Urusei Yatsura TV Vol. #32 (of 50) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Monday, December 27, 2004
Release Date: Sunday, November 07, 2004



What They Say
Volume 32 features a plethora of sunshine anime goodness. First, a strange lady with a strong appetite and a stronger punch shows up in "Ryuunosuke's Stunned! A Mother's Search for her Missing Child." Then Ataru drifts off into a hypnotic horror in "The Terror of the Girl's Dormitory!" Next, Mendou's aquarium is home to a familiar face who has relationship problems in "The Pool Ghoul! Burning in Forbidden Love!" And finally, a lost trinket and a fat cat could spell the end of everyone in "Ran's Panic! There's No Tomorrow For Tomobiki!"

The Review!
After quite a while without any major incident, the entire Tomobiki area is about to be blown up thanks to Ran losing a supernova fragment in town.

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 dark 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. Ryuunosuke in her boys uniform and her father make a cover appearance this time, complete with waves rushing from behind them. 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)
Digging deeper into box set seven, four more episodes bring more of the comedy series to life. With so many episodes under their belt and so many insane situations, it's surprising that there's enough material to keep going at times or cultural things to poke at but they manage to find some very amusing things to work with.

Ryuunosuke centered episodes tend to be quite good and this one is no exception. Centering on an excursion to the beach, the gang come across Ryuunosuke who's doing her best to sell ice cream so that they can refinance their tea shop in the autumn. Of course, her luck is so bad that she's only selling things to girls who look at her and think she's a sexy looking man and swoon over her in the heat. But for her, it's all worthwhile since she's saving up what she makes so that she can buy a bikini and really know what it is to be a girl!

Part of the fun of this episode is watching again just how similar Mendou and Ataru are, particularly when it comes to girl watching. Their sneaky method of swimming underwater so they can check out all the bottom half's that they can doesn't go unnoticed by Lum, but the situation leads them to finding a woman in a kimono walking and stumbling along the ocean floor. Once rescued, it turns out that she looks just like Ryuunosuke's mother, so much so that her father starts hitting her up just like he did as a wife. With the woman going on about her missing child, Ryuunosuke keeps her distance but watches what's going on while the others try to get to the bottom of the story. This is a lot of fun just for the beach material itself but watching Ryuu's father acting up and some of her memories surface is worthwhile.

Another fun water based adventure involves Mendou showing off his family's private resort and marine park to Lum and Shinobu. Naturally, he didn't invite either Ten or Ataru but both have shown up and are causing their own special brand of trouble. For Ten, he's avoiding Lum since she's intent on teaching him how to swim with her own cruel methods and Ataru he's simply there to check out all the girls. To his surprise, he's actually left alone when the others go to do different things but he shows his true colors by heading into the pool with Lum and Ten, mostly so that he can watch Ten being tortured but probably for other reasons as well. The space science kicks in with the device Lum has and all goes wrong from there in regards to swim training. But we also get a tender romantic tale mixed into things as the Pool Ghoul returns and he's got to find out the feelings of a blowfish named Mimiko who has been captured by a shark named Jaws the Third who looks like an aquatic Jigen. The Ghoul has some amusing bits to it and the outlandish nature of everyone having tea under the sea just fits perfectly here.

My favorite of this volume though is Ran coming back into the picture after she lucked out and bought a supernova fragment at a specialty shop one night. With the intent of putting it on a necklace and giving it to Rei, she shows it off to anyone and everyone she can, starting with Kotatsu-neko. When she does this, she ends up losing it and he finds it and begins his long slow pilgrimage to return it, mostly because he's got some feelings for her and wants to see her again. For Ran, she panics when she loses it and thinks Lum took it, but Lum panics even more when she finds out that it's an unshielded fragment that's been exposed to air, which means it'll explode before dusk. The chaos that ensues is beautiful, particularly as when word gets into town about it they all blame Moroboshi and a lynch mob begins to form while they're trying to find it. That poor family is victimized almost too much.

And quite frankly, Kotatsu-neko simply rocks. This episode only proves just how much he does.

In Summary:
The small and large scale insanity that happens with the episodes here is part of the fun of the show. To go from the smaller character moments such as Ryuunosuke and the Pool Ghoul and then leap onto a world-ending gag is something that the series pulls off just right. These episodes continue what's been a really good season so far that has everyone in a real groove for what they're doing. The characters are spot on and just done right, the writing is sharp and the acting runs the gamut from quiet and insightful to over the top wailing at just the right moments. Good stuff all around and still highly enjoyable comedy.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Program Notes

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