UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie Vol. #2 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: TV MA
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie

UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie Vol. #2

By Chris Beveridge     April 26, 2006
Release Date: May 09, 2006


UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie Vol. #2
© ADV Films


What They Say
At the Tokino bathhouse, life seems to get weirder by the second. The Interstellar Pirate Guild wants to kidnap Valkyrie. Yet another spaceship crash-lands on Earth, piloted by a deceptive, shape-shifting she-devil who will stop at nothing to win Valkyrie's love. And finally, when a gaggle of overworked catgirls boards a bus to head for a vacation at the beach, the hilarity goes into overdrive! There's plenty of skin. Lots of outrageous skirmishes. And a sinfully silly karaoke session that you've got to see (and hear) to believe! So sit down, strap in and get ready for a laugh-out-loud ride " in the second zany installment of UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie!


The Review!
The series takes a bit of a slower turn for a few episodes as it fleshes out more of the world that these series plays in.

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 2002, 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 good mix of artwork as it presents the adult versions of Valkyrie and Hydra with Hydra being the one done in a softer style. 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 circle that has an older version of Hyde in a bath towel while enjoying a beer 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 an orange 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:
The series continues to be good with extras as this volume has a good selection. We get the clean opening and closing sequences and a new round of world notes to help flesh things out a bit more. There's a video segment that shows the recording of the "Our Miracle" song and a set of messages from the Japanese voice actors to the fans. There's also the first part in a roundtable of sorts discussion with the voice actors as they talk about their roles and the series.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
UFO Ultramaiden is a bit of a surprise in its second installment as the episodes slow down fairly well for the first half of the disc and it's not quite as frenetic or hectic as the first volume was in total. This actually helps as it lets some of the secondary characters get more screen time and flesh them out a bit but when you go in expecting the show to be just as fast paced as the first volume it ends up being almost a disappointment.

The experience with this disc left me in a couple of different states. The opening episode was a lull almost but enjoyable while the second episode picked things up a bit more and felt similar to the first volume a bit. But the third episode introduces yet another alien princess and I almost felt like tuning out, but if I did I would have missed a really fun fourth episode. The interest in this particular volume is just all over the map and it's hard to pin down exactly what it is that did it. The first volume had some interesting bits of humor to it and the strangeness of all the aliens is fun but it was just too fast paced. This one almost seems to go the other way and it's still just got a feel to it that doesn't quite work for me.

The opening episode is rather good as it lets Rika get some time to shine as it follows her through a couple of days of her life, from the school related stuff she does where she's a top student that studies hard and is oblivious to romance to how she squeezes in things while helping Kazuto out at the bathhouse. There is a very minor subplot that plays out in it about an alien whose come to kidnap Valkyrie but it's all humor based stuff as opposed to anything that really has any merit to it. Rika's able to hold the episode together pretty well though she's not a lead character and it provides a good look into the town and changes it's gone through with the arrival of the aliens and how most normal people have adapted to it.

The middle two episodes were a bit of a mix but also a disappointment as well, though not unexpected. Sanada gets to have a good bit of fun as her new camcorder has come in and she's intent on making a movie of Valkyrie that showcases everything that Sanada and her catgirl army find good about her. They tend to get in the way of a lot of people and you find Kazuto not liking how its playing out but Valkyrie doesn't mind as much and she tends to get her way. It's got some amusing moments as it's like the first episode in that it fleshes out the casual relationships a bit more but the payoff is that they do show the movie at the end, or most of it, and Sanada's view of her princess is just hilarious. As amusing as it was, it didn't help going into the next episode where a new alien princess shows up who wants Valkyrie back home with her so she can be closer to her because, like always, she's the only one who truly loves Valkyrie and can show it properly. It's so completely by the book that you can see the page numbers on the screen.

While that may not have worked for me since I wanted to turn the disc off as it played out, I did find myself rather amused by the last episode in which Sanada takes everyone including the maid team for an overnight stay at a resort so they could get some good R&R and fun before getting back to the daily grind. It's your basic hot springs and resort kind of episode with lots of fanservice throughout it but it just worked right somehow, partially because so many of the catgirls are still faceless characters for the most part and they were able to do just general antics without it affecting anything major. The main characters get to have some fun as well but it was a light and amusing way to close out the show after being so bored by the third one.

In Summary:
Valkyrie is one of the series where there are some amusing bits to be found in how the show plays out but I still can't find myself actually liking any of the characters or being all that interested in what they're doing. Some of what they do is amusing and fun to watch but it lacks a connection, leaving it to be little more than just fluff and fanservice. Fans of the show will once again love how this release has turned out as it looks great, has the original covers and plenty of good Japanese extras. But if you're burning out hard on harem shows or just the fluffy material with no depth, this is one to avoid.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Tokinoyu Bathhouse UFO Chat Part I with original Japanese cast members Ken'ichi Suzumura (Kazuto) Rie Tanaka (Ms. Sanda) Chinami Nishimura (Hydra) and Hisayo Mochizuki (Young Valkyrie),The Valkyrie World Notes,Messages from the Seiyuu and Staff,Moochi's Poyoyon Recording Our Miracle,Clean opening animation,Clean closing animation

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI set to 480p, 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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