Law of Ueki Vol. #07 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: C

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B-
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
  • MSRP: 19.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Law of Ueki

Law of Ueki Vol. #07

By Chris Beveridge     May 22, 2007
Release Date: May 28, 2007


Law of Ueki Vol. #07
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
After battling against Ueki, Robert begins to doubt his plan to annihilate the world. Just when he opens up to his father, Margaret, a boy named Hanon appears and claims that he is Margaret's son... Meanwhile, to form a 5-person team for the second round, Ueki tries to recruit one last member - Hideyoshi Soya. He is a terrible liar with a kind heart, struggling to take care of some orphan children. However, his candidate Zack tries to force him to join the other team to fulfill his evil plan!

The Review!
Bringing the Robert's 10 storyline to a close, Law of Ueki decides to rewrite the rules on a whim and turn into a team based tournament show.

Audio:
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.

Video:
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.

Packaging:
This volume of Ueki is decent as it lets the bad guys rule for a bit with a shot of Robert dead center while others are in the background. The character designs for the series continue to be slightly off (so much so that you can't tell if someone is off model or not!) but the bright colors help it stand out well enough. 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 one of the bad guys 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. Unlike previous inserts, this one doesn't reproduce the front cover artwork and instead provides a listing of the various sacred weapons that are key during this volume. The back cover lists the episode numbers and titles for this volume.

Menu:
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.

Extras:
None.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With this series I don't even know where to begin anymore. For a fair bit of time now the series has revolved around dealing with the Robert's 10 up to the point where the big battle with Robert has finally arrived. As expected, everyone else is kept to the side in order to offer a play by play of events as Ueki tackles his most difficult enemy yet.

Since this is based on a standard action manga, it's easy to see how practically every frame of the battle will go. Ueki will fight hard because he knows he must after all that they've been through but his pure heart and sense of kindness will have him reaching out to Robert. Will Robert be swayed by this and change his ways? Surely not as it would be far easier to just drop things as they are and set the stage for a rematch another day. Or they can do what they did after two episodes here and bring the whole thing to a halt when the Celestial King arrives. With plenty of poor style and the return of Mr. K to provide commentary, we learn that the first stage of the contest is over and that everyone involved right now will be eligible for the second round.

The shift from the one on one battles that we've seen to the promise of a team based series of battles doesn't drastically alter the series. It does leave you feeling like you've been duped for awhile now as suddenly everything is different. A lot of this comes from the way that so little information has been doled out in full since the show started and we have someone like Ueki who doesn't ask the right kind of questions. Amusingly, everything seems to go right to deferring to Ueki as the team leader as Rinko, Sano and Ai don't even think about referring to anyone else in that position. They do need a fifth member however and that sets the last two episodes up nicely as they go after a trickster named Hideyoshi and try to bring him to their side. If the Law of Ueki has been predictable so far, it's even more so during that two part storyline where every cliché out there is used.

The introduction of a new powerful villain to supplant Robert wasn't a surprise either nor is it one that he's a wild child of sorts. With Robert's father being intent on destroying humanity, Hanon's lack of understanding about what makes people tick is a pretty basic plot device. The lack of any kind of caring about whether someone is alive or dead fits in easily enough and I did like how they got him to take Robert's place even if it does become a cliché later on in bringing Robert back and on Ueki's side no less. If there's anything I don't like about this particular subplot is that we again see Robert's father, Margaret. His name alone just annoys me horribly for some reason and every time it's mentioned it just takes me out of the show completely. Maybe Margaret is a cool sounding name for a guy to the Japanese though.

In Summary:
Law of Ueki manages to continue the frustration with this set of episodes. With it unlikely to have any real resolution because of the ongoing manga I'm already set up for a disappointing ending. Unlike other shows that I know will have such endings, the beginning and middle of Ueki is just as disappointing if not more so. There are plenty of series where the journey is worth the ride even if the end is bad but Ueki seems set on having more downs than ups. There have been moments that I've enjoyed but with this volume and a lot of other episodes I tend to be more focused on the countdown timer on the player than anything else.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic DMP-BD10 Blu-ray player via DVI->HDMI set to 1080i, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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