Urusei Yatsura TV Vol. #18 (of 50) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Monday, December 15, 2003
Release Date: Wednesday, April 30, 2003
What They Say
In the 18th installment of Urusei Yatsura, Lum's indescribabl bad cooking is the least of problems facing the gang.
Eighteen volumes in and I’m still as giddy and excited as I was at the start.
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. Some episodes have more visible in terms of source issues, such as the opening episode here that was grainier than normal and showed off more ghosting than you would see in other episodes.
Instead of the pink striped covers that we’ve had, they’re still the same style but a bluish purple and look bad when sitting next to the other volumes. This release is really cute with a very happy Lum working up a doll of Ataru for her very own. The back cover maintains consistency to the past volumes and provides a short bit on the episodes here as well as character biographies on Chibi and Kakugari. 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)
With another volume of four episodes under its belt, Ataru and the ever sizeable cast continue their attempts to get through life while dealing with both the insane and the mundane.
The strange also crops up rather nicely on this volume. The opening episode returns to the massive peach blossom concept with Mendou and some of the gang are all touring one of Mendou’s massive gardens. Things get particularly odd when a huge peach blossom appears flowing down the river. When cut open, it reveals the hideous form of none other than Cherry. As they learn, if they follow things properly, they can go inside another world of sorts where they come across a young woman whose about to be sacrificed.
Offering up their help to save her, especially since she’s such a beauty, they all participate in a race of sorts to reach a destination in time to save her. There’s some amusing underpinnings to the episode plus a boatload of culture and historical references that play out nicely.
Another episode that won me over was the return of Kurama, the beautiful princess of the Tengu and her continual search for a handsome man to be her husband. The Tengu are finding only the worst lot of losers lately since good young men are hard to find. When they present her with the image of Ryuunosuke, she’s completely won over, even if she has to deal with Moroboshi and his group again to gain her. What starts off as a simple episode becomes amusingly complex as the Tengu realize their error with Ryuunosuke and bring I a sex change gun to “fix” her. The changes don’t go quite as planned and there’s some definite changes to others.
Another favorite brings back a little seen character in the form of Ton. This episode is listed as his introduction, but I know I’ve seen him before, possibly in an OVA or in a future volume I had seen on VHS. Ton’s family is the second richest in Japan and as such has an amusing rivalry with the Mendou clan, or Mendou himself to be specific. We see through flashbacks how tough they were on each other in their youth, using baseball as their battlefield, but each time tying each other so that there was never a clear victor.
With Ton returning now, Mendou ends up having to have his schoolmates be his teammates after an unfortunate incident, promising them some rather nice free meals for a month. The deal gets even crazier when Mendou’s sister Ryouko doubles the offer to let Ton win as she’s madly in love with him. It all keeps escalating and the game of baseball that’s played is just hilarious on many levels.
So much variety, so many solidly consistent characters and a masterful mix of ancient culture and pop culture brings about a show that hits just about every mark that it needs to. It’s little wonder that this was hugely popular in Japan and has a good cult following in the US. This volume is just another in a long line of highly enjoyable releases.
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: C+
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