Thousands of years into the future, mankind has colonized other planets across the galaxy and completely forgotten about Earth. On one part of the galaxy, the female space pirates and their colossal starship Sol Bianca get a surprise when a young girl named Mayo stows away on board the ship. The crew then embarks on a journey to Earth to find the whereabouts of Mayo's parents and discover the secrets of the lost planet.
Sol Bianca: The Legacy begins with a sombre quote from Genesis, the book not the band.
There’s a pretty engaging opening featuring one of the crew of the Sol Bianca ship reminiscing about her past, with a rising crescendo of emotion and music, fully showcasing how this franchise can rise above what it began life as; an overlooked OVA with tiny potential emanating from it.
There is something mysterious and romantic about the future in this show, even though it’s not innovative, there's just a vibe about it that differentiates it from other sci-fi set capers. It feels a bit like Aria, with its picturesque
moonlit Mediterranean-like landscapes and calm music. Ok, so it’s occasionally broken by massive destruction caused by a bunch of pesky space pirates, but you get the idea.
Sol Bianca's vibe is thanks to an amalgamation of music, art and of course story. The Sol Bianca is a mysterious ship that is more an abode with weaponry attached. A sanctuary with its fountains and fauna. A Garden of Eden if you will. Oh, that’s why the Genesis quote was chucked in our faces!
The ship has one of the best graphical user interfaces in anime, a real creative and quirky tree-of-life type animation with lovely font and imagery. Let’s not forget its actual features, the best of which you see in the first and last episode which is so monumentally bizarre and over the top, garnering shocked bystanders as witnesses to its destructive power, you can’t help but smile at the enormity of it.
Set after the Frontier Age when humanity was exploring the stars with wide-eyed passion, the story's planetary citizens are not so wide-eyed anymore. The anime is classed as a remake, though it’s more a prequel really as we join the gang just before the youngest, Mayo, becomes a member.
The gang’s adventures begin on Neo-Venez...uh, a lovely looking planet, searching for April's stolen heirloom, a golden gun. Unfortunately there's no cameo from Christopher Lee, but we do get a pale guy with a ponytail who shows more menace in his first five minutes than any bad guy in the entirety of the previous released OVA. Unfortunately he's pretty one-note and boring; wasting every second he's on screen. This is something the franchise needs to sort out badly: getting good villains.
The character art is not so attractive this time unfortunately, which may as well be fatal considering we're talking about a show revolving around an all-female pirate crew of 5. This is disappointing coming from Naoyuki Onda who has a prolific animeography behind him. One of the members of our lovable pirate crew looks like a man she's so butch! You get used to it by the end though, and Feb in particular still looks classy.
Things start well with the first episode; dip into forgettable shenanigans with episodes 2 and 3, that do at least provide hints of development for some characters, even if the plots aren’t that good. Things pick up again at episode 4 and onwards as the crew near the mythical Earth in search of Mayo's parents and ultimately an explosive climax that has absolutely nothing to do with pirating. How many shows are out there actually about pirates doing genuinely piratey things anyway?
The deliciously tanned character, Feb, who appeared to be a leader of sorts in the original OVA (simply because she was the eldest, not through any leadership qualities) remains mostly useless in this one too, although does get some development because the 'looks like her drink was spiked' appearance since the original OVA is vindicated when we realise she's really perpetually drinking, and at one point a potential rapist even remarks "your face clearly says that you want to get laid!" You have to wonder if she's a walking poster child against date rape drugs. Other than that though, the writer does decent things with her character, causing a rift in the group and you know when a rift occurs, we get juicy drama.
However incoherent it is. The OVA’s main weakness isn’t so much the character art, because the other art and animation make up for that, but the plot holes and lazy writing in general are the biggest problems. Its not enough to ruin the show, but just continues that unsatisfied feeling the first OVA left you with. We have a great concept here, the franchise can be so much more with more effort and care.
The music is totally unlike the previous OVA, it’s a mix of traditional orchestral score, pop, rock, electronica, latin, drum and bass, and whatever else you want to throw into the sink.
Sol Bianca: The Legacy is directed and edited very well, its subtleties will pass by many, but a seasoned movie/anime watcher should hopefully appreciate how this OVA wasn’t just churned out without thought, but was overseen by a few creative-minded people who at least put 100% into their work, no matter what budget, writing or other constraints were working against them.
There are memorable scenes in this OVA, maybe its another stepping stone for the Sol Bianca franchise to blossom and become a cult hit or even attain mainstream success in the future with further adventures. Thats up to you and whether you're willing to give 5 female pirates from the future a shot.