8 Nostalgic OVAs That Are Out of Print
by Lynzee Loveridge,
This week saw the publication of Anime News Network's Fall Manga Guide, something my peers and I have been working hard on for the last month. One of the titles featured is Battle Angel Alita, a quintessential sci-fi action manga and OVA from the '90s. The anime may have fallen by the wayside were it not for James Cameron constantly teasing a live-action film based on it for the last decade. That film is finally coming out next year and having just revisited the manga, I got curious about how easy the OVA is to obtain nowadays. I was surprised to find that it's out of print. I decided to jump down this rabbit hole and began looking up other OVAs I watched on VHS in my teens. In what I've decided is another conspiracy to make feel old, all of them are out of print. This week's List is revisiting 8 titles I watched on my white CRT TV (with built-in VHS player) that apparently none of you younguns can watch nowadays. Strap in kiddos, because it's time to go on a journey ranging from mediocre to excellent OVAs.
Debutante Detective Corps Guess what auteur director put out this 30-minute original anime? Akiyuki Shinbo of Bakemonogatari fame directed this weird romp starring sexy rich girls taking on terrorists at their school. The short escapade was part of a larger franchise in what is now dubbed a "mixed-media" project that includes a novel and PC game, based in the same world as Sentimental Graffiti and the Graduation game series. This isn't a school romance though, it's a silly detective short with character designs by Shinji Ochi, the same guy who did DearS and Shiki (it bares more similarity to the former than the latter). I wasn't particularly surprised this one has fallen into obscurity; it seems stranger that it was ever brought over here at all.
Gestalt Bearing absolutely no relation to the German school of philosophy, Gestalt is a two-part anime OVA about a priest and his sorceress heading to an island that's supposedly home to
Voldemort "G," where "G" denotes "Gestalt", but no one says it because they fear uttering the name is a curse. Running for only an hour, the priest Olivier and his kinda magic slave Ouri don't make it to G. There's eight manga volumes to deal with and the OVA is content with having them face dangerous monsters and the dark elf on their tail, leaving far more questions than answers by the OVA's end.
Elf Princess Rane The plot summary in ANN's Encyclopedia describes Elf Princess Rane as a sort of magic treasure hunt with a twist, but the story is a comedy first and foremost. Its treasure-hunting lead Gou is plagued by his numerous identical sisters and only happens upon the titular fairy princess after almost being crushed under debris at a Shinto shrine. Rane essentially speaks gibberish, but she's also looking for treasure too and makes a perfect side-kick for Gou. Their escapades are thwarted by a rapping villain who wants to build a theme park, the fire department, and his childhood friend who's sick of all his crazy exploits.
MAPS There's a treasure on Earth and the aliens want it. High school kids Gen and Hoshimi manage to escape the invading onslaught of otherworldly creatures by hopping a ride on Lipumira, a sentient spaceship that neither needs nor understands clothes. Outside of some interesting technical design, cheesecake, and a snazzy opening song, MAPS is a slog peppered by appearances of weird bird people and other spaceship girls. Gen is revealed to be the Mapman (no really), a descendent from a race of map protectors, so it's up to him to find the pieces of the Star Map and obtain an ultimate weapon.
Plastic Little Boobs. I can't remember much about Plastic Little except for the boobs and the unique design aesthetic by Satoshi Urushihara. But it was mostly the boobs and ADV Films knew this, even throwing in a pop-up boob counter with the DVD release. The story? Uh, there's a government conspiracy and protagonist Elise knows about it and becomes a target. She holes up with her friend Tita (ha) and others in hopes of overthrowing the military general behind it all while wearing leather pants. Listen, this OVA was later bundled with Burn Up! and the tag line "Big Crimes! Big Busts!" so you'll have to excuse me for buying into its selling point.
Sol Bianca Sol Bianca is another OVA that had a very distinct design (eyebrows!) when I first saw it. Character designer Naoyuki Onda wasn't well known in my circles at the time, but if you squint hard enough, you'll see the beginnings of what would become Ergo Proxy, Batman: Gotham Knight, and this season's Inuyashiki. The story follows a cast of space pirates all named after months of the year as they seek retribution while manning a technologically advanced spaceship. The OVA is particularly of note for ending in a giant cliffhanger before it got a remake almost 10 years later. Both are out of print, but you can find leftover copies still floating around for cheap on Right Stuf.
Tattoon Master A wacky hijinks comedy, Tattoon Master was a magical fiancee OVA before that trope got largely abandoned. Nima is a tribal girl with magic tattoos and she proclaims Hibio, an all around standard Tokyo guy, to be her betrothed. When she moves to be with him, a fish-out-of-water dynamic follows, since she knows next to nothing about modern conveniences or social graces, opening the door for tons of fanservice. There are other girls too, of course, like the bow-wielding Fujimatsu, but Tattoon Master is more of a diversion than a story with a decent plot.
Princess Rouge I always mentally confuse Princess Rouge with Elf Princess Rane, but they are not even a little bit alike. They both have dudes who incidentally gain magic girlfriends, but one is a ridiculous comedy and the other attempts to be a romantic drama. Lead guy Yūsuke spends a day with Rouge, a girl who literally falls out of the sky and doesn't remember anything about herself. They hit it off until her sisters come calling and reveal her origins as a deposed heir to the Underworld. But like many OVAs of the era, all those plot lines never got a neat bow to tie them off at the end. Supposedly, Princess Rouge was meant to be six episodes instead of two and the production was paced with that in mind.
The new poll: What's your favorite opening song for the Fall 2017 season??
The old poll: What's your favorite anime filler arc?
- Fullmetal Panic! Fuffomu
- Zanpato Arc (Bleach)
- They're all trash
- G8 Arc (One Piece)
- Kakaishi Gaiden (Naruto)
- Doom Tree (Sailor Moon)
- Owee Arc (Gintama)
- Seal Of Orichalchos Arc (Yu-Gi-Oh!)
- Saiyanman (DBZ)
- Mid-way Divergence Point (Fullmetal Alchemist 2003)
- Any Hinata filler (Naruto)
- Time Key Arc (Fairy Tail)
- Battle Frontier (Pokémon)
- Hot Springs Planet Tenrei (Outlaw Star)
- Secret of the Shikon no Tama revealed (Inuyasha)
- Discord Time (Assassination Classroom)
- Gotei 13 Invading Army Arc (Bleach)
- Power Arc (Naruto)
- Asgard Arc (Saint Seiya)
- Shimabara Arc (Rurouni Kenshin)
When she isn't compiling lists of tropes, topics, and characters, Lynzee works as the Managing Interest Editor for Anime News Network and posts pictures of her sons on Twitter @ANN_Lynzee.
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