Urusei Yatsura TV Vol. #29 (of 50) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Sunday, December 05, 2004
Release Date: Thursday, October 14, 2004



What They Say
The 29th installment of Urusei Yatsura serves up a dizzying dessert of two-dimensional comedy! A mysterious monster leaves a trail of cherry blossoms behind as it terrorizes Tomobiki in "The Steel Cage Flower Viewing Death Match." Benten and Ryuunosuke steal a gang leaders bike and go searching for a lot kitten, only to be followed by the entire gang in "Butch Benten and the Ryuunosuke Kid!" A Neptunian Lemming follows Ran home, leading to a confrontation with the woman who speaks softly and carries an extremely big stick in "The Horror of Outraged Oyuki!" And in "Ten's Mysterious Love Story," Ten goes on a journey with a young ghost girl who simply wants to hold a puppy.

The Review!
Dealing up four more episodes, Lum's friends get more screen time and even Ten gets a heartfelt love story at last.

Audio:
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.

Video:
Things are about as expected here. Colors look good for the most part though there's some occasional bleeding in the reds. The problems we experienced previously with the macroblocking in the backgrounds, particularly blue skies, are far less pronounced this time around and in general the transfers seem a bit brighter and sharper. The feel of the cels continue to be apparent as we get further into the series. Some of the ghosting issues are still there and there's a fair bit of aliasing to be seen in many scenes but overall this looks like I expected it to but a bit better.

Packaging:
The purple flavored covers continue here and while they're not the best looking covers, they're all we're going to get with this series. Going again with a single character shot, Onsen shows up with an unhappy expression as is his norm. With him being one of my favorite adult characters, I'm glad to see he finally got a full cover shot to himself. As usual, it's decent enough considering how few materials are available but it's just very soft and indistinct in so many areas due to its sourcing. 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. No inserts or "recipe cards" are included with this release as they've been moved to program notes on the DVD itself, a change I'm fully for and welcome with a big smile.

Menu:
Episode selection is from the main screen, and whichever episode is highlight, it also lists its original air date. The layout remains the same as past volumes but this looks a bit better with an actual background, this time of a darkened moon in the sky, helps it to not feel quite as bland as earlier menus. One thing area that's also finally fixed is the ability to use the stop button from the menus, something that was weirdly disabled before and required you to actually be in the show to get it to stop playing.

Extras:
None.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After the very strong volume just before this, I wasn't too surprised to find this one going back down a notch or two. It's still quite enjoyable and has a lot of fun moments throughout them, but that big opening day splash set of episodes definitely made it harder for the rest of the season to shine as they did. But try they might and we get some solid material out of it.

Mendou's family gets another solid episode right out of the gate here. The town in general finds itself being terrorized but by what nobody seems to know other than the trail of cherry blossom petals that are laying around afterwards. With that being so completely out of season they're not sure what to make of it. It isn't until it starts in on the Mendou estates that Shutaro realizes that through an odd confluence of events in the building of their estates that an age old prophecy about something that will destroy their familiar will actually come true. And once he learns that his sister is hiding the thing in her a room, a massive and intelligent cherry tree, he sets out to make things right. What's amusing is how guided he is by what the sentient tree did to his octopi, by removing one of their tentacles and leaving them with just seven. It's very comical when he storms into his sisters room with a small army of seven-tentacled octopi and demands revenge.

Benten and Oyuki each get their own episodes though they share them with others. Benten's is an amusing piece where she ends up teaming up with Ryuunosuke to search for a kitten but their method leads to them having an entire gang after them. It's a fairly straightforward episode that has some good laughs but it's the Oyuki episode that's much better since Ran's involved there. An event causes Ran to accuse Oyuki of doing something mean to her so she tries to take her down a peg only to really screw herself over. Oyuki hasn't had a lot of screen time in awhile so letting her soft-spoken nature move up against Ran's outgoing nature, you really wonder who would win in that kind of fight. Ran's misguided nature comes up against the dark side personality of Oyuki eventually and you can feel everyone wanting to flee.

Ten hasn't had much of a love life in recent episodes so when he sees some butterflies getting it on, it's time to let him have a shot at happiness again only to whisk it away from his young hands. When he comes across a young girl who he sees trying to commit suicide by jumping off of a building, he's surprised to learn that she's already dead and is a ghost who can't ascend to heaven just yet. As we learn her tale and it gets told to others when Ten takes her to school so she can tell Lum, everyone wants to get involved in finding what she needs to move on. The sad part is that Ten doesn't get the "move on" part and expects her to stick around and play with him once they figure out what she needs. It's a nice tender episode with just the right amount of comedy to it that doesn't go too far in being comical or too tender or sweet that it becomes unbearable.

In Summary:
While some of the manic energy from the previous volume isn't here, the stories are still solid and the characters that needed some more screen time are present here. Heck, we even get a rare shot of Benten with her hair down and we can always do with more of that. Urusei Yatsura continues to be a lot of fun here as it moves into this latest season and it goes through its sizeable cast list and gives a number of them some time to really shine. Very enjoyable and we laughed at a lot of what's here and can't wait to start on the next volume.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with upconversion set to 720p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.



Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: B
Video Rating: B-
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: B-
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