Yumeria Vol. #2 (of 3) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Thursday, December 15, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, November 22, 2005



What They Say
Take a half-dozen scantily clad gals, a sixteen-year-old with newfound supernatural powers, and an army of unstoppable enemies… What do you have? Just another day in the life of Tomokazu Mikuri, the bumbling hero of Yumeria! It could have been a dream come true for this girl-crazy loser, but the more time he spends trying to save the world, the more it becomes a nightmare. It doesn’t help that his curvaceous crew of housemates and heroines have taken an interest in super-skimpy swimsuits! But if Tomokazu doesn’t rein in his hormones, the evil enemies will defeat mankind without a fight. On the other hand, if this disc weren’t packed with skirt-chasing, peek-taking, half-naked, bouncing, blushing mishaps, it just wouldn’t be the oh-so-revealing second volume of Yumeria!


The Review!
With the cast in place it's time to get to know them better. And what way to get to know someone better than to oogle them in swimsuits and yukatas!.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The shows included stereo mix is pretty decent with a full sounding mix to it, particularly when it comes to the music and effects portion of it, while the dialogue is generally pretty much center channel based but has a few moments where it's nicely spread out. We sampled the English mix and had no issues with that either. During regular playback, we had no noticeable problems with dropouts or distortions.

Video:
Originally airing in 2004, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. With the show being relatively recent and being set in the present time, the materials look good with their rather standard slice of life look to the regular world while the characters stand out with sharper colors and more vibrant animation to them. The print itself is in very good shape with no real problems other than a bit of aliasing in a few places and some light twinges around the edge of some red haired characters where a few shards of green slip into it. Beyond that, this is a nice clean looking transfer that's problem free. Even the opening logo is untouched completely since it has a large English section to it.

Packaging:
Designed the same way as the first cover, the cast this time around is laid out around the logo once more and they're all wearing their regular clothes and generally happy looking as the designs are nicely detailed and vibrant once more of the main female cast. They are certainly the draw for the show and they're drawn just right here. The back cover lets Kuyou have a full length shot while throwing in a few snapshots from the episodes and a quick simple summary of the premise. The production information is very tiny along the left corner but the technical grid keeps everything clean and easy to figure out in that regards. No insert is included in this release but the cover is reversible with a good looking two-panel shot of the girls in their transformation uniforms with action poses.

Menu:
The menu layout is cutely done and certainly fits nicely with the theme of the show as the lower foreground has Tomokazu on the left side with a full headshot that has him crying rivers while animation clips from the show play out in the full background set to the opening song. It's light and bouncy and very upbeat which fits well. The layout is quick and easy to navigate with a strip along the bottom and instant episode access while load times are fast. As is the case with almost all ADV Films releases, the discs language settings played according to our players' presets.

Extras:
The only included extras for this release and presumably future volumes is the clean version of the opening and ending sequences.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Yumeria's opening volume was surprisingly light and bouncy fun that played with some interesting ideas about a dreamworld that was real in a way that could threaten all of humanity if it spilled over into the real world. While the plot is interesting it's execution was a bit weak and the overall nature of the show isn't quite as focused on that plot but rather going on about the girls so it's definitely more of a harem show than anything else. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

The second volume continues that aspect of it right off the bat but it does weave in some more interesting overall plot material later in the volume. The girls show some smarts about themselves when the remember back to one of their previous visits as one of them brought a notebook with them to bed and it showed up in the other world. With the memory of a gorgeous beach out there as well, they all decide to put on swimsuits and visit there to take advantage of the location and enjoy it. They don't however consult with Tomo about it and he's shocked to find several attractive women modeling clothes in his house, even if a couple of them are beyond pure jailbait. The episode takes place mostly at the beach from there and even Silk shows up for some training in a swimsuit to join in the fun and there is of course an element of danger but surprisingly there's more up front talk between some of the girls about their mutual feelings for Tomo that you normally wouldn't see in a show like this.

What does play out normally is the episode that follows that has everyone back home, now that Mizuki is living with everyone else in the household due to some finagling that's a bit mysterious. Since we've had the beach episode that means it's time for a festival episode and we get just that as the gang ends up getting all new yukata's and heads down for the usual kinds of games and character moments that really are standard in just about every show that deals with a festival like this. The only really fun parts for this to me was seeing both Mone and Neneko actually taking place in the festival by playing the drums to their own beat. It's exactly what I'd expect out of kids that age and they're very much children.

The plot for the bigger story of the Faydoom does take on a new level with this volume as we get an interesting angle to it as a woman who is doing reverse reincarnations arrives in Neneko's body and is able to take over there, essentially putting Neneko to sleep. The future she comes from is one where the Faydoom has spilled over into the real world and things look disastrous and practically post-apocalyptic as buildings are in ruins and people live in fears of all kinds. She grew up knowing only this but has managed to find a way into the past in order to warn Tomo about it as apparently his powers are key to being able to disrupting this and putting the world on a whole new course. Unfortunately, with a show like this and with the shorter number of episodes overall, the weight of it and the reactions aren't able to be done well enough so that the characters really feel like they're under such pressure. There are several dark moments during the revelations and afterwards but since the show is more interested in being a bouncy harem piece, you can't let the darkness overwhelm. And this really works against the show.

The shows production values remain essentially the same for this set of episodes which is nice since there's often a "sophomore slump" of sorts during the late single digit episodes depending on how much they spend on the opening episodes and how much they need to pull off a decent finish with the last episodes. The character designs keep on-model and the color scheme continues to push the bright happy feel that works so well here. While Yumeria is like a lot of other shows from the same genre in that there are plenty of scenes where there's nothing more than some panning or just lip movements, the overall animation is still pretty strong and they do have a good mixture of fun scenes, like the beach and swimming, as well as the action scenes once transformed.

In Summary:
Yumeria is the kind of show that if I had seen this ten years ago I would have enjoyed it far more. I've simply seen too many shows like this since and while it does offer some nice hooks in terms of the storyline that brings them together it ends up playing a very familiar game otherwise. For people new to the genre this certainly isn't a bad offering though there is better out there. Fans of the show and the franchise in general are getting a good release here though which is what they want to know about. For everyone else, this is a harder sell but it's problem free so far and enjoyable enough, just missing that something extra that would take it up a notch to the next level.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Clean opening animation,Clean closing animation

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.



Mania Grade: C+
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B-
Age Rating: All
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
MSRP: 29.98
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Yumeria