Yumeria Complete Collection (Thinpak) (of 1) (Mania.com)

By:Bryan Morton
Review Date: Thursday, April 19, 2007
Release Date: Tuesday, January 09, 2007

What They Say
Meet Tomokazu Mikuri: typical high-school freshman, certifiable loser, and self-admitted pervert. Just an ordinary, unmotivated slacker. But when he falls asleep on the eve of his 16th birthday, things start to change in a big way! He enters a fantastical dream world, where he's surrounded by a gaggle of gorgeous girls, oodles of otherworldly predators, and an ever-increasing influx of all-out weirdness!

It's a test of good versus evil, real world versus dream world, and lots of action-packed, scantily clad battles for the very survival of mankind! Will Tomokazu save the world? Will he finally get lucky? Or will he just die trying?

The Review!
A loser guy and his collection of cute female friends team up to save the world. I'm sure I've heard that before somewhere. Tomokazu Mikuri's about to uncover the power of dreams...

Audio is provided in Japanese and English stereo. I listened to the Japanese track for this review, which is fairly simple but effective. Dialog is mostly locked to the centre of the soundstage, while effects and background music make fuller use of the channels to give a slightly more immersive feel from time to time. There were no obvious problems with the encoding.

Presented in its original 1.78:1 aspect, Yumeria is heavy on the bright colours and for the most part looks pretty good. The animation is of decent quality, although the backgrounds " particularly in the dream world " lack detail and can be quite samey. I guess the animators were hoping we'd be too busy eyeing up the girls to notice. There were no obvious encoding problems.

Your money gets you three thinpacked DVDs in a sturdy chipboard box, which overdoses a little on the light-blue background. One side of the box features Mizuki, Mone and Neneko, while the other side has a nice swimsuit shot of Kuyou and Nanase. Mizuki features again on the spine. The light-blue theme continues onto the keepcases, which each feature one of the girls on the front cover and an episode list on the rear. You could certainly call the packaging bright and eyecatching, at any rate.

Menus are simple affairs " each disc features a static screen with an image of one of the girls, direct access to each episode on the disc, and a submenu for language selection. There are no transitional animations, so it's all quick and easy to use.

There are no extras with this set.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
On the eve of his 16th birthday, Tomokazu Mikuri has a strange dream, about a girl fighting a battle in a strange world. So far, so normal. What's not normal is waking up & finding the girl from his dream naked in bed with him. She can't say much, just "mone-mone!" - although she seems to understand people just fine " so he's unable to get any useful information from her about how she came to be there. Later that night, Tomokazu finds himself back in his dream, but this time best friend Mizuki's there as well " and before you know it, they've both transformed into some kind of battlesuits and find themselves in battle with the machine Mone was fighting the night before...

Here's what's happening: within the dreamworld, evil creatures known as Feydoom (the negative thoughts of humanity, given form) are gathering, and once they reach sufficient strength they'll be able to break over into the 'real' world, destroying it in the process. For reasons explained later in the series, it's up to Tomokazu to prevent that happening, with some help from the women he's surrounded himself with - but is he up to the task, and can he save the world without sacrificing any of his friends along the way?

Game-to-anime conversions are common enough, but in my experience there are very few of them that are any good. Yumeria steers away from trying to do anything overly ambitious and sets its stall out early on as a fanservice spectacular, with very little effort to add anything else to the mix during the early stages, so stand by for cute girls, some very visually appealing costumes and very little in the way of real plot.

And the characters certainly are cute, but while Kuyou and Mizuki have decent personalities to them, the other three girls don't. Mone's mono-syllabic, Neneko's constant fawning over Tomokazu soon wears thin, and Nanase's attitude to the kids can be just a little bit creepy. Add it all up, and at first glance there's not much on screen that's to like. In its favour, though, it's quite enjoyable in a wholly shallow and fanboy-friendly way - if you don't go into it expecting too much, you'll get some enjoyment out of it, otherwise you'll quickly end up disappointed, at least during the first half of the series.

Come the second half, though, things begin to pick up. Episode 7, and the emergence of Neito, marks the arrival of a serious story arc. Neito's a huge improvement over Neneko - no more "darling" or "nanoda!", just a young woman who speaks normally, knows what she's talking about and has something of a mission to perform. Neito's revelations about what's happened in her future give Tomokazu a good indication of what they're up against now - but it's still an uphill struggle for her to convince everyone that the Faydoom they've been fighting in the dreamworld are as much of a threat as she says they are.

In between all this, there's some scope for Tomokazu and Mizuki to try and move their relationship along a bit. Progress in this is slow, and unfortunately Yumeria's not the sort of series to give us a proper resolution here, but it's good to see the two of them at least come to some sort of unspoken understanding, once Mizuki's learnt to deal with her jealousy over the other girls around Tomo.

The final episodes provide enough action to keep most people entertained, while still continuing with the more serious side of the story. Neito's not the only one who's been aware of what's really been going on - Nanase and Kuyou have both been in on the "secret" from the start, while Nanase's been under orders from her family to keep Tomokazu under observation for quite some time now - although having become attached to him in the time he's been living with her, she hasn't quite been following her orders.

Nanase's family are the key to the story - having already saved the world from the Faydoom threat several times in the past, they know what needs to be done and are quite prepared to do it, regardless of the cost - which if you're Mone or Kuyou, could be very high. What they hadn't counted on was Tomokazu himself, and the relationships he's built up over time with the girls that lead to him not accepting what the head family tell him he should do, and instead he starts looking for a way to defeat the Faydoom without any sacrifices being made. It's in this part of the story that the series really begins to shine " it's just unfortunate that it took so long to get there.

In summary:
Yumeria's all quite predictable, really, and the show's presentation doesn't give any real scope for the story to be played out in any really unique way, so despite the show becoming more appealing as the storyline becomes more serious, it still doesn't really excite you even when it gets to its climax. What's here is competent and enjoyable, it just feels that the writers didn't make any real effort to push the boundaries or try anything to make the series stand out. What's here is good as far as it goes, but Yumeria could certainly have been better.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Panasonic TX-W28R30P 28" widescreen TV; Pioneer DV-626D player; Acoustic Solutions DS-222 5.1 speaker system.

Mania Grade: B-
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: TV PG
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
MSRP: 44.98
Running time: 300
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Yumeria