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This Ugly Yet Beautiful World: Volume 1: Falling Star

This Ugly Yet Beautiful World: Volume 1: Falling Star
Review Date:
Reviewed By: Spike

Released By: ADV Films UK

Age Rating: 12

Region: 2 - UK
Volume: 1 of 3
Length: 100 minutes
Subtitles: English
Audio: English 2.0 Stereo
Japanese 2.0 Stereo
Takeru Takemoto works at his aunt and uncle's motorcycle courier business when he's not attending school, and boards at their place. Though frankly bored would be more accurate, as he is completely disheartened with life and left with the feeling that nothing he will ever do will change a thing in the world. This is all about to change when as he's giving his best friend Ryou Ninomiya a ride home on his bike, a bright light falls from the sky almost knocks them off their bike. Compelled to investigate, they find a glowing light in the trees, and more importantly a girl calling herself Hikari. One would think that that would be as weird as a night could get, but these three have another thing coming!
After quickly ingratiating herself with Takeru's friend and family, Hikari quickly becomes almost part of the household, but just who is she and where did she come from? More importantly what is she, and what dark secret is harboured within that cute exterior?
Most of the first episode deals with Hikari's untimely appearance and the strange events that follow, but the rest of the disk is mainly concerned with her adjustment to her new life on earth, or so it would appear at first. Interspersed with these seemingly normal events are subtle clues about Hikari's true nature, including her abnormal learning instinct and almost split personality on a few occasions. If this wasn't bad enough, Takeru's family and friends seem hell-bent on interfering in any way possible, and a mysterious new lodger, miss Jennifer Portman has landed herself on them and almost appears to know a lot more than she's letting on.

While this first volume is cute and interesting it would be worth noting that this show hails from the venerable studio GAINAX, the studio behind shows such as Evangelion, Mahoromatic, and FLCL, so expecting the standard alien girlfriend from space plot is probably out of the question. That said, the animation and audio are all you would expect from this powerhouse of Japanese animation and this is certainly a fine print onto DVD. The colour palate used is quite striking and some of the gradients used are rather subtle but to good effect, mostly in scenes involving either sky or walls.

The score for this series is almost completely original, so much so that there is no show other than GAINAX other that it can really be likened to, up to and including the opening and closing credits. The subtitles are good and convey the emotions and expressions of the characters well and the original Japanese cast seem well suited to their respective roles. ADV have stuck their oar in and given themselves a little poetic licence when it comes to the English dub, and love it or loath it, they always manage to add a little extra humour when it comes to the lighter moments.

I really haven't let too much on here, there was much I suppose I could have said to make this more enticing, but that would be giving a little to much away. Spoilers aside, this show has the makings of yet another GAINAX classic, and if the first disk is a portent of what's to come then this one's going to be a belter!

Rating: 8/10
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