Real Bout High School-Volume 2: Netherworld Battle (2002)

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Released 14-Feb-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Anime Main Menu Audio & Animation
Notes-translator's notes
Featurette-"special end corner" (3)
Interviews-Cast-Ikue Kimura
Introduction-clean opening
Outtakes-English dub flubs
Gallery-line art
Trailer-5
DVD Credits
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 69:51 (Case: 75)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Shinichi Toukairin
Studio
Distributor
TokyoPop Anime
Madman Entertainment
Starring None Given
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music Takeshi Yasuda


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures Yes
Subtitles English Titling
English
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, next episode teaser

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    This is our next visit to Daimon High, the school where the principal has arranged the K-fight system to settle disputes. If you haven't heard about Real Bout High School before, you'd better read my review of Volume 1 first.

    This disc contains three episodes, being:

  1. Attack of the Raging Wind — while Ryoko is stuck being Magical Waitress Oyster Lulu, Shizuma's being confronted in the car park by a nasty-looking trio
  2. Threat from Another World — it's not just Shizuma and Ryoko stuck in Solvania this time...
  3. Rematch! Battle of the Lunch Boxes — an amusing time-out from the main story-line for a battle between Ryoko and Azumi

    This disc introduces several new elements, including both serious things, like a whole new layer of conspiracy behind Ryoko being dragged into Solvania, and less serious, like our first glimpse of the Secret Flower Arrangement Club members. I was wondering when we might get introduced to three unsavoury-looking characters who appear in the credits, and, to my surprise, they all suddenly appeared in Episode 5. They signal a turn towards a darker and more serious storyline, so it's good to have the leavening of really silly antics in Episode 7.

    Episode Seven is delightfully silly — reminiscent of the way The X-Files used to have a silly episode every so often to lighten things up. The three-way standoff near the end of the episode reminded me of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, but (sadly) without the distinctive penny-whistle.

    Don't get the impression that the other two episodes are lacking in humour — there are still plenty of laughs.

    The animation quality seems to drop off a bit in the sixth episode — almost as though their chief artist was on holiday or off sick that week, or something (there's a bit of an inconsistency in drawing one of the characters, too). It picks up again in the seventh episode, fortunately.

    An awful lot seems to happen in each episode — it is hard to believe that the episodes are less than 24 minutes each, and include opening and closing credits and an eye-catcher in the middle.

    I'm really enjoying this series — I just wish I didn't have to wait so long for the third and fourth instalments. I know they say "that which doesn't kill you, makes you stronger", but I don't want to be that strong...

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This DVD transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1. It is not 16x9 enhanced. That is the original aspect ratio.

    The image is sharp and pleasant to look at most of the time. There's no film grain, and no low-level noise.

    Colour is brilliant (in the true sense of the word) — a wide palette, including some well-saturated colours, has been applied with gusto. There are no colour-related artefacts.

    There are no film artefacts.

    There is some aliasing and dot crawl on the black lines bordering characters when they move, varying from extremely mild to somewhat noticeable, with a couple of moments that are really bad (43:36, for example) — a shame, considering that this is the only video artefact, but it's extremely hard to avoid on this type of animation. There's no moire, and no MPEG artefacts.

    There are two subtitle tracks. The first subtitles only signs (in white). The second provides full subtitles for the dialogue, plus the signs. The dialogue subtitles seem to be accurate, well-timed to the dialogue, and easy to read, in the traditional yellow in the same font as used for Volume 1.

    The disc is single-sided and single-layered. With just under 70 minutes of episodes, and extras that don't amount to a lot of extra time, it fits easily onto the single layer.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The soundtrack is provided in English and Japanese, appropriate for anime. Both soundtracks are Dolby Digital 2.0, not surround encoded. I listened to the English soundtrack in full, and two thirds of the Japanese. Both are definitely stereo, with occasional sounds directed to the left or right, but the majority of the sound is pretty much central.

    The English dialogue is easy to understand. The translators have opted to leave a number of words untranslated, like "senpai", because there are no adequate English counterparts — combined with the translator's notes on the inside of the cover, this means we get a better rendering of the story. The Japanese dialogue sounds clear enough, but I cannot assess how understandable it is — the Japanese voice for Akitaka Fudo seemed less than completely clear, though. I did notice a couple of instances in the fight in the car park where the character's mouth was moving without any Japanese dialogue — it always seems strange to me that the English dialogue is better synchronised to the mouth movements than the Japanese, but it often seems to be the case.

    The score is marvellous. Takeshi Yasuda enhances the action with music, but he knows when silence is appropriate, too. It's cute how Azumi, the most traditional character, is always accompanied by traditional Japanese music.

    The Foley (sound-effect) team have had a bit of fun — every so often there's a slightly inappropriate sound effect in the background (like a sumo "oh", for example) — sort of an in-joke, I think.

    The straight stereo signal does not provide sound for the surrounds or subwoofer. That's fine — the mains get a full-range signal, and it sounds very good indeed.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    This disc has another excellent selection of extras — far more than usual for an anime disc — they are presented as a list of special moves for a fighting character. On this disc the character is Shizuma.

Menu

    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. This disc features Shizuma and Akitaka.

Translator's Notes

    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, except in the area of the ridge that encircles the disc.

Featurettes: Special End Corner

    These cute little pieces continue — I'm glad. They are in subtitled Japanese, and were made to be shown at the end of each episode (I'd like to see them integrated using seamless branching...). There's one for each episode:

  1. a secret report from GONZO, showing the production of the animation (2:27)
  2. the voice actresses for Ryoko and Miyuki chatting in a cafe (2:28)
  3. an interview with the sound director, showing the recording of lines (2:28)

Interview (3:52)

    Part 1 of an interview with Ikue Kimura, the Japanese voice of Ryoko. The video for this segment is not particularly good, but the sound is really quite poor, with wind blowing across the microphone.

Clean Opening (1:31)

    The opening theme, but without the credits overlaid.

Outtakes (1:17)

    These are outtakes from the recording of the English dub, shown over the footage that's being dubbed. It's quite funny to see the animation in perfect condition, with the right voices saying the wrong things.

Gallery — Line Art

    These are sketches made as preliminaries for quite a few of the characters. There are more than forty pages of images (yeah, I lost count).

Previews

    Trailers, all but one of which were on the first disc:

DVD Credits

    A credits panel showing the DVD authors in the form of a high-score list. Same as last time.

R4 vs R1

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. The two versions are extremely similar. Even the artwork is very similar, although I slightly prefer the R4 presentation. Even the discs themselves are quite similar with near-identical labels (ours has more colour, and a shaded effect), and near-identical contents.

    I'm rather pleased that Madman decided to use the NightJar menus, rather than do their own (Madman do excellent menus, but these ones are something extra special!). It means that the two discs are even more similar than usual.

    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. Both versions have a recommended price of $29.95, but the R1 is in US dollars while the R4 is in Australian dollars (and with the Aussie dollar still under 60c US, that's a substantial difference...).

Summary

    The second volume of the series, with some interesting twists, presented brilliantly on DVD.

    The video quality is very good, save for aliasing that's pretty much unavoidable on this kind of animation

    The audio quality is excellent.

    The extras are plentiful and interesting.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Monday, February 17, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

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