To save the Earth from alien invaders and their giant monsters, Dr. Kishida does what any other red-blooded mad scientist would do: he builds a giant robot—the ultimate feminine fighting robot!
Unfortunately, his grand-daughters refuse to pilot it! Apparently, they've got more important things to do than becoming teenage super-heroes. Besides, how are you supposed to study for your college entrance exams while getting beaten-up in battle?
Fortunately for Dr. Kishida, things aren't too well for the invaders, either. According to their reports, the Earth was the perfect target: lush, peaceful, and relatively defenseless. Theoretically, the planet should've surrendered long ago. Now, the war is at a standstill, the dreaded Accounting Department is warning about the serious cost overruns, and the head of the home office has arrived from Galactic Headquarters to personally oversee operations. Has Headquarters decided to unleash, The Audit—or do they have something even more evil in mind?
The fate of the world rests upon two people: Aya Kishida, one of the doctor's granddaughters, who may have to give up prep school to pilot the mighty (and lovely) ARIEL; and a mysterious alien named Saber Starblast, who may have the power to defeat the invaders once and for all...
#1: "Mikakunin Girl: Good Innocent Ribbon Lady (未確認GIRL -Good Innocent Ribbon Lady-)" by Megumi Hayashibara #2: "Mikakunin Boy: Best Oriental Young Man (未確認BOY -Best Oriental Young-man-)" by Yuuko Mizutani
My biggest issue with Ariel Visual is that there’s no reason to care about the plot and most of the characters. The OVA starts out with an opening narration that summarizes that sets up the bare bones of the plot and character relations, but it never develops them beyond what’s presented in this narration. It never really goes into why the aliens even want to take over the Earth and by the end of the second episode all of the characters can still be summed up with the same two sentences that they were summed up with in the opening narration.
My other big issue is
with Dr. Kishida, the grandfather of the three girls who pilot the titular giant robot, Ariel. It’s pretty clear that we are supposed to find his goofy mad scientist antics amusing, but I actually found them to be rather frustrating. Throughout the 2 episode Dr. Kishida repeatedly attempts to convince his reluctant granddaughters to pilot Ariel and fight off the alien invasion. Some of his attempts are actually a bit humorous, like when a video of him suddenly appears on the inside of one of his granddaughter’s (technically she’s his niece) motorcycle helmet while she’s driving through traffic. Mostly of the time though, his attempts just make him seem like a terrible grandfather.
Aside from these two issues there are some smaller ones. The animation is lackluster, they use a wide variety of tricks to avoid having to animate scenes that would otherwise have a lot of movement. The mech and monster designs have a very campy tokusatsu feel to them. The action scenes have poor choreography so the big climatic battle at the end ends up being rather boring.
In the shows favour, I will say that the art was generally pretty good and I actually quite liked the character designs, particularly those of the granddaughters. On the whole though, this is a mediocre series with bare bones plot and static, one dimensional characters.
The story arc is pretty simple. Aliens have invaded for the sake of claiming Earth for the corporation they work for. Their efforts are being thwarted by a large mecha shaped like a woman, ARIEL, so an old friend of the invasion force's leader shows up to provide assistance. Things aren't going smoothly on Earth, however. ARIEL's pilots decided that they don't want the job and it's up to their Grandfather/Uncle, two of the girls are his granddaughters the other is his niece, to persuade them otherwise. The story itself is pretty standard and kind of weak, but the execution is great. It's very light-hearted
and it's clear that the story is more of a subtle parody of these types of stories than a serious attempt at writing one. The biggest problem is that it suffers from massive exposition dumps. There's one at the beginning of each episode. I know that this is based on a light novel series but show, don't tell. There are better ways to get this information across. Even with the time constraints.
The characters are kind of under-developed. We get a few personality traits for the major characters, but they're pretty two-dimensional traits. Aya is an especially interesting character.
The art is pretty good for 1989. It's better than some later anime from the 90s or in some rare cases, anime from the 2000s. It's almost as good as the art of Gundam Wing which came out six years later.
The voice work is stellar. Mizutani Yuko, Koyama Mami and Hayashibara Megumi all give strong performances. The music flows well with the action and helps establish atmosphere.
There is no yuri in this. Which is good since the female characters who interact are closely related. The yuri factor is a 1/10.
My final rating for Ariel Visual is a 6.5/10. The story and characters have some issues, but the whimsical tone makes it a lot of fun to watch and the music and voice acting are both spectacular. If you enjoyed Gunbuster or All Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku, you'll probably enjoy this. If you can find a copy, go ahead and check it out.