In what is now a semi-regular segment on HD, "Nice Box" takes a quick look at recent releases that I've personally purchased, featuring "beautifully"-captured cell phone pictures of the sets from the blog's Facebook page. I don't intend to post pictures of every single thing I get, but I would like to at least showcase particular major releases or something that I've found neat or liked. It's essentially meant to give you a basic feel of how they came out, plus I'll share my thoughts on the content of the discs themselves (menu design, video quality, extras, etc.). So, please enjoy! --HD
While work has played a major role in the lack of updates lately, one good side-effect to it is that you get money out of it. And when you get money, you can get stuff, like nice anime box sets! This particular one, though, isn't a box set, per se…
You may have remembered Ristorante Paradiso as being HD's Free/Low-Cost Anime Pick last month. It was a long one coming, but around the same time, Right Stuf was releasing the whole 11-eps. series in one single collection as the inaugural title for its new label, Lucky Penny Entertainment. It promises to serve "high-quality", "budget-friendly" releases for good, but particularly niche, titles, which is meant to differentiate from the older, more prestigious Nozomi Ent. label, which provides luscious, extras-laden limited edition collector's boxes for works of note, such as Revolutionary Girl Utena, ARIA, Martian Successor Nadesico, and the upcoming Rose of Versailles. It essentially makes Lucky Penny like a "Little Sisters of the Poor", but in this case, it's not as bad as that.
Ristorante Paradiso Complete Collection's release reads like a Nozomi Ent. title with its copious on-disc extras and six exclusive postcards (illustrated by manga creator Natsume Ono, though admittedly, those were for pre-orders/"while supplies last"-only, not a part of every set), but as everything is comprised within a single, three-disc-holding DVD case, that is assuredly not the case. This singular humbleness, though, doesn't stop Lucky Penny from making it feel special, as the case itself has a rather smooth and glossy texture to it, giving it a quality feel. The cover itself uses the series' main promotional image for its front and borrows its elegant style for the back. Again, there is a high-quality feel to everything despite the lack of a fancy box or goodies (sans postcards), and it is reflected again in the nicely-done and smooth disc labels, which feature different pictures of the characters.
While physical attributes separate Nozomi Ent. from Lucky Penny, the latter still shares the same attention to content and presentation as the former when it comes to the real meat of any release: the disc content. The menu designs follow the same motif as earlier and features some helpful liner notes, production art, and even a guide of Rome itself, where the series is lovingly set. The picture quality is quite good, too, and the subtitle script (thankfully) makes use of Italian greetings and terminology.
If there are any drawbacks to be found in the release, however, it's that the disc holders in the case can be frustratingly hard to get the discs out of (and sometimes put back in), as they do not have much give, if any, to them (it is a Scanavo design, for those interested). Since most distributors tend to buy cases in bulk, I have no idea how much of a say they have over what types of designed cases they get, but I do hope that changes, as it is a chronic problem across the board. Also, the disc menu didn't seem to resize itself properly on a conventional 4:3 TV (though it is still navigable and may be due to the PS2 it was used on (which would be a first, anyway)).
Perhaps Lucky Penny is better described as "Nozomi Ent. Lite". In spite of the lack of expansive material, Ristorante Paradiso Complete Collection still feels like a Nozomi Ent.-type of release due to the amount of care put into its presentation and quality, even at the simple keepcase level. RisPara never had that many materials out anyway, so the release type is justified to a certain extent (another reason a title may get released under LP and not the materials-heavy Nozomi Ent.). In spite of a glossy, but contentious, case and a slight issue with the DVD menu (both of which or may not be out of their hands), Lucky Penny/Right Stuf did a very good job in the label's first outing, which should bode well for future releases to come.