×
  • remind me tomorrow
  • remind me next week
  • never remind me
Subscribe to the ANN Newsletter • Wake up every Sunday to a curated list of ANN's most interesting posts of the week. read more

Forum - View topic
Errinundra's Beautiful Fighting Girl #133: Taiman Blues: Ladies' Chapter - Mayumi


Goto page Previous    Next

Anime News Network Forum Index -> General -> Anime
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
Errinundra
Moderator


Joined: 14 Jun 2008
Posts: 6545
Location: Melbourne, Oz
PostPosted: Sun Mar 08, 2020 5:55 pm Reply with quote
Beautiful Fighting Girl index
****

Beltane70 wrote:
I believe that the subs that you had to use for the reviews are mistaken in calling the "artificial" soldiers robots. Both the English and Japanese dubs mention them as being cyborgs as even though their bodies are artificial, their nervous systems are actually biological. I think that better explains why the other pilot and the clearly human woman were showing concern for the wounded pilot...


The mistake is mine. The subs have Catty explaining:

Quote:
80% of our combat forces are now cyborg soldiers. Completely artificial combat devices except for their nervous systems.


That has its own fridge horror. Presumably no one volunteers to be cyberised in this way so the Solnoids must be scavenging the nervous systems from badly injured soldiers. That may have been Lufy's fate had they not been able to revive her.

I've edited the post to replace "robot" with "cyborg" and include a brief explanation. I've also added a link to Cosmic Child on YouTube.


Last edited by Errinundra on Mon Feb 14, 2022 3:39 am; edited 1 time in total
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website My Anime My Manga
Beltane70



Joined: 07 May 2007
Posts: 3920
PostPosted: Mon Mar 09, 2020 12:22 am Reply with quote
Now that you’ve seen parts one and two, you might appreciate the Gall Force parody, Ten Little Gall Force which is done in the chibi-style. The parody is presented as a making of and treats the characters as just actors playing their roles. Several members of the production staff are also represented in the parody as well.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message My Anime My Manga
Errinundra
Moderator


Joined: 14 Jun 2008
Posts: 6545
Location: Melbourne, Oz
PostPosted: Mon Mar 09, 2020 1:53 am Reply with quote
On an entirely unrelated note I've entirely overlooked Project A-ko 2. It fits in here in the chronology so I guess it will be my next review, I'll drop it in there, and then push all the others since up one number in the count.

This is so annoying.


Last edited by Errinundra on Mon Feb 14, 2022 3:39 am; edited 2 times in total
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website My Anime My Manga
Errinundra
Moderator


Joined: 14 Jun 2008
Posts: 6545
Location: Melbourne, Oz
PostPosted: Sun Mar 15, 2020 2:54 am Reply with quote
The review of Project A-ko 2: The Plot of the Daitokuji Financial Group has been moved here so it appears in its correct place chronologically.

Last edited by Errinundra on Sun Mar 22, 2020 10:30 am; edited 2 times in total
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website My Anime My Manga
Errinundra
Moderator


Joined: 14 Jun 2008
Posts: 6545
Location: Melbourne, Oz
PostPosted: Sun Mar 22, 2020 10:19 am Reply with quote
Beautiful Fighting Girl #86: Alcia Grace,



Relic Armour Legaciam

Synopsis: Alcia lives with her grandfather, Professor Grace, on the terraformed planet of Libertia. Because the planet is tidally locked to its sun, the original settlers placed three huge discs in orbit to simulate day and night, and to stave off the "great heat". In an area unprotected by the discs stands a mysterious tower of unknown provenance, suspected of influencing the mental health of the planet's inhabitants and rumoured to contain advanced technology. Some years earlier Professor Grace organised an expedition to the tower that never returned, although he was able to secretly retrieve the data it had collected. With this data he has built a small, powerful and swift mecha - more of a power suit, really - that only Alcia can pilot, albeit unenthusiastically. As it also turns out, it's also an ideal weapon to challenge a cosseted elite known as the Guild who rule the planet with little sympathy for the struggling classes below them.

Production details:
Release date: 28 November 1987
Director, creator, character design, animation director, mechanical design and key animation: Hiroyuki Kitazume (mostly known for his character designs including the Urotsukidoji: Legend of the Overfiend franchise, Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ and Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack, and as an animation director; his only other director credits are the Starlight Angel segment of Robot Carnival and Moldiver)
Studio: the short lived Atelier Giga, which formed after the demise of somewhat longer lived Bebow (aka Biboo), which, in turn, had been founded by ex-Tatsunoko staffer Tomonori Kogawa
Screenplay: Akinori Endo
Storyboard: Tomomi Mochizuki
Music: Tatsumi Yano
Additional character design: Akihiko Yamashita and Atsushi Yamagata
Art Director: Hiroshi Sasaki and Masanori Kikuchi
Additional mechanical design: Yukihisa Fujita


A girl and her armour.

Comments: Comparing the fate of this anime and its studio, Atelier Giga, with the recently reviewed Yotoden and JC Staff is salutary. Both studios were formed by staff from Tatsunoko Pro, both were debut OVAs (although Giga had provided in-betweening for three earlier anime), one company hit pay dirt, while the other disappeared into obscurity. A shame because Relic Armour Legaciam, although not amounting to much in its 50 minute runtime, hints at something bigger. The impression I get is that this OVA is a prelude to an epic tale with a complex history impacting multiple characters and with the prospect of several threads to be developed. The narrative closes with four of the main characters setting out for the mysterious tower mentioned in the synopsis. The subsequent credits end, poignantly in hindsight, with "See you again". It was not to be. Like Bubblegum Crisis and Dangaioh, but this time after only one episode, the plug got pulled with loose ends everywhere. Anime is littered with so much unfulfilled promise: the Kickstarter funded Under the Dog was a prelude and side story to something much bigger that I doubt I'll ever see and, more recently, I fear Land of the Lustrous may be too ambitious for its own good.

Mind you, there are reasons why RAL didn't succeed. The first problem is that Alcia is portrayed as a sweet girl under duress without otherwise managing to be particularly appealing or interesting. A harbinger of the reluctant adolescent mecha pilots of Neon Genesis Evangelion, she would rather sit in the shade of a tree playing her flute than fighting to the death against her overlords. Like Shinji she's not only terrified of combat, but she also can't comprehend why she, of all people, is the only one who can pilot the wonder mecha, Legaciam. (And what a redolent name! It screams a big reveal when the second expedition reaches the strange tower.) She gets over it quickly, though. Director Hiroyuki Kitazume's most interesting treatment of her is the way he uses her young, partially undressed body as a striking contrast to the pitiless, mechanical weapon that encloses her. The imagery - see the screenshot above - isn't simply fanservice for dirty minded men of all ages, it's also unsettling in its eclipse of softness by steel. One small detail I liked was how the mechanical arms that enclose the human arms are separate from the mecha's main arms, yet stick out from the machine's body. You can see the yellow arms clearly in the image of Zeno's armour below and, less obviously, Alcia's red arms in the image above. The detail is ergonomically realistic yet the seeming frailty adds to the sense of risk for the pilot.


Top row: slum opportunist and anti-authority warrior Zeno Mozesty and his Professor Grace-built armour.
Middle: comic relief sister and brother Dorothy and Blick Twaif.
Bottom: Zeno's rival Darts Aira; and Professor Grace.


The grandiose story hinted at is undermined by other issues. Fifty minutes (less credits) is barely enough time to establish its full scope, leaving the viewer to mull over some of the finer details. Such a limitation isn't Kitazume's doing, but what can be sheeted home to him is his tendency to descend into banality, something that permeates his contributions to Urotsukidoji: Legend of the Overfiend and Moldiver. Examples in RAL include the comic-relief antics of Alcia's friends Dorothy and Blick, the self-important bearing of each of the male fighters Zeno, Saharo (among the good guys) and the villainous Darts, along with the action scenes generally. The animation is passable, no doubt hampered by the low budget. The quality of the artwork ranges for minimalist (the scenery) to highly expressive (the children). Backgrounds can be dreadful: just check out the image of Alcia at the top of the post. Paradoxically, the image also displays Kitazume's strengths. Ben Etttinger in his Anipages blog (link below) praises "particularly in the child characters" his "combination of strong three-dimensional rendering of the body and features and dynamic and rich posing and facial expressions". His knack for subtlety and variety in the facial expressions can be seen in all the images in this review. No wonder his career as a designer and animator overshadows his few assignments as a director.

Two other things stand out. The first is the principal antagonist, Guild member Felmis (or Fermis) Reek. Surely one of the worst names ever, I can't help but hear it as Fell Miss Reek. Ignoring that distracting observation, she's the pick of the characters and, as a sympathetic villain, a rarity in anime. Initially portrayed as cold and calculating, though with a gorgeous signature red and white outfit, she eventually comes to rival the children for her range of expressions. In the best scene of the OAV - right in the middle - just after she has suffered a defeat in a conference of Guild members who don't treat seriously her concerns about the threat the tower poses and where she reveals her sympathies for the slum dwellers, she retires to her penthouse suite and, in a flashback, the viewer learns of her close connection to the pasts of Alcia, Professor Grace and Zeno. Felmis's quietly expressive actions either side of the flashback are telling: first filtering the outside light and mixing a drink; then subsequently sitting on a couch with her feet up, her hands around her knees and her head bowed. It's a beautiful set of revelations - the unguarded expressions, her introversion, her conflicted state, her frailty. Rarely have I felt so much sympathy for an anime character, let alone one who is a putative villain. I wouldn't describe her as moe either, unlike, say, Alcia, Dorothy or Blick. She reveals herself to be the most human and adult character of the OAV. This brings me to the second outstanding element: the sequence is enhanced by one of the most beautiful, elegiac melodies to ever grace an anime. Indeed, the orchestral soundtrack is exceptional - melancholy as just described, grandiose, dramatic or pastoral elsewhere - and an example in anime of the music being better than the rest of the content. Never mind that it owes a debt to Mozart, Beethoven and other classical and romantic era composers. It just works. The insert ballad and upbeat closer are, by comparison, entirely forgettable.


High and low points.
Top: Felmis Reek, guarded and unguarded. The left-hand image simultaneously shows her intelligence and power along with her doubts and suspicions.
Bottom: Dorothy, Alcia and Zeno's best mate Saharo abduct Professor Grace from hospital, past an unsuspecting Felmis. Spot the continuity error.


Rating: so-so.
+ expressive character designs; Felmis Reek (excepting her name); orchestral soundtrack; there's a grand story here just needing twelve more episodes to flesh out
- background artwork, flat characters (excepting Felmis Reek), too often banal; pop songs; there's a grand story here just needing twelve more episodes to flesh out

Resources:
ANN
Ben Ettinger's Anipages blog
The font of all knowledge (even if it didn't have a Relic Armour Legaciam page)


Last edited by Errinundra on Tue Feb 15, 2022 5:11 am; edited 7 times in total
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website My Anime My Manga
Beltane70



Joined: 07 May 2007
Posts: 3920
PostPosted: Sun Mar 22, 2020 1:01 pm Reply with quote
Relic Armor Legacium is certainly quite an obscure OVA and another one that I've seen only unsubbed. I have a VHS copy from my friend's LD of this somewhere in my collection.

While not entirely sure, I believe that the external arms for the pilot of the armors may have been influenced by Masamune Shirow, as he used them on his landmate designs from Appleseed.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message My Anime My Manga
Errinundra
Moderator


Joined: 14 Jun 2008
Posts: 6545
Location: Melbourne, Oz
PostPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2020 7:11 am Reply with quote
If I were fighting that armour suit, I'd focus on breaking those arms. Sounds brutal but it would be a clear way to disable the pilot. Pity the pilot.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website My Anime My Manga
Errinundra
Moderator


Joined: 14 Jun 2008
Posts: 6545
Location: Melbourne, Oz
PostPosted: Sun Mar 29, 2020 2:22 am Reply with quote
Beautiful Fighting Girl #87: Althea,



Good Morning, Althea

Synopsis: A human space patrol ship encounters a derelict battleship of their erstwhile enemies, the Crest / Cfutz / Stemma (depending on source) and a jettisoned pod containing the cryogenically preserved body of a female Crest warrior. An exploring team triggers an attack from hordes of AI guided machines leaving the team marooned on the battleship along with only two survivors on the patrol ship. The two survivors, the part human / part Crest Galilee and the human / cyborg hybrid Nikolai resuscitate the Crest soldier, Althea, for assistance, set out to rescue their comrades and neutralise the AI that has taken over the battleship.

Production details:
Release date: 16 December 1987
Director: Hideki Tonokatsu (his first directorial role; subsequent anime he directed include Tekkaman Blade II, Virtua Fighter, Hyper Speed GranDoll, Silent Möbius, Starlight Scramble Renai Kohosei, Lupin III: Missed by a Dollar, Happy Lesson, Lupin III: Alcatraz Connection, Requiem from the Darkness, and Moeyo Ken)
Studio: Animate (these days an anime retailer)
Source material: 1986 manga of the same same name by Takehito Ito (best known as the creator of Outlaw Star) in C-Live
Music: Nobuhiko Kashiwara
Character design: Michitaka Kikuchi
Art director: Yukiko Iijima
Key animation: Kinji Yoshimoto
Mechanical animation director: Hiroshi Osaka
Setting Design: Hajime Kamegaki

Comments: The only version of this obscure anime I was able to track down was on YouTube with Japanese subtitles. Switching on the auto translate function produced a result that was quaint to say the least. Now, the plot of this of this 50 minute OAV is straightforward - three good guys battle their way past a host of enemies before finally confronting the boss monster. The problem - as with last week's equally obscure Relic Armour Legaciam - is the relatively complex context from which the narrative derives impetus and additional significance. Trying to decipher that context, which is provided by introductory text and verbal exposition, was nigh on impossible. I had to rely on contradictory summaries from ANN, AniDB, THEM Anime Reviews and the Anime Encyclopaedia to make some sort of sense of it all. The background goes something like this. Humans, with their advanced cyberisation and AI technologies, and the psionically powered Crest / Cfutz / Stemma have not long since concluded a 300 year war, with the latter proving ascendant. Although at peace now, considerable mistrust exists between the two civilisations. A new threat has arrived in the form of the Automata - the Anime Encyclopaedia says that they were originally built by humans as weapons against the Crest - who have gone rogue and are determined to eliminate the original combatants. It is possible to ignore the context and simply enjoy the on-screen action, but it does allow the narrative to briefly hint at a couple of themes.

The first is racism. Tellingly, neither of the two survivors on the earth space ship are unalloyed human. Galilee** is part Crest, granting him psionic abilities and leaving him more open to an alliance with Althea. The older, more conservative and hidebound Nikolai has, due to battle injuries, a cyberised eye and a robotic arm. His mechanically supported head suggests he has probably also suffered major spinal damage. This hasn't made him tolerant of difference. Instead he is initially hostile towards both Galilee and the notion of restoring a one-time enemy. Upon awakening, Althea's first instinct is to kill Galilee. Her hostility softens when she discovers he is part Crest. Difference becomes irrelevant as shared danger in combat will bring all three closer together. There is, however, a contradiction within the narrative. The big bad, as a self-aware artificial intelligence, is also entitled to empathy yet the anime portrays it as irredeemably evil. Funnily enough, in a Macross inspired climax, the Automaton is reduced to impotence by a song of love and its accompanying hologram.


Top row: Galilee and Nikolai.
Bottom: the Automaton has Althea in its grasp.


The second, which is tied in with the first, is social and emotional awakening - hence the clever title, which indicates that Althea is the other from the point of view of the main character. When aroused from her slumber (naked of course), Althea is indeed altogether other - monstrously so. A seeming automaton herself she instinctively tries to kill the first human she sees. We've encountered women portrayed as monstrously different already in the survey with Belladonna of Sadness and The Humanoid. As with the latter and like the more recent Garden of Sinners, Good Morning Althea could be considered as a reverse Beauty and the Beast tale, where the monstrous woman is redeemed by love (in a real time span of a few hours, mind you). Like so much other anime, her agency declines as her emotions are awakened. Despite being recruited for her superior fighting skills she will, at the climax, be pinioned by the big bad using cables in the place of tentacles - it is a machine after all - requiring the previously incompetent Galilee to come to her rescue. Shortly afterwards, Althea has fully adopted her allotted supportive role when she acts as nursemaid to the injured Nikolai. The OAV ends with English words, "Good night," displayed on the screen, presumably as Althea and Galilee trot off to bed. She has been rendered pliable and safe - a suitable helpmeet for the otaku point of view character, Galilee.

I've being generous to the OAV because, really, GMA's treatment of these themes is perfunctory. Any philosophical discourse isn't allowed to hinder for long the forward rushing action scenes on board the alien ship, which are the meat and sinew of the anime. Indeed, some may see such philosophising as a drag. And, yes, while there are lapses in direction in the other scenes, the battles are generally more successful. The mecha v killer robot set pieces are exciting even if the explosions and the camera points of view might obscure more difficult to animate moments. Taut pacing in these instances makes up for the uneven animation. Artwork is competent but prosaic, although I liked the dark red, mood-saturated internals of the Crest battleship where arachnid droids might drop from hidden crevices or gigantic robots smash through walls. Character designs are mostly mediocre. Some still shots of Althea capture well her alien magnificence, but more often than not - especially when animated - she can go seriously and inelegantly off-model. She's also the only character of any interest: Galilee is an average, incompetent otaku self-insertion character who finds hidden reserves of courage for the sake of his girl; and Nikolai is a bellicose military jock who will learn that even nerds have their good points. That's about all there is to them. Like everything else the otherwise mediocre keyboard and synthesiser soundtrack has moments where it cuts through the dross. The piano melody that coheres from the sound effects during the opening credits deserves a better setting. Never mind that Nobuhiko Kashiwara is channelling Jo Hisaishi from Robot Carnival (released five months earlier) and Laputa: Castle in the Sky (mid 1986). Well, perhaps that's why it stands out.

Rating: so-so. Good Morning Althea is comprehensively mediocre.
+ Althea early on in the anime; action scenes are taut and atmospheric; some interesting ideas can be teased out with effort
- direction all over the place; character designs are either bad to begin with or have a tendency to go off model; other artwork ranges from proficient to bad



Resources:
ANN
The font of all knowledge
Ben Ettinger's Anipages blog
THEM Anime Reviews 4.0
AniDB

** Sources render his name in various ways. Among them are Garorii (ANN & Wikipedia), Garroly (THEM), Galory (AniDB). Using the Roman alphabet to represent Japanese pronunciation is fraught at the best of times, but whether to use "l" or "r" is an unresolvable issue. In Japanese there is no phonemic difference between the two phones so using either form when transcribing the sound is equally correct. Because the other characters have obviously Indo-European names I've chosen Galilee (or perhaps Galilei) because it fits the context better (and perhaps because I'm a contrarian).


Last edited by Errinundra on Tue Feb 15, 2022 5:12 am; edited 4 times in total
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website My Anime My Manga
Beltane70



Joined: 07 May 2007
Posts: 3920
PostPosted: Sun Mar 29, 2020 8:34 am Reply with quote
I was wondering when you were getting around to Good Morning Althea, one of the more obscure titles in my collection of old bootleg tapes from the 80s. I actually found the soundtrack to be rather catchy and is one of the CDs that I wished that I owned instead of having to settle for a burned copy thanks to a friend. I feel that the character designs suffered from being off-model than actually being bad. I have a Kikuchi art book that features the character designs of this OVA and they look perfectly fine in there.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message My Anime My Manga
Errinundra
Moderator


Joined: 14 Jun 2008
Posts: 6545
Location: Melbourne, Oz
PostPosted: Mon Apr 13, 2020 5:18 am Reply with quote
^
The opening music, Monshou Bunmei, has been added to my anime favourites play list - along with 243 other tracks from various anime titles. (39 of them are by Yuki Kajiura.)

Beautiful Fighting Girl Pair #88: Yuri & Kei,


Suntne angelae venustae aut par sordida? Decerne!

Dirty Pair OVA Series

Synopsis: The trouble consultants officially codenamed Lovely Angels - but notorious across the galaxy as the Dirty Pair - are back in ten more case studies working for the privately run 3WA (the World Welfare Work Association). Have a problem? They'll solve it. Catch is, general mayhem and destruction writ large follows in their wake - hence their nickname.

Production details:
Release date: 21 December 1987
Director: Katsuyoshi Yatabe (Bucchigiri; a trio of mecha TV series with names beginning The Brave Fighter...; Mukamuka Paradise; Legend of the Mystical Ninja; the infamous Gundress; Shin Hakkenden; Grappler Baki Maximum Tournament; Keraku-no-Oh - King of Pleasure; Mobile Suit Gundam Seed MSV Astray; Kakyusei 2: Anthology; the yaoi Pico franchise; Dinosaur King season 2; and Anime Shonen Maid Curo-kun - Tenshi no Uta)
Original creator: Haruka Takachiho. By this time three of his light novels had been published: DP's Great Adventures; DP Strike Again and DP's Rough and Tumble.
Studio: Sunrise
6 script writers, 4 storyboarders and 5 episode directors of which the last includes 3 episodes under Shinichiro Watanabe, in his first director's role, who would become famous as the director of Cowboy Bebop (TV series and movie); A Detective Story and Kid's Story segments from Animatrix; Samurai Champloo; the Baby Blue segment from Genius Party; Kids on the Slope; Space Dandy; and Carole and Tuesday.
Music: Kohei Tanaka and Toshiyuki Kimori
Character design and chief animation director: Tsukasa Dokite
Art director: Tomoaki Okada
Mechanical design: Yasushi Ishizu

Comments: Excepting the 1994 reboot Dirty Pair Flash, this OAV series is the only part of the franchise I've come to with fresh eyes in my reviews for the grand survey. Happily the ten episodes were at the upper end of my expectations: lots of 1980's design cheesiness; unconnected story lines that can be hit or miss in their entertainment value - although the top three are among the best to be found in the franchise; and, most importantly, the two women are back on model, in a comedic sense, after their unfunny behavioural turn in Affair on Nolandia. Sure, the immediately preceding Project Eden film is funnier and cleverer, but, otherwise, this is Kei and Yuri at their signature best, encapsulating the absurd and silly humour, the sci-fi action sequences, the trust between the two despite the bickering, the fanservice, and the inevitable ensuing chaos. Following the success of the film, I wasn't surprised that the series borrows many of its elements including inspiration for the opening credits and a first episode Wattsman lookalike. Funnily enough, according to Clements and McCarthy the ten episodes were commissioned by an Italian TV network to fill a 36 episode programming block along with the original TV series and the two episodes cancelled in Japan that came to be known as From Lovely Angels with Love. These ten episodes would have stood out with their higher production values and Project Eden influenced stylistic elements.


Yuri and Kei allow neither their nightclub attire nor their flimsy wrestling outfits to deter them from creating a ruckus.

As already mentioned, the OAV's individual episodes can be variable. I'll briefly mention three that stand out - all in the first half. Episode two, set in their hometown of Eleanor City, involves a Terminator inspired robot that has escaped during the city's annual beloved Halloween celebration where everyone dresses up as their favourite 1970s and 1980s cultural icons. Funny that, given the franchise is set far into the future. The robot has been programmed to go feral in exactly one hour, so Kei and Yuri give the massing crowds the most spectacular fireworks show they've ever seen as they hunt it down with bazookas and rocket launchers. The moe robot can't figure out why these two crazy women are out to exterminate him - his killer programming hasn't kicked in yet - so spends most of the episode in understandable headlong flight. In their mad rush the three manage, inadvertently, to foil multiple criminal gangs who are using the celebrations as a cover. Episode four has a gang of bored and self-entitled children - all of whose parents are notable politicians - decide that it would be fun playing at being terrorists. The game is simple - attack the local military base and hold the commandant hostage. Their demands: less school, more play. The Dirty Pair are given the task of resolving the situation without harming the children or creating any embarrassing political consequences for their parents. Wrong choice: delicacy is not their forte. Unable to resort to violence Kei and Yuri find themselves constantly outsmarted and out-gunned by the children.

My favourite is the fifth where the two infiltrate an interstellar casino that's a cover for other, nefarious activities. The story, as is often the case, isn't all that memorable. What blew me away were the utterly gorgeous outfits Yuri and Kei have adorned themselves with as they enter the main gaming hall (see images at the top of the post). Yuri's gown and Kei's pant suit - both perfect for their characters - are 1980s fanservice at its absolute best. You may disagree of course. Mike Toole did just that in his review from 2012, commenting that "Kei's outfit is one of the most nightmarishly 80s things I've ever seen." 1987 is now so far away that it's like another, alien world. What was once fashionable, then stale, has by now become a flamboyant marker of the time. In any case, a trashy veneer is an essential element of the franchise. And, of course, Kei and Yuri are characters as objects, not subjects. That's both part of their charm and an indicator of the franchise's superficiality. Where I would agree with Mike Toole is that the seventh episode is the worst, which is disappointing when you consider it was directed by Shinichiro Watanabe who, a decade later, would give us Cowboy Bebop. Referencing both the franchise's inspiration in women's wrestling in Japan and the two rip-off OAVs Maris the Choujo and Wanna-Be's (it even nicks the performance enhancing drug plot from the latter in a sort of payback), the women limber up against a former 3WA trouble agent who has turned criminal. The outcome is unfunny and dull. You'd be better off giving it a miss and watching Maris the Choujo in its place.


Clockwise from top left: episode 2's robot doing its darnedest to escape termination; underage terrorists;
the Wattsman inspired Dr Q; and cat-bear Lovely Angels mascot, Mughi.


Much of the appeal of Kei and Yuri lies in their relationship, which is simultaneously dependable and antagonistic. The OAV doesn't disappoint. It revels in the bickering notably absent in Affair on Nolandia, while continuing to demonstrate their affinity as a working team. They're like a successful married couple who complete each other's sentences and undertake tasks together without any prior planning. Much of the credit for making the relationship seem so natural is due to the voice acting of seiyuus Kyouko Tonguu (Kei) and Saeko Shimazu (Yuri). There are, nonetheless, some subtle developments. In previous instalments Yuri's relative verbal acuity meant that she usually had the upper hand in their sparring. It also meant she did most of the planning and made the effective decisions. Kei's hot-headed interventions as often as not got them into dire predicaments. In the OAV, and paradoxically for much the same reasons, the positions are reversed. Kei resolutely moves into action as the more verbal Yuri dithers, then demurs and tags along. The action girl also gets the best and most pithy put-downs.

Visually, the OAV is an improvement over Nozomi's release of the original TV series. Sunrise must have had a bigger budget as the artwork and animation are more complex and detailed. Additionally, either Nozomi did a better job or their source material was of a higher quality as the pictures are brighter, sharper and less grainy. The episode plots are more coherent, which is a plus overall. There's less of a sense of them being simply a sequence of gags loosely strung together. The downside, with the robot episode as the exception, is that the occasional moments of utter insanity that blessed the original are absent. Likewise, most episodes don't end with everything being destroyed.

Rating: good. Having also seen the yet to be reviewed Flight 005 Conspiracy, my recommendation, if you want to dabble in the franchise, remains Project Eden. If that piques your interest then this OAV would be next on my list.
+ the relationship between Kei and Yuri brought to life by Kyouko Tonguu and Saeko Shimazu; better episodes are, short of Project Eden, the best examples of the franchise
- lacks the insane moments of the original TV series; some less engaging episodes

Resources:
Dirty Pair OVA Series, Nozomi / RightStuf
ANN
Mike Toole's review
The font of all knowledge
The Anime Encyclopaedia, Jonathon Clements and Helen McCarthy, Stone Bridge Press via Kindle


Mission accomplished. With complications. I'm sure it wasn't their fault.


Last edited by Errinundra on Tue Feb 15, 2022 5:13 am; edited 3 times in total
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website My Anime My Manga
Beltane70



Joined: 07 May 2007
Posts: 3920
PostPosted: Sat Apr 18, 2020 12:28 pm Reply with quote
I believe that the robot episode was my first exposure to Dirty Pair. I also really love the opening theme song!
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message My Anime My Manga
Errinundra
Moderator


Joined: 14 Jun 2008
Posts: 6545
Location: Melbourne, Oz
PostPosted: Sun Apr 26, 2020 5:34 am Reply with quote
^
I like the panned keyboard intro and the funky base riff.

Beautiful Fighting Girl Marginalia: Fujiko Mine,



Lupin III: The Fuma Conspiracy

Synopsis: Goemon's marriage to Murasaki Inabe - daughter to the ancient and wealthy Suminawa samurai family - is interrupted when ninjas from the rival Fuma clan steal the Suminawa's most prized heirloom: a ceramic urn. Turns out it holds important clues as to the whereabouts of a fabulous treasure deep under a sacred mountain. Lupin's gang sets out find the fortune, all the while avoiding the clutches of both the Fuma gang and a persistent Inspector Zenigata fresh out of retirement as a Buddhist monk.

Production details:
Release date: 26 December 1987
Director: Masayuki Ozeki (mostly employed throughout his career as an episode director; along with this instalment of the Lupin III franchise he also helmed Kama Sutra and Ishii Hisaichi no Daiseikai)
Studio: TMS Entertainment
Creator: Monkey Punch from an original concept by Maurice Leblanc
Screenplay: Makoto Naito
Animation director & character design: Kazuhide Tomonaga
Art director: Shichiro Koboyashi
Music: Kiyoshi Miyaura

Comments: Way back when, almost two years to the day, I threatened to revisit the Lupin III franchise from time to time to record how the depiction of Fujiko Mine changes over the decades. So here we are, having chosen this made for video film simply because its the most highly regarded instalment from the 80s as judged by ANN viewers. It's easy to see why: this breathlessly fun romp hardly sags once in its 75 minute run time. That's something of a minor miracle when you consider that it has a one-off director and likewise music composer and, most tellingly, ditches the regular cast. The important things remain, however - the wild car chases and preposterous escapes, the outlandish devices and situations, the ever present joie de vivre, and, of course, the gang of lovable rogues, who may have unfamiliar voices, but otherwise meet the viewers' expectations. There are some character developments but I'll come to those shortly.

The appeal of the film lies less in its characters than in its spectacular yet comic set-piece action sequences that are among the best in the five instalments I've seen so far in the franchise (including the three I've previously reviewed and also The Woman Called Fujiko Mine, which I'll definitely review if I manage to live that long). Perhaps that's why the change in seiyuu isn't such a problem. The characters are largely secondary to the action. The first half of the film does have its moments of exposition, but they barely hold back the fun and games that include, among other things, a ninja battle at a wedding, a confrontation in a rail yard and two car chases. The second of them has now become my favourite so far in the franchise, topping the helicopter in the sewers sequence in The Mystery of Mamo. With the film resolutely remaining in Japan, unlike either Mamo or The Castle of Cagliostro, the chase features a Blues Brothers inspired armada of police cars chasing Lupin and Jigen not along freeways but through the busy, narrow market streets of a mountainside town (Hida, Gifu Prefecture, mentioned as the location of the wedding, is the likely inspiration) and in the film's piece de resistance, careens up and down the hallways, staircases, banquet rooms, balconies and spas of a packed onsen - with patrons, clothed and otherwise, scampering in all directions. I'm left wondering how the tatami mats bore up under the spinning tires. The second half of the movie is an extended Indiana Jones inspired underground sojourn with traps everywhere to ensnare whoever may try to pass. The traps aren't all that inventive, but Fujiko neatly subverts the trope when she dashes headlong through the passages with spears and darts flying all about and pits opening up in her wake. No finessing about for her. Like any Indiana Jones film the good guys and the villains must ultimately choose between greed and co-operative self-preservation. Villainy will always bring itself undone.


Scenes from a bathhouse. (Note Zenigata's shaved head.)

In terms of character portrayal this instalment is less interesting than the predecessors I've covered. If Fuma is to go by, then the Miyazaki / Takahata vision of the franchise has won out. What we have now is non-challenging middle-of-the-road entertainment, albeit in a highly amusing form. Lupin is no longer the conniving, womanising, disreputable lawbreaker of days gone by. Early in the film he is genuinely aggrieved that Zenigata wants to arrest him. For the sake of the audience's anticipated car chase he, nonetheless, instructs Jigen to make a run for it. His transformation into an unlikely knight in shiny armour is all but complete - he joins the expedition under the mountain not for the treasure, but to protect Murasaki. Yep, he puts the pretty girl ahead of the loot. His lack of interest in the golden hoard is in stark contrast to the avarice of Jigen and, most glaringly, Fujiko. Jigen, for his part, is little more than a prop. The team's marksman doesn't even get to fire a shot, another trope that's subverted when he draws an imaginary gun in the wedding scene. Zenigata is portrayed more conventionally (in terms of the franchise, that is). His sole motivation in life is the pursuit of Lupin. At the start of the film, believing his quarry to have been killed in an explosion, he has retired to a life of reciting sutras as a monk. The joy on his face when he unexpectedly encounters Lupin is one of the film's highlights. He genuinely wants to save Lupin from his underground ordeal... so he can arrest him afterwards.

Katana wielding Goemon, the least amusing member of the troupe, plays a more central role than I've seen hitherto. To help things out the script livens him up with a love interest. As with the other two members of the gang he's a thorough misogynist. Each of them is a variation on the theme. Lupin treats women as passing amusements (although downplayed in the film), Jigen with undisguised contempt (again downplayed) while Goemon responds with fear and confusion. Goemon's shortcomings are ripe for comic exploitation, yet the script doesn't overplay its hand. Murasaki (I don't know the Kanji used for her name, but the romaji could be translated as "village saki" and Hida, the home town of her Suminawa clan, is famous in real life for its saki production) is a good foil for him. She's a low amplitude genki girl: cheerful, active, loyal, tolerant of Goemon's and the rest of the gang's idiosyncrasies, and happy to follow her lover to the very pits of hell under the Hida Mountains. She's likeable, a good match for the reserved swordsman, has a similar samurai bloodline, and responds to his romantic awkwardness with forbearance. So, yeah, I was rooting for them while, at the same time, aware that the dictates of the franchise would ensure that it wouldn't end well. This time Lupin isn't the one to leave a broken heart in his wake.


Top: Murasaki attempts to draw Goemon from the orbit of Lupin's gang.
Middle: Inspector Zenigata, as ever, fretting over Lupin at large; and "The Boss" of the Fuma clan.
Bottom: Jigen and Lupin; Murasaki and Goemon.


Production wise, the film measures up quite well. The 4:3 aspect ratio betrays its video release origins, yet the background artwork is detailed and often attractive. The rural scenes stand out in this regard with the colourful Gifu Prefecture autumn foliage more picturesque than sombre. In keeping with the less risky tone overall, the film avoids the rougher jaunty and angular character designs of the original TV series or the Mystery of Mamo film. The image of Fujiko at the top of the post even has an American cartoon sensibility to it. And it isn't the only instance. The most memorable character design is the creepily sinister "Boss" of the Fuma clan who proves himself a dangerous opponent for Goemon. For its part, the animation sparkles, especially in the car chase sequences. The consistency, the pacing, the timing and the rapid fire visual gags are a delight. By contrast the music is a disappointment, eschewing the frowzy nightclub jazz of earlier instalments for a much cleaner, more mundane sound. The opening song, while passably good, would be better placed in a Dirty Pair production. However appropriate it may be, it's streets ahead of the execrable insert song played over a flashback to Goemon and Murasaki's developing romance. I didn't find the different voices problematic with only Zenigata's seiyuu Seizo Katou drawing attention to himself. His performance still fitted the character.

Fujiko Mine plays a mostly subordinate role throughout the film, although she has her moments. In all the mayhem at the wedding she's the one who keeps her head and saves the urn. She also gets Lupin out of least one other scrape. And, of course, she's the only one to escape with any loot at the end - a solid gold roof tile. That all said, her character breadth has been substantively curtailed. This is the earliest instance I've seen where she is portrayed as psychotically kleptomanic (again see the image at the top of the post). Mari Okada and Sayo Yamamoto will develop that notion further in The Woman Called Fujiko Mine by intimately linking the compulsion with her sexuality to create the best version of her I've yet seen. For the moment, though, she's ultimately an avaricious clown, albeit clever, who rides a cool motorcycle, wears sexy red leathers and who remains forever out of reach for Lupin (who, in any case, no longer seems terribly interested in her). Her most memorable scene occurs when she's captured by the Fuma clan, bound, and with the macguffin urn plonked over her head. Prefiguring Celty from Durarara!! by some twenty years, though in red leather rather than black (I prefer women in red leather), she's quite the fetish object: leather clad, bound and effectively headless. All of which she uses to her advantage to make her escape. You might call it a triumph of ingenuity under straightened circumstances. In the end, though, she only cares about the gold. I'm disappointed; I'd prefer her more heroic. I guess that's all part of the Lupin III remit.



Rating: very good. While not quite matching the technical merits of The Castle of Cagliostro this is the most fun instalment of the franchise I've seen to date and the one I'm most likely to pick from the shelf and play.
+ non-stop fun; well animated, especially the car chase through the bath house; attractive background artwork
- disappointing soundtrack compared with previous instalments; narrow characterisations; change in cast might be distracting for some

Resources:
Rupan III: The Fuma Conspiracy, Animeigo (re-titled to avoid copyright complications)
ANN
Mike Crandol's review
The font of all knowledge
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website My Anime My Manga
Errinundra
Moderator


Joined: 14 Jun 2008
Posts: 6545
Location: Melbourne, Oz
PostPosted: Sun Jul 05, 2020 12:32 am Reply with quote
I'm back after a bit of a break. During this COVID-19 crisis I've been catching up on anime unrelated to the survey and indulging myself with Civilization VI and Ultimate Admiral Dreadnoughts.

Beautiful Fighting Girl #89, Leina Stol (aka Reina Haruka),



Leina Stol in Wolf Sword Legend

Synopsis: Former Machine Robo girl Leina is heir to the mighty Wolf Sword. In episode one she finds herself transported across dimensions, transformed into a human and enrolled as a student at a Japanese high school. When one of her new school mates is abducted she must channel the power of her absent brother Rom and the Wolf Sword to bring her friend back. In episode two Leina crosses dimensions in a search for her brother who is facing death at the hands of the vicious Velt Zaruk. Help is on hand from her one-time Machine Robo allies. In the final episode Leina and her friends confront their most powerful foe yet. Tragedy will strike before she ultimately triumphs.

Production details:
First episode release date: 05 February 1988
Directors: Nobuyoshi Habara (Sorcerer Hunters OAV, Steam Detectives, DN Angel, Fafner franchise, Negima!, Ape Escape, Broken Blade and Space Battleship Yamato 2202), Takao Kato (ep 1) and Kiyoshi Murayama (eps 2 & 3)
Screenplay: Hideki Sonoda
Storyboard: Hisashi Kenchi and Nobuyoshi Habara
Music: Chuumei Watanabe
Character design and animation director: Nobuyoshi Habara
Mechanical design: Takahiro Yamada

Comments: Leina's origins can be traced back to the Machine Robo transforming toy line released by Popy in 1982 and subsequently sold in Europe as Robo Machine, in Australia as Machine Men and America as Gobots. The toys were successful enough to spawn their own 47 episode TV series in 1986, which told the story of Rom, a robot with a soul, who, with his sister Leina and friends - all robots - fights aliens bent on stealing the precious resources of their planet. What happened next is best expressed by Clements and McCarthy, "Realizing that one of the serial’s most popular attributes was not the robots at all but the miniskirted Leina, the series was revived straight to video with a spin-off". (Mind you, in the OAV she doesn't once wear a mini-skirt.) To capitalise on Leina's attraction, the creators went a step further and turned her into a Japanese schoolgirl. That should warn you that the series isn't attempting to be anything more than a vehicle to sell a product, be it toys or videos, using cheesecake and fight scenes.


Leina and friends. In the top left image the Machine Robot team are (l-r) Triple Jim, Leina, Blue Jet, Rom Stol and Rod Drill.
Middle right: incestuous teases litter the anime.
Bottom right: flashbacks interrupt the dramatic tone by presenting the characters in chibi form.


The OAV series never received an English language release. Neither did the follow up Lightning Trap - Leina & Laika. Indeed, only 15 episodes of the original Machine Robo: Revenge of Cronos managed an American release, courtesy of Central Park Media. Nor could I find any fansubs of the OAV. What I did find was a raw version on YouTube uploaded by a Japanese fan. It isn't hard to understand why this title has largely disappeared. It's crap. Considered from any angle Wolf Sword Legend is unimpressive. Absurd characters drift in an out of nonsensical story lines with uninspired artwork that's minimally animated. The villains (and the good guys, for that matter) are daft enough to be annoying without being absurd or eccentric enough to be amusing. Worst of all, the main character is so lifeless, despite her appealing design, she can't even prosecute a case for the OAV's raison d'être - her sexiness. Principal director Nobuyoshi Habara later directed some notable titles, but here he seems to be going through the motions in what is a marketing exercise so uninspired that the underlying cynicism is all too apparent. In fairness, the poor visual quality of the YouTube upload and the raw Japanese dialogue presented hurdles for me to overcome.

The title - Leina Stol in Wolf Sword Legend (abbreviated in the ANN encyclopaedia to Leina: Wolf Sword Legend) - puts her front and centre in the promotion of the anime. The first episode end credits play with this by portraying her and the other characters as actors on set while the anime is being filmed, as if it were a live-action production. That this was the most interesting and amusing moment in the series is a reflection on how dull the rest of it is. Disappointingly, the idea isn't pursued in subsequent episodes. I suppose that would have required too much creative effort. What I got were riffs on a basic scenario of a bewildered school girl under threat, transforming into a bikini-clad robot girl, getting brutally smacked up by a sadistic assailant, summoning the Wolf Sword when all seems lost, then despatching the villain with a matching degree of cruelty. While villains in anime have always suffered dismay and exquisite pain at the moment of their demise, subjecting kawaii heroines to similar agonies is becoming an uncomfortable trope in this survey. I mentioned this very dilemma in the first ever review in this thread (Noir) - way back five years ago. Does the viewer's pleasure come from witnessing the plucky heroine's triumph? Or from the violation of her pristine flesh?


Sundry villains strutting before the camera prior to their inevitable demise. Like spiders they have green blood.

I grant that it is possible that the OAV series is tongue-in-cheek, a la the original GoShogun TV series. Unable to pick up verbal cues from the dialogue, I have to rely upon the visuals to make a judgement on this. The villains' pomposity along with their ridiculous special powers might be deliberate hyperbole, but the overall atmosphere of threat, along with Leina's wooden earnestness, suggest otherwise. Many a serious anime has bombastic villains and humourless heroes - just think of the near contemporaneous Fist of the North Star.

Matching the villains' rhetoric is a bombastic, but admittedly rousing, victory theme, played predictably whenever Leina and her allies are ascendant. One of the battle themes is clearly derived from the pulsing strings of Igor Stravinsky's Rite of Spring. While that's might seem a positve, for the most part, like everything else, the soundtrack is forgettable.

Rating: bad
+ Leina's design; sometimes threatening and surreal atmosphere; soundtrack has its moments; first episode's end credits (these are all minor pluses)
- absurd yet predictable story lines; ridiculous characters; basic artwork and animation; chibi rendering during flashbacks

Resources:
ANN
The Anime Encyclopaedia, Jonathon Clements and Helen McCarthy, Stone Bridge Press via Kindle
The font of all knowledge



Last edited by Errinundra on Tue Feb 15, 2022 5:15 am; edited 3 times in total
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website My Anime My Manga
Beltane70



Joined: 07 May 2007
Posts: 3920
PostPosted: Sun Jul 05, 2020 2:32 pm Reply with quote
As someone who's not really picky and can enjoy just about any anime, there's very few that I vehemently hate. Leina Stol Legend of the Wolf Sword is one of those! I used to think that it was just me, but thanks to your review, I'm happy to know that I'm not alone.

There is actually one thing that I actually did like about this OVA. That one thing was the opening song, Mirai ROMANCER! I remember being interested in the OVA because the opening animation along with this song seemed like it was going to be pretty cool. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message My Anime My Manga
Blood-
Bargain Hunter



Joined: 07 Mar 2009
Posts: 23922
PostPosted: Sat Jul 11, 2020 8:31 pm Reply with quote
Just stopping by to doff my cap in appreciation of the staggering amount of excellent work that has gone into this thread. What a resource. I think the stickied thread Current Series Streaming Availability (Fall 2019) should be cut loose and this one put in its place.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message My Anime My Manga
Display posts from previous:   
Reply to topic    Anime News Network Forum Index -> General -> Anime All times are GMT - 5 Hours
Goto page Previous    Next
Page 45 of 57

 


Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2005 phpBB Group