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


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Beltane70



Joined: 07 May 2007
Posts: 3920
PostPosted: Sat Dec 14, 2019 10:09 pm Reply with quote
Project Eden was my very first exposure to Dirty Pair some thirty-something years ago. It’s been ages since I’ve seen it, though.

I love your little inclusion of the quote by Helen McCarthy. I really need to track down some of her books. You’d figure that I’d have at least one of them considering that I’ve been friends with her for twenty years or so.
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Errinundra
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 15, 2019 4:22 am Reply with quote
^
I wish I had her way with words.

****
Beautiful Fighting Girls index
****


Beautiful Fighting Girl #72: Princess Kahm of the Santovasku Empire,

Outlanders


Kahma ferox

Synopsis: Kahm has been sent by her father, the interstellar Santuvasku Emperor, to lead an invasion of earth as a prelude to exterminating its human inhabitants. Her routine slaughter of soldiers on the streets of Tokyo is interrupted when she encounters and falls in love with a photographer, Tetsuya Wakatsuki. As an act of defiance against her father, who has arranged a marriage for her, Kahm abducts the hapless Tetsuya. She sets out to lose her virginity to him before her return home so that the Emperor will be forced to acknowledge her choice. Things don't go according to plan, however...

Production details:
Premiere: 16 December 1986
Director: Katsuhisa Yamada (Genesis Climber Mospeada, Junk Boy, Yosei-O, Dragon Warrior, Teki wa Kaizoku: Neko no Kyoen, Urusei Yatsura: Always My Darling, Oz)
Studio: AIC and Tatsunoko
Source material: Johji Manabe's manga Autorandazu, published by Hakusensha from 1985 to 1987.
Script: Kenji Terada and Sukehiro Tomita
Character design and art director: Hiroshi Hamasaki
Art director: Mitsuharu Miyamae
Key animation director: Mikie Maeda
One of the key animators was Yasuomi Umetsu, who will make his reputation directing the Presence segment of Robot Carnival and go on to direct Kite, Mezzo Forte, Mezzo, Kite Liberator, Galilei Donna and Wizard Barristers

Comments: The now characteristic 1980s anime presentation of violent women in comic scenarios continues in this short and amusing OAV. A more sinister threat is brewing beneath the humorous surface: the extinction of the human species unless Kahm's and Tetsuya's love can prevail over the ambitions of the former's father. In an important sense this anime doesn't fit perfectly into this survey as Kahm isn't the point of view character - that would be Tetsuya - but she is the central and most important as all the others are connected through her: the emperor; her commanding officer Progresso; her confederates in mutiny, Battia and Geobaldi; the toad-like aliens on board her ship; and, of course, Tetsuya. In an inversion of common action norms the male is the romantic addendum to the goals of the female warrior. The story is, however, told mostly through his eyes. Our sympathies are expected to lie with him.

The premise of a horny boy unwittingly "married" to an alien girl goes back in anime to Ataru and Lum from Urusei Yatsuru. (More regrets for not including it in this survey!) On one occasion Kahm even zaps him when he misbehaves. The trope will be expanded into a harem in Tenchi Muyo! some six years down track and resurface with To Love-Ru in the decade after that. I'm sure there are others in between. Tetsuya brings to the grand survey a mild-mannered, beleaguered male viewer-insert character with one or more orbiting females. His typical, 1980s-style clownish behaviour, however, will likely make him less relatable on the eve of the 2020s than he would have been back when the anime first came out. Though the type will become generic over the next three decades, he isn't as bad as some. His persistence in photographing Kahm's dismemberment of soldiers in the opening scene demonstrates how unusually dedicated and recklessly brave he is compared with later variants on the type. But then, what young male anime viewer doesn't want to see themselves as heroic? And full marks to the anime for not being backward about the sexual basis of the central relationship. When, in that scene, in an act of desperate self-defence, Tetsuya pins Kahm against a wall, it's his resulting erection that suggests to her using him as a marriage weapon against her father. (I can't help imagining Lynn Minmay from Super Dimension Fortress Macross singing, My Boyfriend Got a Boner on the Battlefield.) Yes, there's plenty of fanservice, but the OAV can't be considered hentai. Where the central pair's sexual activity has a coy gloss to it, the contrasting scenes with Kahm's best friend Battia and her lover Geobaldi are depicted far more naturally.


Top: I've never liked the 80s & 90s comic poses; the organic spaceships are part nautilus, part snail and part armidillo.
Middle: Emperor Quayvath XIII and Fleet Commander Progresso.
Bottom: party animals Battia and Geobaldi; Nao and the toad-like denizens of Kahm's spaceship.


Kahm's combination of sexiness and availability contrasting with her bloodthirsty battle skills and her wilfulness suggest she is simultaneously a source of attraction and unease for male viewers. The first two images we get of her are of her breasts and belly. The third shows her legs and the bottom half of her red battle bikini. She is an object, a body, a gift bestowed to the male character and viewer. In keeping with 1980s design preferences she is more compact, fleshier and softer than her present-day sharp and slender counterparts. The apparent threat of such a menacing, powerful and beautiful creature is contained by rendering her comical, a strategy that goes right back to Cutie Honey. The anime also quickly inserts her into two domestic environments: with the human / toad inhabitants of her spaceship and as daughter of the emperor. She may defy her father but she will be fiercely loyal to Tetsuya. Running counter to all this is the anime's relaxed approach to female sexuality. She is the one, after all, trying to bed the male, whether initially as an act of defiance or later as a result of her growing affection.

The relationship between Battia and Geobaldi reinforces the depiction of the females as being relatively emancipated. (That is, in the sense that they are attempting to chart their own courses in the world they inhabit.) Cat-woman Battia is hot-blooded in most anything she does. She's also arrogant, considering Tetsuya a monkey and treating Kahm, her best friend, condescendingly at times. She's the assertive one sexually, which is fine by Geobaldi. Depicted as part wolf and part human he's a rum-swilling, buccaneering ship commander with a violent, devil-may-care attitude. He accidentally rams Progresso's battleship then threatens to dump his body in space if he makes a fuss of it. They and Kahm provide an anarchic contrast to the moribund, impotent rigidity of the emperor and the fleet commander.

The OAV compresses a large part of the manga into its 48 minute run time, resulting in narrative jumps that, happily, are more jarring than confusing. I was left nonplussed by the unexplained developments in the battle between Geobaldi's ship and the rest of the fleet. His rabbit-out-of-the-hat manoeuvre goes by completely unexplained. Presumably, when the anime was released, viewers were familiar enough with the manga to know what he did. If anyone knows, please tell me. The short run time for an eight volume manga suggests that the budget was limited, something that is reinforced by the simple artwork and the barely adequate animation. The shortcomings are particularly noticeable watching it in the wake of Dirty Pair: Project Eden. The slaughter in the opening scene is so cursorily animated that all sense of horror is eradicated, while the collision between the ships commanded by Geobaldi and Progresso is poorly and awkwardly depicted. Collision aside, I liked the organic design of the spaceships. Their mixture of animal features (snail, nautilus and armidillo) give them a bizarre and threatening aura. They just manage to stay this side of ridiculous.

Rating: so-so
+ brief and briskly paced; fun characters; interesting (perhaps unintentional) dialectic between Kahm's autonomous motivations and her depiction as sex object
- barely adequate animation and artwork; awkward jumps in the plot; one important unexplained plot development

Sources:
ANN
Theron Martin's review
The font of all knowledge



Last edited by Errinundra on Tue Feb 15, 2022 4:59 am; edited 4 times in total
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Beltane70



Joined: 07 May 2007
Posts: 3920
PostPosted: Sun Dec 15, 2019 11:18 am Reply with quote
Ah, yes, Outlanders. This was one of the very first manga titles that I read back in the early days of English-translated manga. My friend and current roommate even uses Geobaldi as his online screen name and has been doing so for almost as long as I've known him.

Funny that you should mention Urusei Yatsura in your review as both Princess Kahm and Lum are voiced by Fumi Hirano!
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Errinundra
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Location: Melbourne, Oz
PostPosted: Sun Dec 15, 2019 3:09 pm Reply with quote
Beltane70 wrote:
Ah, yes, Outlanders. This was one of the very first manga titles that I read back in the early days of English-translated manga. My friend and current roommate even uses Geobaldi as his online screen name and has been doing so for almost as long as I've known him.

Funny that you should mention Urusei Yatsura in your review as both Princess Kahm and Lum are voiced by Fumi Hirano!


I don't pay enough attention to the voice actors.

So... how did Geobaldi get the enemy fleet's organic ships to shed their armour?


Last edited by Errinundra on Thu Jul 22, 2021 4:15 am; edited 1 time in total
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Beltane70



Joined: 07 May 2007
Posts: 3920
PostPosted: Mon Dec 16, 2019 1:17 am Reply with quote
Errinundra wrote:
Beautiful Fighting Girls index
****

So... how did Geobaldi get the enemy fleet's organic ships to shed their armour?


To be honest, it’s been so long since I’ve read the manga that I don’t even remember!
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Alan45
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Joined: 25 Aug 2010
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 20, 2019 4:45 pm Reply with quote
Errinundra wrote:
Quote:
So... how did Geobaldi get the enemy fleet's organic ships to shed their armour?


The short answer is that he didn't. Wink That particular bit is anime original. Your guess is as good as mine as to why that happened. You will have to blame that on the screenwriter and not on Johji Manabe.

The manga ran from 1985 to 1987, the OVA came out in December 1986. It covered approximately the first 15 chapters (of 33). However, it left out about a third of the content in those chapters and a number of characters that involved the greater plot line. The whole thing is a lot more complex than they could cover in three quarters of an hour.

When Tetsuya and Kahm escape from the Emperor's planet (or ship, it is not real clear), they are being chased by local forces. (Progresso's fleet had already been destroyed near Earth) Battia shows up in her own ship and is able to destroy enough of those chasing to allow them to escape. Geobaldi is at that point in space near Earth with his entire colonial fleet and has just destroyed most of North America. The ending is anime original. The Emperor did not let the happy couple go.

This was one of my early manga's. It was the first time I came into contact with the Japanese tendency to destroy everything. In the first chapter Kahm destroys a part of downtown Tokyo. By the end of the fourth chapter, Battia's ship goes berserk and blows all of Japan off the globe. As noted by the mid point of the title Geobaldi has destroyed North America (and these are the good guys). By the end of the series the factions fighting over Earth have blown the whole planet to pieces. In the last chapter Kahm and Tetsuya have succeeded in killing the Emperor. Since his magic was holding the capital (ship or planet) together that falls to ruin along with his administration as the couple escape. At this point all their friends and allies (including Tetsuya's two additional love interests) are dead. The only surviving characters are Kahm, Tetsuya and the toad servants.

Sorry for the delay, as Beltane70 noted this came out a long time ago. I had to dig out the manga and rewatch the OVA to understand your question. Dark Horse published the series in comic book format between December 1988 and September 1991 with specials coming out in March 1992 and March 1993. I didn't get into manga until late 1997 and spent much of 1998/1999 digging individual issues out of back issue bins. The volume 8 trade paperback did not come out until February 2000.
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Errinundra
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 22, 2019 6:23 am Reply with quote
^
Thank for the info. Seems like a case of the anime warranting a more comprehensive adaptation - a common problem going from manga to anime.

Beautiful Fighting Girl team #73: Lemon, Cherry (God's daughters) and Berry (their tutor and minder),

Twinkle Heart - Gingakei made Todokanai
(ie, Twinkle Heart: No Stop till the Milky Way)


The team and their obedient robot, Boy. Best not to think about that name too much. (ANN diplomatically lists it as Bowie.)
And the "essence of life"? Probably best not to think about that too closely either.


Synopsis: Realising that his life is loveless, God sends his only two daughters and their tutor out into the material world to find the treasure known as love. After dallying for many months on earth the three finally get their act together and visit a planet where they intervene to stop a gang of children from bullying a couple of animated stuffed toy animals that their robot has identified as a source of the treasure. This encounter leads them to JJ, an opportunistic stuffed animal hunter in the employ of the Treasure Connection gang. Their leader, the ruthless Cecilian, has kidnapped the maker of the two toys, Geppetto, demanding that he reveal the source of his life's essence so she can create an army of animated toys. The girls must unleash their inner reserves of power to prevent Cecilian overrunning the planet with fluffy animals.

Production details:
Premiere: 21 December 1986 (33 years ago yesterday, as I write this)
Chief director and original creator: Seiji Okuda (Urashiman, Dancougar - Super Beast Machine God, Dream Hunter Rem, Chojiku Romanesque Samy - Missing 99, Crystal Triangle, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Thunder Jet and Offside)
Director: Katsumi Endo
Studio: Project Team Argos according to The Anime Encyclopaedia.
Screenplay: Kenji Terada
Storyboard: Katsumi Endō
Music: Hiroya Watanabe
Character Design: Sawako Yamamoto
Art Director: Mitsuki Nakamura

Comments: It's natural to have expectations when approaching an anime for the first time. While I might be surprised how it turns out I bring preconceptions relating to things like the genre, the intended audience, the narrative direction and the production style. Some anime surprise and please me by upending or subverting my expectations so, for the sake of my reports, I try to keep an open mind. Indeed, I usually bring an optimism that, no matter my expectations, the show may prove itself better. That said, no show so far in this survey has, on my first viewing, confounded me as much as Twinkle Heart - Gingakei made Todokanai, and for several reasons. I kept asking myself, "what is this anime about?" or "who is the intended audience?"

For starters, first time around the plot seems largely arbitrary. A couple of websites complain about the lack of context. The notably brief entry in The Anime Encyclopaedia concludes its three sentence summary with, "A comedy, in case you're wondering." Certainly, my synopsis suggests a straightforward plot and, in hindsight, that's true, but initially things seem to happen without rhyme or reason. When, in the opening scene, god complains about his wastrel daughters, he's knocked unconscious, out of the blue, by the tail of pegasus / dragon hybrid who plays no further part in the story. (Obviously this god isn't omnipotent.) The OAV's title, the mission to find love and the kawaii character designs all strongly suggest the magical girl genre as exemplified by Fairy Princess Minky Momo or Magical Fairy Persia, but, within three minutes, we have two of the protagonists undressing as the randy robot has a nosebleed. Speaking of designs, Lemon's beach-ball head is jarringly out of place among the rest of the cast - she's more Tezuka than the 1980s' fashions the others adhere to - but more on her shortly. The animated toys and Japanese schoolboy bullies appear without explanation on what appears to be a deserted alien planet. (I found the casual violence meted out upon the boys by the protagonists disturbingly satisfying.) We never learn who the Treasure Connection are or what, thankfully, the "essence of life" is. The heroines are victorious when, against the odds, Lemon erupts with a power previously not hinted at. In the coda the three girls are high school students working in a hamburger restaurant when JJ walks in to order a meal. (The walking, talking stuffed animals are a major drawcard.) No logical connection is drawn between the scene and what has happened previously. Instead of a coherent narrative we get a set of elements that add up to a story of sorts populated by one-dimensional character types.


Top: God; stuffed animal bounty hunter JJ.
Middle: Cream Puff Bat; Shimy Shimy.
Bottom: the mouse force attacks; Cecilian.
(The fansub was at 240p resolution, so I'm generally avoiding large screenshots.)


Mulling over this last point brought upon the realisation that Twinkle Heart is an early example of an anime that fits the mould of consumption associated with Hiroka Azuma's "database animals". In Otaku: Japan's Databse Animals Azuma describes the preconditions for this consumption of hyperreal simulacra - among them the advent of the moe character, often traced back to Lum from Urusei Yatsura in 1981. (I really should have included it in the survey.) Azuma goes on to cite Di Gi Charat from 1999 as the "terminal point of the trend", where the consumption of moe character types and tropes become the entire point of anime production. Looking at storytelling more generally, up to the modern era it reflected or filtered underlying grand narratives that were not only understood and appreciated by the listener / reader / viewer but also shaped who that person was. In our sceptical, post-modern era the in-the-know consumer no longer believes in grand narratives so has little interest in the meaning or context of the story being told. Instead they want to fill their shopping list of desired tropes, be it character designs or anything else that suits their tastes - even narrative forms themselves. Meaning and context no longer matter. Hence, the plot of Twinkle Heart is arbitrary and contradictory. The consumer doesn't care. They are engaged by other elements. This is the first title in this survey that self-consciously and deliberately endeavours to meet these desires and it's interesting to compare it with Seiji Okuda's other two anime that I've covered in the survey: Dream Hunter Rem and Chojiku Romanesque Samy - Missing 99. I'll quote what I wrote about Rem.

I wrote:
Rem is, nonetheless, little more that an amalgam of gestures and fancy poses, her singular occupation, and a confident and cheerful persona. She altogether lacks the underlying development of Yohko** or the psychological dilemmas facing some of the characters in Cream Lemon such as Ami, Rie and the bifurcated Mako. Rem is the schoolgirl object of desire who is more than she seems and who is to be ritually exposed to the male viewer, making her a site of both autonomous potential and possessed image. The anime doesn't explore this tension in any way thus demonstrating its pornographic origin. Beyond her singular premise - schoolgirl investigator of the supernatural who can enter people's dreams - and her appealing design, Rem doesn't have an interesting internal story to tell.


Likewise I noted that Samy "lacks any qualities at all as a character" even if she mutates between three forms: high school student, magical girl and goddess. While Samy is way too bland to make the cut, looking back I see how Rem, at least, is moe. I may not have been aware at the time but it is now clear that Okuda is feeling his way towards a database, rather than, narrative approach to anime. I also find it telling that there's a link between pornographic anime (Cream Lemon to Dream Hunter Rem and its tentacle monsters to Twinkle Heart) and the advent of the "database animal". If ever there was an industry prioritising its database elements (in this instance images and manipulations of the body) over narrative then it must be pornography.

One element that stood out as incongruous upon my first viewing was the character design of the younger daughter, Lemon, whose spherical head is both something of a throwback to the simple designs of the sixties and Tezuka, but also a forerunner to the equally simple but expressive moe designs to come in the next decade. The other characters are more conventional, more typical of their time (although the vampish Cecilian is a toned down analogue of the female villains populating Go Nagai's Cutie Honey from 1973). To me Lemon didn't fit the overall aesthetic, as if she'd found her way into the wrong show. Second time around she became the most interesting element. Even though Cherry is putatively the leader of the team (the airhead Berry hardly qualifies), clearly the animators, the scriptwriters and the camera were besotted with Lemon. I was beginning to understand her raison d'être, her charm. Perhaps I too am part database animal. The anime may begin with Cherry as the point of view character, and she does have her moments, but Lemon gets the poses, the expressive faces and eventually rips the narrative apart with her seismic demonstration of power when her beloved stuffed toy friends are blasted by the villains. The form of the future moe girl is becoming manifest.


Moe production for database animals.

Rating: bad. Hey! Being a harbinger of things to come, doesn't make Twinkle Heart good. Whatever Okuda's aims, he's a mediocre director.
+ (these aren't big pluses) the introduction to the survey of a fully formed product where consumption of its moe elements overshadows narrative importance; Lemon
- pretty much everything else

Resources:
ANN
Otaku: Japan's Database Animals, Hiroki Azuma, trans Jonathon E Abel and Shion Kono, University of Minnesota Press
The Anime Encyclopaedia, Jonathon Clements and Helen McCarthy, Stone Bridge Press via Kindle
The Classic Anime Museum #90: Twinkle Heart

** From Leda - The Fantastic Adventure of Yohko


Last edited by Errinundra on Tue Feb 15, 2022 5:00 am; edited 7 times in total
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Beltane70



Joined: 07 May 2007
Posts: 3920
PostPosted: Sun Dec 22, 2019 11:25 am Reply with quote
Yeesh, the art direction for that looks horrible! It doesn't even look like they tried to put in any effort into it at all and looks like it was made by a group of complete amateurs! It's probably why I haven't even heard of it until now.
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horseradish
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Joined: 27 Oct 2015
Posts: 574
Location: Bay Area
PostPosted: Sun Dec 22, 2019 5:22 pm Reply with quote
I use The Anime Encyclopedia by Clements and McCarthy often when I want to know more about obscure titles. Unfortunately there are sometimes errors or misleading information like their plot summary for Twinkle Heart. I thought, "A comedy about some aliens running a burger joint sounds fun!". Yeah...I waited for that segment and figured they got that detail mixed up with something else until the group is just randomly employed at a restaurant for the last three minutes.

The director and one of the studios credited for production cooperation, Project Team Eikyuu Kikan, were working on the infamous Crystal Triangle around the same time as Twinkle Heart. This OVA somehow manages to be worse because it's an ugly, incompetent waste of time with few redeeming factors. At least Crystal Triangle was insane.
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Errinundra
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 23, 2019 5:10 pm Reply with quote
Clements and McCarthy have a lot of mistakes. Some are so implausible they must be deliberate. My favourite is from Senya Ichiya Monogatari where they say one of the characters has sex with a crocodile. I wish he did - it would improve the movie, I'm sure. In their ANNCast interview when the 3rd addition was published they said they put in errors to catch copyright infringers.
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Errinundra
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 29, 2019 2:31 am Reply with quote
Beautiful Fighting Girl Pair #74: Miki Morita & Eriko Hara, aka the Honey Angels or,

Wanna-Be's


Billboard heroines.

Synopsis: Miki and Eriko are aspiring tag team wrestlers with their eyes set on defeating the Japanese champions, the musclebound Bloody Matsuki and Buster Horiguchi, otherwise known as the Foxy Ladies. Their training academy is heavily in debt so their manager seeks help from the shady Kidou organisation, which provides hi-tech training equipment and performance enhancing drugs developed from poisonous South American tree frogs and a genetically engineered virus. When, in their brutal showdown with their rivals, the Wanna-Be's realise how monstrous their strength has become they hunt down the mastermind, only to learn that he has even more diabolical plans afoot.

Production details:
Premier: 25 December 1986
Director: Yasuo Hasegawa (since 1990 has worked primarily as a producer; his directing credits include Thunderbirds 2086, Ai no Kiseki - Doctor Norman Monogatari, The Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross, Cosmos Pink Shock, Riding Bean)
Studios: AIC, Animate Film, ARTMIC, MOVIC
Screenplay and original manga: Toshimichi Suzuki, though I haven't been able to find any information about the manga
Storyboard: Hiroki Hayashi, Junichi Yokoyama and Yasuo Hasegawa
Music: Hiroshi Shinkawa
Character design: Kenichi Sonoda (Gall Force franchise, Bubblegum Crisis (OAV) and Bubblegum Crash, Idol Fighter Su-Chi-Pai; creator of Riding Bean and Gunsmith Cats) and Yoshiharu Shimizu
Art director: Masazumi Matsumiya
Animation director: Yoshiharu Shimizu
Mechanical design: Shinji Aramaki
Sound director: Noriyoshi Matsuura

Note: the fansub I watched was low resolution and stretched horizontally. I've adjusted the proportions but I can't do much about the image quality.

Comments: 1986 ends as it began: with a low-budget, incompetently produced OAV. Wanna-Be's (why the hyphen and, worse, why the apostrophe?) may not be quite as bad as January's The Humanoid or the most recently reviewed Twinkle Heart - Gingakei made Todokanai but it is emblematic of the effluent that seeped into the anime market in that year. You can also add to them Chojiku Romanesque Samy - Missing 99 and Katsugeki Shojo Tanteidan. As far as the survey goes, 1986 may have been the year that the beautiful fighting girl became a genre unto herself thanks to the medium of the OAV, but only occasionally did the product hint at the exciting possibilities latent in anime's heroines. Project A-ko and Dirty Pair: Project Eden were the stand outs even if they were fluff (highly amusing fluff, nonetheless), while Gall Force - Eternal Story and Ai City were the best of the rest. I suppose it could be said that the OAV presented opportunities to people who, deservedly, wouldn't have got them otherwise.

1980's aesthetics prevail, with the expected fleshed-out female bodies and overhanging fringes. Take the image of Miki limbering up before a fight (bottom left, below). Sure, it's artificial and, sure, it's fanservice, but it has an earthiness and solidity that suggests a real body. I like the image. The lines of her legs, her costume and her cleavage lead the eye to her crotch - something I'd expect in a female wrestling anime - but then you notice her eyes staring unemotionally back at you, challenging you to find a meaning in her body and your gaze. Perhaps I'm reading too much into it, as the anime isn't nearly that clever for the most part. The quality of the artwork and animation is quite variable, which isn't surprising given that it was produced in multiple studios with multiple storyboarders. At times things get quite sloppy, with stuttering movements and even mismatched cels. An example is the image of Eri landing a flying kick into the face of Bloody Matsuki (top right, below). Note Eri's right arm in relation to Miki's head, which is supposedly in the foreground.


Top: Miki and Eriko show their skills. (There's something very wrong with the right hand image.)
Middle: the villains - Foxy Ladies Buster Horiguchi and Bloody Matsuki (left) and the big bad Tetsuma Kidou.
Bottom: Miki limbering up; her manager Oki Sonada. (I wonder if his name is significant.)


Wanna-Be's influences are obvious: Japan's female wrestling scene as filtered through the lens of Dirty Pair and Maris the Choujo. It apes the wrestling smack downs seen in the latter and in the likes of Project A-ko, but without the laughs or the character appeal that downplay their brutality. Wanna-Be's may be a comedy but, for me, it only produced an occasional snigger. Apparently it has multiple shout-outs to professional wrestlers, popular impresarios and commentators, but I wouldn't know. It was all too esoteric for me. I only thing I could make out was that Miki is a half-baked clone of Kei. Eri, for her part, is dumb enough that I can understand how she could land herself in a occupation where she gets the shit beaten out of her. The anime lacks the sly irony of Dirty Pair: Project Eden, which doesn't require much in the way of initiation for the viewer to appreciate it, or even the in-the-know otaku awareness of much post-Macross anime. With the comedy blunted the violence and ugliness come to the fore. This is accentuated by playing the wrestling industry as staging genuine sporting contests, even if that is, in itself, inherently absurd. If the anime is to be believed, the matches aren't scripted. Yeah, sure.

Unlike its superior contemporaries the violence crossed a line for me. I could be astonished at the brutality meted out by A-ko and B-ko, but both were as tough as nails, so their suffering was minimal. Maris had a Buster Keaton quality to her: the constant setbacks she endured with her bemused comic detachment engendered a sympathy not forthcoming with either Miki and Eriko. Maris's fight had a cartoon clownishness, which ameliorated the awfulness of her thrashing. I can kid myself that those other shows had qualities that allow me to overlook the sexist implications, but not so for Wanna-Be's - a vehicle for a male viewing audience to watch and enjoy repeated assaults upon female bodies. The anime attempts to mitigate its presentation by depicting both the assailants - the Foxy Ladies - and the audience at the wrestling matches as female. The real audience, however, is male. What we have is a male rape fantasy where the wrestling is a metaphor for violation. Mind you, cruelty is as ubiquitous in anime as irony, be it comedy or drama, so perhaps I'm being a tad censorious. My reaction was no doubt exacerbated by the butch depiction of the Foxy Ladies, particularly Bloody Matsuki. Lesbianism isn't an indicator of either villainy or sadism. Not in real life, anyway. Mind you, their taste for violence does explain why they might become wrestlers. Despite the show moving at a brisk pace, I found the violence becoming unpleasant to sit through. Even at its best Wanna-Be's is forgettable. I doubt I'll ever revisit it. At the very least I'll never look at green coloured sports drinks the same way again.

Rating: weak
+ well-paced; Miki's character design (though she owes much to Dirty Pair's Kei); the fight with the monster on the window ledge
- animation; artwork generally; plot holes (ie, how did Eri survive the fight on the window ledge); violence against women presented as entertainment (which accusation could be levelled at much other anime besides); stereotypical depiction of the wrestling adversaries

Resources:
ANN
Justin Sevakis's Pile of Shame article
The font of all knowledge
The Anime Encyclopaedia, Jonathon Clements and Helen McCarthy, Stone Bridge Press via Kindle


Beware of performance enhancing drugs.


Last edited by Errinundra on Tue Feb 15, 2022 5:00 am; edited 3 times in total
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horseradish
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 04, 2020 7:04 am Reply with quote
Errinundra wrote:
In their ANNCast interview when the 3rd addition was published they said they put in errors to catch copyright infringers.

This sounds vaguely familiar, but I'm not sure why. It is possible, yet I don't know if Clements and McCarthy would damage the credibility of The Anime Encyclopedia as a reference material to this degree. Purposely spreading misinformation within English language fandom does not seem like something they would do, since they are historians with a respect for the medium. Back when the ANN Encyclopedia was created in around 2002, the staff relied on printed books and online databases in English at the time. The first edition of The Anime Encyclopedia is listed in their Encyclopedia bibliography section. Other English anime databases sometimes copy plot summaries from ANN, so if an ANN contributor thought to raid the book for summaries on obscure titles, well...

I listened to the Late Night with Helen McCarthy and the Encyclopedia Brits-Ani-ca ANNCast episodes, but didn't hear either of them admit they deliberately placed errors into the book. My mind drifted at some points due to holiday fatigue though. It has been used as reference in some other books like Satoshi Kon: The Illusionist by Andrew Osmond. Clements strongly emphasized that he wanted to maintain a printed version and is hesitant to expand the book further due to spine limitations. Really wants people to be able to cite page numbers or point to it on a bookshelf as a size representative for the history of anime. Printing two volume would increase costs as well. They do try to weed out errors and welcome any error reports for future corrections. I don't report plot inconsistencies since they'd probably have to watch so many titles to verify...

I've read entries with a bit of skepticism in case I get blindsided again...rather peculiar way to avoid copyright infringement. Let's put wacky mistakes so people are reluctant to copy (or use) our book!
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Errinundra
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 05, 2020 3:08 am Reply with quote
^
My recollection is that it was a passing comment. I wonder if there'll ever be a 4th revised edition. I shudder to think of the shipping cost of such a brick.

****

Beautiful Fighting Girl Squadron #75: The Knight Sabres,


Left to right: Sylia Stingray; "Priss" Asagiri; Nene Romanova; and Linna Yamazaki.

Bubblegum Crisis

Synopsis: In an earthquake bisected Tokyo of 2032 the Knight Sabres are mercenary vigilantes who take on jobs investigating and eliminating synthetic life forms known as boomers - created to perform hazardous or menial tasks - that have either gone rogue or are being used for nefarious purposes. The magnet for their attention is the world's leading manufacturer of boomers, the gigantic, multinational Genom Corporation whose directors are more than willing to use its combat models and the vast research facilities to further their own ambitions within the company and beyond. Just as well their Knight Sabres' power suits give them abilities to combat the boomers.

Production details:
Premiere: 25/02/1987 (8 OAV episodes)
Studios: AIC; Artmic & Youmex (the series was meant to have 13 episodes but was cut due to legal issues between Artmic and Youmex)
Original creator / planning / screenplay: Toshimichi Suzuki (listed as original story, original creator, planning or screenplay of the following: Techno Police 21C; Call Me Tonight; Wanna-Be's; most of the Bubblegum Crisis franchise; Metal Skin Panic MADOX-01; Riding Bean; Rhea Gall Force and subsequent instalments of that franchise; Iczer Reborn; Genesis Surviver Gaiarth; and Casshan: Robot Hunter Casshern)
Character Design: Kenichi Sonada (Gall Force franchise, Wanna-Be's; Idol Fighter Su-Chi-Pai; Otaku no Video; creator of Riding Bean and Gunsmith Cats)
Music: Kōji Makaino
(Hereafter things get convoluted.)
Series director: Katsuhito Akiyama (Thundercats, Gall Force, 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), Hiroaki Gohda and Masami Obari
6 episode directors
7 screenplay writers
4 storyboarders
4 art directors
6 animation directors
and
4 mecha designers
(Sing along to the Twelve Days of Christmas - it's the right time of the year.)


Top row: the cityscapes owe much to Bladerunner and, in turn, point the way to later Masamune Shirow inspired anime.
Middle left: CEO of Genom, Quincy. Middle right and bottom row: Terminator provided the inspiration for the boomers.


Comments: And so, at last, the fully fledged Super Sentai / tokesatsu inspired squadron of colour-coded, superpowered fighting women have arrived in anime. There were two in Dirty Pair, then three in the forgettable Katsugeki Shojo Tanteidan (although the intentions and the tone are very different in that OAV) and now four. For sure there were more fighting girls in Gall Force, but they constituted the surviving crew of a disabled spaceship rather than a dedicated team of warriors. Bubblegum Crisis brazenly showcases its many influences but still manages to have a voice that is its own. In addition to the aforementioned live-action series I can see in its cityscapes and cyberpunk themes a clear link to Blade Runner via Ai City and Akira, while the boomers have an obvious debt to Terminator. Some sources also compare it with Streets of Fire (which I haven't seen). Oddly enough, I was constantly reminded of anime based upon the works of Masamune Shirow, even though all the adaptations of his manga, such as Black Magic M-66, Appleseed, Dominion Tank Police and Ghost in the Shell, post-date this OAV. The original manga of all but the last began publication earlier, so I wonder if the similarities are due to their shared inspirations. Perhaps Bubblegum Crisis did have an influence on Ghost in the Shell, but it lacks the newer film's intricate themes and visual sophistication, relying instead on its fanservice, guns, explosions, fast motorcycles and cars, sexy body suits and threatening robots come artificial life forms.

The 8-episode series is conservative on a number of levels. Most obviously it takes a cautious route by including an important male figure - the police officer Leon McNichol - who, I imagine, is intended to be the site for viewer identification. That may suggest something of a harem - he does spend much of the series trying to crack onto Priss - but I think it's more a sign that anime producers aren't yet confident enough that male audiences might empathise with or even identify with female characters. Furthermore, the episodes follow a formulaic structure (with some variation): someone within Genom misuses boomers to further their own ambitions; sympathetic victims are introduced; one of the Knight Sabres knows the victim(s); the police can't handle the situation; the Knight Sabres intervene leading to a violent climax; and Leon proves his worth by saving Priss. Bubblegum Crisis is the sort of show where randomly picking one episode will give you a very good idea what it's about. If you like it, watch the rest. Given the cohesive world building on display the makers could have opted for a more epic, more dangerous scenario. There are hints of this throughout although nothing is ever delivered. I suspect the falling out between the studios and the resulting truncated series put the kibosh on any such developments. The 26 episode 1998 TV remake will give us the missing portentous substrate. (Will the survey ever make it there?) And, finally, when all is said and done, it prioritises masculine martial values, ironically validated by female characters.


Allies (clockwise from top left): AD Police officer Leon McNichol; apprentice mechanic and younger brother to Sylia, Mackie Stingray;
Leon's offsider, Daley Wong; and the Knight Sabres' chief mechanic, Professor Raven.


As characters the central quartet are somewhat more interesting, and older, than their beautiful fighting girl near contemporaries. Leader of the team is the stand-offish, independently wealthy businesswoman Sylia Stingray. Viewers get occasional glimpses of her upmarket lingerie stores. Priss Asagiri is meant to be the premium character. A rock singer performing in skeevy bars she has a chip on her shoulder that isn't ever explicated. She's hot-headed and reckless, quick to break the team rule of never acting alone, and the only member whose life outside the Knight Sabres is explored in any sort of detail. Conventional Linna is an aerobics instructor and the bubbly, moe-like Nene is a police officer and expert computer hacker acting as a mole for the team.

Bubblegum Crisis reaches iconic levels when the women don their power suits, which necessarily involves undressing first. Being an OAV it isn't parsimonious with its nudity. Kenichi Sonada's visual style is quickly apparent in his character designs - indeed, Minnie May (Gunsmith Cats) doppelgangers kept popping up among the secondary characters - but it's his hard suits that have come to represent the franchise. They're cool, despite Nene's first suit appearing to have buck teeth and Priss's helmet too often suggesting a goofy dolphin. Enclosed in their suits the formerly ineffectual women become potent. The hard suits stand with the bikini-clad girl grasping a sword at crotch level and the girl with gun as the embodiments of the phallic girl. Perhaps it was just me, but the suits topped with shiny helmets that lack facial features were so redolent of penises that the representation of female characters in such a way brought to mind Rene Magritte's The Rape. (Warning: image NSFW.) I find it fascinating how male sexual imagery is overlaid upon the female body. Philip Brophy has a more positive and eloquent take on the meaning of the suits.

Philip Brophy wrote:
The suits of Bubblegum Crisis are essentially a denuding of the gendered body, reconfiguring its sexuality as an outer skin and psychic shell counter to the notion that sexuality resides within. By materialising sex, gender and power as a curvaceous yet crustaceous culturing of armour... Bubblegum Crisis turns the body inside-out and the psyche outside-in... Plus the series is concise in dramatising its female domain as one wherein women have no fear of technology; are capable in extreme and threatening situations; collectively work to deal with situations; and actively dismiss the mock-heroism of their male counterparts. At the end of the day those sexy suits are remarkably secondary to the women who wear them.


I can't quite buy in with that last sentence. The female characters as presented in this OAV aren't significant. It's the suits that have remained emblematic.


L-r: Priss, Sylia, Nene and Linna.

The power suits may well be iconic, the character designs better than average for their time and boomers suitably scary, but things fall away after that. Backgrounds are highly atmospheric, but Ghost in the Shell and others would later present the overbearing, technological yet grimy city far more effectively. By those standards Tokyo in 2032 is rendered amateurishly. The animation ranges from dynamic to ordinary; the artwork is variable in its quality and the character designs vary between episodes. All this no doubt reflects the two studios, their feuding and the number of senior staff employed. The suits, the monsters, the cars and the Akira inspired motorcycles and, to a lesser extent, the character designs carry the anime. Colours are vivid and sharp and contrast with the duller tones of the more prosaic backgrounds. Like much else the music is typical of its time, but lacks sufficient distinctive qualities to make it memorable.

Rating: decent.
+ overall scenario; action scenes; atmosphere; Kenichi Sonada's designs; throws up interesting gender themes
- thin character backgrounds; simple, formulaic plots; shallow villains; variable quality artwork and animation; promises a bigger story but never delivers

Resources:
ANN
100 Anime, Philip Brophy, British Film Institute Publishing
Anime from Akira to Howl's Moving Castle, Susan Napier, St Martin's Griffin
Beautiful Fighting Girl, Tamaki Saito, trans J Keith Vincent and Dawn Lawson, University of Minnesota Press
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
Rene Magritte - Biography, Paintings, and Quotes
Bubblegum Crisis fandom wiki
Anime: A Critical Introduction, Rayna Denison, Bloomsbury Academic


One of three alter egos: a bewigged Priss in performance.

The Last Word

Tamaki Saito wrote:
Although B, the vice president of the University of Colorado's Otaku Animation Association, thinks highly of Evangelion and Miyazaki Hayao, he says that he is probably different from Japanese otaku.
Quote:
I like series with women who fight. Like Bubblegum Crisis (Baburugamu Kuraishisu). The women in the anime are pretty, and they aren't afraid to be independent. I don't have much interest in the wide-eyed "totemo kawaii onna no ko" (he says in Japanese) who are always giggling. My type is more like Priss in Bubblegum Crisis, the kid who rides a motorcycle and is a rock singer.

I like smart, aggressive women. Women who are good at maths and computers, like I am. The ideal of the quiet, obedient female doesn't appeal to me. I'm not interested in young girls either. I like women my age (twenty two).

B's image of the ideal female appears to be what I consider the phallic mother. He definitely differs from the typical otaku in a number of ways. And not just in terms of taste. His ideal woman is roughly the same in anime and in reality. This sort of consistency would certainly disqualify him as an otaku.


Last edited by Errinundra on Tue Feb 15, 2022 5:01 am; edited 4 times in total
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Alan45
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Joined: 25 Aug 2010
Posts: 9900
Location: Virginia
PostPosted: Sun Jan 05, 2020 8:58 am Reply with quote
In Bubblegum Crisis, the girls hard suits are notable for having built-in high heels. Very Happy

It should be noted that this series is currently in print and available in North America from AnimEigo in both DVD and Blu-ray. AnimEigo once had (and eventually auctioned off) a life-sized version of Nene's hard suit.
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Errinundra
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 05, 2020 3:17 pm Reply with quote
I wonder if people could actually wear it.

It slipped my notice that the series was available in the US. Crash is also available. And cheap.
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