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


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Alan45
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Joined: 25 Aug 2010
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 07, 2020 7:47 pm Reply with quote
Yes, for what it is worth, Susan Somers is an anime original character. Apparently she was added as a framing device.
Dark Horse issued the manga version in comic book format (floppies) in 29 issues in 1991 and 1992. The first half was titled Venus Wars (issues 1 to 14) and the second half Venus Wars II (issues 1 to 15). Unfortunately, they only published one graphic novel of it covering the first 7 issues. The comics look to be enough material to cover the four volumes the ANN Encyclopedia says were published in Japan but I can’t be sure. It is flipped, but, hay, it is the only game in town.

The animated version covers the story of the first half in a condensed and modified manner. The basic story of a teen age biker joining an army group to fight massive tanks is still there. In addition to Susan, Gary, the junkyard/arms dealer is also anime original. Several threads in the manga version are left out of the anime. On the other hand, Miranda is still there only riding a three wheeled bike shaped like an ancient chariot (with spikes sticking out from the side wheels), standing up. Maggie as also there. Hiro is however named Ken.

The biggest change is the motorcycles. Aside from Miranda’s chariot, the battle bikes look just like normal off-road motorcycles from the eighties. The combat bikes are one ton bikes with a turbocharged 3500 CC engine that redlines at 20,000 rpm with an output of 248 horse power. These are not mono bikes but have dual front wheels (that is two wheels side by side).

Interestingly, the end of the first half is also the end of the story from Hiro’s (Ken’s) point of view. The second half switches to Ishtar from Aphrodia and follows an officer candidate who is plunged in to a spider’s web of spying, intrigue, assassination coups and mind control. Only a couple of characters carry over from the first half. And, by the way, spoiler[Ishtar lost the battle as the end of the first half but won the war.
]
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Errinundra
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 08, 2020 1:29 am Reply with quote
Beautiful Fighting Girls index
****

Funnily enough the author and artist of the original manga, Yoshikazu Yasuhiko, not only directed the movie, he co-wrote the script and designed the characters. I suppose that means all the changes appearing in movie have his imprimatur.

Having the movie covering just half of the manga no doubt encourages viewers to buy the complete manga.


Last edited by Errinundra on Mon Feb 14, 2022 3:42 am; edited 1 time in total
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Alan45
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 08, 2020 8:37 am Reply with quote
The character designs were clearly revised for animation. In the manga they are more light with details suggested but not completely present. The designs for the movie are heavy and more "cartoony".

The fan service you mentioned is absent from the first half of the manga. So no Miranda in undergarments. The first shot of Miranda in her chariot is noted in the manga to be a reference to Boudicca. It reminds me of something I've seen on a coin. There is fan service in the second half of the manga including a shower scene of the male protagonist. This is where suggested but not shown details come in handy.
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Beltane70



Joined: 07 May 2007
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 08, 2020 9:56 am Reply with quote
Errinundra wrote:
Funnily enough the author and artist of the original manga, Yoshikazu Yasuhiko, not only directed the movie, he co-wrote the script and designed the characters. I suppose that means all the changes appearing in movie have his imprimatur.

Having the movie covering just half of the manga no doubt encourages viewers to buy the complete manga.


I wouldn't even be surprised if the changes, especially the fanservice, were pushed on to him by the producers or the sponsors!
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Alan45
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 08, 2020 1:42 pm Reply with quote
I think the changes to the plotting were mostly based on how much you could fit in the time available in a movie format. The added scenes seemed to be intended to make use of the fact that there was movement and sound, that is more fighting, less talking. I'm not sure why they changed the bikes though. Was there a separate credit for a mecha designer? Those monster bikes in the manga were awesome though.

As to the fan service, the second half of the manga has the same type of scenes. Shower scenes (male and female) and a young woman tied to a chair with her blouse open and bra showing. By later standards, the fan service in both anime and manga was mild and limited. It is was someone else's idea, the author claimed it.

One thing that bothered me in the movie and to a lesser extent the manga was that there seemed to be too much infrastructure and too many decayed areas. They were only supposed to have been there for a bit over seventy years. The main characters were only third generation.
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Errinundra
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 13, 2020 1:25 am Reply with quote
To my immense relief, I've managed to figure out a fix that has restored access to my Kindle books and, hence, some of the source material I've used previously.

Beautiful Fighting Girl #104: Atsuko Kagami,



Himitsu no Akko-chan
(ie Secret Akko-chan)

Synopsis: A vacant lot where Akko and her friends have spent many happy hours playing is soon to be redeveloped as a multi-storey apartment building. Akko encourages her school's toughest boy, Taisho, to take the lead in a protest against the construction. When it turns out that Taisho's dad is one of the partners in the project, father and son quickly find themselves in a stand-off. Akko must use the transforming powers of her magical mirror to nudge Taisho's father in the right direction.

Production details:
Release date: 13 March 1989
Studio: Toei
Director: Hiroki Shibata
Source Material: Himitsu no Akko-chan by Fujio Akatsuka, published in Ribon magazine from from July 1962 to September 1965 - generally regarded as the first manga with a magical girl as the protagonist. As an anime it was pipped by both Sally the Witch and by Princess Knight. Writer and artist Fujio Akatsuka is most famous for creating the original Osomatsu-kun manga that inspired multiple television series - most recently in 2020. That and Tensai Bakabon led to his title as the Gag Manga King.
Screenplay: Junki Takegami
Music: Yusuke Honma
Art Director: Nobuto Sakamoto
Animation Director: Yoshinori Kanemori

Comments: Since my review based on the first six and last six episodes of the original 1969 series I've managed to watch the remaining episodes - a sure sign of my developing madness, given that the entire lot was raw. A remake aired from October 1988 to December 1989, but I've not been able to locate any trace of it via the usual methods. Two short films - each only the length of a regular TV show - were released during that run, presumably as parts of double or triple bills in children's matinees and, happily, both have been fansubbed.

The most significant thing about this renewal of the original anime is the return of Toei to the magical girl genre, which they pioneered with Sally the Witch (1966) and Akko-chan, and owned for over a decade, producing nine more franchises culminating in Lalabel (1980). Their only competition came from Mushi Pro's Princess Knight (1967) and Marvellous Melmo (1971). With Toei vacating the field in the 80s, other anime studios moved in to take their place. First up was Ashi Pro's Fairy Princess Minky Momo (1982) before Pierrot made the genre their own, beginning with Magical Angel Creamy Mami (1983) and continuing through to the bizarre, truncated Harbour Light Story from Fashion Lala (1988). With Pierrot likewise seemingly losing interest in the type, once more a magical girl void required filling. All of which leaves me wondering: does the name "Lala" spell doom for the magical girl genre at anime companies? If you subscribe to the possibility that Fanshion Lala is a snide upending of the genre's tropes, then naming the protagonist after Toei's (then) last magical girl makes a certain sort of sense. Regardless, Toei re-visiting Akko-chan after twenty years would have the built-in benefit that the mothers of the young girls Toei was now targeting would have have their own fond memories of the anime and thus be amenable to their daughters sharing the experience.


Clockwise from top left: Taisho, the actual protagonist of the film (that's his belly button hanging down); his parents;
Akko about to transform - her family name means "mirror" and it's worth noting that the heroine of Little Witch Academia is named after her (thanks yuna49);
Akko and her neighbourhood friends; transformed into a marching girl she leads a protest; and
a Studio Pierrot influenced sombre, introspective moment.


The first thing to notice, when comparing this with the original series, are the much higher production values. Not outstanding for 1989 and indulging in all the anime shortcuts you would expect in a children's show, this episode nevertheless upgrades the static character designs, barely functional backgrounds and minimal animation of the 1969 original. The backgrounds owe something to the pastel, artificial style used by Pierrot, without conveying the same sense of fantasy. The pacing is more lively than before, exemplified by the children's manic dash from the school at the end of the day to their much loved empty lot, and the camera point of view more varied. The characters' faces are more three dimensional, more rounded, giving the animators extra scope for expression. And, in another nod to Pierrot, Akko-chan's parents make a lovey-dovey couple (until they fight, that is).

Akko-chan herself has picked up some of the cute anime girl affectations of the late 1980s, which isn't a bad thing because it makes her contemporary and, importantly, expands the range of emotional expressions she displays. She even manages a wistful Pierrot magical girl look as she stands in the rain after helping Taisho's father re-connect with his own childhood (see image above). Catch is, she never was, and still isn't, an interesting character beyond her transforming abilities. Indeed, those powers were a reward for her dutiful behaviour. Akko-chan is an idealised every girl, which doesn't provide much scope for internal conflict. The shortcoming is compounded by her playing a straight character among a bunch of comical eccentrics. Hence, the narrative drivers of the franchise are usually external to her - as in this film where a much loved playground is about to be taken away.

The makers of the first series seemed to be aware of her narrative limitations. They attempted to address them in later episodes by adding an ever so slight disruptive edge to her character, having her fight with adults occasionally or otherwise behaving delinquently (by her normal standards). Teenage hormones kicking in, perhaps? Such moments never sat well with me, as if she were stepping out of character for the sake of a story. As the series wore on, the creators began to shift the emphasis way from Akko-chan and towards the fat school yard gang leader, Taisho, whose abrasive personality provides ample scope for story lines. At first he seems a standard type seen in many a Toei magical girl or giant robot series from the 60s and 70s: an obese bully, albeit comic, with a cohort of obeisant followers and whose role is to be a proximate threat to the main character. Working in his favour, in a narrative sense, are his gumption, his determination to be a leader to his peers in the classroom and the playground, his understated but sincere regard for Akko-chan and his volatile relationship with his father (they're two peas in a pod). All these qualities come to the fore in this short film. That's not to say that the eponymous heroine is reduced to a minor role. No, he may be the principal agent, but she's the enabler.

Toei would return once more to their roots later in 1989 with a sequel series to Sally the Witch, then in 1992 redefine the magical girl genre for the 90s with Sailor Moon, but let's not get ahead of ourselves. There's a lot to cover before then.

Rating: So-so. A step forward from the original 1969 TV series, but a step backward from the better Pierrot magical girl shows from the 1980s.
+ improved production values compared with the original series, more energy, comic tone blends well with the sentimental message
- dull main character, retro Toei style, doesn't stack up well against its contemporaries.

Resources:
ANN
The font of all knowledge
The Anime Encyclopaedia 3rd Revised Edition: A Century of Japanese Animation, Jonathon Clements and Helen McCarthy, Stone Bridge Press via Kindle


Once again with a magical girl show I'm asking myself who the target audience was.
I suppose ten year old girls would find this funny.


Last edited by Errinundra on Tue Feb 15, 2022 5:45 am; edited 3 times in total
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Errinundra
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 02, 2021 10:38 pm Reply with quote
This review has been moved here to place it in its correct chronological position in the survey.

Beautiful Fighting Girls #105: Sandy Newman & Score et al,



Rhea Gall Force

The story so far: Earth has been seeded with humans - a hybrid species created from the DNA of two warring civilisations, the all female Solnoids and the strangely viscous Paranoids - in the last years before their mutual self-destruction. In preparing the way for humans the two rivals have left remnant equipment on the moon ripe for discovery once humans begin exploring their cosmic neighbour. What's more, in their last moments, the heroines of the previous instalment sent a capsule to earth with data containing the technological achievements of the Solnoids. In the near future of our own time, humans have intercepted the capsule.

Synopsis: In due course, humans found the artefacts on the moon and, using the knowledge gained, created cyborg life forms as warriors in their wars against each other that would leave Earth in ruins. Eventually, the sentient cyborgs - who look suspiciously like the Paranoids - turned on their masters and now seek to wipe them out. The remaining humans on earth - still divided into two rival groups and under constant threat from their one-time servants - live out a precarious existence in an Australia that has been reduced to an arid wasteland. Happily, another, more secure group for now, resides on Mars. Forging an uneasy truce the two human factions prepare space ships to send 20,000 civilian survivors to Mars. Sandy and her comrades in arms Score, Melody, Fortin and Mitty participate in diversionary actions to buy time for the launches.

Production details:
Release date: 21 March 1989
Director: Kitsuhito Akiyama (Thundercats, Bubblegum Crisis, Spirit Warrior, Sol Bianca, Bastard!!, Ai no Kusabi, Elementalors, El Hazard: the Wanderers, Magical Project S, Battle Athletes, Dual! Parallel Trouble Adventure, Armitage: Dual Matrix, Monkey Turn, Guyver: the Bioboosted Armour (TV), Pumpkin Scissors, Inazuma Eleven, Beyblade Burst)
Studios: Artmic & AIC
Script: Hideki Kakinuma
Storyboard: Hideki Kakinuma & Katsuhito Akiyama
Character design: Kenichi Sonoda (Bubblegum Crisis franchise, Wanna-Be's; Idol Fighter Su-Chi-Pai; Otaku no Video; creator of Riding Bean and Gunsmith Cats)
Art director: Mitsuharu Miyamae
Chief animation director: Nobuyuki Kitajima
Mechanical design: Kimitoshi Yamane
Art design: Rei Yumeno
Key animation director: Masahiro Tanaka & Masaki Kajishima
Original music: Etsuko Yamakawa



Note: In preparation for this review I located a second hand copy of the DVD via ebay from a Western Australian seller who specialises in restored ex-rental DVDs. I'm intrigued by the provenance of the item in my possession. It's region free, has a cover that matches the NuTech Digital release as per ANN's encyclopaedia, except that it has "PREVIEW TRAILERS" printed at the bottom, is double sided (and thus the disk itself doesn't have artwork) and stamped in the centre "RHEA GALL FORCE © 2001 LICENSED BY NU-TECH DIGITAL, INC., NO SALES TO MINORS UNDER THE AGE OF 18." NuTech, which went bung in 2007, was notable mainly for its hentai catalogue and for its shady business practices. Oddly enough, both the back cover and the main menu bear logos for US Manga Corps, part of the Central Park Media company, which re-released the OAV only two years later in 2003. This ANN news item from March 2002 sheds some light on the arrangement. The packaging was covered in video store stickers, including the defunct business name "DVD HEAVEN" and a phone number. Traces of the store's existence, along with the phone number, can still be found on the internet. I don't doubt that the DVD in my possession was once rented out, but how did an America release wind up, region free, in an Australian video store? Did they rent out bootleg copies? All mildly interesting. In any case, the video quality isn't the best, so I've used a fansub for the images.

Comments (finally): In my review of Gall Force 3 - Stardust War I indicated that the franchise had become stale, thanks partly to its re-use of the plot line of the previous instalment but also by being bogged down with exposition at the expense of activity. Likely aware of these shortcomings, Akiyama and his teams at Artmic and AIC address the issues by dramatically changing the era and the setting, and by presenting a sequence of urgent, mostly action-oriented scenes that directly threaten the protagonists while allowing the back story to be revealed more organically. The most exposition intense scene - a debate between the rival human generals Dominov and Nelson - maintains its tension through the manifest distrust between the factions and by the viewer's knowledge that their mutual enemy is eavesdropping on proceedings in the prelude to an attack.


Top left: Generals Dominov and Nelson argue stratagems.
Middle left: enemy MME (Man Made Existence) warrior.
Bottom left: ruined Australian city. Melbourne, perhaps?
Right: Gorn, the collective mind of the MME.


Other than the Solnoid artefacts and the resemblances between the MMEs and the Paranoids, the OAV is linked to its earlier instalments by the franchise's trademark penchant for re-cycling characters. It isn't laziness but, rather, part of its thesis that strife and renewal are eternally cyclical. Hence, the main group of women reprise characters from the very first movie, Gall Force - Eternal Story. Reluctant leader Sandy Newman channels Rabby, gung-ho warrior Score = Lufy, dour sergeant Fortin = Eluza and cutesy Mitty = Rumy. The Rhea / Eternal Story pairings share designs, personalities and roles. They aren't reincarnations, as such, but meant more as archetypes in the cycle - archetypes that the 1980s anime fan would recognise instantly. Interestingly, as the franchise has progressed the girlishness of the characters, with a couple of exceptions, has been toned down. That's a good thing. The exception in Stardust War was the entirely superfluous Amy and, in Rhea Gall Force, the self-contained waif Mitty. This latter is a relatively successful version of the cute, mascot type character. The humour in her behaviour comes from her apparent insouciance - a seeming indifference to things that everyone else finds traumatising. Much of the her screen time is spent eating cat food straight from the can or sausages of unknown provenance. She also has an important role to play. Being totally self-reliant and independent she knows the terrain like no other. That knowledge will prove useful when all seems lost. The notable absentee from earlier instalments is Catty / Nebulart, the central character who ties the whole premise together. Rhea Gall Force is a transition episode between the first three instalments and the subsequent three-episode Earth Chapter, so you can be sure that Catty will make a timely re-appearance.

One thing that I still find odd after multiple viewings is the presence of sympathetic, human, male characters. They seem so peculiar in a series that wallows in "cute babes with laser guns". There's the two gruff generals who can't agree upon much until they encounter Sandy with her pleas for unity and her displays of heroism. There's also Bodie, who becomes a sacrificial love interest for a member of Sandy's team. Most memorable is Norton, a completely cyborised human whose Arnold Schwarzenegger appearance perfectly suits a scenario redolent of the future awaiting humans in Terminator. He's a good-natured type whose prodigious artificial strength makes him a very useful support for Sandy. So, for the first time, the franchise is giving us some developing inter-character dynamics.


Clockwise from top left: Fortin; Bodie and Melody; Norton; and Mitty.

On deeper consideration there are aspects of Rhea Gall Force that don't make much sense. The human rebels are living a precarious, itinerant lifestyle. At any moment their hidden refuges might be attacked by the MME with all their technological resources. Where does the food come from? The weapons? The tanks? The gigantic rockets that will transport 20,000 people to Mars? Dwelling upon those sorts of logistical anomalies only spoils the immediate pleasure of watching the action sequences, so I suppose it's best not to think about them too much. There's also a continuity problem of sorts. Stardust War ended with modern humans intercepting the interstellar probe, sent by Shildy and her team, containing all the knowledge of the Solnoid civilisation. No mention is made of it in Rhea Gall Force. Instead the human technological leap comes after the discovery of the much less convincing decayed remains of an alien space ship on the moon. It just so happens that Sandy's father disseminated the information throughout the world, leading to the apocalyptic war that has left humans in such dire circumstances. That's quite a load for the protagonist to bear.

Rating: good. Rhea Gall Force is something of a return to dramatic form for the franchise. Considered in the light of the grand survey, the franchise is moving away from its comic roots in Dirty Pair and taking on some of the earthier elements introduced in recent anime.
+ more action & less verbal exposition; tense battle sequences amongst city ruins; characters of Sandy, Norton and, for a mascot character that I don't ordinarily like, Mitty; apt mythological references
- the world doesn't make logistical sense; no Catty; typical Artmic / AIC low budget artwork and animation; not much depth to the characters or scenario.

Resources:
Rhea Gall Force, NuTech Digital
ANN
GEARS - Gall Force Earth Chapter
The font of all knowledge
100 Anime, Philip Brophy, British Film Institute Publishing



Last edited by Errinundra on Tue Feb 15, 2022 5:45 am; edited 6 times in total
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Errinundra
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 03, 2021 3:45 am Reply with quote
It's now four years and a day since I started this survey. In the first four years I've completed 101 reviews of canonical titles, 6 proto-fighting girls, 20 "splashes of crimson" and 12 marginally connected anime for a total of 139. This project could go on for years yet. At least I've just about completed the 1980s.

On to the next one.

Beautiful Fighting Girls #106: The Ogi sisters, Maiko and Shoko,



Karura Mau
(Karura Dances, ie ritual movements paying respect to Garuda, the fantastical part bird / part human guardian creature from Hindu mythology and transvisioned as Karura in Japanese Buddhism.)

Synopsis: Twins Maiko and Shoko are descended from a line of female shamans loyal to Karura. They use their powers to investigate and battle supernatural forces. Catch is, as twins their powers are diluted: Maiko can disperse spirits but can't see them; Shoko can see them but lacks her sister's power. They can, however, swap their souls between their bodies thereby giving one of them their combined abilities. When an ambitious priest seeks dominion over Japan by unleashing spirits sealed in a temple in Nara, the sisters not only combine their powers, the must also rely on support from a range of allies.

Production details:
Release date: 08 April 1989
Studio: Ginga Teikoku
Director: Takaaki Ishiyama (Dominion Tank Police eps 3 & 4, Tomoe ga Yuku!, Kishin Corps, Sakura Wars (OAV), The Laws of the Sun, Viewtiful Joe, Spider Riders, Fairy Musketeers, Maple Story, Chaos;HEAd and The Rebirth of Buddha)
Source material: the manga Hengen Taima Yakō Karura Mau! (Phantasmagoric Exorcism Night Parade - Karura Dance!) by Takakazu (or Kiichi or Mazakazu, depending on source) Nagakubo, published in Halloween magazine from 1986 to 2018.
Script: Yu Yamamoto
Music: Makoto Mitsui
Character design / animation director: Chuichi Iguchi
Art Director: Mitsuki Nakamura


Shoko Ogi

Comments: 32 years is a long run for a manga (even ignoring that a prequel manga series began publication in 2020). According to the font of all knowledge (with Japanese citations) the original manga "has been considered one of the first and greatest works in the 'occult action' manga genre, as well as the onmyoji fiction genre popular in Japan". Given that formidable reputation, it's a shame that this film adaptation is such a lacklustre affair and, when you combine that with its largely unexplained arcane mythology, I'm not surprised it never received a release outside of Japan. That said, the film isn't without merit or interest.

Using a a shojo manga for its source material distinguishes this as an action anime from many of the other titles in the grand survey. While the film seems to be aiming for a more general audience, there are hints pointing towards the original demographic. As drawn, the two leads aren't sexualised in order to appeal to male viewers. Likewise, horror scenes don't involve tentacles or any other form of penetration but, short of outright annihilation, mostly involves repulsive bodily transformations that prey upon a teenage female's unease with her body image. You could regard such scenes as the antithesis of magical girl transformations, which is further emphasised in the sisters' body swap at the climax of the film, a sequence that owes much to its magical girl antecedents from Pierrot. Finally, the array of likely males that surrounds the two girls gives the anime something of a reverse harem feel.

Maiko and Shoko themselves are disappointing. As action heroines they aren't dynamic; as comic characters - the film unsuccessfully blends action, horror and comedy - they aren't amusing; and as friends and twins they lack any sort of spark that might have made Karura Mau special. Maiko and Shoko don't riff off each other in the sublime way Hana and Alice do (and their seiyuu do) in The Case of Hana and Alice - anime's exemplar of almost uncanny character connection. Or even, to use a more contemporary example, Kei and Yuri in the Dirty Pair franchise. Maiko is physical, action-oriented and occasionally dippy. Shoko is serious, steady, acute and somewhat glum. They have the scope for compelling interaction but I suppose the creators' emphases lay elsewhere: on the supernatural events unfolding in the narrative. The several male characters each have peculiarities that make them more interesting than the leads, something not uncommon in harem scenarios. Even the good guys are vaguely threatening, from the diviner Tsukasa Kenmochi (perfectly voiced by Kaneto Shiozawa to accentuate his creepiness), to the gun-toting, sour-faced police officer Nishikiori, and to Omi Ikeda, the otherworldly son of a slain politician.


Maiko Ogi... actually, it's Shoko again after the sisters have body swapped.

The core of the problem lies in the prosaic dialogue, which is not only devoid of wit, but is primarily used for exposition rather than character expression or development. The screenplay and direction generally leave something to be desired. On my first viewing I found the narrative hard to decrypt thanks to the esoteric mythology and to the story line's impetus being provided by the villains yet the point of view provided mostly by the sisters. Second time around was much better as I had a handle on the overall scenario. Among other issues the jumps between scenes could be so awkward that the incidental music was cut off mid bar; attempts at grotesquerie were silly rather than unsettling; and the soundtrack, while I like its electronic drones and percussive effects, being quite high in the mix, could be intrusive. When things do work, Karura Mau can be chilling. The stand out scene involves a girl alone in a change room lined with mirrors. The viewer becomes a voyeur as her multiple reflections degrade into monstrosities and the mirrors spontaneously smash one by one. It couldn't have done much for her self esteem.

I must also mention the bizarre fansub. The translator either rendered the dialogue literally word for word from the Japanese, or English wasn't their native language. At times the text on screen was incomprehensible. Not only that, but no effort was made to account for the idioms of the two languages. I mean, calling a classroom a "salon"? I suppose I have to be grateful; there's no other way to watch the film in English. And the poor sods probably spent hours on it.

As a supernatural action tale, the Karura Mau franchise precedes both Vampire Princess Miyu and Yotoden but, disappointingly, the anime adaptation is inferior to the others, especially Yotoden. Miyu and Ayame Hayami, respectively, are far more compelling - Miyu for her unique persona and Hayami for her groundbreaking presentation as an action heroine. Maiko and Shoko needed to be much more, and weren't.

Rating: not really good
+ occasionally chilling, eg the mirror scene, music even it could be intrusive
- dull main characters, arcane Japanese mythology, script and direction


Top left: spiritualist Kenmochi; top right: police officer Nishikiori (they come to appreciate the other's expertise).
Middle left: Omi Ikeda, son of a politician "murdered by curse". These first three are allies; even they're sinister.
Middle right: The Priest of Two Faces channelling a spirit from the Nara period.
Bottom left: body horror - note how the perfectly manicured fingernails have been ripped from the fingers.
Bottom right: the sisters meet a cursed spirit.


Resources:
ANN
The font of all knowledge
The Anime Encyclopaedia 3rd Revised Edition: A Century of Japanese Animation, Jonathon Clements and Helen McCarthy, Stone Bridge Press via Kindle
Beyond Ghibli (my favourite YouTube anime commentator) - A Moment to Breathe - Hana, Alice & Shunji Iwai


Last edited by Errinundra on Tue Feb 15, 2022 5:46 am; edited 2 times in total
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Errinundra
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 17, 2021 6:32 am Reply with quote
Beautiful Fighting Girl #107: Cleopatra Corns,



Cleopatra DC

Synopsis: Cleopatra Corns is the teenage CEO of the world's richest and most powerful corporation, the Corns Group - so powerful that even the US president and the armed forces defer to her. Her nickname, Cleopatra DC, signifies where true power resides in the US. Even with that responsibility she can't resist helping damsels in distress, so uses all her resources and connections to help them out. Somehow she turns these enterprises into a tidy profit, helped in part by the villains invariably paying the bills once the dust settles.

Episode 1: A young oil and shipping tycoon - backed by the Corn Group's evil rivals, the Sleider Group - kidnaps Marianne, the daughter of a client dependent on his ships. To resolve the situation Cleopatra directs the US government to nuke an oil field on the Arabian Peninsula.

Episode 2: The Sleider Group are after a gigantic diamond that can be used as a lens to convert the sun's rays into laser beams of mass destruction. Before his death at their hands, a British secret agent passes the diamond to his sister, Tina Badam. Cleopatra saves Tina, loses the diamond, then pilots a jet fighter to intercept a space shuttle launch before the diamond can be deployed.

Episode 3: Sara is an artificial human grown in a vat - funded by the Sleider Group , of course. She also has mind-bogglingly immense and destructive ESP powers that she uses to escape the laboratory, then teleports into the lowest level of NORAD, some twenty miles below ground. Resentful of her treatment at the hands of humans, she overrides NORAD's safety protocols and sets America's nuclear arsenal to snuff out life on earth. But, really, all she needs is some love and appreciation, and Cleopatra might just be the person to provide it.

Production details:
Premiere date: 21 April 1989
Studio: JC Staff
Directors: Naoyuki Yoshinaga (eps 1-2; Maison Ikkoku multi-episode director; Maison Ikkoku: Through the Passing of the Seasons special; Patlabor The Mobile Police TV; Patlabor The Mobile Police: The New Files; Wolf Guy; Dohyō no Oni-tachi; Parasite Dolls) & Hiroyuki Ebata (ep 3)
Source material: the manga Kureopatora DC by Kaoru Shintani, published in Comic Burger from 1986-1991
Script: Kaoru Shintani & Sukehiro Tomita
Music: Hiromasa Suzuki & Nobuo Ito
Character design: Futoshi Fujikawa, Minoru Yamazawa & Nobuteru Yuki
Animation director: Futoshi Fujikawa, Minoru Yamaguchi & Tetsuro Aoki
Mechanical design: Kengo Inagaki & Satoshi Shishido


Some of Cleopatra's many outfits. She's part comedienne and part capable heroine.
The fanservice can go beyond these examples.


Comments: A sixteen year old party girl running 60% of the US economy and directing the US president where and when to deploy nuclear weapons will tell you immediately that Cleopatra DC demands a total suspension of disbelief. Set twenty minutes into the future, to use a TV Tropes expression, these fantastic premises are augmented by improbable stunts and three scenarios with minimal plot lines while still verging on the ridiculous. Putting aside one's scepticism is, at it turns out, quite easy thanks to the OAVs rapid pace, a breezy tone that won't take itself seriously, and fanservice that pops out at the viewer at the merest of excuses. Just go along for the ride without bothering too much whether it makes sense and you'll be rewarded with a good time. Don't be picky about the prominent cleavages, frequent nudity and lesbian teases; just understand that, apart from the obvious marketing benefits, it accentuates the prevailing absurdity. Approach this anime with the right frame of mind and it's quite the decent show. (It always tickles my sense of humour to describe or rate fanservice shows as "decent".) Nitpick the details or the logic and you'll spoil the enjoyment to be had.

Self aware absurdity is a hallmark of anime in general, and 1980s anime in particular, going back to Super Dimension Fortress Macross. Before that there were the Go Nagai giant robot shows, the early Cyborg 009 instalments and even Osamu Tezaka, to give some examples. Cleopatra DC's most obvious spiritual ancestor is clearly Dirty Pair, not so much in its team of female fighters, but in its frequent presentation of female protagonists as clownish. We gawk at them, courtesy of the fanservice, and we laugh at them, putting them in a safe place where they won't threaten us. To be fair, though, this and other anime of the time have two mitigating qualities: the male characters are usually just as much clowns; and, more importantly, Cleopatra and her ilk are very capable. She runs a huge multi-national company, pilots fighter planes, outsmarts her villainous opponents and NORAD's automatic self-defence systems, and is every bit the action hero as Indiana Jones or James Bond. And, more often than not, the heroics are accompanied by wide eyes and an enthusiastic grin.


Top: the Corns Group leadership team - Eric, Sven, Shorty and Nacky.
Second row: the damsels to be saved - Tina (who gets recruited to the Corns team), Sara and Marianne.
Third row: the Sleider Group villains - Doctor Randall, Colonel Karts and the "mysterious woman".
Bottom: President Bush (left); the Corns Group's direct control desk for the Pentagon, US Navy and Air Force, and NATO; Cleopatra's Stingray.


Cleopatra is, above all, a fun character. For a New York socialite she's rather lacking in class. Her taste in clothing, while no doubt catching the eyes of her male viewers, sits within the narrow range between merely ostentatious and downright tacky. Her constant transformations, her penchant for dressing in occupational clobber in her action scenes, and her taste for short, frilly skirts, draw a connection with earlier magical girl anime. In a sense, she is a magical girl. Her immense wealth and her social and political connections enable her to solve problems, however intractable, as if by magic. Like many a magical girl, her boundless enthusiasm is up for any task. Her appearance may be provocative, but you know she'll win the day. And like those magical girls, she has a charming, disarming blend of ineptitude and brilliance, although the former is ramped up for her male audience.

While Cleopatra DC's link to the anime past is clear, it also points the way to the future. Cleopatra's huge eyes and angular facial features suggest that a move is under way from the characteristic fuller, more rounded depictions of the mid to late 1980s to the leaner styles that will be seen in the decade to come (though her eyelashes are a throwback to Leiji Matsumoto). The other characters, however, are typical of their time. More notable are scenes that presage anime from the first decade of the current century. The first episode's aerial dogfight above New York brings the Read or Die OAV to mind, thanks largely to the prominent use of the Statue of Liberty (surely RoD has one the best ever uses of the statue as a prop). Downright uncanny, though, are the parallels with Elfen Lied: Sara's abilities and personality shifts mirror Lucy's, both characters are discovered naked on the coast, and, most especially, Sara's assault on NORAD is almost like a practice run for Lucy's escape from the laboratory (although Sara is, unlike Lucy, clothed). Anime has long been happy to borrow from the past, but I do wonder if the studio behind Elfen Lied made their scene with Cleopatra DC in mind.


New York provides an exotic, atmospheric setting.

The OAV also has interesting parallels and contrasts with the near contemporary Riding Bean, swapping that anime's Chicago setting with New York to somewhat better effect. (Riding Bean's successor, Gunsmith Cats - also set in Chicago, will be better again.) If I place Cleopatra DC within the growing Girls with Guns genre within the survey, then I can add New York to the list of the genre's exotic locations. Where Riding Bean and Gunsmith Cats has its iconic car - the white and blue Cobra - Cleopatra careens through the streets in her bright red Stingray. I have to say the Shelby Cobra is way, way cooler. And, where Bean Bandit and Rally Vincent inhabit Chicago's underworld of misfits and criminals, Cleopatra cavorts among New York's elites, who, it can be reasonably argued, are every bit as dangerous.

Rating: decent, and tempted towards good
+ loads of fun if you don't mind the ridiculous premise and scenarios or the copious fanservice; fun stunts; rapid pacing; breezy tone
- silly and tasteless if you do mind the ridiculous premise and scenarios or the copious fanservice; background artwork often generic or prosaic; flat characters (though that's intentional)

Resources:
ANN
The font of all knowledge
The Anime Encyclopaedia 3rd Revised Edition: A Century of Japanese Animation, Jonathon Clements and Helen McCarthy, Stone Bridge Press via Kindle
THEM Anime Reviews 4.0: Cleopatra DC - a reviewer who struggled with the anime's plausability
TV Tropes



Last edited by Errinundra on Tue Feb 15, 2022 5:47 am; edited 3 times in total
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Beltane70



Joined: 07 May 2007
Posts: 3911
PostPosted: Sun Jan 17, 2021 11:05 am Reply with quote
As someone who lives only an hour's drive from New York City, it's pretty interesting seeing it being described as an exotic location! Of course to be fair, any location outside of one's home country is probably considered exotic. I can imagine to some people of my country, your city of Melbourne is probably considered exotic, Errinundra!
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Errinundra
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 17, 2021 4:03 pm Reply with quote
Wink

Not just me, but it's certainly exotic for a Japanese viewer.
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Beltane70



Joined: 07 May 2007
Posts: 3911
PostPosted: Sun Jan 17, 2021 5:03 pm Reply with quote
Errinundra wrote:
Wink

Not just me, but it's certainly exotic for a Japanese viewer.


Strangely enough, I've been to Japan enough times that Tokyo doesn't even feel exotic to me. Sure, it's noticeably different from New York, but I always feel right at home when I'm in Tokyo. Now, if only covid-19 would go away or at least become manageable enough to fly overseas so that I can finally get to your country. If not for it, I would have been in Brisbane last May.
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Redbeard 101
Oscar the Grouch
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Joined: 14 Aug 2006
Posts: 16941
PostPosted: Sun Jan 17, 2021 6:36 pm Reply with quote
Talk about a blast from the past. I have forgotten all about this one until seeing you bring it up. It just clicked why the character designs reminded me of Gunsmith Cats. Back in the day I didn't really know the names of various designers or animation studios.
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Errinundra
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 24, 2021 5:18 am Reply with quote
Beautiful Fighting Girl #108: Rainu Kizuki,



Explorer Woman Ray

Synopsis: In a remote part of central America can be found the ruins of temples of a civilisation that pre-dates the Aztecs or the Maya. Hidden beneath the temples are complex labyrinths that hide fabulous treasures according to some or may even hold the secret to stupendous powers according to others. Professor Rainu Kizuki (aka Ray) is, by all appearances, investigating the ancient remains but, in truth, she's searching for her grandfather who disappeared ten years earlier. Rival academic, and the grandfather's former assistant, Rig Veda wants to rule the world, while two of Ray's students - the twins Mai and Mami - just want to get rich quick. Just as well Ray is a dab hand at martial arts.

Production details:
Premiere date: 26 May 1989 (ep 1) & 23 June 1989 (ep 2)
Studios: AIC & Animate
Directors: Hiroki Hayashi (Gall Force 2 - Destruction OAV, Sol Bianca OAV, the first Tenchi Muyo! OAV, creator of the El Hazard franchise and direct of the first season, Bubblegum Crisis: Tokyo 2040, Burn-Up Scramble and the Nekopara OAV among others), Haruhisa Okamoto (ep 2) & Masato Sato (ep 2)
Script: Masayori Sekijima
Storyboard: Toshiaki Hontani (ep 1), Yasuo Hasegawa (ep 1) & Hiroki Hayashi (ep 2)
Source material: Explorer Woman Ray by Takeshi Okazaki, published in Comic Nora from December 1988 to November 1989.
Character design & chief animation director: Hiroyuki Ochi
Art director: Junichi Higashi


Clockwise from top left: Mami & Mai Tachibana: Rig Vida; the labourer's overseer; and Rida's musclebound goon, Johnson.

Comments: The opening three minutes of the first OAV introduces the viewer to the Tachibana twins in a fun chase sequence involving a train, an old truck, fire extinguishers and a brake failure. The girls are athletic, 1980s cute, resourceful and quick thinking. The sequence is inventively choreographed, reminiscent of Hayao Miyazaki's comic action style, in particular the The Castle of Cagliostro. It can be viewed on YouTube, but that's all you'll find there. The only way to watch the entire two episodes is via a much inferior quality fansub clearly based upon an old videotape and recorded at low resolution. The existence of the YouTube clip along with the fact that Central Park Media once had the licence, suggests that a better quality artefact is out there, but I had to make do with what I could. I'm not surprised that only those three minutes are available on YouTube: the animation degrades from the very next scene and never recovers. The second episode goes even further downhill (although the resolution of the fansub is higher). To make matters worse, the plot of the second is simply a riff on the first, with another similar MacGuffin, the same villain who wants to unleash and control the arcane powers, another collapsing temple embellished with pyrotechnical visuals as the ancient forces are released, and a race to escape. Things do become nonsensical at times. Weirdest moment is when someone announces, without any prior hint in the story - and underground, mind you - that a typhoon is about to strike. At once, the tunnels begin flooding. Gotta love those sudden crises.

It isn't just the animation that goes to seed: the action is never again so brisk or compelling as that first three minutes. The characters, beyond the Tachibana sisters, are as dour a bunch as you'll ever see in an anime. That's particularly disappointing with the principal character who, in theory, could have been the Lara Croft of her time. The manga and OAV were obviously inspired by Raiders of the Lost Ark and its sequels - the main musical theme is even a parody of the John Williams signature motif - with Ray a female version of Indiana Jones. In anime terms her character design belongs to a lineage of serious female protagonists that includes Ayame from Yotoden, through Yo Mikawa (Angel Cop) and most fully realised in the Major (Ghost in the Shell), but can't match any of them for presence. Sure, she's a self-reliant archaeologist who beats up the bad guys, and uses her smarts and gymnastic skills to escape perilous situations, but she has about as much personality as a cane toad. Entirely lacking Harrison Ford's comic edge, her characteristic expressions are vexation, alarm and a dogged obtuseness when it comes to other people, all exacerbated by Mika Doi's sour enunciation. She only smiles once in the entire ninety minutes (so I had to include it at the bottom of the post). She may also be smiling just before the final credits start rolling on the second episode, but the reproduction is so bad I can't be sure.


The Tachibana twins: that's Mai leaping from the nose of the train.

To say that Mai and Mari Tachibana are the best thing about the anime is more a disparagement of the rest of the OAV than singular praise for them. Inserted for comic relief in a mostly otherwise humourless show, they provide a mixture of silliness and smarts, derring-do and cowardice, and, now common in anime, sexiness and infantilism. Not that Explorer Woman Ray indulges in much fanservice. The billowing top worn by Mami above is about as provocative as it gets. In one sense, the sisters could be considered villains. They want to use Ray to get rich so they never have to work or study again, but, after deciding that she is their friend - never mind what she thinks - they will fight with her to the death. The three actual villains aren't nearly as engaging. The big bad, Rig Veda, could be straight out of the Indiana Jones Nazi villain catalogue, without any of the self-aware absurdity of the Hollywood films. Johnson, his bodyguard, so uncannily resembles the Australian advertising icon Chesty Bond that I'm left wondering if he's an obscure parody. He is intended as a joke figure: a running gag is, that for all his immense size and brute strength, he loses every fight he's in. This suggests that much of the anime is meant to be tongue-in-cheek, but the pallid, earnest tone, particularly as displayed by the main character, totally undermines any Indiana Jones type self-mocking. The third and unnamed villain is a local who supplies labor for Rig Veda. Constantly outwitted by the heroines and abused by Veda he shows some depth by actually caring about the welfare of the workers and developing some sympathy for Mai and Mami, which, presumably the viewer is meant to do in another example of 1980s proto-moe.

In a parallel to my reaction to Mai and Mami I quite enjoyed Tamaki Sato's ED song Lights of Love, mostly because my expectations were so low and the preceding incidental music so ordinary. Sprightly, catchy, very 1980s, and better than the anime it adorns.

Rating: weak. Viewing a good quality reproduction might have me reconsidering.
+ opening three minutes, Ray's character in theory, the Tachibana twins maybe, ED song maybe
- animation generally, character designs go off-model, Ray's character in practice, weird jumps in the narrative

Resources:
ANN
Mike Toole's ANN article, Tales from the Bottom Shelf
The Anime Encyclopaedia 3rd Revised Edition: A Century of Japanese Animation, Jonathon Clements and Helen McCarthy, Stone Bridge Press via Kindle



The last word:

Mike Toole wrote:
Man, Explorer Woman Ray is actually pretty bad. It's a sensible concept—what if Indiana Jones was a kickass lady? Tomb Raider did a good job answering that question, but this was almost a decade earlier, so instead of Lara Croft we get archaeologist and adventurer Rayna Kizuki, and a couple of cute twin girls, and her old rival, and blah blah something about the lost secrets of the ancients. Explorer Woman Ray was supposed to be a big-deal “media mix” affair with tie-in manga, but even the manga vanished pretty quickly. Episode 1 of 2 OVA instalments doesn't look that good to begin with, but heavy staff turnover between episode 1 and 2 make the end product even worse. Seriously, that second episode? Filled with hilarious animation mistakes.


Last edited by Errinundra on Tue Feb 15, 2022 5:47 am; edited 2 times in total
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Errinundra
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 07, 2021 8:42 am Reply with quote
Beautiful Fighting Girls #109: (l-r) Mia Kawai, Aya Kishida & Kazumi Kishida,



Ariel

Synopsis: An alien invasion is being thwarted by two things: 1) the earth's last remaining effective defence - the giant fembot Ariel (All Round Intercept and Escort Lady); and 2) being a strictly commercial undertaking the interstellar Gedo Corporation is way over budget resulting in severe cutbacks to their offensive capabilities. Ariel is the brainchild of mad scientist Dr Kishida. He's recruited his niece Mia Kawai and his two granddaughters Aya and Kazumi Ishida as pilots, but their commitment to the project runs the gamut from enthusiasm (Kazumi) through disdain (Mia) to hostility (Aya). Rounding up the wayward pilots is just the first problem to overcome when a new, more capable commander takes over the invading forces.

Production details:
Premiere: 01 July 1989
Studios: Animate, JC Staff
Director: Junichi Watanabe (Antique Heart, 1+2=Paradise, Ariel Deluxe)
Screenplay: Muneo Kubo & Yuichi Sasamoto
Music: Kōhei Tanaka
Source material: the light novel series エリアル (Eriaru) by Yuichi Sasamoto and illustrated by Masahisa Suzuki, serialised in Shishio from 1986 to 2006
Character design: Osamu Tsuruyama
Art director: Mitsuharu Miyamae
Animation director: Osamu Tsuruyama


Left: Ariel - why does a robot have a human head with realistic facial features and hair, then cover it with a helmet and visor?
Top right: Mia would rather pilot her motorcycle than Ariel.
Middle right: Contrary to this image, Aya and her grandfather don't see eye to eye.
Bottom right: Kazumi is the most willing of the pilots.


Comments: After covering in quick order a bunch of anime that showcased 1980s OAVS in a mostly favourable light (Patlabor, Dominion Tank Police, Gunbuster and the Gall Force franchise) I'm now in a swamp of titles that suggest that the anime video hire market was becoming just a tad saturated. In the wake of Karura Mau and Explorer Woman Ray the survey now happens upon Ariel whose premise might have made for a half decent viewing experience if the execution wasn't so lacking. Sure, the artwork and animation are what you'd expect from OAVs from the era, but the main issue is that the script isn't interesting enough to get me rooting for the main characters nor is it funny enough to save the sometimes clever ideas from coming across as empty gimmicks. And if the script isn't convincing, then borrowed ideas, no matter how successful elsewhere, fall flat - not even succeeding as otaku pandering shout outs. I constantly got the impression that the Ariel staff were taking bits and pieces from successful shows in the hope they could find the a similar success of their own. Among the obvious borrowings are Star Wars (the second episode's title and its scrolling introduction - although the content and voice over are generally amusing - indeed, the ironic narration is something of a highlight), Project A-ko (the occasional cheesy music, the aliens and the jump cuts between the aliens and the young women's domestic lives), Go Nagai's giant robot shows, particularly the giant female robots Aphrodite A and Minerva X in Mazinger Z along with the cruelty with which he treated his female characters, and Legend of the Galactic Heroes (the back stories of the three principal alien characters). Had the package worked these borrowings wouldn't have drawn attention to themselves so egregiously.

The young women at the centre of the story are, on balance, a fun bunch, if you don't set your expectations too high. Mia is a motorcycle riding college student who's ambivalent about Ariel's worth. She's serious, quick to snap and easily bought by her uncle when he offers to pay her rent for a year if she pilots the robot. (I'd have thought that such a hi-tech, dangerous occupation would come with a handsome salary.) She then shows her duplicitous side when she tries to trick Aya into joining her. Aya, for her part, wants to focus entirely on her college entrance exams. Attempts to cajole, coerce or con her into Ariel leave her in a constant state of high dudgeon. In what is mostly an ensemble affair, she could be considered the main character. Certainly, her conflict with her grandfather is the most elaborated of the narrative threads. The problem is that the comic tone of the OAV doesn't allow any room for genuine sympathy. All that's presented is a set upon meganekko who isn't appealing enough to carry the show on her own. To balance the two older girls, Kazumi is cheery, energetic, optimistic and sporty. When, in the final battle, Ariel pulls a giant sword out of nowhere to the girls' bewilderment, it's up to Kazumi to translate tennis shots into sword fighting moves. So, yes, three different girls to cater to different tastes. As a bonus you get a giant fembot that looks like it's dressed in underwear. The roles of the robot, and the girls also, include being the butt of jokes, the target of manipulation and the victim of circumstance. To add insult to injury, they prove themselves quite incapable of defeating the new commander of the aliens in their showdown. Instead, a mysterious male warrior who hitherto had no narrative significance turns up and, armed only with a normal sized sword, single-handedly defeats the very lamely rendered enemy mecha monsters. The message is that women are useless.


Clockwise from top left: Ragnas Howzen; the mysterious Sabre Starblast;
one may ask why these historic American planes would be in service at a Japanese military installation; and
Albert Hauser with love interest (and accountant) Simone Torefan.


The other major comic narrative thread concerns the circumstances of the aliens. The invasion force is actually a division of a business enterprise, which means that the chief accountant wields more effective power than the commander. Simone Torefan may be a punctilious bookkeeper, but she's also in love with the very man she's impeding: Commander Albert Hauser, who's becoming increasingly frustrated that he can't defeat earth with the means permitted to him. The scenario comes across as a parody of the neo-liberal notion - ascendant in the 1980s - that most government activities would be more efficient if privatised. Matters get more complicated when Hauser is relieved of his command by Ragnas Howzen, a rival for Simone going back to their military academy days. As with everything else, the OAV doesn't develop this promising material. Instead, Ragnas comes down to earth to defeat Ariel; Hauser, despite his funk, prepares a rescue capsule in the event of his senior officer's defeat; and Simone disappears from the narrative.

On the positive side, the introductory narrative to both episodes is amusingly ironic. The voice sounds familiar, but I haven't been able to identify him from the usual sources. The anime isn't short on clever or interesting ideas (or gimmicks, if you will). The alien accounting gag is an example, as is the girls' reluctance to pilot the robot. A small example can be seen above with a fleeting, arbitrary appearance of three historic American aircraft. Amusing for plane nerds, but hardly funny. The moment is emblematic of the anime's better ideas: they register without providing much amusement. The incidental music enhances the OAV overall, although the ending song is 1980s Japanese pop at its most forgettable.

Even when Ariel attempts to be ridiculous, it falls flat. Biggest culprit is the design of the giant female robot herself. She appears to be wearing stockings and suspenders, a teddy and long gloves. Even more incongruous is how she has a fully sculptured human head complete with long, blonde hair, all of which must be protected with a helmet and visor. Why not just build an armoured head? The cockpit shape and the design of the windows from the inside bears no relationship with the appearance of Ariel from the outside. Perhaps Ariel has Tardis like qualities? Perhaps the command centre is deep within Ariel and the windows are actually computer screens designed to look like windows? As with Go Nagai's giant female robots, Ariel leaves me with the suspicion that it's equal parts spoof on giant robots and piss-take of women. The one genuinely funny example of a giant female robot I can think of is from Kirameki Project where the robot isn't as overtly sexualised, and therefore lacks the spiteful edge discernible in Ariel or Mazinger Z.


Top: inside the Ariel cockpit. I can't reconcile it to the image below.
Below: Giant robot women - Aphrodite A (Mazinger Z, 1972); Ariel (Ariel, 1989); Junerin (Kirameki Project, 2005).


Rating: so-so. Ariel isn't a chore to watch by any means. It's clever enough to raise expectations; and stupid enough to dash them.
+ some clever ideas including the economic limitations of the invaders; three main characters are OK; introductory narration; incidental music is better than in most OAVs of the time
- Ariel's design; sexism; attempts at absurdity fall flat.

Resources:
ANN, including Bamboo Dong's Shelf Life article, Some anime series are like popular J-Rock bands (quoted below)
The font of all knowledge
The Anime Encyclopaedia 3rd Revised Edition: A Century of Japanese Animation, Jonathon Clements and Helen McCarthy, Stone Bridge Press via Kindle

The final words:

Bamboo Dong wrote:
What the hell is this thing?! Some girlie robot prancing around in outer space with teenage girls piloting it?! Is this a space opera? A comedy? What genre does this thing even fall into? More importantly, what is the point of this thing? Folks, you have better things to do than spend your time and money on this one. If you want to watch girls flounce around in space with a silly-looking robot, tape some Barbie hair to one of your Patlabor models and watch Melty Lancer. As a side note, CPM actually put this on the back of their box: “ARIEL, a huge robot in giant leotards!” I'd be too ashamed to ever put that on the back of a box.


The final picture:



Last edited by Errinundra on Tue Feb 15, 2022 5:49 am; edited 3 times in total
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