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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie
UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie
ADV Films // Unrated // March 7, 2006
List Price: $29.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Don Houston | posted March 5, 2006 | E-mail the Author
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Movie: One of the most popular types of anime is called "fan service" and usually spends a lot of time showing off animated nudity, cleavage, panty shots, and sexual innuendos for the slavering fanboys that haven't reached the age when they can either watch porn, or haven't figured out how to ask a girl out on a date. I say this in good fun since I enjoy it too and no one accuses me of lacking in the "watching porn" department. Today's review is another that employs this kind of gimmick although in a way that seems almost geared towards younger gals instead of their male counterparts. The show's name is UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie Vol. 1- Bedlam, Bathhouse and Beyond and I got a chance to see the first volume of the series this week after reading about it from my pal John in the latest Anime Talk column. The show details a future Earth where all sorts of aliens have made contact with humanity though the human race doesn't seem to have changed very much as a result, perhaps even stagnating our technological evolution in the process.

The main characters of the show are Kazuto Tokino, a young man still in high school that runs his ancestral bath house, and Valkyrie, a princess from an alien world. The gimmick is that they are about the same age and when she landed on Earth, her spaceship crashed into his bathhouse, just about killing him in the process. In order to save his life, she used half of her own life force to restore him to health but it came at great cost. The cost in this case is that her physical form reverted to that of an 8 year old girl with all the mental maturity and girlish troubles associated with the age. Given her very high status in politics back on her homeworld, this leads to an assortment of problems as she girlishly chases Kazuto around with a crush the size of Texas.

Interestingly enough though, when placed in peril, she can go back to her older form for a very short period of time, sporting a great body (including well defined nipples) and an assortment of magical powers to boot. This seems to be activated by a kiss from Kazuto although the series is still just starting at this point and the limitations of her abilities have not yet been completely explained. In any case, he has a crush on her older self but isn't enough of a pervert to take advantage of her youthful self (thank goodness for that!) and each episode of the show seems to revolve around the couple getting into trouble and her juicing up her super powers to save the two of them. If you've heard this story a few dozen times in the past, that's largely because it borrows considerably from other sources yet still made me smile more for the situational comedy than the fan service that seemed so prevalent here. Another facet of the opening volume of the show was how the story seemed to be told backwards in some of the episodes with the origin (and many parts of the pacing/outline needed to understand the show) coming afterwards, not at the beginning. Here's what the back cover said about the show:

"In the future, Earth is a very different place. Interplanetary travel and alien encounters are commonplace. In fact, maybe a bit too commonplace - considering that a mystical, otherworldly maiden named Valkyrie has crashed her spaceship into Kazuto Tokino's bathhouse. As Kazuto tries to rebuild his business (and his life), things get crazier by the minute!

His bouncy, bubbly and bare bathhouse clients just want to relax, but certain individuals from Valkyrie's homeland of Valhalla want their beloved princess back - and they'll do just about anything to get her home. Get ready for hilarious battle scenes, mishaps galore, and an army of oh-so-cute catgirls on the prowl! It's the riveting, revealing first volume of UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie!"

The episodes here were 1) The Bathhouse with an Angel, 2) The Transforming Princess Valkyrie, 3) Head Catgirl Maid, Ms. Sanada, and 4) What Your Wings Are For. The story started with Valkyrie playing hide and go seek a little too effectively, causing a major disaster of epic proportions, the origin of the story a gal named Hydra who is sent to bring Valkyrie back home, and a virtual duel between Valkyrie's maid (who uses powerful technology) and Akina Nanamura (a friend and classmate of Kazuto) who uses mystic powers derived from her caretaking of a local temple to defend herself; and a visit from Valkyrie's fiancé who wants to save her from her current situation and whisk her back to their planet promptly. In all, the episodes were always somewhat boilerplate standards in terms of romance issues, going back home, former suitors and friends but I still enjoyed them nonetheless. While I might find the general tendency of the show to be a bit more mature at times than I think the intended audience was for the show, it certainly did nothing outside of the normal boundaries for such a series and managed to keep plenty of the "cute factor" alive throughout the show, despite all the plot loopholes left intact in the dubbed version as well as the translated original version. As such, I think it was worth a rating of Recommended, even with my slight feelings of unease.

Picture: UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie was presented in the original 1.33:1 ratio full frame color as directed by Shigeru Ueda for broadcast on Japanese television. The colors were the overly bright style displayed on the front DVD cover and the animation style relied on the kind of computer generated material that shows relatively limited movement (panning the equivalent of cells, moving small parts of the picture to convey movement, etc.) but they suited the material fairly well. There were no major visual defects with the source material or DVD mastering that I could see although I would've preferred it look a bit higher budget.

Sound: The audio was presented with a choice of 2.0 Dolby Digital stereo in the original Japanese soundtrack or a newly made English language dub. I have been able to enjoy both versions of most shows made in the last few years; fully appreciating that many of you are firmly for subtitles and others more into English language dubs. This was one of those shows that only a few dubbed voices irritated me (and I think at least one of them was designed to do so; Nancy Novotny's Hydra) but the overall quality of both tracks was similar and should appeal to those who like whichever version they lean towards. The music was perky and cute, the vocals well handled, and other than the limited number of mature body parts on display, I think it was designed for a youthful audience initially and then got switched over (earning it a TV-MA-SL rating from ADV Films).

Extras: I don't see many cool extras these days in anime releases but this one had a few worthy of some attention. There were the usual clean opening and closing bits, trailers, a double sided DVD cover and some previews for episodes. There were also messages from the Japanese voice actors telling folks to love the show, some cool music videos for the songs featured on the episodes, Japanese television commercials, and some liner notes on the DVD for the names and the world of the show (catching the viewer up on advances of mankind).

Final Thoughts: UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie might have lacked a little in terms of pure originality but it still was able to combine the various elements of the show well enough to give it a slightly fresh feel. Admittedly, it's a guilty pleasure that really seemed as though someone involved in the making of the show couldn't make up their mind as to whether they wanted a show for adults or one for kids but it'll appeal to the kind in many of you except when the nudity pops up for the limited exposure (pun intended) of butts and breasts when needed. I hope the rest of the series advances some of the concepts a bit more than was done so far but ADV Films should be applauded for bringing over shows like this without as strongly defined a market niche as many of their other hits. Check it out and you'll see what I mean.

If you enjoy anime, take a look at some of the recommendations by DVD Talk'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.

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