Urusei Yatsura TV Vol. #01 - Mania.com

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Mania Grade: B+

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: AnimEigo
  • MSRP: 29.99
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Urusei Yatsura

Urusei Yatsura TV Vol. #01

By Chris Beveridge     February 05, 2002
Release Date: August 04, 2000

Urusei Yatsura TV Vol. #01
© AnimEigo

What They Say
When the Oni, a race of Aliens, come to repossess the Earth, they give us one chance to save our planet--a champion, selected at random, must defeat their princess, Lum, in their national sport--Tag! When Ataru lays eyes on Lum, he agrees to take on the task of touching her horns. When the contest begins, he finds out that the Oni forgot to mention that Lum can fly! When all seems lost, his girlfriend Shinobu promises to marry him if he wins. Win he does, but Lum misinterprets his victory cry as a proposal of marriage--to her! Now Lum's planning their wedding and zapping him with electricity if he looks at other women. His girlfriend isn't sure if she's been jilted or saved from a life of misery. Then Lum's friends and relatives start visiting, and things start to get really weird! Episodes 1-4.

The Review!
After over a year since the pre-order begin, and the year of campaigning before that to bring it to DVD, Urusei Yatsura has now arrived. And it is good.

Originally released as a five disc set (with individual volumes to be released later), putting that first disc into the player began to ease the shakes that I've had from the withdrawal. This is now the third time I've purchased these episodes. Originally on VHS for the first twenty tapes, then the first laserdisc box set which covered the first ten VHS tapes and now finally the DVD box set, which covers the first five tapes.

And with each purchase over the past 8 years, the price has dropped and the quality has gone up.

Urusei Yatsura dates back to 1981 when it originally aired in Japan. If you were expecting anything besides a mono soundtrack, you'll be disappointed. However, if you didn't have any real expectations in this regard, you'll be more than pleased that the show sounds exactly like it should. Dialogue was clean and understandable.

What was a surprise to us though was just how good the video looked for this show. While not a masterpiece of animation, especially early on, the transfer and compression is very well done. Some of the backgrounds in these episodes look a little pixelated in how they shift, but it was only noticeable to us if we got right up close to the screen looking for it. I hauled out my old laserdiscs to compare, and this transfer looks much cleaner to us. There is noticeable print damage in some places as well as a few nicks and scratches here and there, but to me at this time it simply adds more character to the show.

Contrary to the few images that were let out prior to the release, the cover is not red, but a dark shade of pink. The cover is definitely busier than the old VHS ones which were blue background with a single character on the front. The back cover gives a good synopsis of the first batch of episodes and a listing of the AnimEigo staff. The included liner notes in recipe card fashion are top notch. Never again should anyone who owns this set ask what suffixes mean what. On the downside of the package, region coding isn't listed anywhere and I personally dislike the flippy piece inside that lets you put two discs inside of one package. If you're that short of space, buy yourself a 200 disc booklet holder and store away the keepcases somewhere else.

In regards to the menu, the only time you'll want to use it is when you want to select a specific episode without just skipping chapters to get where you want. There's no subtitle on/off selection (or any indication of there being Morse code subtitles). Otherwise it's pretty functional.

So what else is good about this disc? How about the content? As I mentioned earlier, this is the third time I've bought this so obviously I like it. When Urusei Yatsura was first released, they did two tapes a month. One TV tape and one movie tape. The first two TV tapes and the first movie were amusing and laced with many many many bits of Japanese culture and history which I found interesting. But to commit to what could be almost 50 tapes just of TV episodes alone? I decided to give it another month or two since I had them ordered.

Movie 2, Beautiful Dreamer, showed me where the series could go, and from there on I was hooked. The first couple of discs follow similarly in terms of TV episodes, in that there's some good stuff, but so much of it just feels rushed and a little hectic. Never mind that almost every episode introduces more and more characters.

That's one of the long term appeal points to Urusei Yatsura though. While there are lots of characters introduced, all are distinct and they do change over time. Movie 2 showed me that early on and gave me reason to keep watching to see their evolution to that point. While many things stay the same, the complexity of the interactions grows.

The first four episodes presented here give you the initial core group, though that group does grow over the next several releases. You have the worlds greatest lecherous man, Ataru Moroboshi. You have the hot alien bikini-clad Lum. You've got Jariten, Lum's toddlerish cousin. The group of Lum's Stormtroopers who became beholden by her. Shinobu, the long suffering girlfriend of Ataru that has fingernails that can reach across the phone.

And two of my favorites, Ataru's mother and father. Throughout many episodes they and others can be seen doing certain things no matter the situation. World coming to an end? There's Mr. Moroboshi reading the paper. Ataru causing oil to rain down from the sky? There's Mrs. Moroboshi going on about she should never have had him.

Bits like these exist for all the characters and they've become part of an group of anime fans jargon. The term of affection "Darling" became popular here and within another of AnimEigo's shows, Kimagure Orange Road.

To me, these first few episodes aren't the greatest the series has to offer by a longshot. But they do serve very well in introducing a sizeable cast and getting right to the heart of the matter.

Highly recommended.

Japanese Language,English Subtitles,Morse Code Subtitles

Review Equipment
Toshiba CF36H50 36" TV, Pioneer 414 codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster S-Video cable and Sony speakers.


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