Urusei Yatsura Movie 2: Beautiful Dreamer Collectors Edition - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: A
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Central Park Media
  • MSRP: 29.99
  • Running time: 90
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Urusei Yatsura

Urusei Yatsura Movie 2: Beautiful Dreamer Collectors Edition

By Chris Beveridge     June 05, 2004
Release Date: June 08, 2004



What They Say
Ataru was a normal teenage loser until he met the beautiful space princess Lum. Now he's a loser with a superpowered alien girlfriend! Lum's very existence throws the space-time continuum completely out of whack, and the star-crossed couple is trapped in an alternate reality bursting with obnoxious aliens!

The Review!
The second Urusei Yatsura movie, Beautiful Dreamer stands out as one of my all time favorite anime movies.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this movie in its original language of Japanese (but with the directors' commentary track subtitles playing along). The Japanese track used for this release is the standard stereo mix which is good but not very expressive. The English track included appears to be the same stereo mix from the previous release back in the late 90's. Unfortunately, the Japanese 5.1 track didn't make it over for this release, which is a disappointment considering how much it actually managed to build upon the stereo mix.

Video:
When the Japanese remaster came out, I went against my usual standards and ended up really enjoying the changes made from the film going from a 1.33:1 aspect ratio to the 1.78:1 ratio and being enhanced for anamorphic playback. CPM opted for whatever reason to not go that route and acquire that transfer but instead to take their existing materials and put it through the same process that their other older properties have like Project A-Ko with the DVNR mastering. The result is a good looking transfer here that definitely rises above their previous one from the early days of DVD but it doesn't achieve the same lushness in color quality of the Japanese release, nor does it quite make it to the same level of detail in comparison either. The transfer in general is very good though and definitely an improvement, but not one without its faults. For some unknown reason, CPM has opted for hard subtitles to be placed throughout the print for various signs and location changes. I couldn't believe it when I saw it and had to back it up and try messing with the subtitle tracks just to make sure I wasn't imagining it. I did not care for this aspect at all.

Packaging:
Going with the traditional image, we have the great shot of Lum floating down while you can see the city in the background. There?s a lot of detail here that gets missed quite easily if you simply scan over it. It?s really the consistent image used over the years and I?m glad to see they didn?t mess with perfection. The back cover provides a number of screenshots from the show as well as a summary and the basic technical specs. The reverse side cover has a very amusing super deformed panel of all the characters running around the stairways that invert on themselves while the other panel has the standard production information such as cast lists and chapter listings.

Menu:
The menu is a simple layout with the image of Lum from the cover with the selections set alongside it. The layout is fairly standard and free of navigational glitches or transitional animations, so it flows quickly and is easy to get around in. Of course, there's still the issue of selecting a language forcing the program to play, but if they're still hard subbing their prints they're never going to fix this.

Extras:
In the extras department, it's small and large time depending on what you're interest in. The small extra is a gallery of stills, some black and white pieces and some color pieces, of various shots from the film. The big extra but probably a useless one for some is the full length commentary track by Oshii. This is a newly commissioned one that's different from the Japanese release and it goes into all sorts of truly fascinating details about the films production, Oshii's thoughts on it and how it influenced his career and other films and a lot more. The disc is worth the price of admission to hear from him on a subject I don't think he's talked too much on in quite some time. I wish he'd helm a new Urusei Yatsura movie, just to go back to his roots one more time.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The story of Beautiful Dreamer is one of my favorites of the traditional Japanese tales. Taking the classic story that?s similar to Rip Van Winkle, but with turtles and temples, it gets a modern update via Rumiko Takahashi?s characters, characters that often mess with the classics. Oshii?s take on this is far darker than the TV series usually gets, but it also finds its launching point from there, as the dream maker Mujaki and his little pig from one episode get reworked and re-introduced to be the main cause of the tale.

It?s the school festival, and everyone is working hard to make their particular class project the real winner. Since it?s self-management time, everyone is doing extra duty to make sure it all comes off without a hitch. And that means working day and night and staying overnight at the school itself. But for some of the characters, it feels like they?re repeating things day after day, and we slowly learn that something is vastly wrong with this situation as characters continue to disappear.

From an energetic and fun opening, the world of Tomobiki changes gradually until most of the city is in ruins, and hardly anyone is left but our cast members. Most of them simply go off to enjoy life with Lum and friends, enjoying the days of their youth and playing as much as can be. Others are investigating the mystery though, and trying to figure out what went wrong with the world and where the disappeared people have gone.

This movie was originally released very early in the US schedule back in the VHS days, when a number of the characters hadn?t been introduced into the series yet. While that made parts of it difficult to watch, the majority of it was very easy to take in. Watching how various characters deal with the situation in a longer format than a TV episode was really needed. Seeing Megane go and start quoting his own horrendously long series of novels to Sakura starting up her own store, or to most of the characters simply having fun with Ataru?s parents adapt to having everyone live with them. And, of course, having Mendou seem entirely out of whack by driving around in a tank all the time while everyone plays with Lum.

With Beautiful Dreamer, Oshii explores the themes of storytelling that have been part of his psyche since he was a youngster and started to really think about what reality meant. The story here, though based partially in folktales, is one that has permeated a lot of his works and always seems to have him trying to question what reality is and what we perceive reality to be. As with past viewings, each new one provides more glimpses into what makes this movie as good as it is and new details creep into it. After listening to Oshii talk about it, with it's short production time and the similarities to the animation studio and people that he was working with, the little nuggets he offers in the commentary track really do enhance how this is viewed.

In Summary:
Beautiful Dreamer is much like my quote on the back of this release states, a great anime classic, to me. It was a pivotal movie that altered my impressions not only of the Urusei Yatsura franchise as a whole but of anime in general. It went from a medium that had lots of robots and action and the increasing role of babes with guns to something that could provide engaging suspenseful storytelling without massive explosions or exploitive sex scenes. It's unfortunate that some of the best elements of this particular piece didn't make it over for this release, such as the 5.1 mix, but even more disappointing is the apparent need to cut corners but hard subtitling parts of the show. I have major praise for CPM for getting Oshii to come over and provide such a great commentary track, but the release is marred by things like this in my mind.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Feature-length Director's Commentary by Mamoru Oshii,Art Gallery

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, 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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