Mania Grade: B+
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- Audio Rating: B
- Video Rating: C+
- Packaging Rating: B+
- Menus Rating: C-
- Extras Rating: N/A
- Age Rating: 13 & Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: AnimEigo
- MSRP: 24.95
- 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. #17
By Chris Beveridge
December 15, 2003
Release Date: April 30, 2003
Urusei Yatsura TV Vol. #17
What They Say
In the 17th and wackiest installment (so far) of Urusei Yatsura, the gang meets Ryuunosuke, a "boy" whose father wanted a son and wasn't going to let a little matter of gender stand in his way.The Review!
For four straight episode, all I had was a goofy grin on my face as I sank back into the warm comfort that is Urusei Yatsura.Audio
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its only language of Japanese. With the show being so old, it's a very basic audio track that's listed as 2 channel but is essentially a mono mix with everything coming through the center channel. Dialogue is clear and there aren't any noticeable dropouts, but the volume does sound a bit lower than discs we're used to listening to. Otherwise, it's about what you've come to expect from this show.Video
Things are about as expected here. Colors look good for the most part though there's some occasional bleeding in the reds which is more noticeable in the last episode with the pickled plums than elsewhere. There's the usual amount of noticeable macroblocking in some of the blue sky backgrounds and some very minor instances of cross coloration in a few areas, but nothing that really detracts in the end. The feel of the cels is just more apparent as we get further into the series. There's an overall fuzziness around most of the characters that give some of the lines a really soft jittery look in places. Some episodes have more visible in terms of source issues, such as the opening episode here that was grainier than normal and showed off more ghosting than you would see in other episodes.Packaging
Instead of the pink striped covers that we’ve had, they’re still the same style but a bluish purple and look bad when sitting next to the other volumes.. This volume has nice shot of a reflective Lum while SD versions of various cast members run around her. The back cover maintains consistency to the past volumes and provides a short bit on the episodes here as well as a character biography on Lum’s parents. The recipe cards continue as we get a new one here that details various cultural references for the four episodes on the disc.Menu
Episode selection is from the main screen, and whichever episode is highlight, it also lists its original air date. There's no selection for languages/subtitles, since it defaults to the only language and with subtitles on. While not the most appealing menus in the world, they're fast and functional, and people are likely never to really need them. One thing I absolutely did not like is the inability on any of my players to be able to use the STOP button during the menu. You actually have to either start the program or go into the video credits to be able to stop the disc from playing. And while it hasn’t happened on my players, some people are reporting that the show auto-starts after playing through the menu once.Extras
: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With these four episodes, we get more of the usual wackiness that is Lum and company, two new character introductions and more reasons why I consider this to be one of the best Takahashi series.
The fun gets going again here with the introduction of Ryuunosuke, a young man who we’ve seen in the movies and OVAs previously on other formats, but is brand new to those who have only been getting the TV series DVDs. Ryuu and his father live along the beach and operate the Hamajaya, which translates to “beachside café”. The difference for them is that his father insists on running it year round, even when nobody is at the beach at all and all there is are blizzards. His father is working his life away for Ryuu to become the 4th generation family owner of the café and to carry on the tradition.
Having the issue of being demanded to take over the family business is only part of young Ryuu’s problems though. Ryuu is actually a girl, but her father only insists that she’s a he and puts her through a boys life, from clothes to relationships and everything in between. He denies her anything feminine, which only pushes their relationship to strained edges that they deal with by brutal fist fights. Ataru and company get introduced to them when they arrive at the beach a bit early in the season and find only them going about their training. They naturally get roped into trying to help each side, though with Ataru and Mendou, they’re doing everything that they can for Ryuu when they discover her secret.
Ryuu and her father make a second appearance later in this disc when the two of them move into the school store at Tomobiki after the events of their introduction. The relationship between these two continues to be the focal point, such as her father sewing the character for “man” on her school uniform. And that’s after he enrolls her as a boy and insists she wear the male uniform. Ryuu ends up having to deal with that plus the additional problems of being a very effeminate and attractive man at that. Even when the girls learn he’s a she, they’re still head over heels about her.
This episode gets even more twisted when Ryuu comes across Ran and finds her to be the most girly girl she’s ever known and wants to learn from her. Ryuu’s approach is all wrong and all Ran thinks is that another boy is hounding her and starts putting her own little machinations into gear, especially since it’s a boy from Lum’s class.
A really good episode here goes in a direction that most of Takahashi’s long running material doesn’t, especially compared to Ranma, which is far more popular in the US. Ataru throws something of a fit when he finds out that Lum doesn’t remember that his birthday is coming up and completely upsets the balance in things. Lum stops going to school and spends most of her day and night out wandering (by movie posters of such things as Laughing Target no less). Ataru finds himself not caring at first while everyone at school is getting concerned about the lack of Lum in their lives.
This episode meanders around a fair bit as it tries to tell its story, and we see things such as Lum being reflective and some good material about the Stormtroopers gearing up to figure out what’s going on. But it’s key moments in this episode that reminded me again and again why I love this series so much. Even though it is extremely episodic with little impact from one show to the next, there is a continuing and obvious deep love between Lum and Ataru and vice versa. Whenever Ataru realizes he goes to far or has done something so completely wrong, that perfect look crosses his face as it hits him just how much he does love her.
Having taken in so many seasons of Ranma in such short order, it’s that kind of chemistry that’s lacking as those seasons progressed that helped me dismiss it all the more. Urusei Yatsura continues to be one of my all-time favorite comedies because it knows how to balance out the strange and bizarre with the emotions and characters that hit home smartly. Sixty-six episodes (or eighty-nine stories) into the series and I can’t get enough of it. And considering there’s well over one hundred more to go, I can’t wait.
Japanese Language,English Subtitles
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.