Real Bout High School-Volume 1: Enter the Samurai Girl (2002)
Main Menu Audio & Animation-fighting game!
Featurette-"special end corner" (4)
TV Spots-Japanese (4)
Outtakes-English dub flubs
|Year Of Production||2002|
|Running Time||94:15 (Case: 100)|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Shinichi Toukairin|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||Yes, next episode teaser|
I rather enjoyed high school, but I'm quite glad I didn't attend Daimon High School — Daimon is a private academy that is run a little differently from most. The principal, Takao Todo, seems to have a strong belief in strength through martial arts. Any dispute at Daimon, whether it's between rival clubs, or simply between rivals, can be settled by a K-fight. The K-fights are not necessarily structured fights, but they are controlled by the K-fight Executive Committee. They also seem to be a major source of entertainment, judging by the crowds that gather, and by the television coverage (on campus). There's play-by-play commentary by the almost annoyingly cheerful announcer (and her two cheerleader assistants), and special comments from principal Takao Todo. The K in K-fight stands for Kenka (which apparently means "street-fight", implying minimal rules...).
The central character is Ryoko Mitsurugi. She is somewhat taller than normal, and has a bit of a complex about that (she can get rather violent when her height is alluded to). She is rather good at kendo (a form of Japanese fencing), but her real strength shows in the K-fights, where she uses a wooden sword (called a bokken), rather than the bamboo sword (called a shinai) that is normally used in kendo. Ryoko is the reigning K-fight champion, with a record of 22-0 at the start of this series. Ryoko is not exactly pretty (her nose is a bit too strong), but she's a nice character. She's somewhat distinctive, adding thigh-high socks and short boots to her fairly conventional school uniform. Her purple eyes and red hair also ensure she stands out. She is a huge fan of samurai books and movies — they sparked her interest in the way of the sword.
This show exhibits a mild level of fan service. If you haven't heard the term before, allow me to explain, because it's not obvious. The school uniform for Daimon High features a rather short pleated skirt, which flies up under relatively little provocation, revealing the wearer's choice of underwear (usually plain white cotton). When you consider that Ryoko is wearing such a skirt while engaging in rather energetic fighting, we get frequent confirmation of her choice, but the fan service is not limited to her. Unlike some anime series, the level of fan service in this series is unlikely to upset any but the most prudish viewer.
Ryoko's closest friend is Hitomi, who is not a fighter — she's quite cute. Ryoko gets followed around by Daisaku, a boy who photographs and videotapes Ryoko at every possible opportunity — Ryoko is not particularly appreciative of his attention. Ryoko is much more interested in Tatsuya, her senior in the kendo club. Unfortunately, Azumi Kirabayashi, head of the flower arranging club and expert user of the naginata (a Japanese halberd used mostly by women), is also interested in Tatsuya. Azumi (who has an annoying laugh) inflicts a variety of unpleasant practical jokes on Ryoko. Ryoko is not exactly happy at having to call Azumi senpai (a term of respect for someone in a more senior class).
There are a number of other characters who appear as the series unfolds. One of the most important is Shizuma Kusanagi — the former K-fight champion who left after being defeated by Ryoko. Two other important characters are Miyuki Onizuka and her grandfather Tessai Onizuka, the keeper of the Hiten shrine.
Things get rather interesting after Ryoko finds a mysterious pendant that, without warning, transports her to a different world where she's expected to battle a monster (in the first case, a dragon). She's quite surprised to discover that her strength is greatly amplified in this strange world (she discovers that it is called Solvania), but she learns to use that strength quickly. Even so, she feels a need to improve her skills.
Unlike some anime series, this one makes a feature of its voice actors — the closing sequence features two of the Japanese voice actors, Ikue Kimura (voice of Ryoko) and Sakura Nagowa (voice of Miyuki), in the costumes of their characters. It's also a little unusual that the opening song is sung by Ikue Kimura, while the closing song is sung by Sakura Nagowa — both have quite decent singing voices. Perhaps it's just as well Sakura Nagowa gets to sing, because her character has very little to say.
Oops — I nearly forgot to list the episodes on this disc:
There's a point in the first episode where I think the English dub is better than the sub — (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) after Azumi has suggested that Ryoko's strength comes from being uncivilised, and then demonstrated strength of her own, the sub has Ryoko saying "You're a brute yourself!", but the dub has her saying "You're not exactly a delicate flower, are you?" — a cute reference to her representing the flower arranging club (I suspect that's a translation of ikebana).
This series is an interesting combination of action and humour (and the occasional gentle parody — if you are familiar with anime you'll probably spot these, but it won't hurt if you don't). A great deal of it is very funny; the action sequences are well-integrated into the storyline, and beautifully animated. In all, this is quite a delightful series — strongly recommended.
This DVD transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1. It is not 16x9 enhanced. That is the original aspect ratio — we can ask for nothing more.
The image is sharp and clear. There's no film grain, and no low-level noise.
Colour is brilliant — vivid and excellently rendered. There are no colour-related artefacts. More than a simple palette of primary colours is on display — there are some nice shadings, and subtle colours. Interestingly, in certain scenes (mostly on arrival in Solvania), the colour is deliberately distorted (an overall colour cast) — this is done quite effectively.
There are no film artefacts. It is possible that this was captured directly from computer onto videotape (one of the extras shows them using a computer for compositing the image) — that would explain the lack of film artefacts.
There is some aliasing and dot crawl on the black lines bordering characters, but it is far less than on, for example, Love Hina. There's no moire, and no MPEG artefacts.
There are two subtitle tracks. The first subtitles only signs. The second provides full subtitles of the dialogue, plus the signs. The subtitles seem well-timed, accurate, and easy to read, in the traditional yellow (the subtitles for signs are in white). Interestingly, the subtitles on the R4 are in a nice clear font. Better, I think, than the R1's more rounded font.
The disc is single-sided and single-layered. With just over 90 minutes of episodes, and only fairly short extras, it fits comfortably onto the single layer.
The soundtrack is provided in English and Japanese, appropriate for anime. Both soundtracks are Dolby Digital 2.0, not surround encoded, running at 224 kbps. I listened to both soundtracks in full. The English soundtrack is mastered at a level that's slightly too quiet, but it's not enough to interfere with your enjoyment — just turn it up a little. Both tracks are stereo, with the majority of the sound pretty well central, but there are sounds directed to both left and right.
The English dialogue is readily understood, even when the characters are talking quite quickly. The translators have opted to leave a number of words untranslated, like "senpai", because there are no adequate English counterparts — I applaud this choice. There are extensive notes on the inside of the cover which explain the untranslated terms, and a number of other elements. The Japanese dialogue sounds eminently clear, but I cannot assess comprehensibility.
The score is a delight, a real feature of the series. It's a combination of a wide variety of music, including traditional Japanese and even rock music, but mostly contemporary. Takeshi Yasuda has done an excellent job.
The surrounds and subwoofer are not fed a signal by this straight 2.0 soundtrack, but your subwoofer may come to life occasionally with bass redirected from the mains. There's certainly a full range of sound fed to the mains.
|Surround Channel Use|
This disc has an excellent selection of extras — far more than usual for an anime disc — and they are presented in an interesting way, as a list of special moves for a fighting character. On this first disc the character is Ryoko.
The menu is animated with sound. It is constructed to imitate a coin-fed fighting game, and this theme is carried through all of the menus — a beautiful piece of work.
The translator's notes make very interesting reading, as well as providing considerable insight into many elements of Japanese culture not immediately obvious. These notes are printed as a little booklet (well, a folded piece of paper!) in the R1 title, but they are printed on the inside of the cover in the R4 version — the transparent case makes it easy to read them.
These are short pieces (in subtitled Japanese) made to be shown at the end of each episode (shame they can't be integrated using seamless branching...). There's one for each episode:
Four TV spots for the screenings on Japanese TV.
These are outtakes from the recording of the English dub, shown over the footage that's being dubbed. It's a series of flubs, shown in rapid succession — they are actually rather funny.
Four trailers shown on a screen that looks like it should show six.
A credits panel showing the DVD authors in the form of a high-score list — cute.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The Region 1 disc was released mid-2002. It was released in two forms. The limited edition version is a slim box containing the first volume of the manga (comic book) as well as the disc; the normal edition contains just the disc — both versions have the same packaging of the disc. Interestingly, the disc is in a transparent keep-case (that's unusual for R1).
The manga is translated into English, but still reads from right to left. The story in the manga does not agree with the disc; there are numerous serious disagreements, but many of the same characters appear. I must say that I prefer the storyline on the disc enough that I won't be bothering to follow up the manga, but it was interesting enough to read.
The two versions are extremely similar, if we ignore the manga. Even the artwork is very similar, although I slightly prefer the R4 presentation. Even the discs themselves are quite similar with near-identical labels (theirs is plain blue and white, while ours has more colour), and near-identical contents. The R1 starts with ads, which I don't like, but once you get to the menu, they are difficult to tell apart.
The Region 1 Previews are for Initial D, Reign, Real Bout CD (the soundtrack), and GTO — I'd say we got the better deal there. The Region 1 DVD Credits are for the TokyoPop team, but are organised the same way.
Although the R4 is PAL (trust me - I've checked!) it has the same running time as the NTSC R1 (indicating a video conversion rather than film transfer).
There's really so little difference between the two that you can be happy with either version, but if you're in Australia I'd strongly recommend getting our version — it means you're supporting the locals (the fact that it's a bit cheaper doesn't hurt, either!).
The opening volume of a new series that's a lot of fun, and presented brilliantly on DVD.
The video quality is excellent, with a bit of aliasing that's pretty much unavoidable on this kind of animation
The audio quality is very good.
The extras are nicely presented, and quite entertaining.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-S733A, using Component output|
|Display||Sony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Front Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5|