Mania Grade: B
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- Audio Rating: B
- Video Rating: B-
- Packaging Rating: B-
- Menus Rating: B-
- 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. #31
By Chris Beveridge
December 26, 2004
Release Date: November 07, 2004
Urusei Yatsura TV Vol. #31
What They Say
In volume 31 of the show that has more uses than the peanut, Sakura loses her wand and Cherry oses a drunken demon in "Exercise: Exorcise! Beautiful Sakura." A pool cleaning turns into a science experiment of bilical propotions in "Revenge of the Protozoa: Poolside Rampage!" That space queen returns to look for love in all the wrong places in "Princess Kurama: Love Hunter." And a shape-shifting fox comes to town to repay the debt of an old friend in "The Fox's Lonely Unrequited Love."The Review!
Continuing with the mix of outright slapstick and strong emotional moments, Urusei Yatsura shows its strengths in nearly every episode.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. The problems we experienced previously with the macroblocking in the backgrounds, particularly blue skies, are far less pronounced this time around and in general the transfers seem a bit brighter and sharper. The feel of the cels continue to be apparent as we get further into the series. Some of the ghosting issues are still there and there's a fair bit of aliasing to be seen in many scenes but overall this looks like I expected it to but a bit better.Packaging:
The purple flavored covers continue here and while they're not the best looking covers, they're all we're going to get with this series. Ataru returns to gracing the covers again with his usual big grin while Mendou and Lum look on behind him. As usual, it's decent enough considering how few materials are available but it's just very soft and indistinct in so many areas due to its sourcing. The back cover maintains consistency to the past volumes and provides a short bit on the episodes as well as a character shot and witty comment. No inserts or "recipe cards" are included with this release as they've been moved to program notes on the DVD itself, a change I'm fully for and welcome with a big smile.Menu:
Episode selection is from the main screen, and whichever episode is highlight, it also lists its original air date. The layout remains the same as past volumes but this looks a bit better with an actual background, this time of a darkened moon in the sky, helps it to not feel quite as bland as earlier menus. One thing area that's also finally fixed is the ability to use the stop button from the menus, something that was weirdly disabled before and required you to actually be in the show to get it to stop playing.Extras:
(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After a few weeks break between volumes, getting back into Urusei Yatsura is one of the easiest things to do. As soon as that music kicks in during the opening sequence, it all comes rushing back and puts you in the right frame of mind for it. This volume has a number of good episodes that run the gamut in terms of both style and the characters we get to interact with. The last couple had been fairly heavy with Mendou and related activities but here we get to have more of the cast involved in the variety.
The opening episode brings Sakura back into play after something of a hiatus and she's just as much fun as always. With something of a big exorcism coming up, she has her uncle purify her wand for her so that she can tackle things as they need to be, but when she gives it up to him, the spirits tend to flock to her for her… natural beauty. They're genuinely attracted to her and show it. Sakura makes the mistake of not skipping school though and ends up with Ataru wanting to help her out while Mendou and the others try to deny the reality they see with all the spirits around her. The spirits are a lot of fun, particularly the dragon snake one that keeps wrapping itself around her, causing her to moan from being held that tightly but only serves to titillate the poor boys watching. The story changes nicely as it goes along and brings in a particular ghost to cause problems which only add to the bizarre situation. Sakura needed more of a spotlight and this one really gave it to her.
One really big surprise this volume held for me was the return of Princess Kurama. Ever since she and her tengu had shown up really early in the series, she's been a favorite of mine. To her dismay, she still doesn't have a husband and the search has practically stopped. This, as she learns, is because she stopped whining about it constantly so her tengu stopped looking for one. Now in a tizzy, they use their computers to pick the ideal match in the universe. While Ataru lucked out the first time by coming across her, the heavens are still against her as they pick Rei to be the most ideal man for her. That really doesn't say much for her either, but since she doesn't know better they go after him and bring him back, as well as accidentally bringing Ran along who can't stand that someone else is after her man after she's spent all this time cultivating him.
Watching as Rei sort of just accepts what's going on since there's food involved is just comical, particularly since he keeps flashing to his cow self every few seconds but Kurama never sees it. The tengu try to either ignore it or continue to hide it from her since they just want her to finally have a husband and get her pregnant but everything just gets more insane when Ran returns with Lum for help and Ataru stumbles onto things. As is the tradition, the closer to the end of the episode you get, the more faces that start to appear and make more of a mess of things and this one is no different, unfortunately for Kurama.
The opposite ends of comedy and seriousness are tackled nicely in the other two episodes on the disc. One of them has Ten causing problems again when his "space alien snacks" get dissolved in the school's pool water and the protozoa there becomes massive and start to attack everyone. It's priceless when Ataru and Mendou literally get sucked into a super-Protozoa and sent into a genetic memory visual of the past where they meet Adam and Eve. The last minute or so of the episode is even more priceless and is just too scary to really comprehend I think. This story is nicely balanced by the last episode on the disc about the unrequited love of a young fox who is saved by Shinobu from some tough gang dogs. Shinobu's stories over the season or two have really become much more somber and typically filled with rainy moments and sad thoughts. She of course is deserving of such things having to put up with Ataru and getting nowhere with Mendou and they typically play it up just right for her.In Summary:
When series start reaching the numbers that Urusei Yatsura has reached, they've either really got their groove going and are just getting better or they're becoming such tired dogs that you can't believe you're watching it anymore. Unless they're introducing new characters to market as toys and you're a toy junkie. Urusei Yatsura falls into the first though as it seems to only get better with age and with more familiarity with the characters. This volume has lots of good material for everyone involved and does what it does best – it makes me laugh.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Program Notes
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with upconversion set to 720p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.