Urusei Yatsura TV Vol. #24 (of 50) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Friday, June 25, 2004
Release Date: Sunday, August 10, 2003
What They Say
The Miss Tomobiki High beauty pageant results in the scheming contestants going to any lengths to win, a magical cookie turns Ataru into a lecherous ghost, Mendou has a miserable morning reliving his many defeats, and Ten?s out for revenge after getting crushed by an extraterrestrial snowman.
The dreaded recap episode returns but otherwise there are three stand out episodes of Lum and gang fun here.
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.
The purple flavored covers continue here, hopefully indicating that we?ll get at least three sets worth of purple boxes before they change it to something else. Changing the beat a bit by providing two people on the cover, two very different shots of Lum and Ataru are slapped together here with both of them smiling and with plenty of ?edge enhancement? to them. The back cover maintains consistency to the past volumes and provides a short bit on the episodes as well as a character shot and witty comment. The recipe cards continue as we get a new one here that details various cultural references for the four episodes on the disc. Unlike past recipe cards, this one is more of a magazine paper feel than the actual cards we?d been getting.
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.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With this installment of Lum fun, there?s three solid episodes, some of the best yet it seems, and one recap that brings it down a bit.
Urusei Yatsura?s a weird show to really get a recap to. The way they do it is to have Shutaro getting background information on Ataru, which seems strange in a sense since it really covers just the time that Shutaro has known Ataru. It?s not like we get new material about his youth and days before Lum. Any time that we?ve gotten that, it?s been through time travel and mostly with Shutaro around. So while there is some new material mixed into the recap, it?s not all that interesting or good for that matter, making it an easy one to skip unless you?re wanting to revisit some fun scenes from the past.
Barring that little bit, the three new episodes here are fantastic. The opening episode is one of the funniest ones I?ve seen yet. It all starts innocently with Ataru gathering ballots during Onsen?s class where all the boys are coming up with their favorite schoolgirl. Onsen takes offense at this, as do most of the girls, but they let it all play out as the ballots get counted. Just when it looks like Onsen is going to put a halt to everything, the principal shows up.
His speech about the beauty of youth and skill is almost poetic and wonderfully done, as it inspires the school to go to new heights as they begin a Miss Tomobiki campaign, the first of its kind at the school. With most of our regulars becoming candidates, it turns into large groups of people teaming up to promote their favorite, bringing in other elements and combating each other. It?s really politics taken to a fast and furious extreme as well as bringing in other schools. At the center of it all is Ataru who finds himself selected as the judge of the contest. With it done in a narrated style for most of it, it gives it an even more comical feel and just about everything here works.
This episode is followed up by a less frantic but equally enjoyable episode. Cherry continues to concoct his various potions, and lacking Sakura as a test subject since she?s finally learning, he tries offering his confection to the Kotatsu-neko. He?s naturally wary of this and ends up offering half of it to Ataru when he comes across him. When it knocks Ataru out, both Kotatsu-neko and Cherry give up on the idea and move.
Once returned home by Kotatsu-neko, Ataru continues to sleep very soundly. The only difference is that his ?earthly desires? have been set free from the potion and take on form outside of him. It?s really just having two Ataru?s at this point except that one is dead asleep. All of his desires head off into the world to explore things. Between escaping from Lum and her strange space alien friends or peeping at Sakura from inside the tub, he lives his life as he wants to. Though when he does try to return to his own body, he finds his family trying to exorcise his earthly desires spirit, leading to a fun confrontation.
All of this is capped off with a strangely bizarre but very funny episode where a journeying space snowman has arrived on Earth (scaring the poo out of the weather announcer who showed the satellite shot). Once it went through the atmosphere and shed its layers, it basically looks like a little snowman. It ends up being tracked by Lum and Ten, with Ten trying to flame it out of existence. Eventually it gets saved by Ataru without Ataru even realizing it?s alive. It takes a liking to him and ends up following him. This brings about a hilarious scene with the boys at school doing jogging exercises and watching as the snowman jogs along side and smacks Ataru on the ass a few times.
Naturally, there?s more to the snowman than meets the eye, such as when it shows up at Ataru?s room and all he can see is a gorgeous young woman eager to serve him. All Lum and Ten see is a snowman, so they ditch him and leave him to his weird fantasies, which only get stranger and stranger in this episode.
This was great material all the way through excepting the recap episode. This series continues to be very strong for me and provides a kind of laughter that?s very hard to come by with other more current shows.
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