Yugo the Negotiator Vol. #2 - Mania.com

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Mania Grade: B+

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: A
  • Age Rating: TV 14
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Yugo the Negotiator

Yugo the Negotiator Vol. #2

By Chris Beveridge     August 28, 2005
Release Date: September 06, 2005

Yugo the Negotiator Vol. #2
© ADV Films

What They Say
When negotiations erupt into all-out war, one man's resolution becomes a matter of life and death! Yugo's negotiations in Pakistan are off to a rocky start, as he is captured by the anti-government dacoits as a prisoner rather than received as an emissary. Sentenced to roast in the sun, he must survive gruesome torture to prove his worth as a hero to the fearsome dacoit leader, Yusuf Ali Mesa. To make matters worse, bloodthirsty Lieutenant Colonel Shadle from the Pakistani Army is hunting Yugo down at every turn to stop the negotiations and wipe out the dacoits. In a war of words, mind, and military might, Yugo must show his adversaries what a true hero is made of.

The Review!
With the three episodes here, the Pakistan arc is brought to a close and showcases some of the most disturbing animated torture scenes I can think of.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The included stereo mix is pretty much par for the course of an adventure show which is what parts of this is when it's not doing dialogue, dialogue and more dialogue. Those sections are well done and the dialogue is placed appropriately around the forward soundstage but it's pretty straightforward material until you get the music or a bit of an action sequence to really hear the stereo channels kick in. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout though and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Originally airing 2004, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. Other than a few areas of noticeable mosquito noise where some of the solid colors such as the grays and browns have a hard time staying solid, this is a solid looking transfer. The earthy nature of the locations and the soft skies and other areas that are kept that way look good throughout here and the general style and tone of the piece keeps it from looking too vibrant. It's not a real stand out piece because of the style they chose to animate it in but it's a good looking piece throughout that does a great job of maintaining a look and feel. Colors look good, aliasing is virtually non-existent and cross coloration wasn't visible during regular playback.

Using the same artwork as the Japanese release but adding in some more background pieces to it of action scenes from Pakistan, Yugo's stripped down body takes the bulk of the property here as he's ready to thrust a knife into his arm while the mad visage of the army commander fills up the background. The disparity between their demeanors is key to this set of episodes. The back cover provides a few sections to go through with a mix of shots from the show and a couple of paragraphs of story summary between them. The discs extras and production information is all easy to find and the technical information is well listed along the bottom. The insert adds a lot of information about the show, from character sketches, a glossary of terms and even a text interview with Takashi Hagino, the Japanese voice of Yugo Beppu.

The menus here are designed to look like someone's about to travel so you have the passport opened up that shows the basic bio information for Yugo on one side while the other has things like maps, papers and other odds and ends underneath the navigation, which is pretty simple with direct episode access, languages and extras, all of which has a brief bit of simple instrumental music playing along to it. The layout is very easy to navigate and the in-theme look works very nicely without being too much. Access times are nice and fast and as is usual, the disc correctly read our players' language presets and played accordingly.

There are a lot of extras included here to help expand your enjoyment of the show. The standards show up in the form of the clean opening and closing sequences as well as some character designs. One thing I didn't think the show would merit but they pulled it off is a music video that covers the Pakistan arc. It just doesn't seem right that a show like this would have a music video. There are a few more interviews with the Japanese side of production here as well. A fresh piece with the voice actor for Yugo is kept by itself and a session with the series character design and the overall planning designer is done together. Much like the first volume, there's a new installment on the cultural adaptation of the show with the advisor and the English language ADR director.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After being pretty impressed with the first half of the Pakistan arc of Yugo the Negotiator, the second half of it really solidified my belief that this show really needs to be thought of as a movie instead of a TV series. If they go afterwards and compile it into a movie length piece I certainly wouldn't complain since it would play out much better in terms of pacing like that. The second half of the arc is what comprises this volume and it's the payoff section to the first volumes setup.

With their capture by Ali and his warriors, Laila and Yugo find themselves close to him but still unable to see him to negotiate. Instead, they've already determined that Yugo will be killed and that he's unworthy of meeting with Ali. His death is set and it's pretty nasty. Taken out in the early morning, he's strapped down to a large flat rock in the middle of a courtyard, his shirt stripped from him and left to die from heat exposure. The guards take bets on how long he'll live and pretty much all of them lose as Yugo lasts longer than any expect. His conversations prior to leaving Tokyo have given him the insight he needs to master the pain he feels as his flesh sears against the hot rock and his mouth runs dry if not for the taste of his own blood.

After noon passes, some of the men are shocked to hear that he's alive and not only that but he's reciting from the Quran. This suddenly changes everything and they start in on a different kind of torture to kill him but applying a kind of ant that will get into his ears and eat away at his brain. But the sudden idea that he's a protected man and divine, quite possibly even a Hero, changes how all of this goes on. Yugo's calling out against Ali and labeling him a coward, something he shouldn't be able to do considering how long he's been on that rock, only causes the rest of those in the square to wonder if he truly is a hero now. This slows down their eagerness to kill him and instead opens up a series of challenges that eventually lead to Yugo and Ali to begin their true negotiations.

The negotiations are actually fairly quick but what fills out the remainder of the two episodes is the involved plan of getting the money to Ali and getting Iwase out of the country. Events are moving fast at this point and the army is doing its best to hunt them down. Ali and Yugo make surprisingly good efforts together to come up with plans to achieve their goals which are now fully intertwined and they each respect each other on a new level now as heroes. This is something that really gives Yugo an edge as his understanding of faith and what it means here to these people is the true key to getting done what he needs to do. This is what becomes the most interesting aspect of the show and an area where you have the most open to discussion; does he truly have the faith now and is working on the belief that he's doing the right thing or is he just using his opponents religion and beliefs in order to accomplish his goals. The fact that he brings Haji into play for the finale in order to restore his honor shows that he may have some stronger beliefs now than he did before but at the same time it could simply be just a matter of paying back a favor.

Viewed as the second half of a movie in my mind, this part is much more action filled and has a few more convenient coincidences happen in order to allow for things to go in Yugo's favor. While this makes it a bit hard to suspend disbelief, the bulk of the show is so well done with a tight script and plotting that it's easy to forgive it overall and give in to the kind of things that are standard for movies of this type. As a six part storyline, they did a fantastic job of introducing the character and then delving into a very distinct culture and treating it accurately and properly to tell the story, not to be simply a backdrop for the usual stereotypes.

In Summary:
Following a strong first set, Yugo brings the first negotiation to a close and does it with plenty of action and suspense while mixing in some of the creepiest torture stuff I've seen in anime in a long time. Anything relating to ear bugs just creeps me out anyway since the Wrath of Kahn. This is a very engaging show that's definitely recommended for seeing but for watching all six episodes in a row and without a real break. The depiction of a storyline in Pakistan wasn't something I thought they'd pull off as well as they did but in the end it's pretty impressive, both in the original and in how ADV Films handled the English language adaptation from what I listened to. While this won't be a barnburner with fans, those that enjoy this kind of material will really like this and find plenty of replay value in it.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Interview with series director Seiji Kishi,Interview with Japanese voice actor Takashi Hagino (Yugo),Interview with Takehiko Matsumoto (Character Designs) and Kazuharu Sato (Series Planning), Music video,'Personnel Dossiers' covering the major characters, 'The Japanese Depiction of Pakistan: Comments on Yugo' by cultural advisor Nawaz Charania and ADR director Scott McClennen,Clean opening animation,Clean closing animation

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


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