Urusei Yatsura TV Vol. #16 (of 50) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Monday, December 15, 2003
Release Date: Wednesday, April 30, 2003
What They Say
In the 16th installment of Urusei Yatsura, love becomes ludicrous when Ten gets an unwanted girlfriend. Gazing into crystallne eyeballs reveals the future of onesl ovelife. Mendou's conniving sister Ryoko arranges for a little mayhem and when humans start catching Lum's cold, things rapidly degenerate.
After a year and a half hiatus, Urusei Yatsura has finally returned to DVD and we’re now moving into volumes that I hadn’t seen before, much to my pleasure.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its only language of Japanese. With the show being so old, it's a very basic audio track that's listed as 2 channel but is essentially a mono mix with everything coming through the center channel. Dialogue is clear and there aren't any noticeable dropouts, but the volume does sound a bit lower than discs we're used to listening to. Otherwise, it's about what you've come to expect from this show.
Things are about as expected here. Colors look good for the most part though there's some occasional bleeding in the reds which is more noticeable in the last episode with the pickled plums than elsewhere. There's the usual amount of noticeable macroblocking in some of the blue sky backgrounds and some very minor instances of cross coloration in a few areas, but nothing that really detracts in the end. The feel of the cels is just more apparent as we get further into the series. There's an overall fuzziness around most of the characters that give some of the lines a really soft jittery look in places.
Well, consistency counted for fifteen volumes, but it’s out the window as we go into this one. Instead of the pink striped covers that we’ve had, they’re still the same style but a bluish purple. This volume has a leggy shot of Lum in a short dress on the phone with an insert image of her and Ataru together. The back cover maintains consistency to the past volumes and provides a short bit on the episodes here as well as a character biography on Ataru’s parents. The recipe cards continue as we get a new one here that details various cultural references for the four episodes on the disc.
Episode selection is from the main screen, and whichever episode is highlight, it also lists its original air date. There's no selection for languages/subtitles, since it defaults to the only language and with subtitles on. While not the most appealing menus in the world, they're fast and functional, and people are likely never to really need them. One thing I absolutely did not like is the inability on any of my players to be able to use the STOP button during the menu. You actually have to either start the program or go into the video credits to be able to stop the disc from playing. And while it hasn’t happened on my players, some people are reporting that the show auto-starts after playing through the menu once.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The further the VHS release of Urusei Yatsura got into the teens, the more likely it seemed we wouldn’t see another big mega laserdisc box set, though I kept up my hopes for one by not buying the VHS and indicating that I was one of those waiting for the LD’s to get announced. Of course, I know I faltered and bought some of the tapes, but it looks like this volume is all new to me.
And it’s a good way to get back into the lovely world of Lum and Ataru and their huge hyper cast. The show is pretty much continuing on its merry way, doing full standalone episodes and poking fun at just about everything under the sun that can be done. Chief Director Mamoru Oshii really does an excellent job of bringing the right balance of extreme wackiness and human nature to the cast. Though after doing this series for so long, it becomes quite obvious why he’s gone in the direction he has. Lum’s a hard one to top.
The mix of episodes on this volume are pretty solid across the board. Things open with a Valentine’s Day episode that brings more attention to young Ten than Ataru. Ten gets a confession of love from a young girl in the area, though he has absolutely no idea how to deal with it. So he takes the chocolates, not realizing what it really commits him to. It’s only later when Lum tells him her slightly older and skewed view of the meanings that he begins to panic. Panic so much that he actually takes advice from Ataru about the situation, which only leads to more problems for him.
Ten also kicks things into motion in the Love-Love Catchballs episode. His package from a galaxy-wide home shopping network arrives and he calls all his favorite women together. The balls, we learn, reveal to you the person you’re going to marry when you get older. Taking the one for women to use, he heads off to the café to get them to learn who they’re destined for. This leaves Ataru at home with the other and sets him up to learn its secrets. When he realizes it and knows where Ten is, he goes off to watch the fireworks as Sakura, Ran, Lum and Shinobu all check out their destinies, destinies that inflict much pain for some.
The remaining episodes were good fun, particularly Space Panic Cold! where Lum catches a cold and wears her own little face mask. Naturally, all the boys want it since she’s been so close to it, so once they do get it from her, they all give it a whirl. Unfortunately, it transmits the disease as well, which leaves a tiger-striped like discoloration across their lower faces. Having all the boys in class, Mendou included, come down with her cold is hilarious, especially since Lum goes and puts herself in a sleep chamber to recover while everyone else takes the medicine that Ten produces. Ten, of course, being the young lad who cannot read.
It’s been great getting back into Lum and I’m excited that I’ve still got another four volumes to check out. While this show will never look great, it never ceases to amuse me.
Japanese Language,English Subtitles
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.
Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: B
Video Rating: B-
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: C-
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: AnimEigo
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Urusei Yatsura