Reviewby Mike Crandol, Feb 9th 2002
Irresponsible Captain Tylor: The OVA Collection
DVD Box Set
The further adventures of Captain Tylor and the crew of the Soyokaze are chronicled in this three-volume OVA collection. Tensions between the United Planets Space Force and the Holy Raalgon Empire are on the rise once more, and as before it all depends on the Irresponsible Captain Tylor to save the day with his unique brand of military strategy.....or lack thereof. But can Tylor's dumb luck hold out against new Raalgon super-weapons, or the unidentified force that is destroying ships on the frontier? Not to worry, Tylor can expect help from the new-promoted Captain Yamamoto! Return to space with the crew of the wackiest ship in the galaxy in "The Irresponsible Captain Tylor: The OVA Collection"!
The three-volume "Captain Tylor" OVA collection cannot rightly be called a single series, because it is actually comprised of two independent story arcs with drastic differences in tone and visual style. Volume 1, "An Exceptional Episode", is a sort of epilogue to the TV series, drawn in the exact style of the earlier work and retaining it's comedic bent. It's story is self-contained, although it does define some character relationships that are further explored in parts 2 and 3. These volumes,"The Sidestory Collection" and "From Here to Eternity", make up the true "Captain Tylor OVA Series" as events leading up to the second Raalgon War are chronicled over eight episodes. Beginning with volume 2 the characters and the world(s) they inhabit have been given a major redesign, and the tone of the series, while not without flashes of humor, is altogether much more serious than the original Captain Tylor series.
Despite containing some of the funniest moments in the entire "Captain Tylor" canon, "An Exceptional Episode" fails to live up to the wonderful TV series that preceded it. One of the things that made the television show so great was that Tylor's crew goes from absolutely loathing him to possessing the utmost loyalty and respect for him by the series' end. That trust has inexplicably disappeared in "Exceptional Episode": while the Soyokaze crew had previously learned to place faith in Tylor's unorthodox methods, here they are all too quick to condemn him as the idiot they once thought he was. Even more unbelievable is a complete 180-degree personality shift in the character of Ru Baraba Dom. The cool-headed Raalgon captain was the sole character in the Tylor TV series who respected Tylor as a person and as a captain from the beginning. This time around, however, Dom has apparently gone off the deep end. When Tylor uncharacteristically attacks the Raalgon and then allows the Soyokaze to be captured, the TV version of Dom would have correctly guessed Tylor had an ulterior, more noble intent. Instead, Dom instantly accuses Tylor of the worst, and in a scene disturbingly out-of-character for "Irresponsible Captain Tylor", Dom tortures Tylor for information. Throughout, Tylor keeps secret the true goal of his mission from both Dom and his disapproving crew, even though there is no reason for him to do so. These glaring inconsistencies unfortunately eclipse some truly hilarious moments which would otherwise make this installment one of "Tylor's" most amusing episodes.
As noted above, the art and animation in volume 1 are exact duplications of the original TV series'. Volume 2 marks a departure both visually and thematically, as the Tylor universe is given a more "real-world" look and the screwball comedy is largely abandoned in favor of (gasp!) straight drama. While more faithful to the characters than "An Exceptional Episode," "Sidestory Collection" and "Here to Eternity" also fall short of living up to the original.
At first glance Part 2, "The Sidestory Collection," appears to consist of six unrelated short stories, but when viewed as a whole a steady undercurrent of plot development is discernable as the UPSF and the Raalgon once again prepare for war. In each episode the spotlight is turned on a different character, and indeed Tylor figures prominently in only one of the stories presented. The first episode is devoted to Azalyn and a mysterious figure from her childhood, the girl-shy Kojiro stars solo in the second episode, followed by Andressen and the Soyokaze marines in episode 3. The Xmas-themed 4th episode temporarily restores Tylor to the lead role, while 5 and 6 chronicle Yuriko's abduction by Raalgon agents, her rescue by Lt. Yamamoto, and his subsequent promotion to captain of his own vessel. Throughout are sprinkled hints of events to come which finally begin to manifest in the final two episodes. Of these, episode 4 is far and away the most enjoyable, and it is no coincidence that it is the only one in which Tylor is the main character. There's nothing wrong with Tylor's supporting cast, except that were designed to "support" the main character, and their reactions to his hilariously unpredictable behavior have always been the main crux around which the show functioned. Removing Tylor from the starring role is like removing the main gear from a motor. Only Yuriko and Yamamoto prove three-dimensional enough to sustain their own episodes, and even then Tylor's presence is sorely missed.
The irresponsible captain doesn't quite return to the fore in volume 3, "From Here to Eternity", which is more of an ensemble piece in which all the characters are given equal weight in the story. It actually begins before and during events from the previous volume, apparently only to confuse the viewer. The mysterious disappearance of UPSF ships has pushed the universe to the brink of war, and Yamamoto may be the only one who can prevent it. Of course, his former captain and crew are there to help. The plot is fairly engaging, and while it lacks "Tylor's" signature comedy it is the most worthy successor to the TV original.....until the story just ENDS without any kind of resolution or explanation! Evidently, the Tylor OVA Series remains unfinished, and only by reading the linear notes provided on the disc do we discover how the series was meant to end.
The OVAs fare better in terms of their technical aspects. While the original character designs were all superb, the new look also suits the cast well, and given the more serious tone this less-cartoony style is probably more appropriate. The animation is standard OVA quality: more accomplished than the TV series yet there is no standout sequence of any great merit. The voice actors in both the English and Japanese versions give solid performances, and the edge may actually go to the American cast, whose Tylor and Yamamoto are especially convincing. The music is a big improvement over the TV show's, which was always a low point of the series. The cheesy synthesizer score has been replaced by a full orchestra, and it gives "Captain Tylor" a professional sound it struggled to achieve on television.
"Irresponsible Captain Tylor" has a small but loyal and very deserved following among anime fandom. Those who take the message and spirit of the TV series To Heart will most likely be let down by "The OVA Collection". Though the final television episode left the way wide open for a sequel, in the end it would have been better to leave well enough alone. "The OVA Collection" is only for completists....it's preferable to remember Tylor the way he was.
Overall (dub) : C+
Overall (sub) : C
Animation : B
Art : B
Music : A
+ music and animation are an improvement over the TV series; bits of the old Tylor humor shine through
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