Mania Grade: C
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- Audio Rating: B
- Video Rating: A
- Packaging Rating: B
- Menus Rating: B
- Extras Rating: N/A
- Age Rating: TV PG
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: ADV Films
- MSRP: 54.98
- Running time: 300
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie
UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie Season 1 Collection (Thinpak)
By Paul Gaudette
February 11, 2008
Release Date: June 26, 2007
UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie Season 1 Collection (Thinpak)
What They Say
© ADV Films
Despite his parents' protests, Kazuto Tokino has taken it upon himself to run his late grandfather's bathhouse. But with no previous management experience, Kazuto must rely on his sunny disposition to keep his new business afloat. When the alien Princess Valkyrie destroys the bathhouse, mortally wounding Kazuto in the process, dark clouds seem poised to rain on his parade of optimism. With a magical kiss, the princess saves Kazuto's life, but at a grave cost to her own: transformed into an 8-year old, she is stranded on Earth, unable to fend for herself.
Now, with an entire solar system out searching for her shrunken highness, Kazuto must defend the Tokino bathhouse, not only from hordes of alien invaders, but also from his new, hyper-adorable, sugary-sweet little houseguest!
Contains all 12 episodes of season one.The Review!
Shouldn’t a show with loads of fan-service and catgirls be more memorable?Audio:
I primarily listened to the English stereo mix for the purposes of this review, but briefly checked the Japanese track as well. Both are pretty solid. The speakers occasionally get a decent workout from the music and sound effects. It sounds nice and everything is cleanly separated for the most part. There are a few moments where voices were layered on top of each other and a little hard to understand such as in the airport in the first episode. However, these were very rare. Some nice moments of directionality are sprinkled throughout the show as well.Video:
Originally produced in 2002, the show is presented in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. The palette of this series is extremely vibrant with solid designs, and ADV gives it a chance to shine on DVD. The transfer is very clean with no instances of noise or artifacting. The only minor problem is that there was a moment or two of split-second banding on the last disc. It was non-intrusive though, and this is really just nit-picking a fantastic transfer for a good-looking series. Packaging:
Valkyrie receives the standard thinpack treatment from ADV. Each disc is in its own slimcase and they are housed in a sturdy box. The only complaint I have is that the art on the box is a bit conflicted. The muted pastel background and flowers would indicate a show marketed towards women, but the panty-shot and ample, pointy breasts seem to say otherwise. To be fair, the show itself seems to struggle with its ideal audience as well. Fortunately, the product description does a better job of portraying the show and marrying the divergent designs.Menus:
The menu design is very simplistic, but it gets the job done. The main menu of every disc features full-color characters over a bright single-color design. The front menu has options for every episode on the disc and the language select screen. The first disc also features an option for trailers to other shows. Everything’s legible, and access times are fast.Extras:
Unfortunately, none of the extras from the single-volume releases found their way into this set. Content:
Kazuto has taken it upon himself to run his family’s floundering bathhouse. On one ordinary evening, a spaceship crash-lands straight into the building and Kazuto himself. Fortunately for him, the reckless driver is Valkyrie, a royal princess of Valhalla who feels so terrible about the whole thing that she gives him half of her soul and brings him back to life. (Who needs insurance?) This pledge complicates everything by seeming to signal the couple’s engagement as well as turning the princess into a child in both mind and body. However, she can be briefly brought back to full maturity when the two kiss and help out with some extraordinary powers. Soon, crazy characters like Valkyrie’s sisters and the royal catgirl maid flock to the small business. The engagement has also stunned Val’s suitors as well as Akina, Kazuto’s childhood friend who secretly harbors a crush for the boy. (Surprise!)
If there’s one problem with UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie, it’s that the show is mind-bogglingly average. If there are two problems, then it has one of the worst pilot episodes that this reviewer has ever seen. Valkyrie is a patchwork of various ideas that any casual anime fan will recognize. It seems like the creators wanted to make the series more intriguing by starting the series with an average story that would take place somewhere in the middle of the first season. Unfortunately, there is no exposition in the entire episode and it confuses the viewer far more than it intrigues. (I actually double-checked the disc to make sure that I had inserted the first.)
After the pilot, the show gets a proper start in the second episode and redeems itself quite a bit by the end of the season. It is sure to bring a smile to the face of any fan of romantic comedies or magical girl shows. This is due to some charming character designs and cute storylines as well as an overall light atmosphere. The few villains in the show never appear threatening, and it makes for some nice light viewing. In most respects, it would be perfect for children. That is, of course, if there weren’t on-screen nudity every couple of minutes. The nudity is never vulgar or sexually charged, but it is there. All… The… Time.
There should be a special mention of one thing that Valkyrie really does well. That’s the central relationship of Kazuto and Valkyrie. Considering the hook of the show is that Valkyrie changes into a preteen when their relationship begins, the plot could run the risk of being unbelievable, or even worse, creepy. However, the writers managed to avoid that whole mess by having Valkyrie change behavior and mentalities when she’s a girl and when she’s a woman. Thus, “Val” and Valkyrie seem like different characters. Kazuto acts like a caring older brother with Val and a fiancé to Valkyrie. It’s obvious that the show’s creators wanted to avoid the stigma of lolicon as there are some carefully laid jabs at the idea in the early episodes.
The show had me smiling for most of its twelve episodes but a good comedy needs to be able to make its audience laugh, and unfortunately, laugh-out-loud moments are in short supply. In fact, I don’t remember laughing once until the fifth episode. Fortunately, things picked up from there as Miss Sanada, the catgirl maid, got a bit crazier, and Laine, Valkyrie’s spoiled little sister came on the scene. While every character in the show is likable in some way, these two were actually funny and made the show more fun during the second half of the season.
However fun it may be though, Valkyrie still brings nothing new or unique to the table. As a result, it is mostly forgettable which doesn’t bode well for a show with multiple seasons. If a show like Please Teacher is a nice bottle of wine in the world of romantic comedies, then Valkyrie is a light beer. Tastes great. Less filling. In Summary:
UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie is an enjoyable but average sci-fi romantic comedy with some nice magical girl moments. Fans of either genre could do a lot worse than spending some time with Val and the gang, but the show is mostly forgettable. If you’re a hardcore fan looking for something new, the series might be worth a rental or a purchase if you can find it cheap enough. Be aware that there is nothing final about the end of this season though. Hopefully, Valkyrie is able to set itself apart in the following seasons.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles
Review Equipment: 26” Olevia 16:9 LCD HDTV, Sony Playstation 3 (upconverted to 720p through HDMI), Kenwood 550-watt 5.1 surround system