Urusei Yatsura TV Vol. #19 (of 50) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Monday, December 15, 2003
Release Date: Wednesday, April 30, 2003

What They Say
In the 19th installment of Urusei Yatsura, Shinobu meets a mysterious stranger who plunges her into a perious predicament!

The Review!
Any time most of the cast gets together to do something big, you’re practically guaranteed some great material.

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. There’s more noticeable ghosting throughout these episodes than some of the earlier ones, or I’m just able to recognize it better now.

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. The cover for this volume has a curious Lum with several super deformed friends, such as Ran, ringed alongside her. The back cover maintains consistency to the past volumes and provides a short bit on the episodes here as well as character biographies on Megane. 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. 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)
After such a solid volume in the previous release, I expected things to settle down a bit here. Instead, the string of great material continued on.

The first two episodes were definitely the best. The opening episode, Shinobu’s Cinderella Story, obviously gives things over to Shinobu. In a rare turn, she manages to take the entire episode to herself with only very minor appearances by other cast members. Instead, her tale really begins when she’s home alone as her parents are away on a hot springs vacation. When a mysterious man is being chased down the street and he ends up hiding by her door, she brings him in to help him out, regardless of what he may have done.

Shinobu ends up learning that the man, Makoto, is actually a potential heir to a large family fortune but is being hunted by his three siblings, since he was actually adopted and they don’t want him to gain any of the family wealth. He and Shinobu end up parting ways in the middle of the night, but after a police investigation and more thugs showing up around town, the two end up back in each others arms as they try to stay one step ahead of the enemy. Shinobu really shines here from both her regular schoolgirl moments to the gussied up finale.

Also quite strong was the second episode, amusingly titled Lum: Rebel Without A Clue. Somehow, amazingly, Ataru convinces the class to pony up money to make a student film. We see the filming aspect of this as the afro-laden Lum turns in a performance as a bad girl in the schoolyard, complete with a variety of weapons stored in previous mentioned afro. The story, as loose and incomplete as it is, seems to be about the group of ruffians she builds up and their adventures.

Ataru’s a slick director, but a poor money manager, as he keeps taking the entire cast out for beefbowl after each shoot. And the shoots are short, something like only 500 feet worth before the money ran out. In desperation, he turns to Mendou for financing, convincing him that he can take a part in the film once Mendou realizes that it’s Lum who is starring. Ah, the visions of Gone With the Wind entire that poor boys head. Naturally, the shooting doesn’t go like Mendou planned and the first screening of the film proves to be an uproariously funny piece, just the kind of twisted garbage you would expect Ataru to come up. Especially since he was writing the script as he went along.

The remaining two episodes were good solid material, but nothing terribly exceptional. We do get an amusing face-off between Sakura and Cherry through their spiritual guardians, each of which is pretty damn scary in their own right. This also lets us see into the past some to see a young Sakura in training by Cherry (who continues to look the same no matter what age we see him). The final episode is a cute piece where Onsen Mark tells a tale in school, something of a ghost story, about a bad willow tree in the schoolyard and how a student once dug a knife into it and ended up getting sick.

Ataru lives his life the way he does, foolishly, and ends up putting some graffiti on the same tree. This ends up bringing the tree back to life in the form of an old man with a vengeance who starts coming up with all kinds of bizarre plans for revenge. It’s a chaotic episode with some good moments throughout, particularly Onsen Mark’s trip through the school in the dark where everything he talked about earlier in class comes back to haunt him.

Four more episodes down and almost two hours of laughter and smiles on my part. This show is just fun and continues to be one of the primary reasons that I really got into anime.

Japanese Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
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
MSRP: 24.95
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Urusei Yatsura