UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie 3 Vol. #2 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: C+

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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. #2

By Chris Beveridge     August 09, 2007
Release Date: July 03, 2007


UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie 3 Vol. #2
© ADV Films


What They Say
The blessed day is drawing near for Valkyrie and Kazuto, but that doesn't mean things are all pretty flowers and over-priced cake. Oh, no! This wouldn't be UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie if there weren't a ship-load of problems to sort out before the happy couple can seal the deal. First you have Laine discovering the magical time-traveling powers of a nice warm bath. Unfortunately, it results in three versions of the little pest running around causing havoc. Plus, ruthless pirates are creeping closer to the Royal Family's treasure as we speak. To top things off, Little Valkyrie just decided to run away from home. What could possibly make things worse? You don't have to ask because this volume answers everything. The day we've all been waiting for. The magic hour. The moment of truth. Cue the reception band and grab a handful of rice! This is the big one and it's going to be a wild ride!

The Review!
The OVA series concludes with a build-up to the wedding day wherein pirates attack which is of course normal.

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 great piece with Kazuto and Val together in their wedding finery. Valkyrie in particular looks good here as its rare for her to be so dolled up and even Kazuto has an air of maturity to him with this. 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 young Val and older Val 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 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.

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.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Though not quite as much fun as the first three OVAs, the second half plays up the standalone aspect with the TV level animation while also bringing in much love and praise for classic science fiction anime elements. Trains flying in space? Check. Valhalla orientation? Give them some big white wings too. Space pirates? Not a problem, add some big honking skull and crossbones to the front of them and you feel like you're tripping back a few decades.

The three tales for this are all leading up to the big Celestial Day wedding between Kazuto and Valkyrie but there isn't much focus on that until the third one. Outside of some minor plot points in the first two episodes, such as Akina realizing her time to make a move is running out, each of the episodes focuses on a main plot. At this point in the franchise this isn't a problem and while some of it does feel slightly like filler, it does a decent job of expanding on the characters a bit. If only some of the plot elements didn't bleed into other episodes...

The worst offender of this batch of episodes is only so because of what they actually bring to the table. The idea itself isn't bad and the story behind it works well enough but the end result just makes me cringe in other episodes. Laine hasn't exactly had a high profile story for quite some time as she's mostly been relegated to just popping in when needed for transportation or plain weirdness. This time around she ends up time-stepping to the past and comes across herself as a little child and during her time at the Academy. Each of these instances has her dealing with an event from her childhood in relation to another princess which is a simple enough story. The fun part is that all three versions of herself go time-stepping through all three time periods and deal with the overall plot. Having three Laine's show up is certainly disturbing in the present, especially as everyone wonders what caused the present day Laine to go so wrong.

The downside is that they leave it open-ended for all three to time-step with each other whenever they want, so you have the youngest one coming to visit later in the OVAs and it just feels like too much. Thankfully this gets pushed back a bit as the second episode focuses on Valkyrie as in her small form she decides to escape the bathhouse for a bit by staying with others. She's not necessarily running away but her feelings about the relationship and what little she can provide has her with something akin to cold feet. Over the couple of days that she does this we see her in different forms with most of the characters she stays with and it goes a good way towards cementing her feelings and relationship with Kazuto. In the long run, this is a good episode that helps to flesh the two of them out from Valkyrie's perspective but also helps to establish her more as an adult character.

Not too unexpectedly, the actual wedding event is sort of just thrust upon everyone as the day arrives. If it was done within a TV series framework I suspect that we'd have more build-up to it but instead it's just there. Even then it's fairly chaotic as the first portion of the episode revolves around some space pirates which you just know will disrupt the whole thing as the episode progresses. The majority of the episode is just varied chaos, be it preparation for the wedding or events with the pirates, but there are some good quiet moments as well. Valkyrie of course fills out a bridal gown perfectly and there is a good sense of the occasion among the guests. The big thing that I get from the episode however is that the franchise doesn't have enough female characters which is why they introduced some in the space navy and on the pirate side. Simply not enough women...

In Summary:
It isn't much of a surprise that at the end of the day nothing much has really changed within this franchise. Though you have the two main leads getting a bit closer together, they continue to play more of a supporting role in the OVA releases. Much like everything that's come before, this is simple harmless fun with no real expectations to it. Fans of the previous episodes and TV series are bound to like more silly stories with the characters and that's exactly what they'll get here. The first three OVAs came across a bit better to me since it was a good separation from the storylines of the first two TV seasons but the second half of the arc just left me a bit more indifferent.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Valkyrie World Notes, Messages From the Voice Actors,Collection of Japanese commercials,Clean opening animation, Clean closing animation

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Sony PlayStation 3 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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