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Yumeria Complete Collection Anime DVD Review

14 min read

YumeriaAfter conquering the game side, an anime adaptation of Yumeria proves too much of something isn’t always a good thing.

What They Say:
It’s one thing to wake up from a dream and be a little confused, but on his 16th birthday Tomokazu Mikuri wakes up WITH a dream: right next to the strange girl that he’d just been dreaming of! Weirder yet, his hot older cousin, Nanase, takes the new addition to the household in stride and enrolls her in Tomokazu’s high school, despite the fact that the girl can only say one word: “Mone.” But things get totally out of control when Tomokazu discovers that he can take others back and forth to Mone’s dream world, where his new-found abilities may be the key to stopping a nightmarish invasion!

Faster than you can say “harem anime,” Tomokazu’s two worlds collide as girls from his “real” world join with those from the dream world to take on the evil forces of the Feydooms! But can a 16-year-old nobody really lead a superhero team, stop the bad guys, save the world(s), and/or get the girl(s) in the end? It’s the kind of thing that only happens in dreams, but when the whole world’s a dream world, anything might be possible!

Contains episodes 1-12.

The Review:
The audio presentation brings out what we’ve seen in past collections with what we have here as we get the original Japanese language and the English language dub in stereo encoded at 192kbps. The show is pretty decent with a full sounding mix to it that accomplishes what the material sets out to do, particularly when it comes to the music and effects portion of it, while the dialogue is generally pretty much center channel based but has a few moments where it’s nicely spread out. We sampled the English mix and had no issues with that either. During regular playback, we had noticeable problems with dropouts or distortions.

Originally airing in 2004, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. This collection isn’t the same as the last edition we saw from its previous distribution as it goes back to the original singles discs and simply puts those out in a new package, so we get three discs with four episodes each. With the show being almost ten years old or so as of this writing, the materials look good with their rather standard slice of life look to the regular world while the characters stand out with sharper colors and more vibrant animation to them. The source material is in very good shape with no real problems other than a bit of aliasing in a few places and some slight twinges around the edge of some red haired characters where a few shards of green slip into it. Beyond that, this is a nice clean looking transfer that’s problem free. Even the opening logo is untouched completely since it has a large English section to it.

The packaging for this release gives us the show in a single sized keepcase that has a hinge inside to hold two of the three discs while the third is held against the interior wall. The front cover gives us a very glossy and appealing image of most of the core girls in their various battle outfits and while it does look bright and fresh, it’s showing designs that do admittedly feel like they came from ten years ago rather than something new. The colors are good, the logo has a fun feeling to it and the bright smiles definitely sell it, but it’s showing its age a bit more than I expected. The back cover runs with a standard tagline and we get some fun fanservice shots of the girls as well as a few images from the show that highlights the action. THe colors are similar to the front when it comes to the background which makes it appealing though the premise is done in black text on a white block that makes it very easy to read. Extras and production credits are laid out clearly and the technical grid lists everything in an easy to find fashion and is accurate across it. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.

The menu design for this release works in a similar nature to the front cover in that it uses a lot of blues and greens that have some pop to them but also some softness in areas that doesn’t have it standing out in a bad way. The left side has different bits of character artwork to it that’s cute and fun, making it set the mood right, while the right side has the episode breakdown by number and title along with submenus for languages and more where appropriate. It’s not a huge standout menu but it’s about what one would expect for a rescue like this in that it hits the right notes but without any flash or strong style. Submenus load quickly and access times are fast, making for a good usability experience.

The only included extras for this release is the clean version of the opening and ending sequences.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
When you’ve got a series that’s video game based, it can be pretty hit or miss. That’s actually improved a fair bit in the last few years, but there’s still some that don’t quite go so well. Yumeria originally came out in 2004 and it was more of a straightforward attempt to draw people to the game and to get the game people to expand into the anime in order to sell more merchandise. The show doesn’t have a terribly deep plot or accessible characters that you really want to rally around, so it ends up being a show that’s just kind of there, which is unfortunate because it definitely had some potential.

A twelve episode series, originally released on six discs in Japan with each disc featuring a staff commentary that’s rather missed here, is about a young man named Tomokazu who just turned sixteen years old. He’s had a fairly average life if you take the exception of losing both of his parents at a young age and living with his older cousin Nanase for all this time. As he introduces himself, he’s of average looks, height, weight and sports ability while his grades a bit below average. There’s not much to him that really stands out but he’s not hideous, he doesn’t have any strange diseases nor is he afraid of girls. In fact, he’s hoping to make a change due to this new year and get a girlfriend.

He’s got plenty of chances as there’s a pretty honor student named Mizuki who’s interested in him, which isn’t that much of a real stretch since they’re childhood friends, but he’s pretty obtuse when it comes to her which again isn’t all that surprising. On the night before he turns sixteen though, he has a strange dream where he’s in a weird world of yellowish skies and floating cubes where some strange mechanical device is floating around and fighting with an attractive young girl with purple hair in a skintight outfit. Before he knows it though, the dream is over and he’s awake in his bed and the cute girl is there next to him. As freaked out as he is, Nanase is the opposite when she comes in and sees this young woman who can only say Mone. Apparently to everyone by Tomokazu this means something as nobody finds it strange that she talks like this. Nanase even goes so far as to enroll her in school with Tomokazu as his younger sister. Something is obviously afoot but it all just has that weird forced feel where if someone actually talked for a minute or two a lot of questions would be answered.

Things get stranger on his birthday itself when Nanase invites Mizuki over and they have a little party. This is where you learn how disconnected from reality Tomokazu is as having a single friend over is the best birthday ever and he’s just so completely happy about it and the way everyone felt like a family that he thinks this must be how it is for everyone else. What we essentially learn here is that not only does Tomokazu not have a girlfriend for all his years, but no friends at all otherwise he surely would have been to some kind of birthday party or group event or something where what he has now would feel like a hollow sham. It speaks volumes as to just what kind of weird loser that Tomokazu really is.

But that’s not what the show promotes as the strange part! Since it’s late, Mizuki stays over and gets shacked up with Mone. When Tomokazu hits the sheets himself, he finds himself dreaming in that strange world once again but this time not only does Mone eventually show up but Mizuki is there as well. They get to share his dream world now and it’s starting to wig her out a bit. When he tries to calm her down by putting his hand on her shoulder though, it causes her outfit to disappear and for a minimal skintight outfit complete with circuit board tattoos to show up on her body and she’s just as powered up as Mone is. Eventually, with the arrival of more women, we learn that Tomokazu is like a battery in this world and he can charge up those who gather around him so that they can fight the creatures that are trying to destroy this world. A world of, get ready for it, discarded information and knowledge. If they can destroy this then they can cross over to the real world and cause chaos there.

Amid all of this the show does a bunch of wacky school comedy bits, complete with a teacher who seemingly has had a split personality and abuses Tomokazu mercilessly, a lot of raunchy style fanservice moments that Nanase seems to promote and then just a lot of standard magical girl/harem routines such as beach episodes and other downtime frolicking. All of it is done with a nice enough polish to it where there’s plenty of the standards and a bit of nice camera work in a few scenes. This is the kind of show where you almost feel bad for ragging on it because it’s not trying to be high art but trying instead to have a fun time and it does accomplish that. The character designs are attractive, the costumes are certainly pure fanservice and the animation is nice and slick. And even as much as I rag on Tomokazu, he doesn’t feel like the standard wishy washy male lead.

As the show continues, the second volume weaves in some more interesting overall plot material. The girls show some smarts about themselves when the remember back to one of their previous visits as one of them brought a notebook with them to bed and it showed up in the other world. With the memory of a gorgeous beach out there as well, they all decide to put on swimsuits and visit there to take advantage of the location and enjoy it. They don’t however consult with Tomo about it and he’s shocked to find several attractive women modeling clothes in his house, even if a couple of them are beyond pure jailbait. The episode takes place mostly at the beach from there and even Silk shows up for some training in a swimsuit to join in the fun and there is of course an element of danger but surprisingly there’s more up front talk between some of the girls about their mutual feelings for Tomo that you normally wouldn’t see in a show like this.

What does play out normally is the episode that follows that has everyone back home, now that Mizuki is living with everyone else in the household due to some finagling that’s a bit mysterious. Since we’ve had the beach episode that means it’s time for a festival episode and we get just that as the gang ends up getting all new yukata’s and heads down for the usual kinds of games and character moments that really are standard in just about every show that deals with a festival like this. The only really fun parts for this to me was seeing both Mone and Neneko actually taking place in the festival by playing the drums to their own beat. It’s exactly what I’d expect out of kids that age and they’re very much children.

The plot for the bigger story of the Faydoom does take on a new level with this volume as we get an interesting angle to it as a woman who is doing reverse reincarnations arrives in Neneko’s body and is able to take over there, essentially putting Neneko to sleep. The future she comes from is one where the Faydoom has spilled over into the real world and things look disastrous and practically post-apocalyptic as buildings are in ruins and people live in fears of all kinds. She grew up knowing only this but has managed to find a way into the past in order to warn Tomo about it as apparently his powers are key to being able to disrupting this and putting the world on a whole new course. Unfortunately, with a show like this and with the shorter number of episodes overall, the weight of it and the reactions aren’t able to be done well enough so that the characters really feel like they’re under such pressure. There are several dark moments during the revelations and afterwards but since the show is more interested in being a bouncy harem piece, you can’t let the darkness overwhelm. And this really works against the show.

Before things hit the end, there is a rather fun episode that starts off with the girls all really getting into the idea of mail order as they have a few items arrive and are just fascinated by them, particularly those that don’t seem quite so connected with reality at times. It turns out even worse later on though when it’ revealed that Tomokazu and Mone went sort of nuts in their own catalog ordering and a ton of boxes show up. Naturally, nobody has any money to help out with the massive stack of new bills so Tomokazu finds himself being hired short term as a mascot for a store promotion. This gets him into a big pink fuzzy bunny suit but it turns into a lot of work as he realizes all of the girls except for Nanase are working there as well by dressing up in skimpy sailor suits and posing. Everyone plays to type by this but it’s the resulting conversation between Mizuki and Tomokazu that makes it worthwhile as they come closer than most characters in shows like this by actually talking about their feelings.

Once this is out of the way though the show goes into the last three episodes by bringing in revelations about some of the girls and what they’ve really been up to all this time. Though it’s obvious that someone like Nanase is hiding a secret or two, there’s the obvious ones and then the ones that seemingly come out of nowhere as a group of black suited men in sunglasses begin to show an interest in the girls and Tomokazu. So much of an interest that they basically kidnap them to take them to a residence where an old family apparently knows all about the Destiny Transformation and have their own ideas about how it should work out. This would be interesting if it wasn’t so minimally fleshed out and basically given to just a few minutes of real information before Tomokazu and the others escape to go finish off the Faydoom’s by themselves.

At the end of the series, there is a good bit of action across the last couple of episodes as they deal with the Faydoom, especially since it’s that kind of overwhelming force that seems impossible to take down in a short amount of time. This provides for some good fanservice moments with the girls all in their shiny outfits and working hard together, but the moments that really make things work briefly in this volume are the same as the previous one with Neito, the reverse-reincarnating woman. Having seen her future before and knowing that Tomokazu is key to it, the time she’s spent with him has drawn her only more to him but she’s managed to keep it under wraps for the most part. Amusing, Neneko seems to understand and you can gamble that some of her outward nature is influenced by Neito underneath. As the Destiny Transformation gets closer, it’s Neito that really gives Tomokazu the incentive to do what he has to do in one of the few real moments in the show where the emotion is just strong.

In Summary:
For a game based on a video game, Yumeria could certainly be a lot worse than it turned out to be. And it always feels kind of weird and damning to put it that way, but it’s true. The harem situation was decently done even if some of it was just badly obvious like Nanase and her secret identity. The character designs, even when seeming like some of the basic designs out there, were well done and very consistent and fluid throughout the show. Each of the characters ended up with a decent personality attached to them and I think they even managed a decent enough job with Mone. This could have been mind-numbing as a full twenty-six episode series but it works decently enough at this level. For fans of the show, they’re getting a solid and well done release here with all the extras from the original release, which isn’t a lot but is at least something. This isn’t a show I see myself revisiting again though and was one that wasn’t high on my list to watch when new volumes arrived either.

Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing

Content Grade: C+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-

Released By: Sentai FIlmworks
Release Date: November 12th, 2013
MSRP: $39.98
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.