Urusei Yatsura TV Vol. #50 - Mania.com

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  • Audio Rating: B
  • Video Rating: B-
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B-
  • Extras Rating: A
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: AnimEigo
  • MSRP: 24.95
  • Running time: 50
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Urusei Yatsura

Urusei Yatsura TV Vol. #50

By Chris Beveridge     January 26, 2006
Release Date: June 06, 2006

Urusei Yatsura TV Vol. #50
© AnimEigo

What They Say
Just when you thought it was safe to turn away, volume 50 calls down the lightning and pops open the bottles on two special episodes.

The Review!
I can't really believe that it's over.

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.

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.

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. While not as big of a cast shot as the previous two covers, we get several of the major characters here in a bit of a spiral style image as they're all smiling or just being themselves. The artwork and colors look great and it's good to see so many of the regulars together. 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.

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 the background image is poorly chosen with a very fuzzy shot of Ataru and Lum kissing with far too much black around them, giving it a really bad look. Working properly again is the ability to use the stop button from the menus, something that was weirdly disabled in some volumes before and required you to actually be in the show to get it to stop playing. With the language selections being as they are, the players' presets didn't matter much.

The last volume provides a solid array of extras to flesh out the runtime of the disc. The first is they've done a good sized "yearbook" listing of a lot of the main and secondary characters that have appeared throughout the show with each of them receiving a page about their character. The bigger extra is having all of the opening and ending sequences in a clean format and all together, broken down into two sections. It's fun to be able to go back to openings we haven't seen in years. We also get karaoke versions of several of these songs. The fun extra for this volume is a video piece that shows company CEO Robert Woodhead receiving the final checkdisc for the series and running throughout the office proclaiming its goodness as the series has ended while everyone else looks on from shirking their jobs.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The final volume of Urusei Yatsura has arrived and for me it's the culmination of a time of when I was making the decision whether or not to really follow the world of anime. When it was originally released on VHS I was getting tired of the stream of mediocre action or fantasy titles that were coming out and hoping that there was more to anime that would keep me interested in the long term. Then AnimEigo came out with a TV tape and a movie tape every month of a show that was so highly cultural that it contained extensive liner notes on the tape and in the sleeve to explain many of the gags and situations.

I was in love.

Between the TV run, the movies and the OVAs there were close to forty tapes available that we watched repeatedly. I even upgraded to the massive laserdisc box set that they put out which was unlike any other laserdisc release at the time. Everything about the show and its releases was unlike what was being done by other companies at the time and with its length it was a real rarity then. Others have come and gone since, typically from the same creator, but series of this length simply are few and far between. Even better, it managed for the most part to really hold onto its sense of humor along the way and continued to entertain strongly.

This volume brings us to an area I never thought I'd see through all the releases, delays and the way the DVD releases started from the beginning again instead of picking up where the VHS run had left off. It was certainly hard to go through the delays and then to repeat everything again but it's all come to a conclusion now with the last two episodes bring it all to a close. Of course, with a show like Urusei Yatsura that had movies released during and after its initial airing and then a dozen or so OVAs afterwards, the TV series isn't a real ending to the franchise and this, like many of Rumiko Takahashi's big properties, simply doesn't have a real ending. That said, this volume does end well.

The first episode is one that provides a brief bit of new animation as Cherry and Kotatsu-neko run through the top ten voted episodes by viewers with brief clips and then plays the top episode in full. It's not bad to go back to the episode that won and see it again and I have to give the series credit overall in that they really avoided recap episodes or best of episodes over it's nearly two hundred episode run. So if they pull one of these out near the end I'm not going to really complain that much. The final episode is a good one though that has the principal putting the school through a costume contest with skits. Ataru's class decides to do something based on Amaterasu and Uzume which gets really complicated when the real Amaterasu arrives and starts causing trouble with all of her powers. The show does provide some really good send off moments for Lum and Ataru but it also brings back just about every character you can imagine for a brief appearance.

Urusei Yatsura has been an important part of my being an anime fan. What it provided me across all of these episodes is an admittedly skewed understanding of a lot of Japanese cultural fables, myths and more. Rumiko Takahashi's style of taking moral stories and fables from Japanese history and rewriting them for the audience while still retaining the core ideas combined with the detailed liner notes has given me a strong appreciation of a lot of the material. It's been immensely useful as more and more culturally oriented series have come out over the years because so many of the shows use a lot of these original tales as their basis. It's allowed me to understand so many more little layers and nods in these shows that are a given to the original audience and that's been incredibly valuable.

At the same time, it's also made things frustrating as over the years the growth of fandom has brought in more people who aren't interested in this kind of material. When new shows come out that use aspects of Japanese culture there's always a group of people that are interested in it but there's also a greater level of derision among some that's apparent and even a segment that says such shows shouldn't be licensed because nobody understands those kinds of stories anyway since, from a North American perspective, we haven't grown up with those tales so that don't make sense. Every time I read things like that I'm more and more grateful to AnimEigo for taking the chance and sticking it out as long as they did through all the problems, issues and fan outcry at times. The end result is that I've got a huge series that's given me immense pleasure and has already infected the next generation as my kids find plenty to laugh at just from the physical comedy in the show. They'll be growing up with Lum as they read more and more and I'll be able to re-experience it again and broaden their world view with a wide array of stories.

When your five year old sees a variation on the story of Momotaro's birth in Urusei Yatsura after seeing it initially in Hello Kitty, well, I'm sold on the value of all of this.

In Summary:
The end of Urusei Yatsura is not something I thought I'd ever see. I'm both glad that I've finally reached the end of it but quite saddened by the fact that there is no more. It's been such a constant friend for the last fifteen years or so that to not have something new to see from them again it'll be an emptiness that I know I can't quite replace. My solace is that I'll be able to revisit them at any point and enjoy the stories over and over with my family. This final volume has some solid extras to it that help minimize the overall minimal content but in the end this is just the best way for the show to end, with a bit of a retrospective, a look at the really romantic moment in the two leads lives and then to just bring everyone back for a big party.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Urusei Yatsura Yearbook,Clean Openings/Endings for the entire series,Karaoke Songs,Final Disc Featurette

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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