Urusei Yatsura OVA Vol. #5 (of 6) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Friday, January 28, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, July 12, 2005

What They Say
In "Nagisa's Fiance," Lum, Ataru, Mendou and Shinobu visit an inn which Ryuunosuke and her father have opened. But when it turns out to be on a haunted desert island, the stage is set for some serious silliness!

Then, in "The Electric Household Guard," Mendou hires a new personal Ninja with some very unusual abilities, only to have him fall head-over-heels for his manipulative sister, Ryoko.

The Review!
As the OVAs went on, the material still proved to be good but the truly outrageous memorable episodes just weren't there.

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 1988 and 1989, 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. With its focus on the Nagisa episode, we get a bit of a chase going on along the bottom with Ryuunosuke while the bulk of the cover is headshot territory for Lum and Nagisa's father. 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.

Using the shot from the second episode that has the household guard headquarters, the main menu has clips from the two episodes playing on one of the monitors while selections are laid out accordingly either on the monitor or around it. It's a neat way of bringing a bit of the show into the menu. 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)
Much like the first time I had seen the OVA series, I'm finding the last couple of volumes to be somewhat of the weaker episodes of the run but at the same time finding that they're not quite as weak as I remember them being, mostly because I rarely re-watched them, so they're still somewhat fresh to me here. This volume brings two more episodes to the center stage and help work some of the differing areas for the wide range of secondary characters to get more people involved.

The opening episode, Nagisa's Fiance, actually plays a lot better this time around for me than before, partially because Ryuunosuke has been a much more familiar character this time around than she was the first time, so more of the continual jokes and gags associated with her and her father and the tea shop make more sense when applied here. Her father, being the fool that he is, has set up shop on a remote island that he bought for 300 yen that's about four kilometers away from the closest city on the main land. Apparently it was cheap since his childhood friend had owned it prior to him and was setting up shop there but he and his daughter died a tragic death drinking sea urchin juice and now he's come there with Ryuu so they can make their fortunes.

Mendou helps in this by bringing the gang out there for a couple of days to check it out but that's almost the only reason he's actually included in the episode. Things turn into a bit of a horror/mystery when we find out that the ghosts of the past are still there on the island and are haunting them a bit but most just as a gag. What's really going on we learn as the two old friends reminisce a bit is that it seems like Ryuunosuke's father is probably related to Genma Saotome in that he's promised his son to his friends daughter and now Nagisa has come in her death to meet her husband. So things devolve into lots of attempted first kisses, weird fiancé gags and so forth. It's rather cute and fun, particularly since both Ataru and Mendou are surprisingly quiet during a lot of this and aren't sure why they aren't attacking Nagisa constantly.

The one episode that I don't remember well ended up playing rather well this time around is the Electric Household Guard one. Mendou's father has decided that it's time for him to have his own personal ninja/shadow that will follow him for life and do his bidding, much as his own has done for his life. Ninja material in this series is usually pretty comical and this opens up with some fun parodies of their stealthy nature before settling into the actual gag. Choosing the grandson of his own guardian ninja, Shingo isn't what you'd expect of such a person. He's much like a lot of people at his teen age years and would rather spend time watching TV or doing anything else. He's not keen on being Shutaro's shadow and while he has plenty of ninja-like skills, he's somewhat uneducated and unrefined.

Which of course makes for great fun when Shutaro sends him on his first test mission to spy on his sister and Shingo instantly falls for her and the two make plans to elope all within the space of a couple of minutes. Shutaro of course won't stand for it and Ataru sure won't stand for it and it devolves to fights and chases between the three of them as others get involved. It's actually a lot of fun and we get Lum in an ultra-high powered mode from getting in touch with the estates power supply lines. While it's not as humorous as some of my favorites from earlier in the OVA series, there's a good number of laughs to be had here and I was glad Mendou got himself more screen time, especially after the Nagisa episode.

In Summary:
As the OVA series gets close to winding down we're able to spread to more of the characters in the show and both Ryuunosuke and Mendou get some amusing stories tied to them on this release. Ataru and Lum make key appearances in each of the episodes but they're not the focus of the stories and their shenanigans don't cause all that much trouble in the long run. And that's one of the best things about the franchise is that the other characters can and do hold our attention when we shift away from the leads and we get some really interesting material sometimes.

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: 19.95
Running time: 77
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Urusei Yatsura