This Ugly Yet Beautiful World Vol. #2 - 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: B
  • Age Rating: TV MA
  • 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: This Ugly Yet Beautiful World

This Ugly Yet Beautiful World Vol. #2

By Chris Beveridge     September 01, 2006
Release Date: September 05, 2006


This Ugly Yet Beautiful World Vol. #2
© ADV Films


What They Say
As Hikari and Takeru grow closer, Hikari begins to experience many sensations. That butterfly-like fluttering in her heart. The liquid warmth deep down inside. The urge to destroy. What's a guy to do when he falls for a girl who just might not be all she appears to be "a girl who has a great big secret to hide? (And you thought you had relationship problems.) Well love and lust has never been deadlier or sexier than it has in this smash-hit fan favorite! Whether you prefer the bubbly joys of hot-spring cavorting cuties or the world-smashing Armageddon of a beautiful babe in attack mode, This Ugly Yet Beautiful World has something for everyone! Maybe a little too much for some of you.


The Review!
Getting a better understanding of a typical student's life, Hikari gets enrolled in school and gains a number of new experiences.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The series has a rather good sounding stereo mix that makes good use of the left and right channels for directionality both in dialogue and in sound effects, but the bulk of it is a full sounding center channel based piece. A lot of the show focuses on dialogue and quiet moments of nature and these sound great with clarity and distinction. The English track, also done in stereo, comes across quite well and mirrors much of what we heard on the Japanese side. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout on both tracks and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions.

Video:
Originally airing in 2004, this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The source material for this show is unsurprisingly in gorgeous shape with lots of bold striking colors and a mix of more muted pieces to help accent the real world the characters inhabit. Similar to other recent Gainax shows, the character designs are a bit more simple and rounded which allows for the colors to blend well and without much noticeable banding. Some of it may feel a bit flat at times but overall the print looks great here with only a few areas of noticeable mosquito noise. The episodes themselves looked fantastic throughout and the opening sequences had a touch of aliasing going on with some of the character designs but it was pretty minimal. Overall this is a real pleasing looking transfer but the jaggies in the opening brought things down a bit overall.

Packaging:
A bit lighter and happier looking than the first volume, the focus on a few of the women make this cover a bit of a fanservice fest as it's done with them wearing their bathing suits and maid outfits from the beach episode. The designs look good and a bit more fleshed out and curvier than they are in the show itself. You can almost see the Gainax bounce in it. The back cover brings more of that subdued pink hue as it has the large background image of the moon there with shadowed butterflies flitting about, but it does make for reading the text a bit hard as the two tend to blend a bit at times. The left side has a nice strip down it where it showcases some shots from the show and the bottom portion is made up of the usual material such as listing the extras and some of the creative staff's vintage. The technical grid is solid through and through in what it covers along with a small block of production info. The insert with the release is a very well put together piece with text interviews with not only the voice actors but some of the staff and vocalists from the series. Some of the sections have spoiler material for the end of the show and thankfully they're clearly marked.

Menu:
The menu layout takes some of what was done with the cover and runs with that as it takes the visual of the Earth and places it in the center while having a drop of water hit it from above, creating the visual of a water ripple over the entire screen, including the menu selections themselves. The layout looks good but the artwork of the Earth suffers from some aliasing and jaggies. The episode selections are along the left while the right has the setup and extras all while a bit of instrumental music plays along. Access times are nice and fast as we've gotten used to with ADV releases as well as the way their discs consistently play according to our players' language presets.

Extras:
The extras are pretty standard but still good; we get the always welcome clean opening and closing sequences as well as a new round of translator notes for some of the quirks of the show. New to this volume is a brief live music video as well as one of the promotional videos put together to sell the show to audiences.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After a rough and fairly unimpressive start, This Ugly Yet Beautiful World hits up another four episodes that play by a very familiar book but with a bit more understanding to it that makes it a bit more enjoyable. Some of the bigger pieces of the overall storyline start creeping into these episodes as well with a sizeable nod towards it close to the end which signifies a how the last volume will likely play out.

Before the series gets into a pattern established by many other shows, it brings in one more new character to the cast. We've seen the little companion that Akari has and it's little surprise that Hikari has one as well. What's different is that it's a much bigger one and it's actively talking. After it crashes into the school and collapses it pretty well, it becomes the latest resident in the dorm house where Takeru and the others live. Introduced as Ioness, he's got a bit of an attitude and he talks back easily to everyone except for Hikari. When she talks to him he goes into a very deferential mode and treats her like a princess. Even when he's stone cold drunk which seems to happen fairly often and with amusing results.

Most of this volume really focuses strongly on Hikari as even Akari takes a backseat to her. Akari actually makes out the worst I think as she gets the least amount of time since her introduction episode that played up her relationship. With Hikari, she's continuing to try and understand the world around her and is continually amazed by everything she sees. With a bit of help she's able to get registered at school and she's really curious about the experience since everyone goes. The actual time there though doesn't impress her much and she can't figure out why everyone goes to school since it just seems to boring. The others in the class do see that she's feeling this way and there's a bit of an attempt to explain it to her about why kids have to do what they're doing.

It's at this point that I started to take a different view of the show. With Hikari's more laid back attempts at understanding Takeru's life, a contrast from many other shows that tend to be completely hyper in this nature, the series is reminding me more and more of the live action film and TV series "Starman" where the alien life comes to Earth and takes on that form to view and experience everything through those eyes. Hikari's also very tactile in her attempts to understand things which of course leads to her having some rather close scenes with Takeru that drive others nuts. So it's little surprise that we end up going through the checklist of expected events. She starts school, conveniently at the end of the semester, they have a beach episode where they work at a restaurant in maid outfits, they spend time in the mountains during summer break and discover a hot spring and then they also cram in a Bon festival. You can look at almost another similar series with characters in this age range and you can find these events easily.

In the middle of Takeru and Hikari getting to know each other better and her understanding the world around her, there is also the jealous side of the triangle in Mari. She's still got feelings for Takeru but her somewhat tomboyish nature has her unsure how to go about showing them to him. This is even more true now that the very pretty and hands on Hikari is in the picture. This alternately frustrates her into anger or saddens her into shock as she watches the interplay between the two of them. As their relationship gets more serious, she's finding her emotions really getting the better of her and realizing how serious she is about him. With the distance Hikari and Takeru go she's got a couple of really good scenes here. Of course, watching her girl friends tease her by teaching her how to kiss is amusingly cruel.

In Summary:
While I'm finding the show easier to digest with the new perspective with which to view it, it's still a show that I find is playing far too closely to a standard playbook in the kinds of episodes it does. With this volume containing the middle arc of the series, what we get here is wholly predictable and by the numbers. Once you know which event it's going to be you can play out the entire episode in your head. There are a few moments in each of them that work well, especially when Mari gets involved with her emotions, but overall this show has still yet to find a real hook for me. This is one of the weakest things I think I've ever seen from Gainax and even with their pandering to the mainstream in the last few years this one just reaches too far.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Translator notes,Metamorphose Music Video,Japanese Promotional Video,Clean opening animation,Clean closing animation

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Samsung BD-P1000 Blu-ray player via HDMI -> DVI with upconversion 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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