Urusei Yatsura OVA Vol. #2 (of 6) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Wednesday, January 26, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, May 10, 2005

What They Say
In "Raging Sherbet," Lum, Benten and Ran decide to beat the Tokyo heat by taking a summer vacation with Oyuki on Neptune. There they learn about the fabulous Sherbet birds, which produce icy treats upon demand. Ran wheedles a bird out of Oyuki, but when she gets it back to Earth, her dreams of getting rich quick melt when the over-worked avian loses his cool and goes on a rampage!

Then, in "I Howl at the Moon," Ataru learns to think before he eats when he gobbles down some of Lum's Cherry Rice Cakes -- and promptly starts turning into a wolf!

The Review!
While not the best of the OVA releases, this installment provides two very funny episodes.

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.

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.

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 cover for this one gives everything over to the Raging Sherbet episode with our four heroines surrounded by the pesky creatures. 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.

The entire menu is given over to an animated clip that takes over the entire screen but does have a couple of character clipart pieces floating around from both episodes. 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.

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)
After the very solid first episode of Inaba the Dream Maker, the OVA's shifted into more traditional territory with a number of TV-length episodes that were focused on capturing some of that charm but with a bit of a bigger budget. Some of them worked really well and some of them worked well enough to provide some laughs but nothing that would really stand out long term. The second volume has two of those episodes in that they're fun but they don't make much of a dent in your headspace.

The first episodes, Raging Sherbet, is a cute one that has a couple of the girls off visiting Oyuki on Neptune while the guys deal with the extreme summer heat in Japan. While there, Oyuki shows off her latest business venture, a creature called a Sherbet. The little colored ball has wings and legs and a cone-shaped nose and flutters about. But the neat thing is that you can pull off its nose and it's a sherbet cone of tasty goodness. The creature even regenerates its nose after a few seconds and none of it hurts the animal at all. Now, if you get past the idea that the creature's head is made of sherbet, or at least it's chilled creature brains, then you'll enjoy the way this goes as Ran convinces Oyuki to let her test one out on Earth to see how it does. The only thing Ran has to do is ensure that nothing bad happens to it

And that includes keeping it in its cage because if it gets out into the open air and too hot, it goes on a rage bender and becomes uncontrollable. So Ran agrees to all the conditions and takes it back to Earth where she promptly works its ass off by selling sherbet cones. Keeping it in the air conditioned cage helps, but yanking out as many cones as she does only serves to get it mad and it eventually gets free and starts shooting its cones at everyone in a mad spree. It juts gets plain silly from there, especially when Oyuki shows up to check on the sherbet, and Ran gets extremely panicky about breaking the promise. This episode angles more towards the chaotic fun as it progresses and it gives Ran some good screen time to be all irrational.

The follow-up episode is somewhat the same in that it has some good moments but is mostly forgettable. Thanks once again to Ran, Lum ends up with a recipe she wants to try cooking for Ataru and mistakenly grabs the wrong code for it from Ran's computer. She ends up cooking up a rather tasty treat and manages to even get Ataru to try some, as well as Onsen a bit later, only to find that the tasty dish has a nasty side-effect; one some species it will turn them into werewolves! So furry faced and pawed, both of the guys panic over this and Ataru realizes just how bad it is since none of the women will date him while he's like this. He does find some popularity eventually though as he continues to avoid Lum since her antidotes are often worse than the actual problem, but Lum is in a panic over it because she finds out that if he doesn't get the antidote within twenty four hours, he'll turn into a wolf forever. This episode goes for a lot of slapstick and physical comedy but ends with some good romantic moments about seeing through things. It's fun overall but again is mostly forgettable.

In Summary:
Much like a lot of the TV episodes, this OVA installment is a good bit of fun and if you're a fan of Ran, you get some great material for her to play around with. Lum's old gang figures prominently in the first episode and more Benten time is always appreciated and she even lets her hair down for a bit – before the hot tub scene even. While not the most memorable of episodes from the franchise, these two aren't bad at all and have their moments. Though there are better OVAs in the series, I'm sure there are some big fans of these two just as I am of certain others which makes it all the more fun.

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