UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie 4 Vol. #1 - 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: 17 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 50
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie

UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie 4 Vol. #1

By Chris Beveridge     September 06, 2007
Release Date: September 04, 2007


UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie 4 Vol. #1
© ADV Films


What They Say
There is so much to do and only a bunch of goofballs to make sure it all goes as planned, so Valkyrie and Kazuto have to get it in gear in order to get married. Or better yet, to make sure it happens at all. Because, well...in this bunch, you never know what could go wrong. There will be some new faces, some old friends, and if we're lucky, there just might be a wedding! So, grab yourself a towel and get ready for some more Valkyrie and make ready to attend the Banquet of Time, Dreams and Galaxies!

The Review!
The gang is back as they deal with a big class reunion episode as well as a story about a comet.

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 2006, 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:
Moving away from the pairings that made up so many of the earlier covers, this one goes for a group shot featuring several of the women that are prominent in these episodes. The framing of it is similar to previous covers as well which gives it all a wonderful continuity, something that is often lost over multiple seasons and releases. 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 has a great looking illustration of Akina in her red and white outfit, well, at least partially in the outfit as it's coming off of her shoulders. The design is very different from previous reverse side covers and is quite welcome. No insert is included with this release. The only downside to the packaging for this release is the apparent need on the front cover to include the "All New, Never Seen Before" tag on it with a bright orange sunburst. It's something that should have been done as a proper burst sticker instead of on top of the artwork.

Menu:
The menu layout is simple but effective with its layout and design. Done in a faux letterbox style with a really appealing green 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 production crew draw up a little piece and have their credits next to it.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie franchise comes to a close, for now at least, with the final pair of OVAs that were released in 2006. The two part series serves as a decent epilogue to all that has come before but it really is nothing more than some basic filler material that reinforces events of the previous OVA series, mostly in showing how the younger versions of some of the characters are dealing with things.

The first episode revolves around a Planet Academy reunion that's about to be held and it's a surprise to everyone at the Tokino Bathhouse. The main reason it's a surprise is because Pharm forgot to give the invitation to anyone on Earth so they had no clue about it. It's even more of a surprise because the reunion is going to be held at the Bathhouse as it seemingly doubles as the Royal Residence on Earth for those from Valhalla. While that puts Kazuto's sister in a real bind, the show doesn't focus so much on the reunion itself but rather the characters. As if this series didn't have a large enough cast of women already, this one brings in more buxom beauties who once went to school with the likes of Hydra and Valkyrie. There is plenty of confusion over Little Val since she's mistaken as Valkyrie's daughter, something that proves to be a running gag for awhile.

The second episode is a touch more laid back than the first, which isn't saying much, as it revolves around the arrival of a comet near Pluto. The comet, as it turns out, is a significant one for those from Valhalla as they see it enter their realm once every nine hundred years. An elaborate ritual is designed around it wherein three people are able to place their wishes out for the comet to grant. With Mehm being one of them, the duties also fall to the priestess of the ceremony as well as the son-in-law of the Royal household. Akina has found herself being "secretly" tapped for the job of priestess since they believe she's the most qualified one on Earth to do the job. The actual ceremony itself is simple and has the kind of elegance you'd expect from it. They do mix in the usual character issues, such as Little Val being a pill and Akina struggling with her still unresolved issues with Kaztuo.

Not unlike most of the franchise to date, very little changes with these two episodes in regards to the cast in general. Everyone is essentially just spending time with each other while moving through their lives. There are tumultuous moments to be sure, but what the franchise is all about is cute girls in cute situations with weird aliens. Kazuto doesn't even take a back seat in the series anymore, he's practically in another car. The addition in the last OVA series with the younger versions of Valkyrie and Laine allowed them to build onto the existing condition of Valkyrie and that of Hydra while also altering things there. Valkyrie being split is a welcome change as her older and more laid back persona is more interesting in a bland sort of way, but they also get to keep the little version for fun. And like most harem series, fun is what they're really trying to have here, not growing the characters and providing interesting situations.

In Summary:
UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie was a series that really didn't appeal to me a whole lot during its first season. It started to become a bit more interesting as it progressed in trying to do some overarching storylines, but its general focus is with the character humor and the wacky situations they get into. It's easy to see a long line of similar shows over the years, right down to something like Urusei Yatsura even. But something about the blatant obviousness of being little more than a fanservice grab always bothered me. I've never been a huge fan of Kaishaku's works but this one has been one of the weakest ones so far. All that said however, there is a certain charm to all of it that allows to it work as well as it does. Not every show must be high art or thoroughly engaging and UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie fits into that mold perfectly. Fans of the series will love a few more adventures with them before hoping for more to be made in the future.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Valkyrie World Notes,Mmessages from the English staff, Japanese commercial collection,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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