Jiggly, nonsensical fun.
What They Say:
Valkyrie is a member of the Intergalactic Royal Family of Valhalla. She is elegant, beautiful, and a really bad driver. She crashes her spaceship right through the roof of the Tokino Bathhouse and onto the head of its owner, Kazuto. To save his life, Valkyrie gives up half of her very soul. Oddly enough, it works! Kazuto is resurrected! But, there’s one small side effect: Valkyrie. She has transformed into half her age. She’s cute, cuddly and nutty as pit-bull. (And then things start getting weird.) Valkyrie and Kazuto fall in love. Housekeeping cat-girl Ms. Sanada is sent to protect Valkyrie. Hydra the warrior princess has some size issues. Princess Laine has some shopping issues. Earthly sweetheart Akina has some emotional issues. And, Valkyries dog Spot has some issue issues. So grab a towel and take a dip into the silly, sexy space-romp-UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie. It’s time to answer the age-old question of the universe—does size really matter?
Each episode is presented in English 2.0 and Japanese 2.0 with English subtitles. The sound quality was fine with no dropout and it stayed at a consistent level, which isn’t surprising given that this is a talky title and not one dependent upon loud, action sound effects.
Each episode is presented in 4:3 aspect ratio. The episodes looked well, but there was nothing spectacular here, which, like the audio, isn’t surprising given that the show is more driven by wackiness and character than impressive visuals.
UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie comes in that most dreaded of formats, the stackpack. The five DVDs are stacked one on top of another on a spire and just looking at it makes me cringe. Thankfully ADV included a foam insert on the inside to keep the disks from rattling around, but the overall potential for damage and the inconvenience of retrieving the disks make this a terrible design.
Moving on to the art, the front cover pretty much sums up the entire show: it features three of the main characters: Valkyrie, Ms. Sanada, and Hydra in various sexy poses. Valkyrie is in her adult form (thank goodness!), and her lips are rather pouty and her shirt is so tight her nipples stick out quite prominently. Behind her sits Ms. Sanada in a sexy, pose, with her right knee drawn up to her head and a big smile on her face. Her breasts are also quite prominent. Hydra stands in the background, bending away from us, allowing a glimpse of her pantsu. Her breasts are also quite large and she looks ready to topple forward at any moment. At the bottom in a white strip that resembles white marble is the show’s title UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie The Ultramaiden Collection. Under that is Seasons 1 & 2, and in the lower left-hand corner is the ADV Films logo.
The top of the spine features the Ultramaiden Valkyrie logo, again set in a box resembling white marble, and under that is Valkyrie (again in her adult form) (again, thank goodness) only not wearing a shirt. She’s standing in profile and turned way just enough that her arm prevents us from seeing her breasts, and she has a wide-eyed, open expression that is a bit unreadable, but is probably intended to be enticing.
The back cover offers even more fanservice. Ms. Sanada is placed in the top left corner, laying forward, giving us a clear view of her pantsu. Directly underneat her is one of the more minor characters that frequent the bathhouse. The show’s description is written to her right, positioned between her at the top left and Valkyrie in the bottom wright. Above her is another minor character, and Spot, her “dog,” is at Val’s feet. Valkyrie is fully dressed again, but her breasts threaten to tear right through her flimsy shirt.To her left and directly under the show description are two strips of images from the show stacked one on top of the other. The credits and technical specifications.
Overall it’s a nice design. I like the white and beige color pallet used for the background and the images tell you exactly what you should expect from this title.
The menus all follow the same pattern: The show title is positioned at the top in blue font over a white background. Season 1 or 2 is written at the bottom in blue font over a white background with Spot laying just to the left (although the character in this area changes with each disk). The episode listings are written in the middle. The titles are written in white font on a blue background and each is separated in its own rectangle with an angel wing attached to the end on the left. The rectangles are open-ended on the right. Underneath this is a picture that I can’t quite make out but believe is the bathhouse, in a lighter, washed-out blue. Below the episode listings are the language and extras options.
It’s a nice design that manages not to be too cluttery despite the fact that each episode is individually listed. There is no “play all” button, but the episodes automatically continue after the one selected, so that’s no big deal.
Viewers looking for extras will be rather disappointed with this, given that this set features just the standard clean opening and closing animations and the like. I’m not a huge fan of extra features, so it didn’t bother me.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Kazeto and his sister live in Tokyo in an vague fantasy future. The galaxy is ruled by the Royal Family of Valhalla, and its most beloved member is Valkyrie. Being a member of the Royal Family comes with a number of responsibilities, including marriage. Valkyrie (or Val as she’s often referred to) is engaged to a bourgeois prince that she can’t stand. Instead of declining and letting down her family, she runs away. Unfortunately, she doesn’t drive well and crashes her spaceship into Kazeto’s family’s bathhouse—right on his head. To save his life, she gives him half of her soul. This saves Kazeto, but has the unexpected side effect of regressing Val back to a child. Only when she and Kazeto’s souls are in alignment (i.e. when they kiss) is she able to revert back to her powerful, adult form, typically just in time to save them from some wacky, sinister invader. One of her fellow princesses, Hydra, arrives on Earth to retrieve Valkyrie, but does so in such a hamfisted, destructive manner that Kazeto’s friend, Akina, has to place a spell on her, also reverting her to a child’s body, but allowing her to retain her adult mind. Hydra and Akina stay together and tend to fight like two sisters—a typically argument ending with Hydra teasing Akina for her flat chest. Akina possesses feelings for Kazeto, but is unable to express them, creating a bit of dramatic tension. The majority of season one deals with the repercussions of Val’s running away, ending with a marriage arrangement between her and Kazeto. Season two brings in a recurring villain in the form of Val’s shadow and delves into Valhallan history. However, the plot is really incidental. It’s more of a vehicle for putting these characters together and making them do nutty, fanservice-y actions.
I can pinpoint the exact moment when I began liking UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie: episode three (“Head Catgirl Maid, Ms. Sanada”) when Ms. Sanada arrives. Up until that point the show had been fairly funny with lots of fanservice, but her character brought a great energy that I didn’t know was lacking until her arrival. Her frightening, maniacal devotion to Val and the lengths she’ll go to protect her is great. In that episode she fears that Kazeto is cheating on Val, so she spends the day following him and shooting every girl with which he comes into contact with a gun that turns people into Catgirl maids. By the end of the episode she has an entire army of these maids and hilarity ensues. Ms. Sanada exemplies what works about this show: the supporting cast.
I think this is why I feel that the side characters are what really make the show. Kazeto is the reasonable, ethical center that the others revolve around, and because of that he’s not really allowed to be wacky. Valkyrie is a bit better, but only when she’s in her young, Val, state. It took the inclusion of the side characters to really make this series come alive for me. As secondary characters they’re allowed more freedom to be wacky and fanservice-y, often acting little more than caricatures. Ms. Sanada is completely defined by her obsessive love of Valkyrie, Hydra by her competitive nature and jealousy, and Akina by her fear of expressing her emotions. When they get together these character traits clash and hilarity inevitably ensues.
Without these characters, this show would just be fanservice, which wouldn’t have made it as appealing to me. This is not a value statement on the qualities of fanservice, just a personal preference of mine. This show made me laugh, and that goes a long way. The plots are rough, slipshod affairs, the setting ill-defined and illogical, but this isn’t a show driven by plot or setting. Those are merely vehicles for putting these characters together and spurring them to action. UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie doesn’t pretend to be more than a wacky, fanservice title, and that’s fine. It does that very well, in fact. If it tried to be more than that, then this review would be much harsher.
UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie is a funny title with plenty of fanservice. The plot and setting are ill-defined, but because the show is primarily driven by character and wacky situations, that’s not really a problem. Really it’s worth watching alone just for the secondary characters. Mildly recommended.
Original On-Air Openings & Closings
Clean Openings & Closing Animation
Content Grade: C+
Audio Grade: A
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: D
Menu Grade: A
Extras Grade: C
Released By: ADV Films
Release Date: September 11, 2012
Running Time: 670 minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 4:3
Panasonic Viera TH42PX50U 42” Plasma HDTV, Sony BPD-S3050 BluRay Player w/HDMI Connection