Despite the title, this is not a feature but the three-part OAV Battle Skipper (1995), which Takashi Watanabe directed before going on to Slayers.
When the members of the Etiquette Club at St. Ignacio's School for Girls go down the tubes--literally--they acquire the skimpy outfits they wear to pilot the unfortunately named BSs or Battle Skippers, state-of-the-art military mecha. As "Extars," the Etiquette Club members fight to eliminate evil from the world, which means the bizarre schemes of Sayaka, the nasty, super-rich president of the rival Debutante Club, and her flunky, Todo.
The series was created to promote a line of robot toys from Tomy, and viewers who are willing to accept high school girls' quarrels escalating into battles involving satellite weaponry may enjoy these silly adventures.
Bishoujo Yuugekitai Battle Skipper is a mecha comedy from the mid 90s. It was brought to us by Artmic. If you haven't heard of them, it's not a surprise. They've worked with AIC on a couple anime I've reviewed, Bubblegum Crisis & AD Police. They've also worked with Tatsunoko on some anime I've never seen. This will be the first time I've seen something that they were the sole driving force for and I don't know if that's a good thing. But, let's give it a chance and take a look.
We open with a secondary school girl in the shower because... class killed
the writer's goldfish. She gets dressed and talks with her minion about a group of “Extars” who are piloting their BS's and causing problems. The showering scene totally adds a lot to this plot point and wasn't gratuitous at all. We then join two different girls as they run to their first day at school. They see some upper classmen arrive and move to orientation where we find out that the débutante club is the most powerful force in the school and everyone wants to join for the connections. Our heroines, Shihoko & Saori, decide to join the etiquette club instead because Shihoko is immediately attracted to the vice-president, Rie. They're joined by another girl, Kanami, who admires the president, Reika. They decide to break into the club at night because... they think there might be Friendship is Magic DVDs that they can watch or, maybe, the reasons are just really flimsy. It's one of those. They accidentally stumble onto a hidden basement and find themselves inside their own BSs. The three of them join Reika and Rie as Extars in order to combat ne'er do wells.
The major problem with this OVA is the humour. Most of the time it comes across as an excuse for lazy writing. Why is the Extars' super advanced hidden base easily accessed by anyone? It's a comedy, don't worry about it. How do the antagonists break in? Comedy. If our heroines are trying to fight in secret why do they throw that out the window in order to fight hand to hand, especially when they could handle the ruffians with their armoured tank suits? It's a comedy, they don't have to explain it. The more ordinary jokes barely register as jokes. To use an example, when Shihoko and Saori arrive Shihoko refers to her initial meetings with both Reika & Rie as fateful. It's supposed to be funny because she falls in love easily. And no, the comedy never elevates above that.
The writing is, in general, just very lazy. The plot points are heavily telegraphed and clichéd. At one point we see our antagonist's minion rescue Saori from familiar looking thugs. I wonder where that's going to go? It couldn't possibly be a set up to get close to her for nefarious purposes. That would just be crazy. At another point we see our heroines come under heavy fire by a mobile fortress. I wonder if the one that got left behind is going to come to their rescue with their own mobile fortress that was introduced near the end of the previous episode? It's almost like our script writer, Kamata Hidemi, had no passion for the project whatsoever and just rushed through the script over a couple hours.
The characters are pretty dull. Saori is the kind of clumsy protagonist who stands up for her friends. Shihoko falls in love easily and needs to be protected. Kanami is good at everything but gets a more supporting role because otherwise she'd be even more noticeably a Mary Sue. Rie is the kind of abrasive one who likes to fight. Reika is the motherly one who looks out for the others. And our antagonist wants to rule the world because... she's rich? It's rather like the script writing. Very low effort and reliant on the generic.
Frankly, I've seen stronger artwork and animation from several other 90s anime. This is another arena where Battle Skipper just seems to lack any real effort. The action sequences are pretty weak, with an over-reliance on motion blur and with machines that shoot each other kind of slowly. The character designs are kind of dull as well. Shihoko has random circles in her hair that don't seem to be attached and that she leaves in when she sleeps because... she doesn't want to actually get dressed in the morning. She'd rather just let her hair get tangled in the ruddy things. But don't worry, not looking even close to good doesn't stop them from throwing in random fan-service of the school girls. Because Kamata has a grudge against class and refuses to have anything to do with it.
The acting is passable. It's not good nor is it bad. They did get some talented actresses like Orikasa Ai, Niiyama Shiho, Inoue Kikuko & Shiratori Yuri but the characters are, unfortunately, too under-written for them to show their abilities. The music is similarly mediocre.
The les-yay of this series is largely limited to Shihoko's one-sided crushes. Although Kanami may also have a thing for Reika.
That's Bishoujo Yuugekitai Battle Skipper. I don't think anyone involved was actually invested in the project. It feels like cheaply produced shlock that no one really wanted to be involved with but, hey, it's a pay cheque. I wouldn't call it a terrible or even a bad OVA. It's mostly just kind of stupid and innocuous. My final rating is going to be a 4/10. Next week I'll look at Shuumatsu no Izetta.
"Eyes that pierce with a fiery blaze, a pounding heart gunning for battle, the lightning itself is mine to command, to eliminate evil from the world, appearing from the shadows..."
Battle Skipper, also known as Pretty Commando Unit Battle Skipper or Battle Skipper School, is a 3 episode action/comedy OVA from 1995 based on and made to promote a toyline by TOMY, with animation produced by Artmic, the same studio behind the Bubblegum Crisis/Crash series and Detonator Orgun. Usually media products designed to sell toys are reviled and not well received, so how will this one fare? Well, let's see how this one goes...
Despite the DVD
copy I have saying it's a movie, this is NOT a movie; it's the three episodes (originally on separate VHSes) all on one. The concept is actually pretty kinda cool; Sailor Moon meets Gundam/mecha and Thunderbirds (the second latter of which I may be mentioning a bit), but the story is incredibly simple with not much to it, actually focusing more on characters rather than the mecha it's marketing.
At a Catholic high school called St. Ignacio's, two girls named Saori Tachibana and Shihoko Sakaki hear speeches from two clubs called the Debutante and Etiquette Clubs and meet another girl named Kanami Ezaki who becomes a new friend of theirs. The three join the Etiquette Club run by two other girls named Reika Ayanokoji and Rie Shibusawa, mostly because Kanami looks up to Reika and Shihoko is awe strucken at Rie. The other club, the Debutante Club, is run by the antagonist of the show, Sayaka Kitaouji, who with the help of her servant, Todou, wants to take over the country of Japan. Late one night, when curiously sneaking around the Etiquette Club, Saori, Shihoko and Kanami discover a big secret to it: sliding down three out of five tubes, they land in and discover that the Club holds five robotic fighting mecha known as Battle Skippers, and Reika and Rie are also part of a fighting force known as the Exters, basically magical girls who pilot these mecha and fight against evil villains similar to the Tracy family from Thunderbirds, and the three are able to join, and then must fight against Sayaka, Todou and their goons to protect world peace. Sayaka and Reika also happen to have their families connected in a way.
The story is averagely written but unfortunately it suffers from the same flaws that I mentioned in my Graduation review about OVAs like this: 3 episodes are not enough to carry the concept of an anime like this, as it doesn't allow for character development/interactions, or much story development. It's also pretty formulaic, and unfortunately not really unique, it more does things that were done better in other shows and anime like Sailor Moon and especially Thunderbirds. Unfortunately the writing is flawed, is full of missed opportunities and ways to utilize the cool ideas the anime presented and also filled with plot holes and several plot elements that expose the flaws of the story, episode 2 has the most out of all of them.
What also feels like a missed opportunity is the usage of the five Battle Skippers themselves, Reika's red one, BSX-1, called Testa Road, Rie's white one, BSX-2, called Sky Cats, Saori's blue one, BSX-3, Mega Diver, Kanami's purple one, BSX-4, Night Walker, and Shihoko's green one, BSX-5, Grand Buster. According to the Wikipedia article for this anime, Testa does high speed pursuits and chases, Sky Cats has aerial tactics, Mega Diver is for excavations underwater in the deep sea, Night Walker is for stealth missions, and Grand Buster has an arsenal of weapons, but we never see any of those descriptions in action at all. Imagine what it would be like, if say, we saw Mega Diver fight enemies underwater like a submarine, or Night Walker do some sneaky stuff, like steal information from the Debutante Club or something, but we don't really get to see any of that stuff at all in the anime, which is a sore disappointment. If it's supposed to promote them as toys, then why can't we see them do all their unique things?
Reika's backstory with her grandfather is alright, has potential and is a little bit expanded but it's still not explored too deeply because, again, it's only 3 episodes. Why not make the episodes about 50 minutes long, like the Bubblegum Crisis anime series or original Thunderbirds series, it would have served for more character interactions and we could have seen a lot of exciting/thrilling action sequences. But apparently Tomy just wanted to promote the toyline and this is what we got.
The dialogue/script depends on whatever version is being watched. The English dub, which is mostly faithful to the Japanese version, does have very cheesy lines and puns that could turn some off ("Let's make like bananas and split"), but it isn't as bad as some other dubs during the period like DiC's Sailor Moon dub. The Japanese version, while it has some kinda cheesy camp to it, there were some lines of dialogue that made me laugh (like the whole Kansai accent thing, Saori says about Rie with her training: "I think she might be some kind of sadist!" and Kanami replies to that saying "Then we'd be better off if we were all masochists!" with Saori replying "Thanks for the inspiration!"), although there really isn't much to humor in the script, even though it does have its comedic elements, it feels more of a serious toned anime than a comedic one. Some of the dialogue is quite cringey though; how is a band-aid sexy? I'm also not a fan of how the Battle Skippers in the Japanese version are mostly called "BS"/BSs" also, it leads to some unintentional humor when reading the subs...
While the story is flawed and not well written, at least it does have a sense of continuity so it's not like "if you've seen one episode, you've seen them all", like other similar anime OVAs like Sailor Victory (which came out the same year), and the concept is at least interesting to get one watching or curious even if it's got dents in its execution, and at least it did the whole thing with the Etiquette Club thing way better than Sailor Moon Crystal Season III did though that series was better.
The art/animation, also considering it's coming from the now defunct Artmic, are actually quite good for a 1995 anime OVA but it does have its shortcomings too. There's a good/decent amount of detail with the various backgrounds like the school grounds, the Etiquette Club interior, Battle Skipper base, streets and the city buildings, the coloring is fine and has bright colors and good shading, but they look a bit rough, sometimes lack detail and are not as well refined as other anime that came out the same year/time period and some things could have been drawn a bit better, as some of the drawings look like they're a bit faded and there's no opening/ending animation, just still shots. It does rely on use of speed lines/motion blur a bit too much compared to other action based anime.
The character designs are passable but a bit uninspired. The five girls are mostly well drawn, with good proportions and look pretty/cute, and have good color schemes, but there are some scenes where they are off model and they do look like they're based off of other characters that were in better anime. Saori is an obvious inspiration of Sailor Moon/Usagi Tsukino with her long pigtailed yellow hair, Shioko sort of looks like Ami/Sailor Mercury though her short blue hair is lighter, and Kanami kinda looks like Hermione Granger if she were an anime character. Sayaka, Reika and Rie are fine looking, Todou kinda looks more like a long haired James from Pokemon, and we got typical girls with various hairstyles, nothing unique or original but nothing annoying or considered a rip-off.
The Battle Skipper pilot suits, which look like one piece swimsuits with long arm sleeves, leggings and matching socks are fine and I like how they're all different colors with unique designs and placements of gold beads, but I honestly feel the Exters' frilly uniforms, while OK, were a bit excessive and kinda unnecessary, plus it does feel like a bit too much eye candy and some ink and paint could have been saved a bit.
Now onto the Battle Skippers, those great little creatures themselves. They're very odd looking things; imagine the elevator cars from Thunderbird 2 but they have a little robot body and head added on top of them and sideplates added on them. They were cute little remote controlled robot toys. Unfortunately there really isn't much to them as unlike how other mecha were animated so they looked like humanoid robots moving/fighting, the Battle Skippers look more like giant toys moving/fighting and feel kinda lifeless compared to the human characters. There are enemy Battle Skippers and they're kinda the same way too. More life could have been put into their movements and maybe having each of them have a different design instead of sharing the same stock design would have suited it better, and none of the main five were made into toys, they're only in animation form. To be fair, giant robots wouldn't respond quickly like a car but these ones move over at least 1000 horsepower, so surely they could have fixed it a bit. Even the Thunderbirds puppets, ships and machines actually moved like they had life to them. The Josephine Rose base is OK though, along with the big airship at the end, though that one has no unique design.
The animation is fluid throughout and the characters move well, but the action falls a little bit short, I've waited until this section to talk about the action. It's typical robots bashing each other kinda like Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots, so if you like that game you'd probably enjoy this but it's still nothing too unique. Some things were cool like seeing two of them fly in the air and deflect missiles, and see them tear giant wings, but most of them aren't anything we've never seen before. Some comedic shots are also done pretty well in animation though, like when Rie whips on her Gurio Umino swirly eyed glasses whilst proclaiming she'll study whilst Reika falls over.
While there's no ending animation, it's cool how both the Japanese/English credits were split up (Japanese has original ending pictures whilst English only has black screen).
Concerning fanservice (all the characters are 13/15 but like in Sailor Moon are portrayed more like mature/adult women and beauty is portrayed as over the top as possible), there is a scene where Sayaka is showering in the beginning and we do get a shot of her butt. When Saori's being mugged we get a shot of her bra, and during the obvious Sailor Moon inspired magical girl transformation down the tubes with Saori and Shioko, where they end up naked with ribbons forming their suits on their bodies it's nothing too revealing; we get a brief shot of Saori's butt and we almost get a shot of Shihoko's breasts butt she covers herself to save humiliation, poor girl. Kanami's modesty is saved.
In short, the art and animation are good, but they pale in comparison to other anime that came out in 1995, like Gundam Wing, the last 8 episodes of Sailor Moon S, Sailor Moon SuperS, the Sailor Moon SuperS movie, the Ami Chan's First Love OVA, Evangelion, Slayers, and Slayers: The Motion Picture.
The music and sound are a mixed bag. The music has some memorable tracks in it, like the transformation theme, and the music when Reika and Rie announce themselves to name a few, is mostly mediocre and forgettable, nothing much. The first ending song, "Real Dream" by Yarei Yasui is forgettable and nothing much, but her second song "Game Over" is actually quite catchy. The third ending song, "Kanashii Tenshi ni Nacchau ne" is the best out of all the ending songs, and Kikuko Inoue and the late Shiho Niiyama duet well on there. Unfortunately they are not subtitled so I don't know the lyrics. There's also an insert song played during the training session with Saori, Shioko and Kanami but unfortunately a full version has not been found yet, though it's fine.
Voice acting wise, the Japanese version is pretty good. Kikuko Inoue (Sailor Aluminum Siren from Sailor Moon Sailor Stars, Belldandy from Ah My Goddess and Shiori from Voogie's Angel) does a good job as Reika, the president of the Etiquette Club, Chinami Nishimura, (who would later go on to voice Reika Aoki/Cure Beauty from Smile Precure) does very well as Saori, and Yūko Miyamura and Yuri Shiratori turn in fine jobs as Shihoko and Kanami. Ai Orsaka (Quarte from Gundam Wing) performs Sayaka very well, capturing her snotty side very well, but is unfortunately a bit wasted (read the "Character" section and you'll see why) and Toshiyuki Morikawa (Sephiroth from Final Fantasy/Kingdom Hearts and Torin from the Super Sentai series Kyoryuger) captures Todou as the goofy, yet cunning sidekick/servant of Sayaka excellently. But the best performance of the Japanese version, for the human characters at least, is probably Shiho Niiyama (Seiya Kou/Sailor Star Fighter from Sailor Moon Sailor Stars) as Rie, she pretty much steals the show here.
The English dub is mediocre. It's not horrible and bad like a lot of English dubs during this time period but compared to the Japanese version, the English actors don't seem to put in as much effort as the Japanese ones. People should recognize Lisa Ortiz (Lina Inverse from Slayers, Amy Rose from Sonic X, Serenity from the Yu-Gi-Oh! 4Kids dub) as Saori though. This still is a sub over dub though.
The best performance in the sub and dub of all of them however, is the Battle Skippers themselves. Yes, they can talk. They actually talk in here as part of their AIES. They have hilariously cheesy and cute voices that add a weird sort of charm to the whole thing, like with Sky Cats having a country accent in the dub, and Mega Diver having the Kansai accent and chanting an "Abracadabra hocus pocus" spell in the Japanese version and having a funny Brooklyn accent in the dub (even though it says it's a Kansai accent in the dub, no that's not a Kansai accent, in the Japanese version it is). It's hilarious, cheesy and pretty charming, makes me maybe wanna see a series that stars them as protagonists. Speaking of characters, we move to talking about the...
The characters are a mixed bag too. Most of them all are kinda likable and have personalities but unfortunately the problem is, due to the OVA's limited run time of 81 minutes and seemingly more fit to promote the toyline, they are all one note and don't have too much to their characters, are more stereotypical and don't develop too much. They're very hit and miss too. Shihoko is actually pretty funny and has funny reactions to nearly everything throughout, Reika is more of the kind, motherly character, and Kanami is the brains of the group, but she seems a bit too perfect/Mary Sue like being how she knows how to pilot the Battle Skippers, the rose base, and can fight enemies with quick reflexes and succeeds in taking down four girls offscreen. At least she's more of a likable Mary Sue though, and not an annoying, irritating, unlikable one like Crystal Usagi from Sailor Moon Crystal. Speaking of that anime, unfortunately, though Saori looks like Sailor Moon, she doesn't have Usagi Tsukino/Sailor Moon (the original one)'s charm and likability, she's only about average. The best of the five Exters is Rie, being all tough and like a military commander, and is at times funny like when she's presenting her speech, and probably is the only one who gets the closest thing to character development as she does warm up to Saori and Shioko, though it's only very, very minimal and even can be debatable.
Unfortunately Sayaka is not a very interesting villain because unfortunately we don't see her do much, except just sit around, does a speech on how she wants to "end male dominance/have women rule Japan" and only talks to Reika once to try to convince her to hand the Battle Skippers over. Once again, talking about missed opportunities, we could have seen a rivalry, an intense personal hatred between the two women but we never did it. I mean, the Hood in Thunderbirds avoided contact with the Tracys and International Rescue, but at least he would do things behind the scenes or use certain methods to try to get the Thunderbird machines, like disgusing himself as a police officer and a hidden camera to take pictures of Thunderbird 1, for example. But here, if anything, Todou pretty much did all of the work, using disguises and he himself could have been the main villain (though at least Sayaka did get something to do in the third episode). At least he's not too bad of a character/villain, sure he's the stereotypical cunning/goofy villain sidekick, it was still cool seeing him using methods like different disguises and mind control, robbing a bank as an act to lure in the Exters, and even drinking a drink that he originally was going to present to Sayaka, that was funny in my opinion.
The Battle Skippers don't have too much of personalities and characters, but they were entertaining at least.
While all the characters don't have too much to them, the characters at least have semi-decent personalities unlike a lot of modern anime and a certain 2014 magical girl one...
Even though it does have serious flaws and problems with its writing, presentation, characters and action, I actually still like Battle Skipper and see it as a decent anime, and way better than a lot of the anime that comes out today, even though it's not great, not very good, definitely not a hidden anime classic one should seek out immediately. Why? Most likely because of the untapped potential it has: I love the concept of it, magical girls piloting robots in Thunderbirds style (though Thunderbirds is leagues better), it reminds me of a great show, it gets the mind rolling as to how a concept like this could play out if it were a full series, some of the characters are somewhat likable and well done, it's got an odd cheesy charm to it, the robots talking themselves is funny, some ideas are executed well, it's animated in a presentable way, and it leaves me wanting more of it when I'm done watching it. This is the kind of anime I'd frankly want to see get a reboot in the future and have it be done right (unlike some other ones that have come out), and I've even thought of a crossover thing to do for fun (not profit) that I'm thinking of doing using elements from here. Also, compared to other cheap anime OVA that came out like Sailor Victory or Gowcaizer, it's not embarassing or a pain to watch. Sure, it's not like one of the 90's classics, but I believe it's a lot better than it's given credit for. I hope someday we'll get something like this again for an anime, or one can dream...
Basically if you like Sailor Moon, Thunderbirds, any mecha or magical girl anime and want to see a quick little anime with parodies/inspirations of elements from those series in it, then watch this anime if you can, though it's more hard to find. If not, then stay away and watch any of those other shows instead. Even though I still like it, one's not missing anything by skipping out.
The premise of the OVA series was simple. Girls use mecha battle bots against other evil mecha battle bots and come up victorious. Yippie!!! But I guess there was a little more to it then that.
The story revolves around three freshman girls who are torn between joining two elite clubs. One club is the Debutante Club, the other, the Ettiquette Club. While the entire school population decides to try and join the Debutante's, these three girls go against the grain and join the Ettiquette Club. Un-be-known to them however, the new club they enrolled in is just a front.
The Ettiquette Club is really the home base for an elite group of heros known as Battle Skippers, who's primary goal is to save the world from injustice.
To be completely frank, there was no real story to mention. I think I pretty much covered it all with my synopsis but here it is anyways.
The first episode focused on the girls joining the club, and finding out the truth of what their new club was all about. It was amazing how quickly all the girls knew how to pilot these multi-million dollar machines without any formal training.
The second episode focused around a love story which lead the girls to their first real fight. It should also be noted that during this episode the girls go through a rigorous ONE day training session with one of the senior members of the Ettiquette Club. During this ONE training session the girls transform from regular high school girls to incredibly fit super heroines, where they develop lightning quick reflexs, super strength, and battle tactics. It must have been the push-up's they did :P
And finally, in the third episode, they fight their toughest opponent yet ...which means the toughest one since yesterday :P And you guesssed it...they win!!!
Not very original or groundbreaking and very hard to believe.
I think the anime was done in '95 if memory serves me correct and this anime is your standard 1995 art.
The girls are dressed in school uniforms showing off lots of leg and the occational bum shot or two. No other costume changes happen throughout the series except when they use thier Battle Skippers.
The background lacks any sort of detail and they reuse scenes many times over. All your typical, low end production stuff.
It should also be noted that the mecha Batlle Skipper units they pilot look dreadful. They are chunky and slow looking and are equipt with some pretty junky weaponry...which is rarely used anyways.
Nothing about the music screamed at me "This is friggin awesome," but it didn't make my eardrums bleed either so that's why it got the 5.
The english voice acting is what you would expect. Shrill, whiny voices for all the leading ladies and the shrill whiny voices (just a little deeper) for all the evil bad guys.
The main focus is on high school girls. It's been done a trillion times before and will be done an infinite times after. No real background story takes place but you can't really expect much from a three part series.
I can't really relate to any of the characters, good or bad, but they all have their little quirks so some people might see something that I didn't.
One thing that I really didn't like was the "bad guys". These bad guys want to take over the world, but with what??...the four Battle Bots that they have in their arsenal?? I know that it was a short series or "movie" but it was just so unbeliveable. And on top of that, they just didn't have a reason to be bad. Not my cup of tea.
I watched this series becuase I'm currently watching a couple of 26 episode series and I just wanted a break. This was not what I was hoping for. The title "Battle Skipper: The Movie" is misleading because you are expecting a movie, not an OVA. The lack of plot, the dislikable characters, and fact that it wasn't a movie, really bothered me...I did not enjoy watching this anime.
I've seen alot worse titles then this, but this is not a one that I would recommend to very many people...and I might deny watching it if someone asked :) If your life goal is to watch every anime ever made, then you're going to have to watch this sooner or later, but if you are looking for a good anime...look somewhere else.