UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie 2 Vol. #1 - Mania.com

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • 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: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie

UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie 2 Vol. #1

By Chris Beveridge     November 22, 2006
Release Date: November 14, 2006

UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie 2 Vol. #1
© ADV Films

What They Say
You're never far from insanity when you visit the Tokino Bathhouse. A charmed sword might fall into the wrong hands. You might get squashed by a giant, drunk dog. A manga-addicted cyborg might tell you that the world is about to come to an end. But hey, if things get too crazy you can take a trip back in time to see what our heroines were like in the old days. It's nothing less than a trip down the rabbit hole into a world of crazy comedy, loopy characters, and enough nubile bathers to keep your eyes safely popped out of your head! So grab your monster-dog repellant, a pile of cat-girl nip, and cyborg detection device and join Valkyrie, Hydra, Rika, and the rest of the gang for a whirling cyclone of laughs. There's only one UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie, and you hold the key to the next stage of absurd adventures!

The Review!
After the first season, a recap and an OVA, the gang returns for another season of more of the same.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese but sampled an episode in English as well. Both language tracks are done up in a straightforward stereo mix that have some good moments of directionality throughout them for both action effects and for dialogue. The show has a lot of spastic moments for the characters so they're often all over the place and dialogue is matched up nicely with them. The music is good here as expected but there aren't any musical pieces that really make the stereo mixes really stand out. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Originally airing in 2003, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. With the show being focused around bright and colorful aliens you can imagine what the color palette is like. Much of it revolves around a very normal looking neat future world but the numerous characters and aliens, ships and more give it a very bright and vibrant feel at times. The mixture of the two works well here and the source materials are in very good shape that allow for very little in terms of blocking visible. Colors are strong, aliasing is very minimal and we didn't see anything of note in terms of cross coloration. This is a pretty smooth looking transfer overall that captures the shows details nicely. The opening logo is left intact and is soft subtitled with the English language version.

Using artwork that appears to be from the Japanese release, the front cover has a good mix of artwork as it presents the adult version of Hydra in the foreground while the softer design of Valkyrie in adult form is in the background. There continues to be a lot of white background and white in general so the few colors that are here, even when soft, are still striking and vibrant. The back cover is split into a few sections with strips of shots from the show separating them. The summary is a couple of plain paragraphs that cover the basics, the discs features are clearly labeled and the bottom is filled with the production information and the always welcome technical grid. The reverse side uses artwork that's presumably from the rental or reverse side of the Japanese releases with an intricate framing that has Chorus looking demure inside of it while the back cover is laid out different but carries the same information. No insert is included with this release.

The menu layout is simple but effective with its layout and design. Done in a faux letterbox style with an purple filter, the background is of the bathhouse while the foreground on the left has rotating flat images of various characters and aliens and the right has the navigation that's got instant episode access to it as some of the music plays along. Though not terribly active it does showcase some eye-catching character artwork and above all else it's simple to navigate and quick to access. Like just about every other ADV Films release out there, the disc correctly read our players' language presets and played accordingly.

Not unlike the first season, this season has relatively similar extras that are from the Japanese release. The clean opening and closing sequences make their appearance for which I'm still glad to see. A new feature on this volume is the "Anime Encounters" section which provides a series of liner note about various anime references made in the show while also playing a clip from that particular scene. Fans of the voice actresses and their singing abilities will get a kick out of the video jukeboxes that take moments from the show and make some cute videos out of them. Rounding things out are a couple of text sections, one of the messages from the Japanese seiyuu talking about the new season and another of liner notes about the series in general.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the first season essentially underwhelming us, I kept to the hopes that the second season would make things better as several fans of the series had told me it would. Even among fans of the franchise, there are plenty who seem to not care for the first season but enjoy the later material much more. Having seen more than enough shows that take some time to really get to the good point, I'm more than up to giving a show a chance to prove itself.

The second season so far though seems to be mostly more of the same, though with a new addition. Initially and in a few very small scenes throughout, there looks to be a bigger storyline that will be told in the next two volumes about a series of moons that come to Valkyrie in her dreams or seem to be cropping up in different ways throughout. Life is otherwise mostly the same for everyone after the events of the first season and the life at the bath house continues, complete with catgirl help. All of that changes quickly though when Valkyrie suddenly receives the Key of Time. Valkyrie in her tiny form treats it more as a sword with which to have fun at first but it's decidedly more powerful. The device actually lets her manipulate anything to do anything she wants. She decides to use it to help people and shows it off by turning a big stack of wood into firewood. But it has better uses as it turns Akina's normal sized breasts into massive melons that she adores. There isn't anything really deep with this episode but it is a cute and fun way to start off the season as well as introducing a device that will likely be key later.

I was still mostly with the show at this point but then it went and did something in the next episode that just makes me cringe. They felt the need to introduce yet another character, one that is even more quirky than the rest in her own way. Completely misunderstanding most things but in a very calm and relaxed manner, Chorus is a dull eyed greenish haired girl who is convinced that she's a machine person of some sort with only a certain amount of time to live. She's the type who reads things and misunderstands them completely, often causing more trouble than anything else and needing a lot of attention. She wants to interact with people but when she gets in an IRC-like chat system, she's so messed up that she's constantly accused of trolling.

A lot can be said about Chorus when you find out that she and Laine were best friends at Planet Academy. It helps to explain a bit of her oddness, but then they spend an entire episode showcasing some time from Planet Academy when all the girls were there and you realize that she's this way naturally. It's not being ditzy, more like someone who just seems to operate in a different manner than everyone else but so much so that they're hard to deal with. Or at least that's my perspective since I can't imagine dealing with someone like that. The flashback episode is interesting since we see a lot of Hydra and Valkyrie in competition with each other in their normal forms and see some of their education. But what was even more interesting was seeing Laine as a basically normal girl who wants to be recognized more by Valkyrie. She isn't over the top or annoying as she has been since she came to Earth. In fact, outside of Chorus, all the girls seem perfectly normal. It must be something in the air on Earth.

This new season for the most part is basically keeping in tune with the first season, both in how it's telling its stories and with the animation. Nothing here really stands out much but it's competently done and consistent which is a plus. With the introduction of a new character, the other characters start to take more of a back seat which is seemingly inevitable. The last episode, being a flashback, removes the human cast almost entirely from the show for the duration. On the plus side, it does keep down the amount of tiny-sized versions of the characters running around. That alone is an element that I find amusing in small doses but the show is intent on keeping them that way for most of the time.

In Summary:
If the first season and specials from this show appealed to you, then you're likely going to enjoy getting back into the groove with them. ADV is doing a solid job of keeping it all going by hitting the seasons so quickly together with the OVA specials in between. There is a hint or two throughout here of something bigger that's going to happen but it's tucked to the side for the most part as the focus is squarely on the introduction of Chorus. She takes up a considerable chunk of this volume and isn't quite a welcome addition in my opinion. Like most harem oriented shows, it has potential to be something better than its parts but seems content for going with the tried and true. So far.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Valkyrie World Notes,Anime Encounters,Video jukeboxes for "Suki-Suki-Suki wa na Kanji" and "Anata no Namida wo Itadakuwa",Messages for the Seiyuu, Clean opening animation,Clean closing animation

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic DMP-BD10 Blu-ray player via DVI 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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