Traditional Japanese folktale and service-y Japanese sitcom meet head-on in this highly variable anime series.
What They Say
Valkyrie is a member of the Intergalactic Royal Family of Valhalla. She is elegant, beautiful and a really bad driver. She crashes her spaceship right through the roof of the Tokino Bathhouse and onto the head of its owner, Kazuto. To save his life, Valkyrie gives up half of her very soul. Oddly enough, it works! Kazuto is resurrected! But, there's one small side effect: Valkyrie. She has transformed into half her age. She's cute, cuddly and nutty as pit-bull (and then things start getting weird.) Valkyrie and Kazuto fall in love. Housekeeping cat-girl Ms. Sanada is sent to protect Valkyrie. Hydra the warrior princess has some size issues. Princess Laine has some shopping issues. Earthly sweetheart Akina has some emotional issues. And, Valkyrie's dog Spot has some issue issues. So grab a towel and take a dip into the silly, sexy space-romp - UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie. It's time to answer the age-old question of the universe - does size really matter?
Japanese 2.0 isn't sharp, but it's not bad. It just lacks crispness. English is a little sharper, but has an echoing quality and no honorifics are used, although they appear in the subtitles. Since Ogata Megumi does Princess Valkyrie's "adult" voice, you'd be wise to stick to the Japanese track anyway.
Video is really good considering the second-rate art. In fact, maybe less good video quality might have helped to hide the flaws.
Hilarious packaging. 5 DVDs stacked on one spindle, with a big piece of styrofoam filler in the cover to pad out the space. In fact, I can't think of a sillier way to package DVDs. Funniest, most wasteful use of a large jewelcase ever.
Large horizontal lozenges with wings are the indicators for each episode. Buttons for Languages (Japanese, English) and Extras. All menu pages have a random piece of character art on the bottom of the page. The background music is short-duration, and the BGM for the Language page sounds really strange, like the DVD is skipping or my TV speakers were broken. The choice indicator changes with page. It might be the Royal family's wings, or a yellow "Bathouse" sigil, but you have to make *sure* it moves to the track or episode you want and that that has been selected or you'll end up on something else. It's kind of clunky and not sensitive.
Original On-Air Openings and Endings, some cleaned with no credits. Episode OPs/EDs switch between English and Romaji song subtitles.
Content (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
In the future, in a spaceport town of Hagoromo, (the town name refers to a very famous Japanese myth in which a common man finds and keeps a Moon Maiden as his wife by stealing her "most precious thing," a cloak called a Hagoromo) Kazuto runs his family's traditional Japanese bathhouse. We first encounter him living with Lil' Princess Val ("Val-chan"), his sister Rika, and interacting with customers that include aliens, robots and naked women. They are joined by Catgirl maids, Kazuto's old friend Akina and another member of the Valhalla royal family reduced to diminutive size, Hydra.
Val-chan disappears while playing hide-and-seek. When Kazuto finds her, we learn that half his soul belongs to her. Because Val-chan has put them in a dangerous situation, Kazuto and she end up running from a rogue ship sat the spaceport. The building they are in collapsea, crushing Kazuto, at which Val-chan kisses him and becomes Valkyrie. She rebuilds the building, stops the ship and saves Kazuto.
He recalls how they met, how he got half her soul.
Flashback to Kazuto's and Riaka's quiet bathhouse life, when suddenly a ship crashes into the building. Kazuto sees Princess Valkyrie, who offers him half her soul. "The most precious thing a girl can ever give a man." (This line will become the source of most of the "funny" pedophile jokes throughout the first season. UGH.)
A second ship crashes into Akina's house, a local shrine - Hydra appears to bring Valkyrie back to Valhalla to attend marriage meetings required by her family.
Kazuto protrects Val-chan from Hydra's attack, they kiss, she transforms into Valkyrie. Yukina zaps Hydra to stop her from destroying everything, so now both Val-chan and Hydra-chan are forced to live in child forms. Valkyrie explains to Hydra (and us) that when Kazuto's and her heart align, she can transform. They are one soul, two hearts.
Catgirl maid Sanada arrives at a low point, after the crash and the realization that they have no insurance. She cleans everything up. Because Akina, Kazuto's old childhood friend still obviously likes him, Sanada decised Kazuto is two-timing the Princess. She turns all the girls he talks to into catgirl maids, creating a Catgirl Maid army. Hydra warns Akina, because Sanada's crazy. They fight Sanada off and apologetically, she remains to serve Princess Valkyrie.
Sanada is followed in her attempts to break Kazuto and Valkyrie up by Prince Triam, Valkyrie's betrothed, who has arrived to take Valkyrie back.
This pattern is interrupted by several "Day in the life" episodes, following Kazuto's sister Rika, Sanada's movie chronicle of Val-chan and Akina and Hydra's life together.
The "break them up" pattern sputters to life again with Runaway Princess Laine, Val's younger sister, who initially hates Kazuto, then falls for him him, but this is just about the last time we see this particular "plot."
At this point, th anime steps into a more steady situation comedy territory, with a Vacation for the Catgirl Maid army, and Akina's transformation adventures. Each silly plot comes with one significant revelation, which hints that the season is drawing toward a climax.
In "How I Bought an Asteroid over the Internet," Val-chan buys stuff on an auction site, and ends up buying an asteroid. Val-chan's body becomes adult, but her mind is still a child's - it becomes obvious that there is something's wrong at Valhalla. The entre cast decides to visit their asteroid and are attacked by Space Pirates. The battle causes water to burst out of asteroid and their bad investment turns into in insanely popular alien hot spring.
The hot spring water causes Val-chan's soul to start to heal. She and Kazuto sulk because they will be separated now that they don't share a soul. And, Val can't transform, because her soul is healing.
The oldest of the Princesses of the eight Familes, Mehm, comes to bathhouse. She tells Kazuto that Valkyrie was supposed to marry someone from far away. Valkyrie ran
because she didn't want to marry that person and in a sense, is holding on to her childish hopes. Now that her soul is healed, Mehm is taking Valkyrie back to Valhalla.
Back on earth, the news reports that Princess Valkyrie is getting married. Kazuto decides to go to Valhalla, despite the high security, to see her. Valkyrie admits her misdeeds and lack of responsibility to Kazuto and their souls meet once again. She transforms, they kiss. Mehm appears to tell Kazuto, that he, the one whose heart was chosen by Valkyrie, is the intended groom. At the news, Valkyrie reverts back to child form, so marriage is canceled.
The season ends with life back to normal at the bathhouse.
The OVA, "Bridal Training" is a "Special Series Highlights Episode" and "The Excruciating Bridal Training" - an extra episode of training turned into a competitive game starring all the cast members as "Bridal" pairs.
Season 2 dawns with Val-chan having unpleasant dreams, despite her happy life. Hydra-chan takes Kendo to beome stronger, and Val-chan gets wand/sword that is the Key of Time. The cast now adds another Valhalla Princess, Chorus, who is convinced that she is an artificial construct with only a few days to live, but it turns out that she's just crazy. "Why are all the people from Valhalla so weird?" Rika wonders. Laine reminesces about days past in school with the other princesses. Chorus was just as strange as she is now, Hydra's fans were very aggresively into her, while Valkyrie's fans loved her for her grace and beauty.
Kazuto passes Valkyrie in the street. He talks to her, and althought it is instantly apparent that she is not Valkyrie, the woman looks and sounds the same, only a little darker. She calls herself Valkyrie Ghost. Classmates say they saw him walking with this woman, so Akina and Hydra follow him into evil enchanted wood, where they see Kazuto and Ghost kissing. Valkyrie and Ghost fight, and while she drives Ghost away, we still don't know who she is.
Serious plot complications are put aside for a while, so we can have a few more comedy episodes, such the obligatory Bath Episode in which Mehm comes with bath powder that turns them all young, except Val, who reverts back to adult form. Mehm herself becomes a teen, meets a boy and falls in love.
The obligatory Karaoke episode start with Val-chan destroying Kazuto's TV, so everyone signs for a karaoke contest to win Kazuto a new TV. Valkyrie Ghost appears during Valkyrie's song, does a duet with her, bewitches the audience and de-transforms Valkyrie. It becomes obvious to everyone that Kazuto has some connection with Ghost. ("Maybe she wanted a TV too?" was the only line that made me laugh out loud through the entire two seasons.) And the obligatory Maids on a trip episode, as the catgirl maid army heads to the mountains to ski.
Back in the plot, Hydra, determined to beat Ghost, ends up merging with Akina when they get angry at one another to become "Akidra." When they agree with each other, they split up again. They go to school merged and become instantly popular. On the way home, Ghost appears and tries to steal Kazuto. They merge to fight her.
Akidra sees vision of black silhouettes in 4 moons. We learn are the moons are the source of the Princess' powers. There are 8 moons and 8 princesses of Valhalla, but they are called the 12 moons. A Valhalla fairy tale tells of the Queen of the Black Moon who awaits her "Phantom Lover" eternally.
The climax approaches rapidly, as Ghost appears while Kazuto and Val-chan are shopping. She is initially stopped by Mehm, but after she kisses Kazuto, she escapes Mehm's power. Val-chan transforms into Valkyrie and stops Ghost, who says she's been waiting for her to transform, Ghost claims the Key of Time. She takes the Key, Kazuto and disppears.
As Val-chan grieves, Mehm tells the story of the four lost princesses. They all head to Valhalla, which is being assailed by a Blizzard of Time, just as it was when the four princesses gave their lives to protect the planet. It is their power that became the Key of Time. Chorus tells us that the four princesees have held the storm back all this time.They eventually grew lonely and their thoughts turned negative and substantiated as Ghost.
They develop a strategy to attack Ghost so Valkyrie can get to the planet. Akidra defeats Ghost. Valkyrie transforms, finds Kazuto, who holds the Key. He gives her the Key, she manifests Ghost, and seals the Time Blizzard by killing Ghost with the Key. Spring returns to Valhalla, and the story comes to an abrupt end. WAY abrupt.
This series was made with the cooperation of the National Association of Guilds Maintaining Sanitary Operation of Public Bathhouses. You can't make that kind of thing up. Every once in a while this series sets aside how *hard* it's working at being bad and for a second, you think you might like it. Then it goes back to being bad. The high point was the Karaoke episode, in which Ogata Megumi gets to sing as Ghost and for a moment, it's all worth it.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean openings, Clean Closings
RCA F32648 33" TV, Phillips DVP140/37 DIVx Ultra DVD player, no additional sound system.