Dec 16, 2022
This is of interest for Akiyuki Shinbou fans primarily, as Yamamoto Youko was one of his earlier directorial credits, and he also storyboarded a few episodes. The OVA was based on a novel that I doubt many here are familiar with. The writing definitely doesn't feel very "literary." It honestly feels cobbled together. Like, the plot: there's a very thin time-travel element here. They travel 1,000 years back in time to the 20th century to recruit high school girls who will pilot experimental ships and compete against other high school girls. What...? Why? If this is like some futuristic version of women's sports, don't they
have women 1,000 years in the future to participate? Is this some kind of fetish? "The girls from this period are gross. 20th Century Girls are the best!" I guess? Youko was sought out because she's good at arcade games, because, you know, '90s arcade games are good prep for futuristic piloting.
Nothing about the episodic stories are very good. The first one is introductory, and I don't particularly understand the rules of the game. The characters are unbelievably thin, I don't remember any of their names, and they barely even have character traits—other than one of them being made fun of for having a massive forehead; there's an attempt at humor, but instead of those stupid "try not to laugh" games, this would better be phrased as a "try to laugh" game. Very forced, to say the least. The most "character-like" is Youko, but it's of the bratty super genius type that is quite irritating and unlikable.
The second episode is similar, but the game is much stranger, as they use their ships to manipulate a pool table and pool balls that seem to correspond with cosmic bodies. The third episode finally has a more dramatic and emotional shift, but there is no buildup for there to be any depth. It still has the random spurts of poor comedy, but it's at least halfway serious. Furthermore, the shift with the third episode is weird because the first two episodes are near-plotless competitions, but the girls are sent on a mission to investigate a strange ship in space, as if they're some kind of mercenaries taking odd jobs. There's, of course, no explanation for any of this.
The plot details for the OVA are ultimately not very interesting, because it's rushed, poorly planned out, and dreck in terms of writing. Where it shines is with Shinbou's direction, though this doesn't have quite the steady hand of other works, even from a few years later, such as the stylistically similar and much more polished Tenamonya Voyagers from 1999; other staff appear to overlap with that series, and both have quite a number of talented animators involved. This probably served as a model for the aborted TV OVA project, and I would recommend that over this one in every way. The effects and background animation, served up with dynamically storyboarded angles, are still very good in Yamamoto Youko, and it brings to mind certain series like Outlaw Star or maybe even Cowboy Bebop with their space-based dogfighting—but with resources like Sakugabooru, it would probably be more painless and fruitful to sample the good bits of animation than slog through this dog of a series. Not bad to throw on in the background and multitask, though. There is a sequel OVA series, which hopefully takes the approach of the third plotted episode, only more smoothly.
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