Yumeria Vol. #1 - Mania.com



Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: C+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: TV 14
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Yumeria

Yumeria Vol. #1

By Chris Beveridge     October 15, 2005
Release Date: October 11, 2005


Yumeria Vol. #1
© ADV Films


What They Say
Tomokazu Mikuri is your typical high school loser, but all that changes whn he begins visiting an alternate world through his dreams - one in which he is transformed into a hero of destiny imbued with strange powers. But this dream world is threatened by the evil Faydooms, who have fiendish designs on the real world. Only Mikuri can stop them, aided by five hotties from his very own high school, who have somehow undergone their own wondrous transformation. Ha-cha-cha!

The Review!
Based off of the Namco game and a manga release, it's pure harem anime from start to finish.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The shows included stereo mix is pretty decent with a full sounding mix to it, particularly when it comes to the music and effects portion of it, while the dialogue is generally pretty much center channel based but has a few moments where it's nicely spread out. We sampled the English mix and had no issues with that either. During regular playback, we had noticeable problems with dropouts or distortions.

Video:
Originally airing in 2004, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. With the show being relatively recent and being set in the present time, the materials look good with their rather standard slice of life look to the regular world while the characters stand out with sharper colors and more vibrant animation to them. The print itself is in very good shape with no real problems other than a bit of aliasing in a few places and some light twinges around the edge of some red haired characters where a few shards of green slip into it. Beyond that, this is a nice clean looking transfer that's problem free. Even the opening logo is untouched completely since it has a large English section to it.

Packaging:
The cover artwork for this release is certainly busy looking with a strange split to the way it's designed as it has half the cast along the top in their transformed outfits, the English language logo in the center and then another set of characters below it. The way the border is only partially available and the split in the middle with the logo just has it feeling somewhat off and not laid out in a way that just seems right. The designs and the colors look great and it's all very vibrant which fits the show nicely though. The back cover lets Mizuki have a full length shot while throwing in a few snapshots from the episodes and a quick simple summary of the premise. The production information is very tiny along the left corner but the technical grid keeps everything clean and easy to figure out in that regards. No insert is included in this release but the cover is reversible with a great two panel full length shot of the girls in their swimsuits at the beach. Major fanservice to be sure.

Menu:
The menu layout is cutely done and certainly fits nicely with the theme of the show as the lower foreground has Tomokazu laying head backwards while above him are four rotating stars with each one showing transformation clips basically of each of the girls set to a short bit of the main vocal piece. It's light and bouncy and very upbeat which fits well. The layout is quick and easy to navigate with a strip along the bottom and instant episode access while load times are fast. As is the case with almost all ADV Films releases, the discs language settings played according to our players' presets.

Extras:
The only included extras for this release and presumably future volumes is the clean version of the opening and ending sequences.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
When you've got a series that's both video game based and has had a manga series, it has the potential to be something a bit better than a straight game to anime conversion since someone had to already go through the conversion process and you can see what worked and what didn't and build from there. With Yumeria, I'm not quite sure that such a thing happened but it doesn't feel quite as bad as a lot of straight game to anime conversions go. What Yumeria does feel like is a pretty standard harem/magical girl show that doesn't intend to do a lot since it's so short.

A twelve episode series, originally released on six discs in Japan with each disc featuring a staff commentary that's rather missed here, is about a young man named Tomokazu who just turned sixteen years old. He's had a fairly average life if you take the exception of losing both of his parents at a young age and living with his older cousin Nanase for all this time. As he introduces himself, he's of average looks, height, weight and sports ability while his grades a bit below average. There's not much to him that really stands out but he's not hideous, he doesn't have any strange diseases nor is he afraid of girls. In fact, he's hoping to make a change due to this new year and get a girlfriend.

He's got plenty of chances as there's a pretty honor student named Mizuki whose interested in him, which isn't that much of a real stretch since they're childhood friends, but he's pretty obtuse when it comes to her which again isn't all that surprising. On the night before he turns sixteen though, he has a strange dream where he's in a weird world of yellowish skies and floating cubes where some strange mechanical device is floating around and fighting with an attractive young girl with purple hair in a skintight outfit. Before he knows it though, the dream is over and he's awake in his bed and the cute girl is there next to him. As freaked out as he is, Nanase is the opposite when she comes in and sees this young woman who can only say Mone. Apparently to everyone by Tomokazu this means something as nobody finds it strange that she talks like this. Nanase even goes so far as to enroll her in school with Tomokazu as his younger sister. Something is obviously afoot but it all just has that weird forced feel where if someone actually talked for a minute or two a lot of questions would be answered.

Things get stranger on his birthday itself when Nanase invites Mizuki over and they have a little party. This is where you learn how disconnected from reality Tomokazu is as having a single friend over is the best birthday ever and he's just so completely happy about it and the way everyone felt like a family that he thinks this must be how it is for everyone else. What we essentially learn here is that not only does Tomokazu not have a girlfriend for all his years, but no friends at all otherwise he surely would have been to some kind of birthday party or group event or something where what he has now would feel like a hollow sham. It speaks volumes as to just what kind of weird loser that Tomokazu really is.

But that's not what the show promotes as the strange part! Since it's late, Mizuki stays over and gets shacked up with Mone. When Tomokazu hits the sheets himself, he finds himself dreaming in that strange world once again but this time not only does Mone eventually show up but Mizuki is there as well. They get to share his dream world now and it's starting to wig her out a bit. When he tries to calm her down by putting his hand on her shoulder though, it causes her outfit to disappear and for a minimal skintight outfit complete with circuit board tattoos to show up on her body and she's just as powered up as Mone is. Eventually, with the arrival of more women, we learn that Tomokazu is like a battery in this world and he can charge up those who gather around him so that they can fight the creatures that are trying to destroy this world. A world of, get ready for it, discarded information and knowledge. If they can destroy this then they can cross over to the real world and cause chaos there.

Amid all of this the show does a bunch of wacky school comedy bits, complete with a teacher who seemingly has had a split personality and abuses Tomokazu mercilessly, a lot of raunchy style fanservice moments that Nanase seems to promote and then just a lot of standard magical girl/harem routines such as beach episodes and other downtime frolicking. All of it is done with a nice enough polish to it where there's plenty of the standards and a bit of nice camera work in a few scenes. This is the kind of show where you almost feel bad for ragging on it because it's not trying to be high art but trying instead to have a fun time and it does accomplish that. The character designs are attractive, the costumes are certainly pure fanservice and the animation is nice and slick. And even as much as I rag on Tomokazu, he doesn't feel like the standard wishy washy male lead.

In Summary:
With this being twelve episodes, it's not something I'm expecting to be amazing but it certainly starts off with a fun approach, a slick look and plenty of things to find shiny to look at. The depth isn't there yet and the main threat is pretty weak but this is the kind of series that's pretty much a constant for the last decade or so. Every year, someone gets a little older and discovers these kinds of shows so it's something that will be new to someone and they'll likely find it a lot of fun. For those who've seen a lot of these shows, it'll be harder to impress but I think there's some interesting ideas to it but it doesn't have a real hook to keep someone.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Clean Opening,Clean Closing

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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