Urusei Yatsura TV Vol. #48 (of 50) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Tuesday, January 24, 2006
Release Date: Tuesday, June 06, 2006

What They Say
In volume 48 of the show that only occasionally fabricates its emotional roller-coaster of distilled network-like comedy, a big test at school causes Ataru to flirt, cheat, dress up as a girl and get trapped in a copy machine (but that's just the beginning)...

The Review!
The last of the four episode volumes, Urusei Yatsura hits up more good natured fun and continues to try to get back to some of the humor of the earlier seasons.

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.

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.

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. Changing again from what previous volumes have been like, this one is a step up with a good looking large cast shot of the characters together that avoids the fuzzy nature of some previous images. The artwork and colors look great and it's good to see so many of the regulars together. 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.

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 the background image is poorly chosen with a very fuzzy shot of Ataru and Lum kissing with far too much black around them, giving it a really bad look. 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.


Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
In a way, as the show gets closer to the end of its TV run, it seems like there's an attempt to hit up some of the more basic comedy routines that were used much earlier in the series and to provide some of that feeling again. While it doesn't reach the manic level of some of those episodes, particularly because the cast has grown so much since then and we know them so well, it does work well enough that it provides some good comedy.

There are some good episodes to be found on this volume that had me laughing a lot more than I expected. The opening episode provided a good deal of fun as it goes through some of the basics of Ataru's girl hunting but he's given a bit of a twist this time. Shinobu and Ryuunosuke agree to go out with him if he manages to come in first place in any of the upcoming big exams that they all have. Ryuunosuke's unsure about it but Shinobu has it down plainly; what're the chances of him even coming in anywhere in the top ten, never mind first place? Ataru's now hot on the subject of studying but that doesn't last long and before you know it he's doing his best to seduce away Mendou's physics notes and other creative ways of scoring high. It all goes weirdly though when Lum gets involved and instead of making copies of Mendou's book, Ataru gets copied and collated with the book. It's freakishly amusing watching him being sliced apart for knowledge.

One episode that really had me laughing is one that centers around a normal gag for the show where some of the girls discover a potion or a pill that will have someone else fall madly in love with them. This time it's Sakura who has the makings and Shinobu and Lum take her up on her witches brew so they can give it to Ataru and Mendou. They're able to get them to take it easily enough but instead of falling in love they begin to tell the most elaborate stories and use them in very creative ways; Ataru for instance tells a tale of how Mendou is really a woman and the first time they met at a ball at Ataru's mansion. Seeing Mendou dressed up as a full buxom blonde in Victorian style wear is just beyond words. Mendou's entire story about he and Shinobu being related and a war with the turtle galaxy goes even further. It's so wildly creative and shocking to everyone listening to it, something that's just plain wacky for its own sake and fun to watch play out.

What had me the best here was the more simple of the episodes on the volume where it goes back to a classic bit where Ten ends up showing up at the school and one event leads to another and before you know it there's complete chaos as desks are tossed around, flames and lightning abound and generally a lot of fighting going on. Onsen actually gets his way for once and most of the main perpetrators are sent to detention where they're supposed to meditate about what they did. Along the way though, some try to escape, others claim they shouldn't even be there all while something far bigger is about to land on them all. This is a good Shinobu episode since she tries for once to get out of things only to end up deeper in them.

In Summary:
Urusei Yatsura hits up some good episodes here and it continues to bring the show back up to a better level than most of the volumes in the ninth box set of the series. There is a solid mix of episodes here that continue to refocus on the core characters, giving them a chance to shine again, as well as giving the nods to various secondary characters that have been so prominent throughout the series. This show is such an ensemble cast that it's hard to imagine it without any of them (except that damn fox) but at the same time it's great to get back to the main group.

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