UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie 3 Vol. #1 - Mania.com



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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: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie

UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie 3 Vol. #1

By Chris Beveridge     May 01, 2007
Release Date: May 01, 2007


UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie 3 Vol. #1
© ADV Films


What They Say
It's season three and things are getting so dirty you'll need to spend a month in the bathhouse to get clean! How can that be, you ask? Well, let's see. Princess Pharm has come to Earth and she seems bent on making out with every girl wearing glasses (And if they're not wearing glasses, she has an extra pair!) The Princess Inarba shows up and tries to punish everyone for their wicked ways. To top it all off, Sanada's stripping down to her undies in the nearest phone booth because...oh, it's too much to explain here! Just check out this new volume of laughs and lunacy! March with the legions of glasses-wearing zombies! Pay the penance and get what you deserve! And find out what creepy secret fantasies our heroes keep hidden. It's one wild ride and it's just getting started! Hop on and hold tight!

The Review!
With another season underway the series continues as it has in the past by bringing in more female characters.

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 released in 2004, 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 Sanada in her special costume in the foreground while the softer design of Valkyrie 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 Sanada 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 blue 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:
This series continues to be strong with its Japanese extras and this volume is no exception. The standards are present in the clean opening and closing sequences as well as a brief series of commercials that were used to highlight the OVA releases. The world notes hits up more information on these particular episodes and there is also a new section of the "messages from the voice actors" in which the US actors draw up a little piece and have their credits next to it. I was amused that Sanada's name was misspelled as Sanata though.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Though damning it with faint praise, I ended the second season of this series by finding that it wasn't as bad as I thought it could be. Particularly based on how the first half of that season went. So with season three being a series of six OVAs, I had to wonder whether going back to something a bit more standalone in nature would push me back into the old mentality on the series.

Surprisingly, the standalone tales here are actually pretty cute even as they suffer from some of what made the end of season two so hard to deal with. Repetitive scenes with Akina and Hydra coming together to form Akidra practically drained me when watching several episodes in a row. Thankfully that process only has one instance here and Akidra is basically a secondary character but the repetitive animation fits heavily into the second episode. Revolving around the arrival of Princess Inarba, she's come to get this whole wedding thing into shape as Kazuto and Valkyrie have been dawdling long enough. She's a harsh taskmistress as what she wants done is what will be done as she backs it up with a massive book of Imperial Law. Everyone seems to fear her and even some like Hydra simply look to get out of town.

As each of these Princesses seem to have their own thing, we learn that Inarba's is that with the wave of her hand and a turn of a phrase she can send her victim into their own personal hell. These punishments are meant to force the Royals into following proper codes of conduct. Hydra's torture is hearing Akina sing, Spot's is seeing his place by Valkyrie being replaced by another while Akina sees her chance with Kazuto disappear. Possibly the most amusing outside of Laine's though is Pharm's version of hell where she finally gets Valkyrie to wear glasses (along with some really skimpy lingerie for some reason) only to lose her own glasses and be unable to see her. These little vignettes are great but they come so frequently and with Inarba tossing out the phrase and wave that it gets old very quickly.

The same can be said of the opening episode that has Princess Pharm coming to Earth as the newest teacher at Kazuto's school. She's completely into the role of a teacher, conveniently crashing her ship into the roof of the school, but she has a master plan behind her as well. With global conquest in mind, she begins a Girls with Glasses club and starts brainwashing girls into wearing them and building up her plan through that. This is a disturbing episode since not one girl looks bad with glasses and only serves to promote it heavily to the viewer. Sanada has some great moments in this one as her maid staff gets sucked up into it and she has to taken on a feudal era samurai general role.

Quite possibly my favorite episode of the series so far is the latest episode on this volume. The plot is paper thin as Inarba sets out a "good luck" quest for Kazuto and Valkyrie to perform together. A series of pieces from an expensive piece of the Valhallan treasury have been scattered about town and the pair have a device that lets them search it out. Akina and Hydra are supposed to act like they're causing trouble but not really cause trouble as the whole thing is just a feel good sham of tradition. Akina of course goes over the top but it's Sanada who steals the show. Her love of Valkyrie and her inability to help directly due to Inarba forces her to take on an alter ego to help out. As the "mysterious" Caped Catgirl, she ends up causing more harm than good but she's just so earnest and spunky throughout it that it can't help but make me laugh. Every aspect of her, from the costume to the phone booth changing seen and her little "ooooh" as she puts on the head piece just has me in stitches.

In Summary:
UFO Ultramaiden is close to the end now and these little stories that do provide some progress in terms of the marriage storyline are quite a bit of fun. The repetition is sometimes a bit high in areas but with no overall arc like the second season they're able to just be silly and have fun. It also helped having only three episodes so that it wasn't an overload of silliness. Partially due to just being so familiar with these characters now, their initial quirks and poor personalities are just part of the background to the usual gags and events. At some point you just can't help but laugh at it.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Valkyrie World Notes,Messages from the voice actors,Collection of Japanese commercial spots,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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