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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Yugo the Negotiator: Complete Collection
Yugo the Negotiator: Complete Collection
ADV Films // PG // October 2, 2007
List Price: $39.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Don Houston | posted November 4, 2007 | E-mail the Author
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Background: When most people think of anime, they automatically assume it means giant robots, magical girls, futuristic dramas, or a limited few other genre-defining types of stories. Interestingly though, many anime fans know that this is simply not the case as anime is merely the medium for the story and not the actual genre itself. While splitting hairs a bit, the idea is the same; you can find as many types of anime as live action show, albeit with a lot more variation as to how they are presented on the small screen. That said, today's review is on a show that slipped under my radar when it first came out in episodic form, now bundled up to be Yugo the Negotiator: Complete Collection; a series about a guy that tries a different style of handling problems, generally a style that shows the character on the receiving end of a lot of pain.

Series: Yugo the Negotiator: Complete Collection is the story about Yugo Beppo, a private citizen that gets contracted to make deals for people. By using his services, his clients avoid diplomatic indelicacies that could result from trying more formal channels; typically with militant factions of people not too keen on those of us in the developed countries. As with anything, the laws of supply and demand dictate his value to a client so he is generally considered more than a deal maker by people; generally coming across as a private investigator too. The boxed set is actually two sets of OVA episodes totaling 13 episodes; the first mission dealing with a hostage negotiation in Pakistan and the second with a Russian treasure worth $200 billion.

In the Pakistan series, lasting 6 episodes, the show started off at a snail's pace. Apparently, a daughter wanted Yugo to deploy his skills to free her innocent father as he was being held in a political game of chess by some guerillas not happy with the government. They had already killed the last guy sent in and the military had taken a hard stance against them so all hope seemed lost until Yugo takes the case. When he is captured, they torture him but his determination and will to survive impresses the natives and he shows a stubborn aptitude for making it through "one more day" against all odds. Needless to say, as he uncovers the truth about everyone's side of what happened, he manages to save the day where all others would fail. To me, the story was written for a vastly different audience but had just enough material to keep me watching the rest of the show.

The second half of the show dealt with what seemed at first like a courier mission. Yugo was to escort a young girl to Japan by a mysterious employer that he simply did not trust. The case intrigued him and as it unfolds, the truth becomes obvious that the gal holds the key necessary to unlock a fabulous treasure in the form of tons of gold bullion. This being what Yugo's employer was after in the first place, it puts him in danger as much as the gal since they will let nothing stand in their way to recover the tons of gold lost for all time by patriots. Yugo's main opponent is a brute named Viktor and as with the first volume in the series, Yugo bears the brunt of the torturous machinations of the thug. Needless to say, Yugo doesn't give up the goods so his mad quest to find the gold and restore order to the gals' life is put in jeopardy. As with the first volume, Yugo manages to bring down the bad guys to a deserving fate but this is definitely an acquired taste so I rated it as a Rent It.

Picture: Yugo the Negotiator: Complete Collection was presented in the original 1.33:1 ratio full frame color as shot by directors Takehiko Matsumoto (Pakistan) and Kenichi Imaizumi (Russia). The first set of episodes looked grainy and had numerous visual flaws with it, rendering it a chore to watch at times. The aliasing and edge enhancement aside though, even the camera angles used (the animation tried to mirror a mainstream movie in terms of the kinds of shots used) seemed to leave something to be desired. I thought at one point that the show must've been from the late 1970's or maybe early 1980's but it did get better with time. The second set of episodes seemed to come across as better in a number of ways but still had a relatively slow pacing that limited the appeal to me. The frame rate jumped up in the latter part of the series (the Russia episodes) but it was never equal to that of the higher budget efforts on the market at this time.

Sound: The audio was another area of contention for me with the main track being the Japanese 2.0 Dolby Digital offering and a 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround in English providing more headspace. The clarity of the tracks was usually okay with the voice actors sounding about equal to me as I alternated between the two experiences. The sound effects, music, and separation were all better on the dub but the voice actors on the Japanese track struck me as more natural sounding; almost as if some of the dub talent went in cold. The subtitles seemed to lack any of the nuances of the dub so it struck me that they were loose translations and not dub titles by any means but the aural qualities of the surround track itself saved it from the worst of the performances (and not all of the characters were terrible).

Extras: The only extras here were some trailers; I thank ADV Films for adding in a separate disc full of them in my copy.

Final Thoughts: Yugo the Negotiator: Complete Collection is one of those shows that you either like or dislike with little middle ground to speak of. My friend Todd Douglass found the individual volumes of the show far more enjoyable, perhaps in no small part to the missing extras this collection lost as part of the means to lower the price. The slower pace, the lack of anything remotely interesting to me, and the way the action was portrayed just did not do a lot for me here so give Todd's reviews a look for something more inspirational in terms of making up your mind. In short, Yugo the Negotiator: Complete Collection was a form of story telling used by anime for those who like a narrow kind of storyline, eschewing the wonders and fantastical elements that cause so many anime releases to appeal to me but that might serve you better if you're not into anime as much.

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, Best of Anime 2005, and Best of Anime 2006 articles or their regular column Anime Talk.

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