|Reviews & Columns
TV on DVD
Reviews by Studio
Collector Series DVDs
Easter Egg Database
DVD Talk Radio
The M.O.D. Squad
DVD Talk Forum
DVD Price Search
Customer Service #'s
This Ugly Yet Beautiful World, Vol. 1: Falling Star
Anime Boston 2006 was my first chance to get to an anime convention and I must admit that I had a great time. The vendors, voice talent, and studio reps all did a fantastic job presenting themselves and their product. One of the events that I was able to sit through was ADV's panel which featured previews and information on what's down the pipeline for the company. One of the previews shown was for This Ugly Yet Beautiful World and when the lights came back on I had been blown away.
The first episode for this thirteen episode series had it all. The script was spot on, the voice actors were witty, and the action was smoothly animated. In the episode a mysterious beam of light crashed into a remote forest when Takeru and his friend Ryou were driving by. Upon investigating they discovered a beautiful (and naked) girl whom Takeru names Hikari. After that all hell broke loose.
A tentacle laden monster arises from the trees and attacks the trio without warning. Seemingly helpless Takeru collapses with chest pain but a few moments later he transforms into a blood-thirsty demon and obliterates the beast. Questions about the mysterious girl are set aside as his humanity is now up for debate at this point. The promise of this series based upon my impression of the first episode left me salivating for more. This could very well be a show that drops your jaw with each episode and brings you to the edge of your seat waiting for more. What did I find after watching the rest of the episodes on the first volume? Disappointment.
From the height of adrenaline that the first episode created, my hopes for this show have drastically subsided. After sliding into my chair to watch the second episode I almost had to do a double take and make sure that I was watching the same show. Where was the action? Where was the mystery? Where were the monsters? Instead of following the events of the introduction the series sets the cruise control for dull and stereotypical.
From the science fiction and action premise the show zips right along with school-aged comedy and harem material. Hikari moves in with Takeru and his family at their boarding house. This causes some friction between Takeru and his cousin, who for some strange reason seems to harbor feelings towards him. Shortly after the attack in the first episode a group of scientists show up to examine the remains of the creature from the woods. One of them is a blonde foreigner who ironically also finds herself living at the boarding house along side of Takeru and Hikari.
Things kind of coast along for a while until Ryou travels back to the forest and meets another young girl (Akari) who appeared out of light. She seems to be related to Hikari in some way and is accompanied by a strange floating creature that she calls a friend. Ryou's interest in this girl is a little vague at this point, but in the meantime she becomes part of his family similar to the way Hikari has joined Takeru's.
Words cannot really express how disappointed I was once I realized that the show took a few steps back after the introductory episode. This Ugly Yet Beautiful World hit the ground running and seems to have started tripping after the first few steps. Despite the boring nature of the listless dialogue and meaningless happenings there is a sense that something is building; slowly.
Takeru still harnesses some strange power and Ryou has exhibited the possession of runes upon his skin. There is a tension between Hikari and Akari that leaves me wondering what's going to happen in the coming couple of volumes. It is with cautious optimism that I look forward to the rest of the series, though I do have to admit that I almost fell asleep at a couple of points here. The simple character interactions are so generic that they are almost painful, but like I said, there are seeds being planted for something bigger. I guess we'll find out where things go in the next volume.
This Ugly Yet Beautiful World is presented with a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that looks pretty darn beautiful. The colors are absolutely stunning in this show and the visuals match with a clean presentation and sharp quality. A couple of bumps in the road such as aliasing and compression are visible at times but they don't entirely mar the experience.
Sadly the only audio available for this show comes in the form of 2.0 stereo packages. The English and the Japanese tracks were both equally impressive in terms of voiceover quality. They also featured roughly the same technical merits, though when it comes to a stereo presentation those aren't exceedingly high. This is one of those rare shows where I actually enjoyed the English dubbing as much as the original Japanese.
Hey, look! Clean opening and closing animations along with some promotional trailers and stuff! You guessed it, the first volume of This Ugly Yet Beautiful World pretty much offers the a-typical industry standard blah features. The only thing really worth mention is a little selection of translation notes to take a look at, but it's nothing that interesting.
The first volume of This Ugly Yet Beautiful World starts off in such a big way that the rest of the episodes here are a complete let down. Literally nothing happens that got me excited, though it did feel like groundwork was just being laid out for the road ahead. To be fair there is a fair amount of humor and raunch to be found in this volume, but those characteristics don't constitute a must buy. We'll give this a rent it for now and see what happens in the next installment.