Ranma 1/2 is one of those titles that’s managed to worm its way into the very fabric of anime fandom. Even twenty-five years after its first airing, Rumiko Takahashi’s opus is cited as required viewing for fans of all stripes. Over the years, Viz has gone to great lengths to keep the series available to the masses, be it on VHS, DVD, or through streaming outlets. Of course, back in the VHS days, things were a bit… different.

Believe it or not, $29.95 for two episodes, while pricey, still moved units back in the day! I know! Crazy, right?!

Anyway, on March 25, Viz Media will release Ranma for the first time on Blu-Ray, with a release of the first season. To celebrate, the company gave the show the white-glove treatment with a lovely special edition. Because of this, I’ve decided to perform a full tear-down on the release. (Click images for larger versions)

Packaging

The packaging consists of a three-disc Amaray case and a 64-page soft-cover book, which are housed together in a chipboard box.

The box’s front is red, with a stylized gold embossing that traces the front of the case. A color drawing of Female Ranma is front and center, right beneath the show’s logo. The back of the box is blue, featuring a similar gold-embossed design. Genma Panda sits proudly in the center of the scene, holding a sign while giving an annoyed glare. the back of the box is initially hidden by an advertising wrap-around, which features a description of the show, a few screenshots, and a listing of extra features in the set.

The companion book is double-sided. the front cover features a similar red-and-gold motif to the box, and it stamped with the Ranma 1/2 logo. The back is composed of the cover from the recently released Ranma 1/2 1 & 2 Omnibus Edition. Much like the covers, it’s double-sided. The “red” half of the book features an episode guide for the 23 episodes in the set, as well as cast and crew listings for the release. The “manga cover” half contains a sampler for the Ranma 1/2 1 & 2 Omnibus edition manga. The two sections are divided by an advertisement for the full first volume of the Omnibus Editions. The pages of the book are printed on glossy, thick stock.

The Amaray case features a group shot, with male Ranma taking front and center against several secondary characters including the Kuno¬†siblings. The back of the Amaray is identical to the obi in its contents, as it lists the description, extras, and production information. Both the front and back are set against a stylized smattering of manga panels, which give the overall piece an additional visual “pop.”

Each of the three discs inside features a different design:

  • Disc 1 features a red disc with an etching of waves
  • Disc 2 uses a blue discs, which has a smoke pattern etched in
  • Disc 3 is pink, and has a yin-yang design.

Menu Structure

Note: Since the release has a consistent look & feel across the three discs, I will only be covering the first disc. Further dissections would be redundant.

The disc features a base menu screen, which mimics the box in its use of a red and gold “wave pattern.” Video clips play in three “windows” that occupy the right side of the screen, while the show’s logo and the episodes contained occupy the left. The menu is contained in a yellow strip on the bottom-left part of the screen. When selected, sub-menus pop up from the strip.

Video Presentation

Note: I lack a Blu-ray drive, so stills cannot happen this time around. However, Hulu is hosting the re-mastered video files. I apologize for non-US residents for the inconvenience.

Overall

Viz Media’s release of this first season of Ranma is about as strong as one could hope for it to be. The re-mastered video is gorgeous, with colors that simply pop. There is a bit of grain due to the sheer age of the show, but it’s easily overlooked. It’s a major improvement over the original DVDs, which were muddy and muted in comparison.

The extra features are entertaining, and feature some nifty bits that I’d love to see more of in domestic releases, like the Ranma panel from New York Comic Con and an interview with manga editor Hope Donovan. However, the real star is the presentation. Everything, from the packaging to the companion book are impeccably done, with attractive designs and a fantastic feeling of continuity across the release. The thick stock of the book is a nice touch, and the gold embossing is applied in a way that catches the eye without looking garish.

In short: those looking for a Ranma release, look no further. The new Blu-Ray release is wonderful, and bodes well for the rest of the series.