This Ugly Yet Beautiful World Vol. #3 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: A-
  • 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. #3

By Bryan Morton     October 04, 2007
Release Date: July 02, 2007


This Ugly Yet Beautiful World Vol. #3
© ADV Films UK


What They Say
Now that Hikari has seen death, her true nature begins to exert a stronger force. Her shadowy self within has a growing resentment towards her new friends and her true love, Takeru. But other creatures are coming forward to prevent the young girl from fulfilling her dark destiny, putting Takeru and her sister Akari in the very dangerous middle. How cruel will she become? To what evil depths will she descend?

Episodes Comprise
9 – Wish Upon a Star
10 – False Heart
11 – Flowing Along with Time
12 – My Heart’s Song

The Review!
This Ugly Yet Beautiful World reaches its climax, and it all comes down to honesty – about your feelings and in how you deal with others. Now that’s something unusual to hang the fate of the world off of – but will Takeru be able to figure that out quickly enough..?

Audio:
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:
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.

Packaging:
Akari (with pink “Dark Akari” eyes) and Jennifer feature on this volume’s cover, and again it’s another nice piece of artwork. The rear has the usual screenshots, episode summaries and technical information, and there’s another selection of cast & crew interviews on the reverse of the cover - this time featuring Jennifer's Japanese VA, Yumi Takada, and Takeru's VA, Takahiro Mizushima.

Menu:
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.

Extras:
Along with the usual clean versions of the opening and closing songs, this volume has an interview with series director Shouji Saeki, a TV spot for the Japanese TV release, and a lengthy set of translator notes detailing some of the translation issues with the episodes on this disc.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
Takeru's gotten himself a new project - a beat-up racing bike for him to repair & get into rideable condition again, so he can fulfil his dream of having a bike of his own. Meanwhile, Hikari's got a lot to think about after her 'conversation' with her dark side, while Takeru ponders over the meaning of the powers he's gained since he met Hikari. Seems he's not the only one with powers, either - Ryou's gained some from Akari as well, and she's fully aware of why she and Hikari on Earth. Jennifer seems to have figured it out as well, and it's not good...

Volume one of KonoMini hinted at the darker side of the story, but didn’t do too much with it; volume two just went for the fanservice angle to provide an enjoyable but shallow set of episodes. This volume finally gets around to doing what KonoMini should really have been about all along, and finally becomes something that has a point to it. It’s just a shame that we didn’t get to this point sooner.

It’s no surprise that Hikari wields the power of death – one look at “Dark Hikari” when she appears, and the way she’s handled any creatures who have made it past Takeru are enough to tell you that. What does surprise is the reasons behind Hikari choosing to unleash those powers now – for all that it’s explained why she’s done it in the past, this time around her contact with Takeru and the others has changed the situation quite a bit, and it all comes down to emotional triggers, and the interactions between Takeru, Hikari, Mari, Ryou and Akari. If that sounds like it has the potential to get confusing, don’t worry – it’s all well explained, and makes perfect sense. Given the reputation GAINAX have for traditionally making a complete hash of the endings to their shows, they seem to have done a good job here of producing something that’s coherent and makes sense.

It’s not all heavy going, either. While examining characters’ inner feelings and failings isn’t exactly light & fluffy viewing (as it a bit out-of-character compared to what KonoMini’s produced before now), there are some lighter moments thrown into the mix, usually involving Jennifer and Ioneos, that break events up a little. Nothing laugh-out-loud funny, but enough to bring a grin to the face before the story gets back to the serious business of saving the world.

I wouldn’t want to say too much more about the final episodes, for fear of spoiling it too much, so I’ll just settle for saying that it’s a surprisingly satisfying and well-rounded end to the story, and I really hadn’t been expecting to get that – I’d been more geared up for a non-ending of some sort, and just for once I was happy to be proven wrong. The characters have led KonoMini throughout, though – bit on on the comedy or serious side of the story – so it’s appropriate that it’s the lead characters and their feelings for each other that end up providing the solution at the end of the day.

In summary:
It’s always nice to be surprised when watching a new release, and this volume managed to outdo my expectations to produce an ending that was enjoyable to watch and tied up the series nicely. Considering it was GAINAX’s 20th anniversary series, you’d maybe expect there to be more to it, but what’s here works really well, with a good mix of fun and touching moments mixed in with some action along the way. It’s not a truly standout series, but there’s enough to it to make it well worth a look.

Features
Japanese Language 2.0,English Language 2.0,English Subtitles,Clean Opening & Closing Animations,Interview with Director Shouji Saeki,Japanese DVD Spot,Translator Notes

Review Equipment
Toshiba 37X3030DB 37" widescreen HDTV; Sony PS3 Blu-ray player (via HDMI, upscaled to 1080p); Acoustic Solutions DS-222 5.1 speaker system.

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