Law of Ueki Vol. #03 (of 13) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Monday, September 18, 2006
Release Date: Tuesday, September 19, 2006
What They Say
Ueki decides to join the Robert's 10 to take them out from the inside, but he finds himself unable to keep up the charade when Robert tests Ueki by making him take a grueling three day initiation. Meanwhile, Ai, who has no idea what Ueki is up to, barges into Ueki's home to learn more about the Robert's 10. Instead, she is greeted by Ueki's somewhat peculiar father and older sister. They give Ai a book called "A Gift From the Sky" that reveals Ueki's true identity!
Ueki's battles heat up as the opponents are becoming more powerful but we also start to learn more of the big picture.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. With the stereo mix that's used, it's fairly active with both the left and right channels during the fight sequences, particularly when the trees are being used to attack, but outside of the fights the show is like most others in that it's a pretty straightforward mix. There isn't a huge amount of strong directionality with it but it fills the forward soundstage like you'd want it to. Dialogue is clean and clear and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2005, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The design of the show is one where it's filled with some interesting color choices that when combined with the animation style gives it a feel where it almost seems like some of those early CG shows where backgrounds and character animations don't quite blend all that well. The style of the shows animation just feels like it's off here somehow but the transfer for it is very clean and looks great. There weren't any noticeable issues such as cross coloration or aliasing, colors are strong and vibrant and backgrounds come across very well here.
With plenty of dark shapes to balance the brightness of the logo, this cover looks rather good as it features a full color Ueki in the foreground with his power emanating from his hands. The background has the sizeable shot of the clay creature has to fight also shadowy outlines of a number of his upcoming opponents. The back cover is a bit more basic and easy on the eyes with a top half that has a summary of the shows premise and a decent shot of Ueki while below it is a two layer strip of shots from the show. The bottom half has a solid layout of the technical grid that covers all the important information in an easy to read format. The insert replicates the front cover artwork while it opens up to a two page spread that covers the various characters met during these four episodes. The back cover lists the episode numbers and titles for this volume.
The menu layout at first is a bit strange looking but it keeps to the shows slightly off kilter feel as the left half has animation playing throughout it from the show and the right side has the image of one of the trees from the show with the navigation selections over it with a bit of music playing along to it. The menus are a bit more animated than a lot of other Geneon menus as there are some brief transitional pieces that shift to the submenus when selected but they don't last long and are pretty smooth. Access times are nice and fast and the layout is easy to use while the disc does also read our players' presets and played accordingly.
The only extra included in this volume is a brief series of TV spots for the show.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After a strong showing in the second volume, Law of Ueki doesn't necessarily stumble in this volume but it takes a fair bit of time to get to the material that makes it interesting. While the series is in general little more than a standard boys fighting show, it's had some neat revelations that have helped it stand out a bit more. This volume carries through on that part of it but the fighting is more in the forefront for most of these episodes.
Ueki's managed to hold his own against some impressive people so far and even though he had only a mild encounter with Haydn he was able to survive it. For his part though, Haydn isn't just sitting around and waiting for the enemy to come to him. He's managed to build himself an interesting team of loyalists who, upon ascendance in the other world, will gain valued positions under his sponsor Margaret. This is sort of a back door method to avoiding having to fight people but with the drawback to Haydn's power you can understand why he does that. Even with a solid team on his side, there are those that need to be taken down and Ueki is viewed as a very strong threat.
With the fight with Onimon out of the way, Ueki doesn't get much down time before his next opponent shows up. As it turns out, the guy he's about to fight is just a pawn of Rosso, one of Robert's 10. He's using a high school student named Kurokage against Ueki with the idea of cleaning up things himself I need be. Kurokage has a bit of a tortured recent past with how the world has worked against him so he's little more than a half brain dead fighter but he has an interesting power mix. Not only is he able to create a massive shadow of clay that can cause considerably damage, but he can replicate people sized versions as well and use them to creatively to attack. A trio of clay Kurokage's for example glom onto Ueki and then merge with each other, eventually turning into a giant hand of the clay monster itself. The powers that these guys have continues to be one of the more interesting areas since they aren't typical. Sometimes it feels like I'm watching an anime version of Mystery Men.
Knowing that Haydn is most definitely back and in action, Ueki gets himself into the mindset of having to deal with him personally as well as his group of 10 that seem to be a major threat. Ueki is simple in his thoughts on how to do it and it leads him down a path that will be much more challenging for him than most other people because of his righteousness. But the challenge is good since it has him trying to work against his own character in order to achieve it. It does throw off those around him though, particularly Ai, as they aren't able to be as close to him as they have been for much of the show so far.
Where this set of episodes manages to shine the most I think is in the last episode where the secondary characters are much more active and bringing new information to light. Ai's intent on working with Ueki on his next plan but ends up meeting his family instead. We've not met them at all yet which is actually surprising given this kind of series but when we do, we understand more of Ueki himself but also his situation. This is timed well as we also have Mr. K in the underworld being approached by a Celestial who has some radical information on what the bigger picture is like with regards to Haydn and his sponsor Margaret. The entire event to become the ruler of the land takes on new meaning now that we're starting to see more of the players from the other side.
A bit weaker in some ways compared to the last volume, Law of Ueki still manages to maintain a lot of interest through its creativity and the new aspects of the story that we are slowly teased with. In some ways it's a bit of a hard watch because of the simplicity of the animation in areas and the very "boys" feel of it, but the show works hard to avoid or mess with some standard clichés which makes it more enjoyable than I would have thought. I'm still somewhat ambivalent about the show overall but with each volume it's slowly giving me more reasons to like it rather than to dislike it.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,TV Commercials
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Samsung BD-P1000 Blu-ray player via DVI set to 1080i, 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: B+
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: B-
Extras Rating: B-
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Law of Ueki