ADV Films // 2006 // 100 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Chief Counsel Rob Lineberger (Retired) // March 7th, 2006
Wiggles & giggles & catgirls -- oh my!
It seems I've encountered this title before. At the very least, a back-to-back viewing of UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie Volume 1 with Tenchi Muyo! OVA Volume 1: Signature Series would give anyone a strong sense of deja vu. Other than that, it isn't bad -- what with all the breasts.
Kazuto is restoring his grandfather's bath house when an alien spaceship lands on it and deposits a beautiful Valhallan princess named Valkyrie. Princess Val is fleeing an arranged marriage. Her handmaiden, Miss Sanada, follows soon after with an army of catgirls. They're joined by another princess, Hydra, whose flaming aqua hair and frantic warmongering disrupt everything in her path. When you throw in Kazuto's Earthling female companions, such as the Shinto priestess Akina, his social calendar is filling up fast.
The twist is that Kazuto and Val now share a soul, which has regressed her into an 8-year old body and mindset. When the chips are down, one kiss from Kazuto grants Val a reprieve, allowing her to borrow her full adult powers. She'll need them...in almost every episode!
Let's get right to the point. Steel Angel Kurumi -- wait, I mean UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie -- offers nothing new to anyone even casually familiar with the harem-space opera hybrid. Nothing, that is, except for the breasts.
You see, anime has the maddening tendency to pretend that nipples and genitals don't exist. This has always bothered the living hell out of me. I'm not saying that anime must feature copious nudity to be good, but if you're going to present naked torsos on a routine basis, let's get the basic anatomy correct. The Barbie-doll nudity of most anime is, frankly, creepy. But UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie has the decency to remember the nipples. Combine this with a setting that features frequent bathing and lots of kids morphing into busty adults -- you see where creators Kaishaku are going with this series.
One cannot overstate UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie's similarity to other anime series, especially the aforementioned Tenchi Muyo!. Valkyrie equals Ayeka, while Kazuto equals the studious, hardworking Tenchi. And if the flame/aqua Princess Hydra doesn't remind you of Ryouko with her warmongering, flirtation, and water-based magic, then you must have slept through 95% of Tenchi Muyo!. If you've never seen Tenchi Muyo! or Steel Angel Kurumi, then by all means enjoy this show with my compliments.
For those who have seen the superior Tenchi Muyo!, the question is simple: do the breasts and panty shots that permeate this show make up for its lack of originality? If you're going by the first episode, the answer is a resounding yes. But the steady stream of bobbing breasts slows to a trickle in latter episodes, which causes me to wonder if UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie has made a last-minute decision to opt for discretion. I certainly hope that isn't the case, because the story is not compelling enough to survive on its own.
ADV has bestowed a fine transfer and great audio on this release. The video looks as though UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie had been made yesterday, which is essentially true. Bold colors and crisp lines are the rule here, with almost no twitter. The soundtrack is a little brassy, but the voice acting is particularly good. Young Val (Hisayo Mochizuki) is your typical high-pitched, shrieky Japanese girl, but both versions of Kazuto are pleasantly free of annoying hijinks. He seems like a regular guy.
This is one of the oddest extras packages I've seen in any release, so ADV gets points for originality. My chief complaint about the extras is that the too-peppy theme song will be driven into your brainpan like a sugar-coated railroad tie. Otherwise, the extras are downright quirky. The messages from the voice actors are inexplicable, such as this tidbit from Megumi Ogata (adult Val): I'm Megumi Ogata, the voice of the most wonderful girl in the whole universe! (LOL) Yeah, I know it was a masochistic greeting. I don't know how many times I've introduced myself like that ever since I started working on this show. As a voice actor, who has no freedom and HAS TO become the character in order to do the character's voice, the character Valkyrie is an ordeal. I suffer every time...And some look forward to seeing me suffer...Sob, sob..."Hurt me some more!!"
Many of the other extras (multiple versions of the clean opening and close) are spins on the opening theme. This doesn't help the cause of the commercials which use the theme song in the background. The Valkyrie notes are extensive bits of text about everything from the catgirl gun to why aliens like to take baths. Finally, there is the video jukebox, which is an unbroken stream of UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie clips set to techno with weird effects added. Some of them are dull, some amusing, and the last couple are slow-mo clips that linger over every bit of nudity or cleavage that Volume One has to offer.
I hope I mentioned the breasts enough, because that's mostly what UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie has going for it. I want to stress that I appreciate the honesty of the animators, dropping all pretense of decorum. Yet watching naked 8-year olds sprout into womanhood skirts closer to pedophilia than I'm fully comfortable with. But I'm a middle-aged guy with a baby daughter, so that's my skew. In any case, the brief streak of nudity isn't enough to compensate for a derivative story and a frantic delivery. Volume Two will have to bust a move.
Shape up, or we'll send you to Valhalla.
Review content copyright © 2006 Rob Lineberger; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: ADV Films
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Japanese)
Running Time: 100 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Clean Opening and Closing Animation
* Messages from the Japanese Voice Actors
* Valkyrie World Notes
* Valkyrie Name Notes
* Japanese TV Commercials
* Video Jukebox
* On Air Opening and Ending for Episode 1
* On Air Opening for Episode 3
* Volume 2 Preview
* ADV Previews
* Official Site