Battle Athletes Victory – episodes 23 to 26

April 7, 2004 on 9:48 pm | In Battle Athletes Victory | Comments Off on Battle Athletes Victory – episodes 23 to 26

The final arc ofBattle Athletes Victory is the polarising section of the series, dividing fans of the rest between “It’s a bloody outrage!” and “Best final arc EVER!” Anime fans never do things by halves.
I think that it was a nice, fitting conclusion to a totally enjoyable series. Despite the same problems that faced the series before, there was no end to the rocking.

Inexplicable gender roles, bizarre mutations and incomprehensible character changes were prevalent in these last four episodes, but they still managed to be some of the best. So much happened in them, and they succeeded in reconciling the casts from both the Training School and University. The only disappointment with these last sixteen episodes was the sparing use of Wong Ling-Pha. Otherwise, everything was good.

The symbolism was obvious but never too strong, and Akari’s final growth was liberating.

The only truly bad thing was the slaughtering of the ending for DVD purposes. Great series, lousy DVDs, but good price for such lousy DVDs.
Battle Athletes Victory rose against the odds and stood away from the OVA (to the point that I can’t remember how the OVA ended). Great voice acting, design, comedy, characters (no matter how wonky they were) and drama made a series well worth returning to in years to come.
It may annoy some, but it will charm just as many others, if not more.

Battle Athletes Victory – episodes 11 to 22

April 5, 2004 on 7:04 pm | In Battle Athletes Victory | Comments Off on Battle Athletes Victory – episodes 11 to 22

Akari goes to University Satellite, but on the way her shuttle gets hijacked by terrorists!
The terrorists were a great crime trio, with the traditionally incompetent leader (his tendency to ramble is hilarious) and the completely stupid threats and demands.
While it makes sense to hijack a shuttle with perceived VIPs on it, it makes less to hijack a shuttle packed solely with battle athletes.
The introductions of Anna and Kris came at this appropriate juncture, with Anna being a victim (“Silly faces make you embarrassed!”) and Kris being nowhere near the sensibility level she once was at.
The new Kris is hilarious. Rather than the “nudity for laughs” approach, we get the “inexplicable instant lesbian love for laughs” approach. There’s more to Kris than that, but to have her introduce herself to a ship occupied by terrorists and students as “[Akari’s] lover” is an effective intro, as is Anna’s embarrassing alien greeting dance.
Anna’s discovery of the terrorists was animated with just the right level of absurdity, and the athletes’ entry into university was definitely memorable and proved that Grant Oldman is the greatest man in human history.

Over the following episodes, Akari’s problems seem to be the opposite of her old issues: that is, she is too independent and doesn’t trust her team mates to work with her. In fact, the whole team consists of some of the flightiest students ever.
Fortunately, Akari comes to her senses, but the completely wonky characterisation of this series comes to a head several times. Jessie can’t decide whether she’s supportive of Akari or if she simply hates her, and she’s frequently written in whichever way it suits the story.
When Anna’s dark secret comes out (which is far more disturbing than the OVA’s totally bizarre revelation), it’s disappointing that there was no hint of her competitive side before. When she was losing all the time, she didn’t care this much.
Similarly, Mylandah is initially portrayed as the rabid monster of the OVA, but then seems to grow a healthy rivalry with Lahrri as opposed to an obsession. Still, she should not have gone unpunished for beating the other athletes into comas with tennis balls. That is just not what sports are all about.
Wong Ling-Pha’s presence is, by its very nature, a waste of potential.
The possibility of losing too much in the character shift from Antarctica to the Satellite was not as devastating as it could have been.

Still, the characters are fun, and Mister Miracle (as voiced by Ishizuka Unshou) is a marvellous character. The episode in America shows some wonderful scenery and atmosphere, and some very good music that would not have fit anywhere other than future New York. It’s interesting that New York of 4999 has slums and gangs, but the Japan that is shown is nothing but rolling countryside. I suppose that the debris had to go somewhere.

The Great Competition plays out well, and the spiritual developments are interesting – although Battle Athletes Victory shows a strong disregard for religious practice when it interferes with sporting prowess.

Despite any of the small and confusing inconsistencies, Battle Athletes Victory is almost wholly entertaining. The final episode arc looks to be very little on the serious side.
(yes, I know it’s cheating to write a whole arc at once)

Battle Athletes Victory – Episodes 8 to 10

April 3, 2004 on 10:19 am | In Battle Athletes Victory | Comments Off on Battle Athletes Victory – Episodes 8 to 10

With the closing of the tenth episode, the training school arc came to an end. This series’ episodes come in sets of three more than literally, with each being a mini-arc itself.

Episodes 8 to 10 were the finals. It’s interesting that in each training school of 100 plus students, only three get through to University Satellite. This makes for a really cut throat competition, and it’s completely clear why Ling-Pha goes to such extremes to win everything that she enters. It’s just a pity that the truly competent can see right through her.
Both Akari and Itchan went through a large amount of pain in this episode, and the dependence that Akari has on other people is disconcerting. The theme in this type of program is usually “Run for yourself” or “Play for yourself” or “Sing for yourself”. Hopefully Akari will learn this, because her tendency to hide in a cardboard box when things aren’t going her way gets tired.

The triathlon was a great event. Ayla, who was one of the more interesting characters, is developed quite well in her final episodes. She comes from a very thinly veiled communist country – the sort that breeds people to become athletes above becoming people. The way that we see that humanity has rubbed off on her, and that she can swim for herself, that was good. She also had the strongest relationship with Jessie, who is disturbingly random in her allegiance.

Akari’s weariness and sudden determination were inspiring and led to many well animated scenes. At the end of the tenth episode, Victory is now at the same place that the OVA began. Seeing as only three people move on to University Satellite, it’s essentially like bidding farewell to our Earthly favourites – but Anna and Kris have their own charms, as we well know.

Wong Ling-Pha forever!

Battle Athletes Victory – Episodes 5 to 7

April 1, 2004 on 1:03 pm | In Battle Athletes Victory | Comments Off on Battle Athletes Victory – Episodes 5 to 7

Akiyama made the transition from ultra comedy to ultra drama seamlessly. He really is a skilled director when given the right material.

There were definitely some confusing moments, where the timeline jumped back and forth some months and Jessie didn’t seem quite the same as before (but the Night of Woong-A-Ji may have changed characters for one night in order to bring them together against a common … evil?).
Akari learned a few things about herself – that she didn’t think that she could live up to her mother’s image, and despite hiding behind the “I’m trying!” attitude, she was actually holding back (perhaps to avoid disappointment).

When she realises the problem through some incredibly good Hisakawa Aya Itchan speech, she decides that she will get better, that she will unleash the hidden talent. And when she actually does get better, and she most certainly does, Itchan realises that she is jealous of what she has awakened in her friend.
The result of that is truly horrifying.

The other thing of note here is Ayla, who is a hilarious character because she has no sense of humour and is very literally minded. She produced some wonderful scenes.
While it’s sometimes hard to track the relationships in a series so coloured by competition, Battle Athletes Victory looks like it has it all. Except for eye catches, damn them.

Battle Athletes Victory – Episodes 1 to 4

March 31, 2004 on 6:17 pm | In Battle Athletes Victory | Comments Off on Battle Athletes Victory – Episodes 1 to 4

This is great.
Battle Athletes was a silly OVA. Battle Athletes Victory shows no restraint and is therefore a master stroke of genius. As with so many other Pioneer anime, the fundament is the same, but other things are wildly different.

Akari is now a blundering athlete with a heart of gold and entirely no self esteem. She lives in her mother’s shadow. This is the stage where all of the students are actually in training to go to the University Satellite, instead of being inducted. It’s a different angle and definitely allows it to stand apart from the OVA – especially as Akari does not possess the ganbatte attitude.
The sports are extreme, almost to the point of sadism – but they’re so ridiculously sadistic that they become hilarious. The first event that we see is a race wherein the girls run while drawing steamrollers. They have trouble at the hill … but even more when they get to the mine field! It’s stuff like this that makes it gold. Yet when the real injuries occur, then it takes on a serious tone. It’s good comedy in that it knows when to laugh and it knows when to cry.

Director Akiyama also brings the taste of excitement to it all. Bike Hard! was a pure adrenaline rush sport, that really brought me to the edge of my seat. It was just so well done. There are also episodes which have very little to do with sport – Night of Woong-A-Ji was about faith versus practice and also about respect but mainly about face painting.

And in the year 4999, not everything is about futuristic sports – the fourth episode features a swimming competition. In a fifty metre pool. But it still works. Most of the sports aren’t simply made up, which is good, but they’ve kept this one at its purest level – the only added spice was endurance.

The other thing is that the characters are great. Itchan is marvellous, with Hisakawa Aya in her Osaka best. She is such an encouraging, no-nonsense character and they milk the Osaka stuff for all its worth. Most of the training school’s broadcasts are by a big Osaka network – “Hello, everyone, especially those in Osaka!” and their attention to Itchan regardless of her participation is also very funny.
The greatest new addition is Wong Ling-Pha, the Chinese princess. She’s so devious, and her team of servants so … servile … that it would be difficult not to love her. She’s the one who plays both the evil and good cards within the same moment. Truly great.
Jessie survived the first episode and she and Ayla look to be the greatest rivals.

The lesbian overtones look like they can only get stronger, but the thing is that there has to be one complaint: this is not a DVD. It can be given some leniency because it came out in the stone age of anime on DVD, a year when not even one hundred anime DVDs had been released. Still, one OP and one ED to a disc and no eye-catches is just wrong, as is putting previews for every episode on the following disc at the end.
Considering that the OVA had 15 chapters to an episode and Victory has one, it was a step backwards in authoring. But the quality of the series manages to rise above that.

Frequently hilarious and offering promising characters, Battle Athletes Victory is easy to love.

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