Movie: If you look at the majority of anime these days, at least what's being imported into the USA, it seems as though most of it centers on larger than life struggles between good and evil as heroes fight villains in order to save the world in one way or another. The scope of these tales varies more than a little bit, as does the amount of humor they employ along the way to keep things from getting too serious, but in the end, the protagonist fights the antagonist and the results change the world. Such was the case with a three part series called Yumeria. Today's review looks at the final chapter of the story, Yumeria: The End of a Dream to finish up what had been started in Yumeria 1 and Yumeria 2.
The basic story goes something like how I described it several 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." Tomokazu enters the dream world once he falls asleep, only to find himself fighting against all odds alongside his team consisting of Mone, Mizuki Agatsuma, Nanase Senjyou, Kuyou Senjyou, Neneko, Kokeko and Neito. Somehow granted the ability to fly and discharge energy weapons emanating from within their bodies, the group fights increasing numbers of huge flying creatures called Faydoom(s) that seek to break down a dimensional portal to invade Earth and destroy it. Along the way, Tomo finds his teachers unhelpful and his life full of the kind of responsibility he never wanted. This is what the back of the box said about this volume that completed the saga:
"Tomokazu Mikuri spends every day and every night with a handful of dreamgirls! But with this much close company, secrets are bound to come out. And, it's amazing the secrets Tomokazu's dream team has kept hidden beneath their skimpy uniforms and covergirl smiles. Has Tomokazu been played for a fool all along? Who are the shadowy men with a sudden interest in his nocturnal activities? And what's up with the Bunny Costume!? Every answer only uncovers more questions and the clock is ticking. Saving the world from the nightmarish Faydooms is going to take big sacrifices. There's no guarantee that Tomokazu or his friends will wake up from their battles in the dreamworld. One thing is sure – if you think you know what's coming – you're dreaming!"
The four episodes this time were 9) Bunny-Man, 10) The Taste of Katsudon, 11) Destiny Transformation, and 12) Tomokazu, 100 Points. Starting off with a tale where Tomo spends too much online and needs a job to support his shopping habit, he has to don a bunny costume while his gals get ogled by a mob of lusty perverts much like himself. The show then makes an attempt to wrap up many of the plot threads from previous episodes with Mone thrust into the limelight as the center of attention. Will Tomo decide that winning over the Faydoom is enough, even if it means sacrificing his friends or will he just settle as he always has becomes the key idea of the show. I don't want to spoil the fun for you as other websites seem apt to do but I actually liked the volume more then the previous two since it offered some conclusions and reworked a few of the concepts better than average here. As such, I'm elevating the rating to Recommended for all of you that hung with it through the last two volumes with the show proving more worthy, even if bogged down by anime superhero clichés even in this last little adventure of the Tomo team supreme.
Picture: Yumeria: The End of a Dream 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. There was no paper insert in the DVD case and this being the final volume in the three part series, I guess there never will be either.
Final Thoughts: Yumeria: The End of a Dream was still far from the kind of show I'd hardily recommend to a casual observer but the levels of balance between the humor and the dramatic elements were in better synchronization this time. Further, by this point, I started to care what happened to them unlike the earlier antics where they seemed so utterly lame that I'd rather jump under a bus than watch them again (okay, so I'm exaggerating a little bit but only a little). This may prove to be one of those series that works better when released altogether as opposed to in several volumes so check it out and have fun watched Tomo and crew save the day (or do they?).
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, Best Of Anime 2004, and Best of Anime 2005 articles or their regular column Anime Talk.