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

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Friday, December 23, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, January 03, 2006



What They Say
Tomokazu Mikuri is your typical high school loser, but all that changes when he begins visiting an alternate world through his dreams-one in which he is transformed into a lkhero of destiny imbued with strange pwers. But this dream world is threatened by the evil Faydooms, who have fiendish designs on the real world. Only Mikuri can stop them aided by five hotties from his very own high school, who have somehow undergone their own wondrous transformations. Ha-cha-cha!

The Review!
Yumeria comes to a quick close as the Faydoom's time of destiny has arrived and the final battle must be fought.

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 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:
Keeping to the same style as the previous volumes, the cast this time around is laid out around the logo once more and they're all wearing their regular clothes and school uniforms while generally looking happy 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 Neneko 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 very fanservice heavy long panel of Mizuki and Mone in swimsuits as they hold onto each other.

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 right side with a shot that has him dressed up in the bunny suit 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 are the clean version of the opening and ending sequences.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Yumeria's third volume brings the twelve episode series to a close with a couple of episodes that tighten up the relationships a bit before going into the revelations and final conflict mode. With the series being released over three volumes and on essentially a monthly schedule, it's worked out well as it's basically the same as being broadcast in a sense. The series also wasn't quite as bad in terms of material that felt out of place but in the end it does have the same problem that so many series like this have – it's just like so many other series.

Before things hit the end, there is a rather fun episode that starts off with the girls all really getting into the idea of mail order as they have a few items arrive and are just fascinated by them, particularly those that don't seem quite so connected with reality at times. It turns out even worse later on though when it' revealed that Tomokazu and Mone went sort of nuts in their own catalog ordering and a ton of boxes show up. Naturally, nobody has any money to help out with the massive stack of new bills so Tomokazu finds himself being hired short term as a mascot for a store promotion. This gets him into a big pink fuzzy bunny suit but it turns into a lot of work as he realizes all of the girls except for Nanase are working there as well by dressing up in skimpy sailor suits and posing. Everyone plays to type by this but it's the resulting conversation between Mizuki and Tomokazu that makes it worthwhile as they come closer than most characters in shows like this by actually talking about their feelings.

Once this is out of the way though the show goes into the last three episodes by bringing in revelations about some of the girls and what they've really been up to all this time. Though it's obvious that someone like Nanase is hiding a secret or two, there's the obvious ones and then the ones that seemingly come out of nowhere as a group of black suited men in sunglasses begin to show an interest in the girls and Tomokazu. So much of an interest that they basically kidnap them to take them to a residence where an old family apparently knows all about the Destiny Transformation and have their own ideas about how it should work out. This would be interesting if it wasn't so minimally fleshed out and basically given to just a few minutes of real information before Tomokazu and the others escape to go finish off the Faydoom's by themselves.

This being the last volume, there is a good bit of action across the last couple of episodes as they deal with the Faydoom, especially since it's that kind of overwhelming force that seems impossible to take down in a short amount of time. This provides for some good fanservice moments with the girls all in their shiny outfits and working hard together, but the moments that really make things work briefly in this volume are the same as the previous one with Neito, the reverse-reincarnating woman. Having seen her future before and knowing that Tomokazu is key to it, the time she's spent with him has drawn her only more to him but she's managed to keep it under wraps for the most part. Amusing, Neneko seems to understand and you can gamble that some of her outward nature is influenced by Neito underneath. As the Destiny Transformation gets closer, it's Neito that really gives Tomokazu the incentive to do what he has to do in one of the few real moments in the show where the emotion is just strong.

In Summary:
For a game based on a video game, Yumeria could certainly be a lot worse than it turned out to be. The harem situation was decently done even if some of it was just badly obvious like Nanase and her secret identity. The character designs, even when seeming like some of the basic designs out there, were well done and very consistent and fluid throughout the show. Each of the characters ended up with a decent personality attached to them and I think they even managed a decent enough job with Mone. And I usually detest single-word characters since it's something that invariably just is used for gags whereas I think it just comes across as stupidity on their part. This volume manages to end things on a slightly higher note but this is mainly helped by the overall minimal amount of filler and the streamlined plot. This should would have been mind-numbing as a full twenty-six episode series but it works decently enough at this level. For fans of the show, they're getting a solid and well done release here with a very fast release schedule that gets it into their hands even quicker. This isn't a show I see myself revisiting anytime soon though and was one that wasn't high on my list to watch when new volumes arrived either.

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: B-
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B-
Age Rating: TV 14
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