UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie OVA - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: C+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A
  • 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: 70
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie

UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie OVA

By Chris Beveridge     August 30, 2006
Release Date: September 05, 2006


UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie OVA
© ADV Films


What They Say
Dearly beloved, The big wedding is just around the corner, so it's time to get prepared. Nope, it's not the rehearsal dinner; it's the rehearsal for married life! Princess Mehm is worried about the obvious complications surrounding the relationship between Kazuto and his age-challenged fiancee Valkyrie. So, the blue-lipped beauty has ordered the two to participate in a role-playing sim to see how they handle the day-to-day drudgery of 'til death do us part. Plus, just for kicks, the rest of the gang will be paired up and tested as well. Why? Who knows! Who'll win? Who cares! But you don't want to miss the ride, so pucker up and get ready to kiss the bride!

The Review!
Serving as a bridge of sorts between the first and second season, this release is a mixed bag for existing fans but a good jumping on point for new ones.

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 these two OVAs 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 as it presents the adult version of Valkyrie in the foreground while the softer design of Princess Mehm 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 good paragraph that covers the second OVA and not mentioning the first at all, the discs features are clearly labeled and the bottom is filled with the production information and the always welcome technical grid. Unlike the TV series releases, there is no reverse side cover artwork included here. 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 an pink and red 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:
Though a short release, it has some good extras to be found. The clean opening and closing segments are here and there's a new round of the original Japanese commercials. The World Notes continues with more background information on some of the cultural and other curiosities that make it into the show as well as conceptual artwork and a note from the creator. The interesting extra is the set of interviews with the Japanese staff. While short, there are a few screens that cover text interview pieces with those who worked on the show and they provide some interesting info on how the specials and all came about.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the recent end of the first TV season of the UFO Ultramaiden franchise and the start of the second not all that far off, ADV Films has put together essentially what the Japanese did; a quick OVA to keep everyone's interest while getting the second season put together. Unlike the Japanese release, they bundled the new OVA which was done with speed in mind with a recap OVA that covers what the first season was all about. Meant to essentially keep peoples attention and interest, it does that job well depending on your point of view.

If you skipped the first season but are intrigued by the show, it's a good starting point as the 40 minute recap OVA does a good job of covering that season. It's not a pure recap in a sense as it has the cast talking over the existing footage and dialogue (which is properly subtitled, earning an extra kudos to ADV) and bringing the viewer up to speed on the various characters and their interactions. It doesn't do a play by play kind of deal since Ultramaiden isn't exactly a plot heavy series. But if you watch this, I think it does a fairly good job of covering what's considered a weak season in concise form and giving you all you need to know about the characters if you want to go forward with the supposedly much stronger second season.

If it was just a recap, I'd imagine that would have been either ignored completely for release or added as a bonus onto the second season but since a new OVA was also created with a bridal game, this release is the best place for it. The roughly thirty minute piece is a simple and cute filler piece that I think stands above some of the first season episodes rather easily. Princess Mehm has come to visit Val and the others on Earth so she can see how the relationship between Val and Kazuto is going. Of course, with Val in her tiny form most of the time and not altogether in the right frame of mind for proper marriage preparation; they have to figure out a way to get these two going in the right direction.

Enter Sanada again as she's bought the perfect thing online called Training Cards. Setting everyone up in teams of two, each team gets to pick a card and they then find themselves transported to the right setting in which that card must be completed. Kazuto and Val for example get transported to a kitchen initially as she has to do the cooking for him. Akina and Hydra seem to be continually put in marriage situations which is amusing in general but even more so when they do a traditional one and the bed is actually shown. Add in Rika and Laine as the other couple and it's a really weird but amusing set of circumstances that they all find themselves in. Of course, there are details to the game which makes it more dangerous and Val often finds that she can't do anything right so there's angst and pressure to be found there.

With there being no real visible break in the creative team behind the first season and this, the OVA stands up well against what's come before but it doesn't go into what many believe OVAs really represent. That said, you wouldn't expect them to really branch out into something much higher class in terms of animation and style when the goal is a quickie episode to keep the viewers wanting more and hitting up some of that direct market money. But the quality is good overall and it doesn't suffer from being wildly different from what it's based on.

In Summary:
I've had mixed feelings about the first season of the show but this standalone piece with really only one real episode to it was a nice break in the midst of everything else I've been watching. If it had been the usual three to four I'm not sure I'd feel the same way. It's a great jump on point for those wanting to check out what the show is about but its value comes into question; released for just under thirty dollars, I was surprised that it was so high for what is one single OVA episode. If the other episode wasn't a recap I wouldn't blink at it since I'm so used to it over the last fifteen years or so, but it's a real hard sell to me at this price with only one new episode.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Interviews with the staff,Valkyrie World Notes,Japanese commercial,Clean opening animation,Clean closing animation

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Samsung BD-P1000 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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