UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie Vol. #3 - 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: 70
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie

UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie Vol. #3

By Chris Beveridge     July 15, 2006
Release Date: July 04, 2006


UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie Vol. #3
© ADV Films


What They Say
Our outlandish adventure reaches its final frontier... in outer space! And there's more action and intrigue than you can crash a spaceship into! Kazuto is forced to sell his bathhouse. He builds a new bathhouse on an unassuming asteroid! There's a heated battle with the Interstellar Pirate's Guild! A hot spring gushes out of the asteroid! And then, a Valhallian leader makes a proposal that Valkyrie can't refuse: return home and get married immediately! When Kazuto battles his way to the royal planet to rescue Val, things don't exactly turn out as planned. Nothing is certain and anything is possible in the final, frenetic volume of UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie Season One.


The Review!
The first season of the series comes to a close as events force Valkyrie to deal with her real nature.

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 version of Valkyrie in the foreground while the softer design of Akina 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 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 Laine in a bath towel 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 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:
The final volume of the season has a good amount of extras similar to past volumes. The clean opening and closing sequences make their return appearance and a rather amusing and fun extra is the bath house tour of one of the more historical ones in the area that the show is based off of. It's a cute live action piece with the girls from the show taking you around it. The interviews with the staff section has several pages worth of text pieces, presumably from inserts in the Japanese release, that talk with people such as Kenji Kawai and how he did the music, to the sound director and the overall director. The UFO Chat session has its second and final part as well with the Japanese voice actors doing their round table discussion about the show which came as the final volume of the Japanese release came out. The extras also bring another round of the world notes/liner notes to explain some of the cultural oddities, some being fresh and interesting while others are somewhat old hat but still needed for newer fans.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The first season of UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie comes to a close and it provides for a multi-part storyline that deals with some of the basics of the show in terms of the relationship between Kazuto and Valkyrie, which also has a tangent with Akina of course. Naturally, with there being an OVA and another season of the show out there, this season ends in a way that allows for all of that to happen by essentially hitting the grand old reset button at the end, something that diminishes much of the good parts of this volume.

If there's one thing that seems to be true of this series, it's that Laine's only real use is to create chaos when she suddenly arrives. Any time we see her for the first couple of episodes here that's all she does before getting out of town. The opening episode has it bringing in some amusing results though when her ship crashes by the shrine and the force of energy and power causes a reaction among those present; Hydra finds herself reverted to her adult form and free of what was causing her problems before while Akina now finds herself being reduced to that of a child. It's only happening in the physical sense though as she's still a teenager mentally. Since odd things like this are shrugged off, Akina goes about her business while the others try to figure out how to fix it.

Akina's of course rather cute in this form and she doesn't even think twice about it at first but when she ends up at school, everything she does becomes something that a pack of girls just can't help but to find adorable. She's got a few trials to overcome, between working on the blackboard or events in physical education class, but what becomes her greatest problem is that she finds herself becoming a bit quicker to excite when it comes to Kazuto and seeing Valkyrie dote all over him in her cute form. To her surprise, as a child, she's able to say things more easily than she could as a teenager. More importantly though, she finds that being back at this form brings memories back to the surface from her real childhood and how she and Kazuto used to play together and how close they really are. The entire event serves as a good piece that helps Akina understand why she feels the way she does and gives her some amount of internal courage to not back down in the face of someone like Valkyrie.

As much as I like to harp on Laine, she's not the only one that causes trouble. Valkyrie in her childlike state certainly gets into plenty of problems, one of which leads into the three part finale of the season when she finds a computer that has access to her funds and she goes on a shopping spree. Normally that's bad enough in itself, but she ends up purchasing an asteroid some distance out between Earth and her home world. The purchase is hard to deal with though due to Valhalla being unreachable so the group has to come up with the money. For some reason, Kazuto thinks that selling the bath house will cover it which is just a weird way of trying to force him into giving things up for her, but the group decides that their best bet of action, since they can't get all the money they need, is to go to the asteroid and try to negotiate something better.

Naturally, the run down asteroid that has no value of any kind is situated right next door to one of the biggest pirate fleets in the area and they're not going to stand anyone coming around their area. This leads into a rather fun little sequence that has plenty of homages to Captain Harlock as it seems in the anime world, if you use the skull and bones, it can only mean something Harlock related. But it also opens the door to the larger storyline that's being used since the beginning of the volume where Valhalla has been unreachable and there's no information on the interstellar news media about it. The revelation about what's really going on with Valhalla and how it affects the group is amusing and it fits in with how royal families are presented in most anime comedies so there isn't anything too new here or anything really worth "spoiling." What it does in the long run though is bring us full circle to the beginning of the arc where very little has changed even though the leads had some key moments of understanding their own hearts.

That's a problem with most romantic harem style comedies so it's no surprise to see it happen yet again with a series like Valkyrie. The first season as I've been told is the weakest of all the material for it and that so far seems to bear true. There are aspects that have been fun to watch though and it helps to make it passable at times, particularly when it deals with Spot and his long standing grudge match with his brother. Some of the alien aspects have been cute and I can't exactly claim to have any hatred against catgirls and this series is populated with them. I even have little real issue with Kazuto since he doesn't end up in quite as many bad situations with his laid back nature, but the whole child-version concept, even when presented as something where it happens because of an issue with her soul, is one that just gets to be too much. Especially when coming from seeing a number of older shows in the same timeframe that deal with relationships in a much more interesting and mature way.

In Summary:
UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie's first season a prime example of light hearted romantic comedy fluff and it executes it very well. There are a number of things to like about it and they even manage to work in the entire bath house aspect nicely without really overdoing the fanservice side of it. At the same time, it's a show that doesn't really try to do anything new and keeps to the safe concepts and plots that a lot of people have seen a number of times before. This is a great series to get into if you're still relatively new to anime and these formulas are fresh to you, but it's easy to see why it'd be passed over by anyone who's seen any of the dozens upon dozens of similar shows put out in the last decade. I'm holding out hope for the OVA and second season to take what's come here and do something a bit more interesting.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Mocchi & Chinachina's Tatsunoyu Bathhouse Tour,Tokinoyu Bathhouse UFO Chat Part 2,Valkyrie World Notes,Interview with the production team,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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