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



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Info:

  • 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. #2

By Chris Beveridge     January 09, 2007
Release Date: January 09, 2007


UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie 2 Vol. #2
© ADV Films


What They Say
Heat up the bathwater, find your rubber ducky, and lose the clothes because, around here, when the going gets rough the tough get in the buff! Not only that, but having a diabolical version of Valkyrie running around is actually the tamest thing that happens as season two gets cooking!

Kazuto may get his heart sucked dry by a vampire from space! Everyone has turned into kindergarteners and Val has to learn the joys of single motherhood! A karaoke contest is coming to town and Spot was last seen tuning his guitar! How could things get any more insane? Well, Ms. Sanada and the Catgirls just chartered a bus for a wild weekend getaway and spooky Auntie Mehm has bought a miniskirt!

Contains episodes 5-8.

The Review!
A bit of mystery is introduced with this volume that gives the show a touch of a serious edge but otherwise it's business as usual.

Audio:
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.

Video:
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.

Packaging:
Using artwork that appears to be from the Japanese release, the front cover has a good mix of artwork as it presents the Vakyrie Ghost character 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 sides uses artwork that's presumably from the rental or reverse side of the Japanese releases with an intricate framing that has darkly sexy Vaklyrie Ghost inside of it while the back cover is laid out different but carries the same information. No insert is included with this release.

Menu:
The menu layout is simple but effective with its layout and design. Done in a faux letterbox style with a really appealing metal gray 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.

Extras:
With so many of their releases having such a heavy amount of Japanese extras, I keep wondering why they get criticism for not putting them on in general. This installment has another solid round of extras that will please the fans of this show. The standards are present in the clean opening and closing sequences as well as another round of world notes to cover the various cultural tidbits. The "anime encounters" section provides some notes on various anime related jokes and explains them while also providing a quick clip from the scene itself which is a plus. Two videos are included with the "video jukebox" section this time which are nicely subtitled and easy to follow along for those who want to sing as well by providing both the Japanese and English. The text interviews cover a couple more of the creative staff, this time giving a couple of pages each to the animation director and the character designer. Closing it out is a new round of messages from the seiyuu which are just generally cute, particularly Omi Minami's drawing that goes with it.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie doesn't break any real new ground with this set of episodes that brings us through the midway point of the short series. What it does do is continue on in a way that will please most fans while still bringing in a bit more of an overall plot that's likely to be more important in the next final volume of this season. The more I see of it though the more I realize that Kaishaku's material just isn't for me for the most part.

The new plot that's brought in to try and give this second season something to revolve around is one that deals with an apparition of sorts. While walking about town, Kazuto comes across a woman who looks very much like Valkyrie does but seems to have a bit more of a serious look about her. Part of this is accented by the way she acts but also in how she dresses. Similar to Valkyrie's clothes in design, they're much darker in color and give the obvious impression of a "Dark Valkyrie" to work with. She doesn't try to pretend to be Valkyrie however and just smiles warmly with Kazuto, easing his guard until he doesn't really realize that she's essentially reducing him to a thrall.

Though the first episode is given over to this concept which has some of the other girls trying to figure out what this Valkyrie Ghost woman is all about, she's absent for a bit afterwards and returning only in the fourth one. This time though she's coming to Sanada during a whiteout event on a mountain named after cats that all the girls and catgirl maids went to. When Sanada is separated from Valkyrie while up there, she goes into a panic over it and starts to see things in the snow. The Valkyrie Ghost is able to take advantage of her during this and lull her quite a bit since Sanada is so needy when it comes to her master. Little is really given as to what this is all about. It's been so short outside of the opening episode on this volume about it that it doesn't have a lot of depth to it but more of an attempt to just show there's something bigger going on.

The rest of the episodes are given over to the basic group comedy that shows like this do well, particularly if you haven't seen a lot like this over the years. One of the storylines has Mehm coming for a visit and she's brought some alien material with her that will cause trouble. Through very telegraphed events, everyone is turned young except for Valkyrie who now has to act as a single mother of sorts for a few days. The main cast turns into little kids, Chorus into a baby but Mehm just goes back to her teenage years. This was one of the better moments since it allowed her to go socialize a bit as a non-royal and see what the real world is like.

The one episode that was completely obvious in its intent was the one that bothered me the most. The gang decides to enter a new local singing contest since the prize involves some super duper alien 50.1 home theater system. Simple enough setup since the entire idea is to let the singing voice actresses have a chance to show their talent off a bit more plus provide more sales for expanded versions on CD. Each of them has their own style to work with, though poor Akina is the worst of them all, and through the songs done on stage they're able to pass the show pretty quickly. The last song by Valkyrie in adult form is definitely a good one though and worth checking out, but the episode is the epitome of filler material with an obvious merchandising angle.

In Summary:
Though the fans of the show keep telling me it gets better with the second season, I'm still not seeing it here. There are a few sparks of interest on occasion but for the most part it's leaving me feeling empty like a few other Kaishaku shows. Everything is very competently done here and by the numbers, which means it's highly accessible to new fans who haven't seen all of this before, so it has plenty of appeal there. The best moments of the show for me still tend to come when we get away from the two leads a bit and focus more on the secondary characters. This set of episodes does that a bit but also tries to bring in an overall plot as well that will likely take up a good deal of the next volume. Maybe the third season is the charm?

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Valkyrie World Notes,Anime Encounters,Video jukeboxes,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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