Urusei Yatsura TV Vol. #41 (of 49) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Wednesday, November 02, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, February 07, 2006



What They Say
In the 41st volume of the show where spring cleaning is not only a chore, but a school subject. Mr. Fujinami's hard work (along with Ryuunosuke's much much harder work) allows him to open his beach-side teashop in a not so tourist friendly area.

The Review!
The first volume of the ninth box set gives us lots of Ryuunosuke fun as well as Lum with her strange items causing more trouble.

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. Though Ten isn't in a lot of episodes here overall he gets this cover with a scared/shocked look on his face as he reaches back. Being so small, a headshot for anyone else is a full bodyshot here. 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.

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 Mount Fuji in the background radiating yellow and red working properly again is the ability to use the stop button from the menus, something that was weirdly disabled in some volumes before and required you to actually be in the show to get it to stop playing. With the language selections being as they are, the players' presets didn't matter much.

Extras:
None.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
This volume starts off the ninth box set to the series and after being away from the show for several months, it continues to be a series that's incredibly easy to simply drop back into and enjoy. This set of four episodes has a couple of main focuses to it that may seem a bit repetitive in the short term but they're different enough to be quite enjoyable and a good way to start off this box set.

The first pair of episodes has a strong focus on Ryuunosuke but goes in a couple of different areas with it. The first episodes has her father finally saving enough money so that he can open up his beach side teashop again. The journey south to a place where there's a good beach is amusing in itself since they're leaving so early in the season there's so few beaches ready and they go through the savings pretty quick. What they end up with is a rather rundown shack at the far end of the beach where pretty much nobody can even see it. Ataru and the others arrive to check it out and wolf down most of the food in the place while having no money to pay so they end up on the payroll and head out to get customers, which are then insulted and booted by Fujinami for a wide range of reasons. The show has fun with bringing in the girls as waitresses and scouts to bring in people so they get the sexy segment with swimsuits down pat.

Ryuunosuke gets another episode that's devoted to her and Benten as Benten has come to spend some time with Lum. She has a lot of fun just messing with the boys in the classroom and spends her time smacking down Ten a bit. What her time there does cause though is some grief from Ryuunosuke who thinks that Benten should be a lot more feminine than she is, especially since she doesn't have the problems that she does. When Benten gets a whiff of this attitude the two clash over it in fun ways which leads to the principal coming up with a challenge that both have to meet in order to prove how feminine they can be. Of course, both of these girls refuse to change who they are and play heavily against type as the deal with the stories that the principal writes.

The second pair of episodes focus more on Lum and the trouble that the various items that she and Ten have can cause trouble. The first episode is a really cute piece where Ten ends up with a bottle that causes things to shrink and it happens to Lum, so she's down to fairy size and spends her time hanging around with Ataru since the cure for her to return to her body is to get him to say he loves her and to express his love for her. This of course isn't exactly something he's keen on doing and all the time she spends with him just keeps him away. Lum in this size is adorable while the dreams that Ataru has are priceless.

What turned out to be the best episode on this set in my opinion is the final one, the Eight Days of Fire. Lum's at the root of the problem as she has some giant pieces of metal slamming into the schoolyard on a daily basis and ditches school to take them to her ship to build whatever it is. At the same time, Megane and the others are strident in their disobedience now as they just walk right out of the classroom when they're hungry and go for ramen down the street. When one of Lum's arrivals causes the principal's tea to be spilled over, he goes to the extreme and institutes a crackdown on the students, letting the teachers abuse the students heavily. With Mendou on his side and the private army working to help the teachers enforce the rules, it's extreme and hilarious. The days of being under the iron rule has the kids doing what they can to slow things down while the conclusion to it just has things going even further over the top.

In Summary:
While there aren't any big standout episodes here, the volume is free of the weak episodes and it goes and plays with the relationships in some fun ways. The insinuation of feelings between Ryuunosuke and Benten provides for some fun tension while the Lum-centric episodes play up the wacky alien devices angle to much fun and hilarity. The mix of the stories and cast could be better but overall this is another solid installment of one of my favorite comedies.

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, 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