It may not be one of the most prominent titles in Namco's video game library but Yumera was a game released for the PlayStation 2 in Japan some time ago. The anime based on the title has references to other Namco games (such as the Hilbert Effect from Xenosaga) but is pretty much its own entity when you look at it. You don't have to know about the video game in order to appreciate or understand the show, and in all honesty I can't imagine that you'd be expected to.
Released by ADV Yumeria is a twelve episode series that is really hard to put your finger on when you get right down to it. On one hand the show is a harem comedy with the backdrop of a high school. On other hand it's an action oriented science fiction story filled with scantily clad women. The two genres exist both separately and simultaneously based upon what its creators felt would be most successful at the time. The end result is a show that is amusing and a lot of fun but feels somewhat disjointed when you get right down to it.
The Yumeria starts out with a narrative by the lead character Tomokazu Mikuri. He talks about how average and boring he is and how there is nothing very descriptive about his personality. This isn't a very good way for a lead character to make a first impression but it certainly adds a bit of normalcy to everything. Of course the fact that he's a pervert helps somehow. Tomorrow is going to be his sixteenth birthday so he goes on about that a little bit and wishes to have a unique and interesting day. When he goes to bed that night he receives a gift more interesting than he ever dreamed possible.
One minute Mikuri is lying in bed and in the next he's in some colorful, alien looking environment with no idea how he got there. "I must be dreaming" he thinks to himself. Above him a giant globe-like thing is being attacked by a cute girl with apparent superpowers and high tech weaponry. When the smoke clears the girl falls into Mikuri's arms and he wakes up the next morning. Naturally he contemplates the weird dream for a moment but when he realizes that the girl he dreamt about is lying next to him in bed he freaks out.
The rest of the time in the real world is spent dealing with the fact that this girl, Mone, has come from Mikuri's dreamworld into this one. Mikuri's cousin, Nanase, seems to accept that fact rather well and tends to roll with the punches. Other girls are introduced such as Mikuri's childhood friend and a cat lover named Neneko. His relationship with each of the girls tends to be friendly but with an air of perversity. After all he spends most of his time trying to check out panties and looking at cleavage.
As the show progresses we learn a little more about what's going on and see Mikuri enter the dream state again and again. In that world he and the girls that follow are heroes and have the ability to save the future which is revealed in an episode later in the show. This plotline follows the characters through their adventures though the show remains fairly episodic.
There are many throw away episodes through the course of these twelve episodes. In one circumstance the gang goes to the beach for some eye candy though for the most part we just see Mikuri walk around like an idiot during the day and scantily clad girls fighting evil at night. The show even goes on to parody other anime and some video games which adds to the humor but also takes away from it somehow.
Throughout the series there is a plot that runs through it all but it serves as a weak link for the twelve episodes. Most of the time spent in the show is done so with fan service and humor drowning out the interesting plot developments. Because of this the show is very hard to take seriously on any level and really feels uneven when you get right down to it.
I had a really hard time getting into Yumeria and it had a lot to do with the multiple personality disorder that the concept seemed to have. I feel that the producers tried to mash too many ideas together and because of that the show didn't work for me. From start to finish the series had a lot of fun moments but they are presented in such a manner that you have to shut your brain off to appreciate what's going on. If you're looking for something twisted and unique Yumeria might be up your alley but if you want a show that is more on the cohesive side, don't bother.
Yumera was produced in 2003 and aired in Japan during 2004. The show is presented with anamorphic widescreen for the aspect ratio and to be honest the video quality is quite good. There is little or nothing in the way of aliasing or grain throughout the three discs in this collection. I noticed a few spots where some compression popped up but those were minimal at best.
This is indeed a vibrant and extremely colorful show. As such the characters and environments really standout but maybe they do so a little too much. They tend to bleed together and look rather indistinct. The art direction and animation lack some of the finer details that other shows offer giving Yumeria a generic processed look. The DVD quality is fine but the content is a little underwhelming.
Equally underwhelming are the two language selections included for the series. The English and Japanese dubs are both average with no outstanding performances or reasons to love one more than the other. Both languages are presented with stereo as the only output so the immersion you get from a 5.1 surround presentation is nonexistent. The stereo tracks serve the material decently enough but there's nothing here to really make an impression.
In not so surprising fashion the only extra features that you'll find in the Yumeria collection from ADV is a handful of trailers on the first disc. Anyone used to the way that ADV packages their complete series should be familiar with this by now.
It's kind of obvious that Yumeria came to light with a video game background. The show mashes together the best of both worlds and frankly it doesn't do so with much of any finesse. The real world and dream world don't blend very well with this presentation. There are times during the twelve episodes that the show is enjoyable and the concept actually becomes kind of cool. It's the throw away episodes and mishandling of ideas that does little to make this more endearing. Rent it if you're a fan of the harem genre and are looking for something with a unique twist.
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