What They Say
In “Nagisa’s Fiance,” Lum, Ataru, Mendou, and Shinobu visit an inn which Ryuunosuke and her father have opened. But when it turns out to be on a haunted desert island, the stage is set for some serious silliness!
Then, in “The Electric Household Guard,” Mendou hires a new personal Ninja with some very unusual abilities, only to have him fall head-over-heels for his manipulative sister, Ryoko.
The audio presentation for this OVA brings us the original Japanese language track only with it encoded in stereo at 192kbps. The stereo mix for the show is fairly decent but it’s pretty reminiscent of the same kind of mix we got with the TV series itself so it’s not exactly a wild hopping time of sounds coming from every direction. The mix does sound good, and clearer than the TV mix since it’s several years more recent, and is free of problems such as distortions or dropouts.
Originally released to video back in 1988 and 1989, the transfer for this OVA series is presented in its original full-frame aspect ratio. Looking quite different from the TV series and much closer to the Final Chapter material in that it’s a brighter and much more fluid look piece of animation that was able to take advantage of the format over what the TV series had to deal with. The transfer here looks quite good overall with solid-looking colors throughout most of the print with only a few areas showing any blocking in general, far less than when I first viewed it years ago as players handle upconverting material a lot better. Cross coloration is pretty much non-existent here and other than just a bit of the usual aliasing that’s somewhat the norm for shows like this it’s a very good looking transfer.
Using much the same design style as the movie releases but just swapping out the word movie for OVA, the cover for this release is similar if not the same as the VHS release of the OVA. The front cover gives us a nice look at Lum as usual and some fun action elements along the bottom while the whole thing feels a bit darker than past covers. The back cover provides a couple of shots from the show itself but most of the space is given over to a lengthy summary of the setup for the OVA. The discs technical and production information is also very easy to find and while the layout isn’t exactly how I’d like it, they do mirror the technical grid format without using the grid itself for much of it. As with most of their releases now, no insert is included in this release.
The entire menu is given over to an animated clip that starts off with some photographs being taken at first and then shifts into a sequence with a fence and a beating heart while some of the music plays along to it. Each of the episodes are selectable from the top level and the menu is nicely done overall. The menu selections are minimal along the bottom but navigation is quick and easy and the layout overall very well in-theme for the show. Access times are nice and fast and since languages aren’t the norm our players presets weren’t exactly an issue this time.
The extras are fairly minimal but there aren’t exactly a lot of materials for something like this. The image gallery is pretty straightforward while the liner notes cover several screens worth.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Much like the first time I had seen the OVA series, I’m finding the last couple of volumes to be somewhat of the weaker episodes of the run but at the same time finding that they’re not quite as weak as I remember them being, mostly because I rarely re-watched them, so they’re still somewhat fresh to me here. This volume brings two more episodes to the center stage and help work some of the differing areas for the wide range of secondary characters to get more people involved.
The opening episode, Nagisa’s Fiance, actually plays a lot better this time around for me than before, partially because Ryuunosuke has been a much more familiar character this time around than she was the first time, so more of the continual jokes and gags associated with her and her father and the tea shop make more sense when applied here. Her father, being the fool that he is, has set up shop on a remote island that he bought for 300 yen that’s about four kilometers away from the closest city on the mainland. Apparently it was cheap since his childhood friend had owned it prior to him and was setting up shop there but he and his daughter died a tragic death drinking sea urchin juice and now he’s come there with Ryuu so they can make their fortunes.
Mendou helps in this by bringing the gang out there for a couple of days to check it out but that’s almost the only reason he’s actually included in the episode. Things turn into a bit of a horror/mystery when we find out that the ghosts of the past are still there on the island and are haunting them a bit but most just as a gag. What’s really going on we learn as the two old friends reminisce a bit is that it seems like Ryuunosuke’s father is probably related to Genma Saotome in that he’s promised his son to his friends daughter and now Nagisa has come in her death to meet her husband. So things devolve into lots of attempted first kisses, weird fiancé gags and so forth. It’s rather cute and fun, particularly since both Ataru and Mendou are surprisingly quiet during a lot of this and aren’t sure why they aren’t attacking Nagisa constantly.
The one episode that I don’t remember well ended up playing rather well this time around is the Electric Household Guard one. Mendou’s father has decided that it’s time for him to have his own personal ninja/shadow that will follow him for life and do his bidding, much as his own has done for his life. Ninja material in this series is usually pretty comical and this opens up with some fun parodies of their stealthy nature before settling into the actual gag. Choosing the grandson of his own guardian ninja, Shingo isn’t what you’d expect of such a person. He’s much like a lot of people at his teenage years and would rather spend time watching TV or doing anything else. He’s not keen on being Shutaro’s shadow and while he has plenty of ninja-like skills, he’s somewhat uneducated and unrefined.
Which of course makes for great fun when Shutaro sends him on his first test mission to spy on his sister and Shingo instantly falls for her and the two make plans to elope all within the space of a couple of minutes. Shutaro, of course, won’t stand for it and Ataru sure won’t stand for it and it devolves to fights and chases between the three of them as others get involved. It’s actually a lot of fun and we get Lum in an ultra-high powered mode from getting in touch with the estate’s power supply lines. While it’s not as humorous as some of my favorites from earlier in the OVA series, there’s a good number of laughs to be had here and I was glad Mendou got himself more screen time, especially after the Nagisa episode.
As the OVA series gets close to winding down we’re able to spread to more of the characters in the show and both Ryuunosuke and Mendou get some amusing stories tied to them on this release. Ataru and Lum make key appearances in each of the episodes but they’re not the focus of the stories and their shenanigans don’t cause all that much trouble in the long run. And that’s one of the best things about the franchise is that the other characters can and do hold our attention when we shift away from the leads and we get some really interesting material sometimes.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Art Gallery, Liner Notes
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: AnimEigo
Release Date: July 12th, 2005
Running Time: 77 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
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.