Kono Minikuku mo Utsukushii Sekai Vol. #4 - Mania.com

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  • Audio Rating: A
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: All
  • Region: 2 - Japan
  • Released By: Geneon Entertainment, Japan
  • MSRP: �5000
  • Running time: 48
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: This Ugly Yet Beautiful World

Kono Minikuku mo Utsukushii Sekai Vol. #4

    June 30, 2005
Release Date: September 10, 2004

Kono Minikuku mo Utsukushii Sekai Vol. #4
© Geneon Entertainment, Japan

What They Say
Normal high-school student Takeru Takemoto encounters a bright light during his part-time motorcycle delivery job. He stops and looks around, and sees a beautiful girl named Hikari emerging from a shining cocoon in the woods. Takeru falls for her instantly, but a monster suddenly appears and attacks her.

Takeru's pleasant days pass by with the mysterious Hikari, Akari, his classmates, and cousin Mari.

These days are normal days, but to Hikari they are all wonderful.

The Review!
This volume was viewed with the only audio track, a linear PCM Japanese 2.0 track, which had no discernable problems. Unlike Dolby Digital tracks, PCM tracks aren't compressed and can offer a better auditory experience. The mix is well done, and everything comes through crisp and clear. The insects and fireworks sounded particularly nice.

Being from 2004, the show makes use of the latest in digital animation and the results on DVD are excellent. The show is presented in an anamorphic widescreen format, which lends a greater sense of scope to the proceedings. The transfer looks great with lush and vibrant colors, clean linework, and few artifacts.

The front cover features a fantastic shot of Hikari, Akari, and Mari in swimsuits illustrated by character designer Kazuhiro Takamura, which is also used on the booklet and picture-labeled disc. The back is pretty standard with screenshots and episode summaries along with a staff and cast listing. First edition bonuses included two semi-transparent illustration cards and a proof of purchase to collect and send in for a special omake DVD.

The only menu available is straightforward and well-designed, with animated episode clips and moving sparkles over the image used on the cover as the background. You can access all the chapters as well as the extras from the main menu while the music from the pre-opening sequence plays in the background.

The extras are once again lacking, with only a two minute promotional video for the show and trailers for other Geneon series released on DVD. The promotional video is interesting in that it was shown before the details were buttoned down, so some things are different like Mari having brown hair instead of green.

Content: (may contain spoilers)
Jennifer Portman makes an astute observation at the beginning of the seventh episode that the relationship between Takeru and Hikari is frustrating because it hasn't really gone anywhere. The same can be said for the show up to this midway point, but things don't stay in the same old grind for long.

Since summer vacation started early, what better to do than head to the ocean? It's not all fun and games, as everyone is put to work in the beachfront restaurant owned by Takeru's uncle. Appealing to the guys at the beach as well as the ones watching the show, the girls work as waitresses in skimpy swimsuits. Hikari wants to help Takeru but can't seem to do anything right, leading to amusing and fanservice-laden moments. Jennifer puts her assets to good use and serves up a generous helping of oppai for the eager young men. Great stuff, and the fact that the characters are drawn in a quasi-SD style during this merriment makes things even better.

As a result of Hikari's incompetence, she and Takeru are sent away from the shop to do busy work. During one of their tasks Hikari ends up on top of him and closes her eyes for a kiss. Unfortunately, he chickens out, making Hikari wonder if he really likes her. Amika and Sakurako try to give Takeru kissing tips, complete with a blush-worthy demonstration set to wailing saxophone music. All the while Mari fumes in the background at the couple and shoots a few jealous death stares their way.

A storm approaches while Takeru and Hikari are out fishing, and as Takeru comes out of the water and goes to tell her about his feelings, we see the evil Hikari looking back. She approaches Takeru and they almost kiss, but a monster makes an appearance for the first time since the opening episode.

What follows is an excellent battle sequence that is well-animated and both wonderful to look at and brutal at the same time. Akari is visibly upset as Takeru obliterates the monster with his powers, but Ryou knows more than he's let on and tells her everything is fine. Takeru keeps his promise to protect Hikari and the two of them end up gettting their kiss, quite a dramatic one at that. Mari is saddened but drinks out of Takeru's can when he's not looking, counting it as a kiss of her own.

When they get back home, Hikari is enamored with the sound of a cricket, and Takeru puts it in a cage for her to hear it sing. It seems like everyone has pretty much settled in at this point, as evidenced by Ioneous sporting an apron and taking care of kitchen work. Hikari and Akari are still enjoying their everyday experiences, and Hikari feels very good about life and the Earth since she arrived. Mari still hasn't given up on her feelings for Takeru, and tells Hikari about them. Surprisingly, Hikari doesn't mind in the slightest and takes it as a sign that she should get along just fine with Mari.

Jennifer goes away for a few days, and we get a look at her research, which reveals some shocking information about Takeru and his powers. We learn that his instincts should be telling him to kill Hikari instead of protecting her, but somehow the opposite happened. Hikari is crushed when the cricket in the cage dies, and in a dream the evil version of herself comes out and tells her that she will bring death to the world. It's quite a shift from unconditional happiness to knowing your true role as a bringer of death, and a juicy cliffhanger to boot.

In Summary:
This volume hit a lot of high notes, and managed to entertain while moving things forward. With only four episodes left it's likely that things will stay serious for the remainder of the series, but after the good times and revelations here it's easier to feel more invested in the show. Seeing the true nature of the girls from space as well as how Takeru and Ryou fit into it all is something to look forward to.

Japanese 2.0 Language,Promotional video,Geneon previews

Review Equipment
Sony KLV-23M1 23" LCD HDTV, Toshiba SD-4900 progressive region-free player via Acoustic Research component cables, Sony STR-DE897/S receiver, Sony SA-VE367T 7.1 channel speaker system.


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