Urusei Yatsura TV Vol. #20 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • 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. #20

By Chris Beveridge     December 15, 2003
Release Date: April 30, 2003


Urusei Yatsura TV Vol. #20
© AnimEigo


What They Say
In the 20th installment of the TV series that would not die, a holiday trip to a remote island turns into a deadly mystery as the gang gets gruesomely murdered, one after another.

The Review!
Eighty episodes into the series and you’d think things would be getting too repetitive or boring by now. Most series these days can barely tell a decent story in thirteen episodes. Urusei Yatsura only gets better as it goes on.

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. There’s more noticeable ghosting throughout these episodes than some of the earlier ones, or I’m just able to recognize it better now.

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. It’s a change of pace for this cover as we get away from the main single character and have a partying group shot of Mendou, Ataru, Shinobu and Lum that looks really nice. The back cover maintains consistency to the past volumes and provides a short bit on the episodes. The character biographies appear to have come to an end with an amusing note, but at least they provided a busty image of Lum for us to look at. 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. 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:
None.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
I swear that I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop and get a batch of bad episodes, but at most I end up getting maybe one mediocre episode in the midst of several great ones. This volume continues that seeming new tradition, which means I had another great time watching four episodes of this series.

They went right from the creepy and scary factor with the opening episode, where the usual gang of ten (plus one!) arrives on a remote island for a mysterious holiday that they were all invited to. The island is empty save for one large mansion that’s really nicely decked out and fully stocked for a group of ten to live on for just about a week. It’s all quite creepy as nobody knows what’s going on there. Things go bad pretty quickly though as one by one, everyone is seemingly killed off. Onsen Mark realizes people are being killed in relation to the Cock Robin tale, and the remaining few try to brace themselves for what seems inevitable. This is a really well told tale and it keeps things going beautifully right up to the last couple of minutes where things are brought to a climax.

One episode I had never thought I would see followed that. With Ataru, Lum, Ten and the monster sized cat sitting around the table all drooling over the first watermelon of the season, Ataru announces how combat will go for those who want to claim ownership of it. It’s a fun and furious fight, but the end result is having Ataru forcibly question Ten about his parentage, noting that it’s even a courtesy to visit where your child is. Can you say, cue the mother?

And cued she is, as Ten’s mom arrives on her skycycle. And yes, being related to Lum’s mother, she is indeed a hottie. She’s an attractive young mother who is an Intergalactic Firefighter, so she spends a lot of her time on calls. Ten’s attitude around her though is vastly different than he is with anyone else, being completely formal and giving off a sense of fear. Why would Ten be afraid? As we see his past, we learn that she used to tell him about how she captured and tortured pyromaniacs when he was an even smaller child. With his ability to create fires, she’s left him in fear of her. Ataru naturally takes advantage of this and a whole lot of men plan revenge on Ten with it. Ten’s mother is hilarious as well, reacting with lightning speed and flood entire campuses at the thought of a fire.

Probably the best episode here is the final one though, as it centers on Mrs. Moroboshi. She starts off by telling the tale of how the daily routine goes for the men and then about her own daily routine. From there we see her going through her day, but things take an almost “Beautiful Dreamer” approach as she gets knocked out during a super-sale at the department store. From there, she keeps waking up in a doctors office, but each time she ventures outside something different is going on. Be it her husband being dead or a massive alien invasion that forces her to become part of a resistance group, all of it keeps coming back to how her younger self is coping with the reality of her present life and seeking alternatives. It’s a great episode and continues to show the wide range of uses the cast easily fits into. Re-imaginings that are a lot of fun to watch.

This volume also brings something new into play, something I never thought would happen. The last episode brings a new opening sequence into the show! It’s similar in some respects to the long running original one, but it’s neat to see that they actually changed it. I almost figured they would be like the Simpson’s and never change. The end sequence also changes again here to a new song, moving away from the catchy Cosmic Cycler…

Urusei Yatsura only gets better and better. It’s unfortunate that this show is so underappreciated here. The timing, the characters, the execution is all excellent. Those who are getting them, revel with me in how much fun this is.

Features
Japanese Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.

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