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: 24.98
- 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. #36
By Chris Beveridge
April 05, 2005
Release Date: April 29, 2005
Urusei Yatsura TV Vol. #36
What They Say
In volume 36 of the show that knows why the chicken crossed the road, the school gruonds become a battlegruond between the students and a group of chain-saw wielding tomato lovers in "Tomobiki High School Survival Game! Who Whill Be The Sole Survivor?" Ryoko plans a wedding and a little revenge when Mendou throws a New Year's party inside of a giant cake in "The Mysterious Humongous Cake! Love Escape Panic!" Ataru and the gang crash on a mysterious island where bamboo shoots flourish and dreams come to life in "The Reincarnation of Hell! What Is Darling Thinking?!" And finally, Lum provides some special planetary juice with entertainingly strange effects in "Theatrical Panic: The Mendou Clan's Cherry-Blossom Banquet!"The Review!
The opening volume to the eighth box set release, the episodes here are a mix of the pretty good and fairly average, but it does get the juices flowing for enjoying more of one of my favorite franchies.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 dark 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. Lum gets the cover once more with a shot from one of the episodes with her in a really nice kimono and her hair done up nicely. 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.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)
Picking up in the 1985 episodes, we're still in January with this set of episodes and the show has some of that post New Year feel to it in that they're not quite the best material we've seen but there's still some good fun to be had in here.
This volume is a bit heavy when it comes to all things Mendou which isn't a surprise since his character and background certainly allow for some mighty strange things to happen. In fact, Lum almost seems to take more of a backseat with these episodes. Mendou throws a party for his sister for the New Year and he ends up building a massive cake for it outside that's several stories tall and he thinks he manages to keep the entire thing a secret from her. Of course, Ryoko knows all about it and she's made plans to use the event as a way to get Ton to come visit her and marry her on top of the cake in a candy wedding chapel that's up there. This plan won't go well though when her messenger gives Ton the message, he misreads it completely as a challenge that comes from Shutaro instead and heads off to cause chaos at the party.
The party itself is a lot of fun since it's done so over the top in typical Mendou style and there's just so much of everything. The idea of a multi-story cake alone is fun to see bear out, especially when the Shutaro realizes they have to get to the top of it to stop what's going to happen there. Instead of calling in a helicopter or something else, the gang decides it's best to eat their way there and it's like an ant farm version of Urusei Yatsura. I really liked the comedy of this episode but it really felt like it pushed a lot of the characters to the side that normally stay in the foreground.
This set of episodes does have its share of weirdness. The opening episode deals with the schools gardening club who are distraught after Ten burns down their greenhouse and all of their tomatoes are burned to the ground. These people are die-hard in their passion, to the point where every tomato was named, so it's not surprising that they take the entire thing really bad and it ends up in some weird match of them versus everyone else while they try to keep the last of their tomatoes alive. What really struck me about the episode is that there would even be any kind of greenhouse left on the school grounds after all these years or that this would be the first time it was completely destroyed.
What turned out to be my favorite episode is the last one where, once again, Mendou brings everyone together in the class to check out his personal greenhouse where they're having a spring celebration in the midst of winter. With it being nearly 5,000 square meters, it's an impressive enclosed place that's filled with tall trees, cherry blossoms and lots of varied plants and flowers. There's some amusing bits early on related to the schooling of the kids and how they continue to get out of their education and do other things, but it's when Lum makes a little magic with the drinks, everyone finds themselves being someone else as they act out an old play together. They're literally drunk into another mindset and don't remember who they are and instead act out these new interconnected lives while the minions for the Mendou clan help them with sets and props. When it overflows into Tomobiki proper, it just gets more comical as people aren't sure if it's an advertisement or something more.In Summary:
With the show getting closer and closer to those final volumes, though it's still some fourteen away after this, the series hasn't lost any of its real charm that has kept me interested all this time. AnimEigo's ability to get them done a bit quicker now has only made me all the more a fan of the show since it's been something that's not once in a blue moon but something much more frequent. This volume has a good mix of episodes and while there are no true standouts, it's filled with material that makes the series so darn fun to watch and just kept me smiling.
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.