Urusei Yatsura OVA Vol. #3 (of 6) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Wednesday, January 26, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, June 07, 2005



What They Say
In "Catch the Heart," a mischievous spirit gives Ran a heart-shaped candy that causes a magical heart to appear over the head of whoever eats it. And whoever catches that heart captures the heart of the person who ate the candy! And if there's one thing the Urusei Yatsura crowd can do, it's play catch!

Then, in "Goat and Cheese," Mendou recounts an old story that warns, "Don't take pictures in front of the statue of Great-Grandfather's Goat, or terrible things will happen!"

When his father does just that, only Sakura and Onsen-mark the Teacher can ward off the horrifying consequences of an ancient family curse... or can they?

The Review!
With one of the best single episodes ever made, the Urusei Yatsura OVA series continues to bring much laughter.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. As this is also the only language it was an easy choice as the decision was made not to dub the OVA series like they did the movies. The stereo mix for the show is fairly decent but it’s pretty reminiscent of the same kind of mix we got with the TV series itself so it’s not exactly a wild hopping time of sounds coming from every direction. The mix does sound good, and clearer than the TV mix since it is several years more recent, and is free of problems such as distortions or dropouts.

Video:
Originally released to video back in 1987, the transfer for this OVA series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. Looking quite different from the TV series and much closer to the Final Chapter material in that it’s a brighter and much more fluid look piece of animation that took a lot of the design improvements from the Ranma production. The transfer here looks quite good overall with solid looking colors throughout most of the print with only a few areas showing any blocking in some of the large solid areas when upconverted to 720p. Cross coloration is pretty much non-existent here and other than just a bit of the usual aliasing that’s somewhat the norm for shows like this it’s a very good looking transfer.

Packaging:
Using much the same design style as the movie releases but just swapping out the word movie for OVA, the cover for this release is similar if not the same as the VHS release if my memory serves me well. The front cover gives everything over to the Heart episode with a giant heart in the center as everyone runs around it while a really good looking image of Lum is in the foreground holding one of the candies. The back cover provides a couple of shots from the show itself but most of the space is given over to a lengthy summary of the setup for the OVA. The discs technical and production information is also very easy to find and while the layout isn’t exactly how I’d like it, they do mirror the technical grid format without using the grid itself for much of it. As with most of their releases now, no insert is included in this release.

Menu:
The entire menu is given over to an animated clip that starts off with some photographs being taken at first and then shifts into a sequence with a fence and a beating heart while some of the music plays along to it. Each of the episodes are selectable from the top level and the menu is nicely done overall. The menu selections are minimal along the bottom but navigation is quick and easy and the layout overall very well in-theme for the show. Access times are nice and fast and since languages aren’t the norm our players presets weren’t exactly an issue this time.

Extras:
The extras are fairly minimal but there aren’t exactly a lot of materials for something like this. The image gallery is pretty straightforward while the liner notes cover some of the basics for both episodes.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
When remembering back upon these OVAs and trying to think of which ones I could still recall all of, which is saying a lot since I've tended to forget most shows not too long after seeing them due to how much is coming out these days, there are a few that really stand out above the others. One of them is one this volume and after viewing it again it continues to be one of the most memorable episodes of a very lengthy series with many memorable episodes.

Catch The Heart is one of those episodes that just everything seems to go right once it hits its stride. It starts simply enough with Ran being given a bag of candies that will help her steal her sweeties heart in a rather literal fashion. When he eats the candy, a tiny heart will appear over his head and if she grabs that then he'll do and think things only related to her. Ran of course goes hard and heavy to use this on Rei but Rei is so oblivious to things that he manages to eat the hearts as they appear over his head before Ran can grab one. Disgruntled over the entire ordeal, she throws the candies at Lum when the two cross paths and ends it with that.

Lum ends up trying the candy and otherwise things stay as normal until the morning when on their walk to school she and Ataru notice the star above her. While Lum is unable to grab it, Ataru can and when he does Lum becomes even more enamored of him and gives him a maximal expression of love by zapping him heavily. This gets tested more thoroughly at school when Megane grabs the heart and Lum suddenly writes him in a massive love letter. Or Shutaro grabs it and she knots him an awkward sweater. Before they know it, they've realized the nature of the candy and all the guys are now after Lum's heart. Lum is of course now after Ataru as he's got the bag of candies and is heading for each and every woman he can find. It's simply a lot of fun watching everyone make the mad dash for Lum during all of this and how far over the top Shutaro goes to try and gain her affections here. The episode goes into the classic style of the early TV episodes where everyone goes wild in the school trying to come out ahead.

While not on the same level as the first episode here, the second OVA is a fun piece as well that has the group checking out an unusual statue on the Mendou estates. Instead of the standard octopus that seems to be everywhere on their estates, there's one of a goat. As the legend goes, if you have your picture taken with the statue, you will meet an unfortunate demise within a day. So naturally, Shutaro's father is there snapping away pictures and causing plenty of trouble by doing so. A closer examination of the photo's a little later reveals a ghost-goat that is seeking them out to extract its revenge. It's based on an old story and plays out well here as Shutaro, Shinobu, Lum and Ataru all try to deal with their impending doom while getting Sakura to try and help them out. Getting more involved than he usually does, Shutaro's father brings a certain amusement to all of this as he seems to be more interested in helping along his sons death than anything else.

In Summary:
While not polar opposites in how much fun they are, the Catch the Heart OVA stands out for me as a far better episode and one that's much more reminiscent of some of the comical hilarity of the first twenty or so episodes of the TV series. It goes into a more madcap and unusual set of adventures while letting us be more comfortable with the characters than we were at that time. It's also an episode where the secondary characters like Megane really get to shine, particularly when Lum makes her revelation to him. Combined with the ghost goat story, this is a good set of episodes that just provided a lot of laughs throughout.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Art Gallery,Liner 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: B-
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: AnimEigo
MSRP: 19.98
Running time: 60
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Urusei Yatsura