Movie: As one of the more prolific reviewers online these days, I think it's safe to say that I've lived up to my male responsibilities in terms of searching out shows that other men could appreciate and for all the right reasons. One of the basic tenants of this attitude is finding shows that have women falling all over themselves for a guy, much like Yumeria 1 did a few months ago. The story was your typical anime harem show where a 16 year old has come into a power that allows him to fight all sorts of beasties in a dream world that is somehow attached to our own. His name is Tomokazu Mikuri, a slacker at school who spends more time ogling women than tending to his studies. The specifics of his dream world powers weren't really explained too well and the fact that he ended up surrounded by a bunch of hot anime chicks that alternately wanted him and wanted to use his powers to fight the good fight was part and parcel of the theme presented. In all, it was worth a rental to me but a friend liked it a lot more so I gave the subject of today's review, Yumeria: Tossing and Turning, a closer inspection to see if perhaps I overlooked something.
The show bothered me in how it jumped right into the action without any explanation; more because it came off as a limited type of parody than because it carried forth in a straightforward manner. The viewer eventually learns that Earth is in danger from the dream world enemies that all wield incredible power. Tomo's powers serve more as a battery for a bunch of scantily clad females but through vigorous training, he learns how to assist them as more than their personal Duracell. The specifics start getting explained late in the game but I still couldn't shake the thought that the show was a knock off of all that went before it. The Faydooms (the enemy) were similar to many others in anime so they didn't help much either. In this second volume, things weren't quite so bad and having some background on the various characters helped make it work somewhat better for me, despite the limitations.
The four episodes this time were 5) Girl Watching At the Dream Beach, 6) The Yukata Master, 7) The Reverse Re-incarnating Woman, and 8) Our Reason. Outside of the fan service-filled beach episodes where the gals wore strings called bathing suits (the first two episodes included as such), little else was initially revealed. Then in episode 7, Neneko was showcased as she channeled a gal from the future called Neito who explains how Tomo is the Destiny Transformer and the only one who can save the future. The Faydooms attack en masse, especially in episode 8, and Mone sacrifices herself to block a rift between the worlds while the others repeatedly attempt to combine their powers against literally overwhelming odds.
The bits of humor, from Neneko collecting foodstuffs from local merchants (the booze being pixilated out by ADV) while Tomo and Mone follow her to the usual perverted antics of their teacher trying to get panty shots of the underage girls to Tomo's lame attempt to attack the Faydoom with a drop kick (missing them completely), were at least as cute as anything the previous episode offered up. The serious dramatic parts weren't as preachy but there still lacked a balance that some other series seem to have found much earlier. In all, it was still worth a rating of Rent It but I get the impression that this will be one of those series that works better as a boxed set (the current trend of boxed sets has me thinking this way) where you can see the episodes all at once, or at least in a couple of sittings, since there was a lot of filler material going on here.
Picture: Yumeria: Tossing and Turning was presented in 1.85:1 ratio anamorphic widescreen color and looked very bright and cheerful. While not exactly sporting a cutting edge animation style, it was fairly well made and well within normal parameters of this sub-genre of anime. Don't expect a lot of detail when viewing it (the artists used various shortcuts here) but it was okay in most ways and I saw no compression artifacts or video noise when watching it. One look at the cover will tell most fans what it looked like though so give it a look to see what I mean.
Sound: The audio was presented in the standard 2.0 Dolby Digital stereo with the original Japanese soundtrack and an English language dub as the alternative. This was one of those times when I preferred the dub as male lead Chris Patton was perfect for the role (he's done numerous roles like this one and can probably do it on autopilot by now), with perennial voice actresses Monica Rial, Jessica Boone, Luci Christian among the cast of female heroines. The music and special effects seemed to be mixed louder, if not also displaying more separation, in the dub too but this is a personal taste of mine that ADV Films seems to readily cater to on a regular basis.
Extras: The only extras were a clean opening & closing, a double sided DVD cover, and some trailers. I had hoped for some commentaries or Behind the Scenes featurettes that ADV has experimented with of late but maybe those will come in later volumes of the series.
Final Thoughts: Yumeria: Tossing and Turning was better than the first volume, Yumeria 1, but still not offering anything interesting enough to elevate the rating. Had there been more episodes or better extras, there might have been enough reason to boost up the score a bit. I thought the voice actors on the dub track were in good form but the material they had to work with was limiting and the harem theme wasn't used to full effect (at least enough to give fan service addicts their needed jolt of kicks). Check out the series but don't expect this one to offer up as much fun as it should have done, leading me to cross my fingers for the future volumes of the series.
If you enjoy anime, take a look at some of the recommendations by DVDTalk's twisted cast of reviewers in their Best Of Anime 2003 and Best Of Anime 2004 article or regular column Anime Talk