The Irresponsible Captain Tylor TV

December 16, 2004 on 8:46 pm | In Irresponsible Captain Tylor | 2 Comments

The Irresponsible Captain Tylor shows the universe’s most incompetent captain who is fortunate enough to have the devil’s own luck. He may be a loveable fellow, but as a result of his antics this series is probably the worst space opera I’ve ever seen – a truly squandered effort.

Justy Ueki Tylor, age 20. Tylor joins the United Planets Space Force to live an easy life: free food, free clothes, free rent. Upon accidentally foiling a hostage situation, Tylor is instantly promoted from the pensions department to become captain of a ship, the Soyokaze. The reasoning behind this is that the generals hope Tylor will disgrace himself and earn a dishonorable discharge. His recklessness is too much of a liability to the whole war effort.
After the emperor of the Raalgon empire is assassinated a war breaks out, ostensibly endorsed by their new empress, Azalyn.
Due to sheer stupidity, Tylor becomes one of the most formidable captains in the force – despite not actually doing anything.

While enjoyable on a light level, The Irresponsible Captain Tylor ultimately seems a waste. Very soon into the series, the Soyokaze receives a demotion. this lasts several long episodes in which we learn that the last crew placed under such conditions committed suicide. This receives a definite “HMMM” from the audience, and the writers really should have known better. Loath as I am to make comparisons, an infinitely better space opera than this is Nadesico – which dedicated only one episode to long, uneventful space travel.

The interesting plot points are intermittent – space opera anime has great scope for giving the motives of the other side consideration. As such, the first two episodes feature extensive scenes with the Raalgon, their power struggle, and their all too “human” empress. This quickly falls to the wayside and we instead receive lazy antics aboard the Soyokaze – such as Tylor being such a great captain that he instructs his crew to mutiny!

The only real potential plot point granted in any significant capacity is the Raalgon spy Harumi, who gradually warms to Tylor. The plotting is so clumsy that, apropos of nothing, Haruka thinks to herself “I am an android, and can not understand their human feelings.” This is a big moment of what? because until this time Harumi had only been established as a Raalgon. It wasn’t even geared as a revelation, but rather simply tossed in as part of an internal monologue. Such club-footed plotting is really a huge black cloud over this series.

Part of the alleged “lore” of criticism is to analyse something by how well it exemplifies the genre it represents. Now, The Irresponsible Captain Tylor is a terrible space opera – with what amounts to two battles and incredibly befuddling politics. It doesn’t even have the saving grace of being a subversive example of space opera. No, it’s just a rather pointless example of whatever the heck it’s supposed to be.
Quite simply, the war sucks. Azalyn quickly falls in love with Tylor, whom she infuriatingly refers to as “Paco-Paco”. So, while it’s clear why the UPSF is fighting a war, there’s no real motives behind the Raalgon short of the fact that their prime minister is a bastard.
War anime should include at least some sort of comment on militarism, and there’s a little of that here – presented in a way that you might expect to be interesting. Mifune and Fuji are the two characters representing the UPSF, and Mifune is seen everywhere with a katana. He always tries to use it against Tylor or anyone who crosses him. This is good. This should have been explored more! Yet these two characters are just angry ciphers. Their opposite number has no real reason for any of his actions other than, as Terry Pratchett might well say, the fact that he has “Grand Vizier” stamped all over him.

More’s the pity, because the characters of this series are quite a likeable bunch. Tylor, despite the huge irritation factor, is actually quite likeable. With a touch more competence, he would be excellent. Thing is, Tylor has no clue about what’s going on: at one point he is actually heard to remark “What’s an asteroid?”. The obtuseness of this character is quite frequently enough to make a perfectly sensible person bang their head against a wall. In the 23rd episode, Tylor displays a lot of guts; the 26th episode is, on the whole, a near masterstroke. Yet these two episodes which show all of the characters acting their best do not make up for the pointlessness of the other 24.

Not surprisingly, First Officer Yamamoto is disheartened by the captain who was promoted ahead of him; the totally excellent Sho Hayami plays against type as an insecure, out of control man who never seems to win. When Yamamoto sees the true genius of Tylor at work, some quite funny stuff is invoked. However, all too often, Yamamoto is overcome when he realises that Tylor has no idea what he’s doing. His other true highlight is the time when he’s allowed to show no tact (although, given other plot points at the time, it makes no sense that he would be able to say such things).
Lieutenant Yuriko Star is the third main member of the bridge crew. Her reasons for joining the military are actually quite interesting, although the phrase “stuck up” comes to mind far too often. The most disappointing part of the series comes when there is an episode where literally every woman aboard the Soyokaze comes to Tylor’s quarters to confess their love. This was purely tasteless harem work, and not funny in the slightest.

The other important main character is Harumi. If it were not for the whole stupid “I’m an android!” thing just popping up, her development would have sat rather better. All of the support crew on the Soyokaze receive very little to do; the marines are despatched once, and what’s the point of a ship that has only one fighter? It’s expanded later on to three overall, but they don’t do a thing! Not a thing in the course of a whole war!
Of the Raalgon, only Dom and Azalyn get any real screen time; Dom is admirable in his own way, and Azalyn does not understand what’s going on around her. She’s far too impressionable. And if you’re friends with the enemy fleet, why have a war, huh?! Why have a war?! At this point, you really get the impression that The Irresponsible Captain Tylor should really be something else – like the corporate comedy it homages.

Production wise, The Irresponsible Captain Tylor was really ahead of the game for 1993. The character designs are generally high on the polish, although sometimes Yuriko looks a bit like a bird. Azalyn succumbs to the traditional headdress to suggest her alien nature, and for whatever reason the rest of the Raalgon don vaguely middle-Eastern garb. The animation would be impressive if it were that there was anything impressive to animate. As it is, it simply looks nice without much meaning. You would expect that a series beginning with fan service enticing people to join the army would be more enjoyable, but alas! The initial Macross feel is explained by the fact that this is a Big West and Tatsunoko production, but that mood fades very quickly.
The OP and ED are by Sasaki Mari. They’re very nice songs that set a nicer tone for the series than what it it ended up with, even though for whatever bizarre reason Sasaki is actually digitised into the OP animation singing along. The body of the series’ music is by Kawai Kenji, though you could hardly tell it. There’s some good stuff here, particularly Yamamoto’s theme, but it’s largely unmemorable and not some of Kawai’s better work.

The Irresponsible Captain Tylor isn’t terrible anime, it just seems largely irrelevant. It does not work as either an episodic or serial program. It is inoffensive to watch but, dependent on your train of thought, it does not really stand up to criticism. There’s enough here that would charm the heck out of many a viewer, but this was definitely not my style. My problem is largely that The Irresponsible Captain Tylor is not near that which it could have been – it simply does not add up.

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