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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Yugo the Negotiator: Russia, Vol. 1 - Legacy
Yugo the Negotiator: Russia, Vol. 1 - Legacy
ADV Films // R // January 10, 2006
List Price: $29.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Todd Douglass Jr. | posted January 16, 2006 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Recommended
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P R I N T
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The Show:

You all know as well as I that the bulk of anime that is released provides a lot of fan service with kinetic action, lots of excitement and bubbly bouncy characters. It's rare that a title comes along that is so completely different from the norm and tries hard to do unique and unpredictable things. Yugo the Negotiator is one of those series that breaks the mold and tells its tale in a different fashion, though this doesn't mean that the show is for everyone.

The pacing is much more deliberate and slower than a lot of anime out on the market right now, and for all intensive purposes it has a very realistic vibe. There are no flying ninjas, robotic space pirates or fuzzy alien critters here; instead things take place in our present time with current technology and a real world feel. This means that unless you keep an open mind or are interested in slower dramas, Yugo has the potential to bore you out of your skull.

The series may only be released across the span of four discs, but in that time frame there are actually two separate negotiations or mini-series if you will. The first two discs were comprised of the Pakistan negotiation while the second two focus on the Russian. With the Pakistan story arc having come to a close Yugo's character got a lot of fleshing out and we really saw what the guy was capable of. He really puts it all on the line in order to get the job done and will stop at nothing to see that justice is served in the end.

The Russian arc picks up with the third volume and really has no ties to the previous storyline. In fact it's rather difficult to pick out chronologically where this plot is located in Yugo's life so you're probably better off not nitpicking these things. As I said the series is the same, but the tales are completely different in content and tone. While Pakistan was much grittier and more relevant to current news stories, Russia has a certain cold war feel to it and a very different tone.

We join Yugo Beppu as he's going through some gadgets before he receives a fax from a woman named Olga. It would seem that a member of exiled Russian royalty is searching for a lost family member and seeks the help of the best negotiator in town. The man's uncle's granddaughter Nadenka still lives in Russia under constant supervision and doesn't know the meaning of freedom. Naturally Yugo accepts, but the first order of business on the docket involves training to withstand the negative 40 degree temperatures. It would seem that frostbite may be just about as dangerous of an enemy as the KGB.

The third volume in the series and the first part of the Russian arc may not be as action packed as the escapades found in Pakistan, but the intrigue is certainly high. There are many characters that are introduced that each play a significant role in Yugo's success and even some that do a little double crossing. Just like the first negotiation our hero finds himself in some hot water as well and goes through a tough to watch torture sequence. It really shows the type of stuff that this character is made of and helps to develop his personality even further.

The first negotiation offered a slower pace near the beginning with a lot of action and a great flare for the dramatic by the time it was all over. The Russian negotiation seems to be headed in the same direction with a story that is interesting and really drew me in. Yugo the Negotiator is one of those rare shows that does things a little differently where it actually works in its favor. If you missed the first arc you don't really have to worry about what's going on in this one since the two really aren't connected.

The DVD:

Video:

Yugo the Negotiator – Russia Volume 1 is presented with a 1.33:1 full frame aspect ratio. The video quality this time around features significantly less grain than the Pakistan storyline, mostly thanks to a cleaner overall presentation. There was a slight bit of aliasing to be found here and there, but to be honest it wasn't anything that detracted from the experience. The washed out colors and brown tones from the first portion of the Yugo series has been switched around in favor of snowy whites and moonlit blues. It's not an effect that translates well to anime most of the time, but you really get a sense of just how cold it is in Russia.

Audio:

Just like the Pakistan arc, depending what audio track you listen to is how your experience will be. The English dubbing tends to offer lame accents and stiff dialogue while the original Japanese with subtitles is much easier to appreciate. The sound quality is better with the English track thanks to a 5.1 mix, but I found it to be more bothersome than it was worth. .

Extras:

Just like Pakistan, the Russian story includes a pretty good selection of extras that are worth watching. For starters there are the clean opening and closings, plus a seven and a half minute character relationship chart complete with descriptions. Think of it as a glorified profile and you're on the right track. The series of interviews continue and this time around there is one with Shinji Makari (Original Story) and Shu Akana (Original Character and Mecha Designs). I liked this feature on the first pair of discs so naturally I found this one to be interesting as well. The last feature is a look at how the Japanese depicted Russia in the first four episodes here. I always thought that these installments were cool because it gave some great insight into how one culture reflects upon another.

Final Thoughts:

It took a little while to get going, but the Pakistan storyline eventually won me over and turned me on to this series. This time around the same thing seems to be happening with Russia, but having witnessed Yugo's development in the last two episodes I was able to appreciate what went on here much more. Fortunately the show still carries the significantly different pacing and attitude so if you enjoyed the first negotiation you'll love this one. Recommended


Check out more of my reviews here. Head on over to my anime blog as well for random musings and reviews of anime, manga, and stuff from Japan!

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