten, the premise of the show is that Ranma is under an ancient Chinese curse that causes him to change from a man into a woman when splashed with cold water, and back again with hot water. Various other characters are afflicted with similar curses, and the majority of the supporting cast are in love with Ranma in either his man or woman form or Akane, leading to some crazy love... hexagons? Maybe even octagons. They're joined by a great cast of characters, including Akane's protective father, Soun Tendo, Ranma's free-loading father, Genma Saotome, Akane's sisters, and Soun and Genma's master, the creepy undergarment-stealing Happosai. So on with some of the standout episodes of the set, which includes a brand new array of bizarre martial arts styles. There's Marial Arts Tea Ceremony, wherein Ranma is kidnapped and promised to the charming heir and must fight her way to freedom, the Good Ol' Days Style of Martial Arts, a nostalgic bunch who challenge Akane and use nursery rhythms and old toys in their matches, Martial Arts Shogi, where Genma Saotome's cheating catches up with him and gets him and the cast stuck in a life-sized Shogi match, Martial Arts Dining, which is a hilarious insult to French people and Westerners in general with its outrageous eating competition, and Martial Arts Calligraphy, where Ranma is refused a challenge due to his terrible handwriting. Crazy martial arts styles aside, there are a lot of fantastic episodes. In one, the family wins a raffle for a free stay at a hot springs resort, only to find something lurking in its waters. In another, Ranma comes to use one of Happosai's enchanted bandaids that causes him to fall in love with all the show's female characters, and in the aforementioned Martial Arts Dining episodes (the only multi-episode arc featured in this set), the focus on food and the ridiculousness of the eating style the Westerners use is absolutely hilarious. Ryouga has a Western-style adventure protecting the ranch of an old man and his daughter, whom Ryouga falls in love with, Nabiki takes a joke too far and feigns affection for Ranma in a bid to steal him from Akane, and a new student, the exceedingly clumsy and akward Gosunkugi places hexes and curses on Ranma in an attempt to steal Akane away. My favorite episode of all, however, is "Case of the Missing Takoyaki," which is a who's-done-it tale where each character tells their portion of the story leading up to a hilarious conclusion. The last thing I'll note is that we reviewed the limited-edition Blu-ray version, which contains "extras." This time this comes in the form of interviews with cosplayers and anime industry professionals about their experiences collecting Ranma 1/2 paraphernalia, which is interesting, especially when multiple people bring up the SNES Ranma 1/2 game and one interviewee discusses the early days of the Internet. There are also trailers for other Viz Media products and the opening and ending themes as well. In all, this set is as over the top as ever, and that's why I think fans of Ranma 1/2 will be re-energized and ready to delve into the final two sets after watching it. I was as tired as anyone going into the 100th episode, but the latter half of this set is so good that I can't wait for more. Fortunately we won't have to wait long, as Set 6 has just been released, so watch for our review soon. Images © Rumiko Takahashi / Shogakukan  9.0 – Exceptional. One of the best things its genre has ever produced. Its example will be copied or taken into account by almost anything that follows it.
Ranma 1/2 Review photo
Just what Doctor Tofu ordered!
And onward we go! Ranma 1/2 Set 5 breaches the 100-episode mark, and as I've noted in past reviews, if you've made it this far, you've likely passed the point of no return. Watching such a lenghthy series is a serious investment, and fortunately while Ranma 1/2 doesn't really have much overarching plot to advance, it somehow continues to be wildly entertaining. Let's dig in, shall we?

Viz Media photo
Viz Media

Start off your Spring Break with Viz's upcoming digital manga titles


March is about to get crazy
Mar 04
// Salvador GRodiles
I may be more of a fan of reading things physically than digitally, but Viz's March digital manga roster contains some interesting titles, since they resurrected a few Tokyopop titles. On top of that, Tokyo Ghoul and Spell of...
My Hero Academia photo
My Hero Academia

Rejoice: My Hero Academia to be released physically


It's time for us to don our capes and cowls
Feb 22
// Salvador GRodiles
I don't know about you, but it seems that Viz Media is in a super good mood this week. Aside from their unexpected acquisition of the 2011 Ultraman manga, the company has plans to release My Hero Academia, the latest manga by...

Ultraman photo
Ultraman

Licensing GET: Viz grabs the 2011 Ultraman manga


It's time to witness Viz's special transformation!
Feb 19
// Salvador GRodiles
It looks like Viz Media's tapping into their toku side, as they've licensed the Ultraman manga that's written and drawn by Linebarrels of Iron's Eiichi Shimizu and Tomohiro Shimoguchi. Honestly, I'm still very surprised ...
Fragments of Horror photo
Fragments of Horror

Licensing GET: Viz obtains Fragments of Horror


Summer is about to get spooky
Dec 04
// Salvador GRodiles
Christmas may be around the corner, but isn't stopping Viz Media from making a scary announcement. In regard to this news, the company has announced that they've licensed Junji Ito's (Uzumaki, Gyo) Fragments of Horror ma...
Assassination Classroom photo
Assassination Classroom

Assassination Classroom takes attendance on Viz Manga


Can you kill Koro-sensei?
Dec 04
// Josh Tolentino
Whenever I take informal polls as to which manga I should start covering in the wake of Naruto's closure, one of the most common recommendations I get - besides One Piece, of course - is Yusei Matsui's Assassination Classroom...

Review: Ranma 1/2 Set 3

Nov 28 // Jayson Napolitano
Ranma 1/2 DVD Set 3Publisher: Viz MediaRelease Date: September 16, 2014MSRP: $44.82 DVD / $51.99 limited-edition Blu-Ray (reviewed) I'll start by saying that set 3 offers some of my favorite Ranma 1/2 episodes yet. There are a ton of memorable moments despite the lack of overarching plots for this season. Some favorites include an episode where Ranma's fiance, Akane Tendo, consumes a bowl of "super soba" that makes her all-powerful (which is difficult for Ranma to accept), but has some rather humorous adverse effects, while another follows Sasuke, servant of the Kuno family, as he's ejected from their household only to take up service with Akane where we learn more about him and the Kunos.One episode features a trip to the beach where Grandfather Happosai (founder of the Anything Goes School of Martial Arts) tries to use magic pearls to make the various female characters fall in love with him, while another takes the cast to the past with Happosai's magic mirror, where they're surprised to discover young Happosai's relationship with another of the show's characters. There's magic soap that prevents the transformations that afflict so many of the characters in one episode, and another where Ranma intends to travel into the past to prevent himself from acquiring his curse, only to be sent into the future to make a startling discovery about what may be coming. My favorite episode of all, titled "Am I... Pretty? Ranma's Declaration of Womanhood" sees Ranma sustain an injury to his head that has him believing that his female form is his true form. It's a lot of fun watching Ranma truly play the part of his girl form rather than relying on it to get free food or woo the show's male characters.There is one story arc found in this set. Three episodes center on Ranma losing his strength and his journey and hardships trying to get it back. It's a fantastic run of episodes where we see the relationship between Ranma and his betrothed continue to grow. In fact, throughout the entire set, we see Ranma and Akane grow closer and become convincingly jealous of the shows other characters, which is really touching to see.I discussed the music of Ranma 1/2 in my review of set 2, and nothing has really changed in terms of the short stinger format used throughout. We do get a new opening and closing theme towards the end of the set as we transition into what used to be season 4, with an infectious opening theme and heartwarming ending theme that do the job.There are a couple interesting changes in art style found in this set. The first occurs in the aforementioned episode where Ranma comes to believe he's a woman after a head injury. The art style is much more fluid with an emphasis on shadow effects and a more curvy interpretation of the characters. Generally speaking, the art style for Ranma 1/2 is pretty simple, with lots of solid colors, minimal shading, and straight lines, but this episode was drastically different. There was another episode that I can't recall that also deviated a bit, leading to some particularly funny looking expressions by Ranma's father, Genma Saotome, and Ranma himself. In all, however, regardless of the slight variations, I love the style for its simplicity.Now, there is one big issue I have with set 3. It shattered my world to find that, moving into what used to be season 4, the voice actor for male Ranma changed. For season one through three, Ranma was voiced by Sarah Strange, who lent Ranma a heavily sarcastic and oftentimes indifferent vocal performance. It was perfect for Ranma's character, as he generally goes with the flow and tries to stay out of drama. Richard Cox takes over from there, and while his delivery is much more dynamic in range, I can't help but feel the youthful spunk he brings to the character takes Ranma from the cool and above-the-fray personality to a more typical angsty youth. It's taking a lot of getting used to for me, and to make matters worse, the episode resequencing puts an episode with Ranma's old voice at the very end of the set, right when I was starting to accept his new voice actor. I'll likely have to start over again warming up to Ranma's new voice with the next set. Interestingly, little to no new major characters were introduced this set. Tsubasa Kurenai, a character who was introduced at the end of set 2 and is infatuated with Ukyo was not present at all, much to my surprise. I suppose there's the new school principal, back from Hawaii, where he picked up an outrageously stereotypical Hawaiian speech pattern and new ways to annoy his students, but he only appears in a few episodes towards the end of the set, so the verdict's out as to whether or not he'll be a major character going forward (I certainly hope not, as the I can only take so much of his over-the-top Hawaiian speak). We also see an appearance by Doctor Tofu, who we haven't seen since set 1.I should also mention the bonuses included with the limited edition Blu-ray version that we reviewed this time. While I couldn't really discern any differences in the visual presentation, the disc case comes in a sturdy cardboard sleeve and includes a glossy portrait card of Ryoga and a nice booklet summarizing the series so far and offering recaps of each episode found in this set (super helpful for this review!). In terms of content on the discs themselves, the third and final disc features extras, most of which you won't care about (Viz Media trailers, clean openings and endings), but there is a nice series of interviews and commentaries from New York Comic Con 2013 with some Viz Media staff, anime industry professionals, and cosplayers talking about their love for Ranma 1/2.While I'm still coming to terms with Ranma's voice change (I almost felt like the old Ranma died and I was starting over again with a new character), Ranma 1/2 set 3 features some of the best episodes of the series yet. I wasn't able to mention them all here, but it should suffice to say that this is one of the most entertaining sets yet. I'm enjoying the dynamic between Ranma and Akane, and characters including Happosai, Genma Saotome, and Akane's father, Soun Tendo, are incredibly memorable and are some of my favorites in any anime ever. I'm eager to see what happens with set 4 next month, so stay tuned!9.0 – Exceptional. One of the best things its genre has ever produced. Its example will be copied or taken into account by almost anything that follows it.
Ranma 1/2 Review photo
More changes than just Ranma's gender this time!
After reviewing Ranma 1/2 set 2 earlier this month, I knew it was time to hunker down and dig deep. This series had a seven season run, and while this latest re-issue from Viz Media has resequenced the episodes to align more ...

Sailor Moon photo
Sailor Moon

It's time to listen to Sailor Venus' new English voice


Leigh's performance shows some promise
Nov 13
// Salvador GRodiles
Wow. That was fast. I didn't expect Viz to release another Sailor Moon dub clip so soon. At least this means that we can finally see Minako/Sailor Venus' new voice in action. Overall, Cherami Leigh knocked it out of the ball...
Sailor Moon photo
Sailor Moon

Sailor Jupiter brings down the thunder in Sailor Moon's new dub clip


Supreme Sundae?
Nov 12
// Salvador GRodiles
As Viz prepares for the release of Sailor Moon's second box set, the company has uploaded a new preview that shows off Makoto/Sailor Jupiter's new voice. Also, it seems that Viz's going back to YouTube again, which might hav...

Review: Ranma 1/2 Set 2

Nov 08 // Jayson Napolitano
Ranma 1/2 DVD Set 2Publisher: Viz MediaRelease Date: June 24, 2014MSRP: $44.82 DVD (reviewed) / $54.97 limited-edition Blu-Ray At this point, viewers of Set 1 should be familiar enough with the premise of the series. Ranma Saotome of the Anything Goes School of Martial Arts and a number of other characters have been afflicted with a Chinese curse that transforms them upon being exposed to cold water. In Ranma’s case, he turns into a girl, whereas other characters turn into all kinds of cute animals. These transformations play out in often comical ways as our protagonist, Ranma, and his fiancé, Akane Tendo, each have their vast following of suitors, some of whom are in love with male Ranma and others who are in love with his female form. Those who were getting tired of the repetition featured throughout Set 1 should be pleased that the random appearance of water just for the sake of these transformations isn’t as prominent in Set 2. More so, this set is about the developing relationship between Ranma and Akane as well as the introduction of several new characters. These new characters include some of my favorites, such as Moose, a martial artist who’s followed the Chinese Amazon martial artist Shampoo from China and is desperately in love with her, and relies on weapons and gadgets procured from his massive sleeves when doing battle with Ranma to win Shampoo’s affection. There's also Happosai, the perverted and often hilarious master of Ranma and Akane’s fathers, Genma Saotome and Soun Tendo. Happosai is obsessed with woman’s undergarments, which is the focus of several episodes, and I have to say that his English voice dubbing is absolutely perfect, convincingly conveying a perverted old man ogling over womans’ bosoms and undergarments. Two more characters are introduced towards the end of the set, including Ukyo Kuonji, a childhood friend of Ranma who’s a master at cooking up okonomiyaki, and Tsubasa Kurenai, an interesting character who’s in love with Ukyo and wants to battle Ranma to win her affection. These new characters offer a new fold in the formula. Whereas Set 1 featured characters who were infatuated with the two main characters, Ranma and Akane, the addition of characters who are after the affection of these potential suitors allows for some variation in their respective relationships. Story-wise, many episodes are stand-alone experiences, although there are two major story arcs featured in Set 2. The first involves some trouble Ranma finds himself in when he’s unable to turn back into his male form, and the second follows our cast as they try to find a cure for the Chinese curse to much hilarity as all of the afflicted characters trample over one another to find the cure for themselves at the expense of their comrades. This seems like a good time discuss the episode sequencing, which is actually a tad problematic. With this re-issue, Viz Media has taken the opportunity to resequence the episodes to fall more in line with the manga series. While this is much appreciated, it has resulted in somewhat jarring transitions in the opening/ending sequences, for example (this was much more of an issue in Set 1, where episodes went back and forth between opening/ending sequences as later episodes were inserted into earliest spots in the episode sequencing). There’s also a long stretch of episodes in this set that are missing their opening sequences entirely. This resequencing also results in rather abrupt endings to the sets, meaning, in the case of Set 2, that you may be a little lost as it picks up right where Set 1 left off, and Set 2 introduces both Ukyo and Tsubasa right at the end of the set, whereas in the traditional seasons, they didn’t appear until season 3. I wish the team had been able to splice the opening and ending sequences into the episodes to create a linear progression rather than jumping around, but this is really a minor gripe. Some of my favorite episodes of Set 2 include one that explores an interesting tale about a previous engagement that Ranma was entered into by his father in exchange for a meal, which requires Ranma and Akane to take part in a ramen race (that is, all entrants must complete a foot race while taking care not to spill a bowl of ramen that they must carry across the finish line) to get out of. Another features a high school production of Romeo and Juliette with Ranma and Akane in the lead roles, which offers a great opportunity to focus on the relationship between the two characters. Finally, one of the funniest episodes involves Ranma and Happosai and their trip to the public bath house, which of course turns into a nightmare for Ranma as he tries to control Happosai’s urges to sneak into the female side of the bath house. Karen hit the nail on the head with her assessment of the art direction in her review of Set 1, so I won’t belabor the point, but I love (and miss) the attention to detail in the animation and the lack of technical magic that we often see today. The music, too, is excellent, with opening and ending themes that I rarely found myself wanting to skip, and in-show cues that accent important moments, with one dedicated to dark or mysterious moments standing out, and another comical cue that I think is really a signature of Ranma 1/2's comedic style. We reviewed the DVD set, which boasts extras such as clean opening/ending sequences and trailers, but these are unfortunately only accessible from the third and final disc, and cannot be enabled throughout the series, but rather viewed separately. It would have been nice to have included an option to turn on clean openings and endings for the entire series, but perhaps that was technically not possible. There’s some mild nudity found throughout the series and in the main opening sequence featured through Set 2 (although, as mentioned before, the opening sequence is missing in a long stretch of episodes), but it’s minor enough that I personally didn't mind watching alongside my son. I know some parents will not be as comfortable. In all, the developing story and new characters add a new dimension to the series throughout Set 2 of Ranma 1/2. While sexism and stereotypes are still rampant (they constantly note how Ranma’s female form is weaker than his male form), Ranma 1/2 doesn't take itself all that seriously; it’s really meant to be stupid, silly fun. I appreciate the fact that they’re not relying as heavily on the transformation gimmick at this point, but I know that the growing number of characters and ensuing love triangles will start to wear on some viewers in a similar fashion. With five more sets to go, watching Ranma 1/2 is definitely a huge investment, and while I couldn't be more thrilled to charge ahead into the series, I realize that some out there will likely begin experiencing Ranma fatigue towards the end of Set 2. 9.0 – Exceptional. One of the best things its genre has ever produced. Its example will be copied or taken into account by almost anything that follows it.
Ranma 1/2 Review photo
Ahh, Akane-chan no panty!
Ranma 1/2 was my first anime. Sure, I might have watched a few feature-length titles like Ninja Scroll or Akira before sitting down to watch Ranma 1/2 with my half-Japanese friend who was always up on the latest gam...

Sailor Moon photo
Sailor Moon

Rejoice! Viz is holding a Sailor Moon streaming event


Moon Makeup Party!
Sep 04
// Salvador GRodiles
If you missed out on watching Sailor Moon's English episodes at Anime Expo and Otakon 2014, then you'll be happy to hear that Viz's having a Sailor Moon Moonlight Party where they're streaming the show's first four ...
Sailor Moon photo
Sailor Moon

Aw snap, Viz is hosting a Sailor Moon event at Otakon


In the name of the moon, Sailor Moon Day returns
Aug 05
// Salvador GRodiles
Yikes! I almost forgot that Otakon's happening this weekend. Anyway, if you're planning to attend the con, Viz is having another Sailor Moon Day event, which happens to be almost similar to the one from Anime Expo '14. This t...
Sailor Moon photo
Sailor Moon

Feast your eyes on two new Sailor Moon dub previews


Keep up the good work, Viz Media
Jul 27
// Salvador GRodiles
Well played, Viz Media. Right when you've gotten us used to checking YouTube for the latest Sailor Moon-related dub previews, the company decided to upload their newest videos on Hulu instead. Despite Viz's unexpec...
Sailor Moon photo
Sailor Moon

Queen Beryl and Jadeite devise an evil scheme in Sailor Moon's third dub clip


Viz Media is on a roll!
Jul 18
// Salvador GRodiles
It seems that my prediction about Viz uploading a new Sailor Moon-related video everyday was incorrect, as the company chose to post their third dub clip today. Either way, it's still nice of Viz to show off Sailor Moon's ne...
Sailor Moon photo
Sailor Moon

Sailor Moon's second dub clip shows off Luna's new English voice


Michelle Ruff nailed it!
Jul 16
// Salvador GRodiles
After giving us a quick sample of Usagi and Mamoru's new English voices for the new Sailor Moon dub, Viz  has uploaded a new video that features Michelle Ruff's take on Luna. Since I've enjoyed most of Ruff's roles, I t...
Sailor Moon photo
Sailor Moon

Let's take a quick look at Sailor Moon's new dub


Stephanie Sheh shows great potential
Jul 15
// Salvador GRodiles
Back when Viz Media announced the English voice actors for the new Sailor Moon dub at Anime Expo 2014, I couldn't help but to be intrigued by their choices. With the first Sailor Moon boxset getting ready to hit North Americ...
JoJo photo
JoJo

Rejoice! Viz reveals their plans for JoJo: Battle Tendency


JoJo's back in full gear
Jul 07
// Salvador GRodiles
When Viz announced that at Anime Expo 2014 they're releasing JoJo's Bizarre Adventure Part 2: Battle Tendency in North America, I couldn't help but to rejoice over this matter. While we're aware that Battle Tendency's ge...
Terra Formars photo
Terra Formars

Roaches beware: Viz reveals Terra Formars' release date


Viz's getting ready to combat Mars' roach infestation
Jun 26
// Salvador GRodiles
As we're getting ready to say "farewell" to the month of June, Viz Media plans to release Terra Formars' first volume on July 15th. On top of that, Terra Formars' later volumes are getting the bi-monthly release treatment, wh...
Viz Media photo
Viz Media

Rejoice: Viz reveals their plans for Anime Expo '14


Sailor Moon fans are in for some good news
Jun 18
// Salvador GRodiles
It was a glorious day when Viz Media announced that they licensed Sailor Moon and Sailor Moon Crystal. Now Viz’s planning an event for Anime Expo 2014 that’ll please Sailor Moon, Gargantia's fans. During the ...
Sailor Moon photo
Sailor Moon

Viz grabs Sailor Moon!


Get hype!
May 17
// Josh Tolentino
I was tempted just to type the internet equivalent of a long squeal and end it right there, but that wouldn't be professional, so have some sweet details about Viz's latest acquisition. Sailor Moon arrives on May 1...

Review: Ranma 1/2 Set 1

May 06 // Karen Mead
Ranma 1/2 DVD Set 1 Publisher: Viz Media Release Date: March 25, 2014 MSRP: $44.82 Ranma Saotome is a talented martial artist with a very peculiar curse; when doused with cold water, he changes sex and becomes a curvy red-haired girl. His father, cursed in a similar manner to become a giant panda, has arranged for him to be married to young Akane Tendo so that he can one day take over the Tendo School of Anything Goes Martial Arts. However, Akane is a tomboy who has no interest in marrying a boy, let alone a boy who turns into a girl, and Ranma just wants to get his curse removed...or so he says. Such is the beginning of one of the most beloved anime rom-coms of all time. Needless to say, many other characters vie for the affections of Ranma and Akane respectively (sometimes simultaneously), and plenty of other characters magically turn into stuff when they get wet, and mayhem ensues. Literally rinse and repeat. I expected to spend a portion of this review talking about whether the animation from a show originally broadcast in 1989 "holds up," in today's parlance. Instead, a curious thing happened; though I knew it couldn't be true, when I began watching it really seemed to me like the visuals in Ranma 1/2 were actually better than current fare. How could that possibly be? The colors are often dull, the character designs simple, and the technology at work was primitive compared to the tools that animators have at their disposal these days. So how is it that I find Ranma 1/2 more visually appealing than 90% of the anime I see today? What I eventually realized was that it wasn't that the animation was particularly fluid, but that everything was consistent and well-storyboarded. Too often in modern anime, the focus is split between action scenes (where the studios sink most of their money) and static talking-head scenes that exist to provide info dumps and save money. In Ranma 1/2, that distinction doesn't seem to exist; even seemingly mundane scenes feature a fair amount of movement. Characters are constantly doing acrobatics, throwing things, jumping out of windows, changing into animals, etc. The overall effect can feel a bit like Looney Tunes at times, but what it means is that the show is full of motion. The world of Ranma Saotome and the Tendo sisters feels vibrant and alive, and that more than makes up for the dated animation techniques and frequent lack of detail. Maybe I'm crazy, but it feels so much more like a finished product than a lot of what we see today; I really wish shows still looked like this. Plus, despite the fact that modern anime has tried to turn cute into a science, I honestly find Akana and Ranma much cuter than most characters these days. The story doesn't fare quite as well from a modern perspective. In fact, if you're a viewer who likes to look at things through the lens of gender politics, you will have an absolute field day with this show. There's no denying that Ranma 1/2 is sexist; one of the first things anyone says to Akane on the show is that if she keeps up being such a tomboy, she'll never find herself a husband. Ranma frequently opines that having to be a girl at times is "humiliating," yet claims his female version is better than Akane since girl-type Ranma has bigger breasts. In fact, Ranma is frequently downright brutal to his future bride; when he's not getting on her case for being unfeminine, he's lording his superior martial arts skills over her. Akane spends much of the series violently angry, and it's for good reason. Some viewers are bound to be turned off by these things, and that's fair. However, personally I don't see it that way; to me, complaining about sexism in Ranma 1/2 is kind of like watching an episode of I Love Lucy from the 1950s and complaining that Ricky orders Lucy around too much. It is sexist, but I think you need to take it in the context of its time and place, and also realize that the show subverts its own apparent sexism at times. After all, if Akane is supposedly so unattractive to boys due to her tomboy ways, why are virtually all the guys on the show head-over-heels in love with her? The show is actually more sexist on the surface than it is deep down where it matters, if that makes any sense. There's a lot of talk that "Boys are like this, girls are like this," but the characters themselves really don't practice what they preach. Furthermore, whatever misgivings some might have about the overall arc of the story, there's no denying that Ranma 1/2 is king when it comes to physical comedy. It's the little touches, like Akane's father diving for cover right before she decks Ranma with a table, that make the jokes work. Granted, the humor does get repetitive fairly quickly -- and there seem to be an awful lot of full buckets of water just hanging around for no reason -- but still, the show has a ton of great visual gags up its sleeve. At its best, the over-the-top martial arts action reaches a level of absurdity that's kind of genius. The martial arts rhythmic gymnastics competition featured in this volume is one such incident, and martial arts-figure skating isn't far behind. And even when the action isn't that riveting, Akane is such a likable character that it's just fun looking in on her daily life. There're also plenty of supporting and minor characters who each bring their own brand of humor, quite successfully. You really can't go wrong with either language track here; despite the occasional awkwardness that plagues all early English anime dubs, I think the English cast for Ranma 1/2 really threw themselves into this in a way that's all too rare. Particular standouts are Myriam Sirois, who makes for a feisty but good-hearted Akane, and Angela Costain, who's delightfully acerbic as Akane's manipulative sister Nabiki Tendo. I'm also rather fond of Sarah Strange as male Ranma, since she seems to have a gift for making Ranma seem nice even when he's saying awful things to Akane that you want to slap him for. This release is light on extras; the only thing on offer here besides trailers is a brief featurette filmed at NYCC 2013, featuring some Ranma cosplayers. It's a nice idea in theory, but the whole thing is maybe two minutes long, so it shouldn't effect anyone's purchasing decision. Personally I think the episodes themselves are worth the purchase, but it would have been nice if there was at least some bonus art or something; I'm hopeful that future volumes might have more to offer. Ranma 1/2 may not be for everyone; it calls back to a lot of sexist stereotypes, it's often juvenile in its humor, and even during the first season, can start to feel repetitive. However, at its best it's a riotous blend of over-the-top, well-choreographed martial arts action with many lovable characters and jokes to spare. If that sounds like something you might enjoy, no one does it better than this. 9.0 – Exceptional. One of the best things its genre has ever produced. Its example will be copied or taken into account by almost anything that follows it.  
Ranma 1/2 photo
Anything Goes in this comedy classic
The wacky ensemble comedy of Ranma 1/2 occupies an interesting niche in Western anime fandom. The show wasn't likely to be someone's "first anime," in the way that contemporaries Sailor Moon and Dragon Ball Z generally w...

J-Pop Summit photo
J-Pop Summit

May'N heads to San Francisco's J-POP SUMMIT


Why does California get everything?
Apr 30
// Hiroko Yamamura
Things are heating up this summer with the announcement of May'n as the guest of honor at San Francisco's sixth annual J-POP SUMMIT. Although the Nagoya native has made herself a superstar in the world of Japanese pop music, ...
Viz Media photo
Viz Media

Sakura-Con '14: Viz Media announce World Trigger headed to print


Also, Canadian dates for Tiger & Bunny: The Rising finally revealed
Apr 18
// Tim Sheehy
This afternoon Viz Media held their own Sakura-Con industry panel and although it could likely be described as brief, they did manage to excite us with an announcement or two. Most notably, that Daisuke Aishihara's action-pac...

Review: K DVD/Blu-ray Complete Series

Mar 25 // LB Bryant
  K DVD/Blu-rayStudio: GoHandsLicensed by: Viz MediaRelease Date: 2/25/14MSRP: $69.99 For the first four episodes of K, it's really hard not to be pulled in by the flashy style of the series. First off, it's impossible not to notice that the entire series is shaded with a blue tint for no real reason. Everything is just blue-ish which is admittedly distracting at first but once you get used to it, it becomes easy to admit that it's a pretty cool style choice to make just to set it apart from all of the other action series out there.  If that weren't enough, there is also a wealth of great character designs. Shiro, Kuroh, the enigmatic Neko and many others look pretty decent and different from each other (which is important since this cast is freaking huge but we'll get into that later). This matches some pretty good looking animation. I'm using the word 'stylish' and variants thereof a lot in this review but honestly there just aren't many other words that you can use to describe this one.  Then you have the absolutely beautiful music. Composed by Mikio Endo, the background music in this series is arguably the best part of the entire show. Always beautiful, captivating and perfect for the moment, K is made all the more gorgeous and bearable because of the scores that are attached to each scene. I'm not usually one to collect anime soundtracks but this is a series where I absolutely must own this soundtrack so that I can listen to it again and again.  Sadly, that's about where the praise for K ends and the annoyances begin. What could've been a fantastic series is mired in a mess of a story that only gets more confusing as it continues. For the first third, I was fine with the way things were going; the cast was growing increasingly larger and larger, but I was managing alright. However, once I got to episode five and beyond, I was having to employ research aids in order to understand what was happening in the story. The large cast isn't the only thing that's troublesome about this story -- Calling it "convoluted" would be a serious understatement. This series really tries its best to be esoteric and interesting but fails by large margins. All the style and beautiful music in the world can't save K from the quagmire that it sinks into by the end.  It's a shame really, because Viz Media put a lot of effort into this release, which includes a whole host of extras. Along with the shiny art book that is included with the set, the second disc is loaded with extras that include clean animations, English cast interviews and convention footage. A lot of care went into making sure that this release was worth every last dollar... if only the series itself was actually worth it.  In the end, K wants to be amazing and memorable but is really nothing more than a confusing mess. Sadly, you can skip this one without feeling like you're missing out on anything important.  5.0 – Average. The definition of mediocre. It has many flaws, and just couldn’t follow through on its intentions or had ones that were simply too narrow to warrant consideration. Some will still enjoy it, but should temper their expectations, or perhaps just opt to pass. Watch more trailers and read more reviews before you decide.
Review: K photo
Style over substance
Sometimes you come across a series that looks amazing and impresses you with its style from the first moments. Those series are few and far between but when you find them, they tend to stick with you. Sometimes though, you ge...

A look at: Phantom Thief Jeanne Volume 1

Mar 20 // LB Bryant
Phantom Thief Jeanne Volume 1Published by: Viz MediaWritten by: Arina TanemuraIllustrated by: Arina TanemuraTranslated by: Tetsuichiro MiyakiRelease date: 3/4/14MSRP: $10.99 Every so often as a professional writer you come across a manga volume that you like well enough, but when it comes time to write down your thoughts, you realize that you have nothing to say about it. That's the problem that I had with Phantom Thief Jeanne. Let me be clear, I liked this volume. When you look at the cover and go through the pages, you're promised various things including random battles and adventures, cute magical girls and even a hint of romance and this volume delivers on all of that.  Unfortunately the way it's delivered just isn't very exciting. In fact I'd go as far to say that it is very 'by the book'. Nothing about the thrilling heroics or romance will come across as surprising as you read through this volume. Some of you will even laugh at how predictable it is in places.  As I said though, for what it is, this is a first volume that has plenty of things going for it. The artwork in this volume is very nice to look at. The character designs are very pleasing to the eye and at no point does the book pander to audiences by putting any of the main characters into fan service-laden, compromising situations. This is good, clean fun all the way through to the end.  It also doesn't happen very often but at times Phantom Thief Jeanne will even make you laugh intentionally. There is a moment towards the middle of the book when everyone is excited to have dinner together when they all open their doors and see that they have to deal with phantom thief duties. I'm not doing a very good job of describing the moment but it was certainly one time that I can recall laughing out loud.  In the end though, this was just a shoujo manga that I could take or leave. It made for good reading each night before I went to bed but there were never any times that I was actively excited to pick it up and read another chapter. In fact it was actually very easy for me to pick up, read a few pages and put it back down without a second thought.  Originally published in 1998 (and released in the US by CMX Manga in 2005), its possible that this title could've been something special in its day. In the last decade however we've seen dark magical girl series such as Madoka Magica, parodies like Prisma Illya and we're all waiting with bated breath for a revival of Sailor Moon -- all of which do the magical girl genre better than Phantom Thief Jeanne.  If you're absolutely desperate for a new shoujo title to read, this isn't a bad title to start in on but don't go in expecting to be blown away by the contents. At best this is merely a distraction to pass the time with until you find your next A+ title. 
A look at: Jeanne photo
Um... it's very pretty?
By day Maron Kusakabe is a normal, everyday high school student. She lives in an apartment by herself, has a best friend who lives next door and she's a member of the rhythmic gymnastics team. What people don't realize, howev...

 photo

Viz releasing Princess Mononoke: The First Story


Hayao Miyazaki's original story for the iconic film.
Mar 08
// Ben Huber
Just about everyone is a big fan of Hayao Miyazaki's output, especially Princess Mononoke. But I imagine not as many folks know about the original story (of the same name) that Miyazaki put together. The book was a collection...
Viz Manga photo
Viz Manga

Viz racks up Assassination Classroom, One Piece, and more


You should have been reading Assassination Classroom all along, for real
Mar 07
// Brittany Vincent
Viz has my number, you guys. They've been consistently bringing the noise, bringing down the house, coming here to turn the party out. They're raising the roof to prove they can get loose, y'all, with high-profile releases li...
Viz photo
Viz

Viz licenses Naoki Urasawa's Master Keaton manga


Woah!
Mar 04
// Ben Huber
Here's an unexpected announcement: Viz Media has licensed Naoki Urasawa's (of Monster, Pluto, and 20th Century Boys fame) Master Keaton manga series. The classic series ran from 1988 to 1994, inspired a TV anime, and a host o...
K Blu-ray photo
K Blu-ray

Viz to put out K as an A-grade Blu-ray combo pack


Pretty boys and pretty pack-ins
Feb 21
// Josh Tolentino
Much as I've embraced our digital media future, I still have a soft spot in my heart for sweet physical extras. After all, I did once buy a copy of Sakura Taisen that I didn't have a machine for just to get a hilarious-l...
Perfect Square manga photo
Perfect Square manga

Perfect Square launches limited time digital manga sale


Cheap manga is the best manga
Feb 20
// Kristina Pino
Take advantage of a sale on digital manga being offered by VIZ Media's all-ages imprint Perfect Square, running now until February 28th. Titles such as Hello Kitty: Delicious! (reviewed), Uglydoll: Eat Dat!, and all of their ...
Viz Anime photo
Viz Anime

Neon Alley transitioning to free on-demand


Eliminates live stream, and subscriptions
Feb 12
// Tim Sheehy
Brace yourselves. Viz Anime's subscription-based digital network Neon Alley has announced plans to transition to an on-demand service on April 1st, eliminating their subscription platform and live programming. Following the t...
Manga sale photo
Manga sale

Yaoi imprint SuBLime celebrates its anniversary


50% off select bundles for a limited time
Jan 18
// Tim Sheehy
If you're big on boys love, or just feel the occasional urge to stock up on some yaoi, Viz Media has got you covered. Their specialized Yaoi-centric manga imprint, SuBLime -- oh, the BL is capitalized... I see what they did t...

A Look @ Nisekoi, vol. 1

Jan 13 // Kristina Pino
Nisekoi, vol. 1Creator: Naoshi KomiTranslated by: Camellia NiehPublisher: VIZ MediaMSRP: US$9.99 (print) US$5.99 (digital) [BUY]Released: Jan 7th, 2014 Nisekoi doesn't bring anything new or special to the table in terms of its themes or plot. We've seen it all before: passive main guy, love triangle (and of course, its between the guy, a childhood friend, and a new girl who is loud and violent but secretly vulnerable), gang rivalry, promises to people the main character can't remember, and sudden, random acts of tenderness/kindness/etc to fuel the love triangle fire. It's all there. But what really makes this series sparkle-- especially if you hang tight beyond the first chapter or two-- is the creator's excellent pacing and easy, but unrestrained sense of humor. Nisekoi is a case where the author doesn't try anything too fancy, complicated, or confusing, but manages what is there exceedingly well. This book had me laughing out loud with all the cracks between Raku and Chitoge; his outbursts and nicknaming her "gorilla girl" pretty much get me every time. The story goes a bit beyond the usual tropes by making the characters shameless in their mannerisms: they quarrel openly like small children, and over-act their fake relationship whenever anyone is watching. The creator's artwork and aforementioned pacing really help too, because everything feels animated, like it's really playing out in front of you. And the icing on the cake is the characters aren't vapid or see-through. This book takes its time introducing you to everyone and fleshing these kids out before jumping into the first crisis. Volume 1 does a great job of introducing the three key characters, setting the scene for potential disaster, and tossing in the first dramatic problem of the series: the childhood friend overheard something she shouldn't have, and dramatic irony kicks in. Between that and the fantastic writing of the other two characters -- their banter and insults to each other are hilarious -- all of which is from the point of view in the main guy, I'm sold. Nisekoi is just plain fun, and if you're wont to read some funny romance every now and again, I recommend you give it a try, too. Right now, VIZ Media has released this series up through its second volume in print and sixth volume digitally, so you aren't restricted to just the first few chapters if you were to pick it up right now. If you have the VIZ Media app, you can also sample the first chapter for free before making a purchase-- although I can't emphasize enough that it's only fair to stick around until at least chapter three or four before judging the series.
Nisekoi photo
The fine line between love and hate is laced with violence
Nisekoi turned out to be one of those happy discoveries you sometimes stumble upon when you aren't looking for anything particular, read a silly synopsis, and think, "Why not?" I wasn't too sure what to expect from this comin...

Hello Kitty volume 3 photo
Hello Kitty volume 3

Hello Kitty is preparing to surprise you in April


More of Hello Kitty's awesome adventures afoot
Jan 11
// Kristina Pino
This week saw the release of Hello Kitty Delicious!, the second volume in the new Hello Kitty manga series being published by VIZ Media's Perfect Square imprint. And hot on its heels is the listing of Hello Kitty Surprise!, w...
Anime photo
Anime

Moribito added to Neon Alley's mid-season schedule


To begin streaming on January 17th
Jan 08
// Tim Sheehy
Viz Media's streaming network Neon Alley is half way through their fall season of programming. To mark the occasion they'll be adding some new programming to their schedule, starting with the mid-season debut of 2007's M...

Review: Zetman

Jan 05 // Salvador GRodiles
Zetman: The Complete Series [Blu-ray] Studio: TMS Entertainment Licensed by: VIZ Media Release Date: 11/5/2013 MSRP: $54.97 Adapted from a manga by Masakazu Katsura, Zetman tells the story of Jin, a homeless kid who's lived his whole life with his grandfather. Despite Jin's current living conditions, the boy's determination to help others knows no bounds-- as long as you're willing to pay him, of course. Not only that, but he’s buddies with Kouga, who happens to be the son of the man in charge of the powerful Amagi Corporation. Early on, a monster kills Jin's grandfather, and the young child is left with nowhere else to go. Luckily, Jin's good deeds are rewarded when a woman that he rescued decides to take him in. After Jin gets placed into a new home, we fast-forward to a point in time where both friends get ready to face the Players: a group of monsters that have hidden themselves within society for quite some time. Once Jin’s dormant powers awaken, the two protagonists end up walking the path to justice. However, Jin and Kouga start to realize that their world isn’t black and white. While Zetman’s story focuses on Jin and Kouga's battle against the Players, there's more going on here. The show depicts struggles between the rich and poor, illustrated in part by the views of Amagi Corporation’s president. On top of that, the people providing Jin's supplies plan to use him as a tool for their own benefit. Aside from Jin’s situation, Kouga faces the pressures that come with being part of a rich family. In fact, Kouga is forced into many messed-up scenarios where he has to think on the fly; otherwise, he’ll have to live with the lingering guilt of letting innocent people die. To an extent, you could say that Zetman is made up of different shades of gray, since the human characters can be as twisted as the monsters themselves. Despite these strong points, the series suffers from a few pacing issues. Due to the staff’s decision to adapt Zetman's story into a 13-episode series, most of the plot feels rushed. Characters end up changing their views without any proper development, and it's hard to care about the people outside of the main duo. Thankfully, Jin and Kouga manage to keep the show interesting, since there's never a dull moment when they're around. Art-wise, Zetman’s staff does a decent job in converting Katsura’s illustrations into animation, since the designs capture the artist's realistic style. While the composition isn’t on the same level as Sunrise’s Tiger & Bunny series, another series that features Katsura’s artwork, I felt that Zetman’s look went well with the anime's themes. Aside from the human characters, Jin’s Zetman form, Kouga’s Alphas suit, and the Players give off a nice superhero/tokusatsu series vibe. In fact, Zetman and Alphas’ designs remind me of Devilman’s titular hero and Kamen Rider Ixa from Kamen Rider Kiva. Meanwhile, the Players look like they came from a Showa-era toku show or a classic superhero comic, with their old-school style. From what I’ve watched of Zetman’s English dub, the voice acting was average at best. While NYAV Post has a great track record with shows like Giant Robo the Animation, The Venture Brothers and GaoGaiGar, their issue might’ve been with the voice actors that they chose for the series. Personally, I found the original Japanese track to be the superior choice of audio this time around. Since Daisuke Namikawa (Waver from Fate/Zero) and Mamoru Miyano (Light Yagami from Death Note) were voicing Jin and Kouga, I couldn't help but go with Zetman’s original recording. Interestingly, Zetman comes with an interview with original creator Masakazu Katsura from NYCC. Sadly, the feature is short, since Katsura only answered a small amount of questions. However, Katsura reveals that the anime’s staff chose to adapt different chapters from the manga that they believed would fit well with the anime's original story; unfortunately, the way they structured the series resulted in Zetman’s strange pacing. At the end of the day, Zetman isn't breaking any new ground within the superhero genre; however, Jin and Kouga's conflict made way for an intriguing story that prompts the viewer to question both characters' reasons for fighting crime. As long as you can tolerate the show's weird pacing, you'll be in for a fun ride. Otherwise, Katsura's original manga might be a better starting point for newcomers, since the story flows better in that format. 7.0 – Good. Films or shows that get this score good, but not great. These could have been destined for greatness, but were held back by their flaws. While some may not enjoy them, fans of the genre will definitely love them. 
Zetman photo
Justice isn't always about sunshine and rainbows
Even though I’m the guy at Japanator that watches toku shows, my experience with superhero stories in general is below average. While I’ve kept up with many of the cartoons and films that are based off of DC and M...

Manga photo
Manga

SuBLime Yaoi manga now available for Kindle


An extensive collection goes digital
Dec 24
// Tim Sheehy
I won't pretend to read, or even truly understand the fascination with Boys Love genre, but I know there's a fair amount of you out there who do, so some of you may be really excited by this bit of news. VIZ Media's yaoi mang...
Ranma 1/2 photo
Ranma 1/2

Viz announces date for first Ranma 1/2 Blu-ray


Get ready to YAPAPA on March 25th
Dec 21
// Pedro Cortes
Ranma 1/2 was the second anime that I watched as a teen, after Dragon Ball Z. To say it holds a happy little niche in my heart would be an understatement. I got a full year of enjoyment out of that show and I've always wanted...
VIZ Media: Art photo
VIZ Media: Art

Deck out your smart phone display with Bleach and Naruto


A sleek look for all the cool kids
Dec 20
// Kristina Pino
VIZ Media have announced that starting Monday, December 23rd you'll be able to get Bleach and Naruto image packs via the CocoPPa app for iOS and Android and totally bling your phone out from icons to wall papers. Actually, I ...
VIZ Manga photo
VIZ Manga

VIZ Media announce a big sale and some new additions


Sales are always a good thing
Dec 18
// Kristina Pino
Viz Media have announced that from now through January 15th, all of the manga titles purchasable at Viz Manga (or on the VIZ Manga app) are 20% off. This includes such titles as Naruto and One Piece, Hana Kimi, Magi, Honey an...

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