This Ugly Yet Beautiful World Vol. #2 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 2 - Europe
  • Released By: ADV Films UK
  • MSRP: £19.99
  • 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 Bryan Morton     May 28, 2007
Release Date: May 21, 2007

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

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).

Love and lust has never been deadlier or sexier than it has in this smash-hit fan favourite! 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.

Episodes Comprise
5 - School Days
6 - Lingering by the Water's Edge
7 - Prelude to a Kiss
8 - This Wonderful World

The Review!
KonoMini gives us four more fun episodes, but once again there's very little to tell us why Hikari and Akari have come to Earth. Or perhaps they've always been here? It seems the only person who really knows what's going on is Jennifer, and she's not saying anything...

Audio comes in Japanese and English 2.0 versions " I listened to the Japanese track for this review. This series is heavy on the dialogue, which in audio terms means a series that relies heavily on the centre channel and doesn't provide a huge amount of directionality " there's some there, particularly during the action scenes, but it's not the main focus of events. Background music and effects are restrained, leaving the dialogue easy to pick out. There were no obvious encoding problems.

Video is presented in its original 1.78:1 widescreen format, enhanced for anamorphic playback. There's the slightest bit of noise visible on some areas of solid colour that spoil what would otherwise be an excellent transfer " these probably wouldn't be too noticeable on smaller screens, but if you're watching on a large-screen TV you'll probably spot them. Colours are bright and vibrant, with a good amount of detail put into backgrounds.

Another great piece of artwork featuring the girls in their beach outifts takes pride of place this release. The rear has the usual screenshots, episode summaries and technical information, while an inlay sheet contains interviews with Japanese VAs Asumi Sanda (Mari) and Fujiko Takimoto (Ryou). The reverse of the cover has cast profiles and interviews with Sound Director Yoshikazu Iwanami, opening theme vocalist Yoko Takahashi and closing theme vocalist Yoko Ishida.

The main menu's options surround a reflected image of the Earth, disturbed every so often by the ripple of falling water. Direct access is provided to each episode, along with submenus for language options and extras, and a preview of the next volume. The girls feature on the submenus. There are no transition animations when making selections, so it's all quick and easy to use.

As well as the usual clean opening & closing animations, we get the music video of the TV-length version of the opening theme, the Japanese promotional video, and a set of translation notes.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
Thanks to a little help from Jennifer, Hikari manages to get some school transfer papers in order & starts school with Mari & Takeru. It's a good excuse for her to get out of the house, but her first day at school proves to be slightly troublesome - as you'd expect of someone who has never been to school before - and it isn't at all what she was expecting. On seeing the less enjoyable side of school life, Hikari's darker side is somehow awakened, and feels the need to destroy the school. Later, the summer holidays provide excuses for trips to the sea and the mountains, where Takeru's growing relationship with Hikari causes problems for Mari, while the creatures in pursuit of Hikari make another attempt at taking her out, forcing Takeru in action once again.

Four more episodes here, and while there's definitely fun to be had watching them, if you're looking for more information about the origins of Hikari, Akari and the creatures, or a good amount of Takeru vs creature action, you're going to be disappointed " that's here, but only really during part of episode 7 (although the one real battle scene is genuinely impressive). On the other hand, if you're after comedy high-jinks, the ups and downs of teenage romance, and a healthy dose of fanservice, this is for you.

Let's look at the serious side first " since there's not much of it to cover. As before, Jennifer seems to be the one person who knows what's really going on. Her line of research is into past incidents of mass extinction on Earth, and that's thrown up some connections between what's happened in the past, and a few things she's seen since Hikari appeared on the scene. After seeing "Dark Hikari" in action and her conversations with Takeru, it also doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that there's a killing machine buried within the fun-loving and innocent girl that Takeru's decided to protect. But while the hints are dropped, that's all you get " explanations are still hard to come by, as the series is still focussing more on having fun and on the Mari " Takeru " Hikari triangle than it is on resolving more serious issues. I don't doubt that this side of the story will be tied up before the end of the series, I just wish that it was more to the fore, as it's the aspect of the series that could help it stand out from the 1,001 other cute girl comedies that get churned out every year.

As cute girl comedies go, though, KonoMini is probably one of the better recent ones, thanks to its visual appeal and a cast of characters that it's hard not to connect with. You do feel for Mari, through her abortive attempts to get her feelings across to Takeru and the way Hikari reacts to her attempts to start a rivalry. Away from Mari and Hikari, the other girls " including Akari " get a little neglected as the love-triangle aspect becomes the primary focus, but they each get enough screentime that you at least don't forget they're there. The beach and mountain episodes both provide the usual summer holiday stereotypes, with part-time jobs, tests of courage and fanservice-laden hotsprings scenes all making appearances " nothing you won't have seen before, but still enjoyable enough with this set of characters.

There's one notable addition to the cast on this volume. Akari has her own little sidekick, Quon " in episode 5, Hikari get her robotic bodyguard Ioneos, who conveniently has been buried in the school walls until awakened by Hikari's passing. He's quite a character " another one who knows what Hikari's true mission is, he's somewhat puzzled by the fun & friendly persona she's now displaying, but regardless he's determined to follow her orders " until Jennifer introduces him to the joys of beer. Somehow, the idea of a drunken robot never gets tired for me. There's also some good humour around the competition that quickly develops between Ioneos and Takeru, over who gets to protect Hikari.

In summary:
It feels very much to me like KonoMini's falling into the trap of not really knowing what it's trying to be " comedy or end-of-the-world disaster movie. Both sides of the show work well enough, but I can't help bit wish it would pick one or the other and run with it & give that side the proper focus. With one volume remaining, I'd expect Hikari's background and purpose to get more attention then, but this disc puts more emphasis on the comedy aspect, and leaves me feeling that the series still isn't living up to its real potential. Enjoyable, yes, but still missing something.

Japanese Language 2.0,English Language 2.0,English Subtitles,Clean Opening & Closing Animations,"Metamorphose" Music Video,Japanese Promotional Video,Translator Notes,Interviews with Asumi Sanda (Mari) Fujiko Takimoto (Ryou) Sound Director Yoshikazu Iwanami Opening Theme Vocalist Yoko Takahashi and Closing Theme Vocalist Yoko Ishida

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


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