Well, I finally gave in to the voices in my head and bought the last volume of UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie. And I have to say I remain pretty unimpressed. (In contrast, I went back and watched Pretear for the third time; man I love that show. It just keeps getting better and better.)
As for Valkyrie, yeah, the sight gag at the very end was very funny, probably the funniest thing in the series, but was it worth the trip? Not really. As I mentioned before, there’s nothing so bad about the show that one can genuinely hate it, but one (at least the one sitting here) can’t work up much enthusiasm about it either. It’s the ultimate marshmallow show: you can eat it or not eat it and it won’t make any difference.
The only one of the characters I liked was Akina (the girl who can do magic with pieces of paper). And I guess I liked Hydra in a kind of evil way–she at least had some personality, bad though it was. The dog-thing (Marduk) was kind of fun in the latter episodes (he got to do more than just suffer abuse). (UPDATE: As Mr. Den Beste points out below, his actual name was Shiro; Marduk was a friend and rival. Good thing I didn’t use his dub name–“Spot.”)
But Valkyrie herself, and male protagonist Kazuto, remained non-entities. I think it’s a fairly sad state of affairs when your main characters are so…blah. As a kid, Valkyrie was a hyperactive, thoughtless (hell, brainless) brat. As an adult, she was boringly goddess-like, high-minded and all whisper-sweet.
Kazuto, for his part…well, I found him so boring I can’t think of how to describe him. Except for the fact that he had a work ethic, he could have been perpetually stoned. I cannot see the attraction, why both Valkyrie and Akina want him. Especially since the series seemed to set out, explicitly, to break Akina’s heart over this guy. I’d say it was sad that the series wanted to do this to Akina, except for this one fact: she’d be much better off with some other guy. (Yeah, I know, the heart cannot be bargained with, it can’t be reasoned with, it doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear, and it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead. Tell me about it.)
As for the others, the nearsighted princess (Raine) sure became convenient, and Miss Sanada’s devotion to Valkyrie started to seem more like a neurotic disorder than an admirable loyalty. She provided a lot of the laughs on volumes one and two, but by three she was really getting on my nerves.
The only really remarkable thing about the series was the name “Ryoe Tsukimura” in the screenwriting credits. I haven’t watched enough anime to recognize names right off the bat, but that one leapt out at me: this is the guy who wrote Noir, one of the deepest and most profound series I’ve seen. Seeing his name in the credits of UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie was as startling as “Directed by Alfred Hitchcock” would be on a Three Stooges short.
I thought I read somewhere that there are four seasons of this stuff. According to Steven Den Beste, season two is quite good, but I can’t imagine how they could stretch something so thin without it snapping back and hurting someone. But then I can’t imagine a lot of things. Four seasons of UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie, but only one episode total of GrrlPower? We was robbed!