As the chubby kid in school, I have an allergy to all sports and sports related entertainment, and so I go into Battle Athletes Victory with a little trepidation. Instead of dread and terror, what it delivers is a tireless blend of comedy, character development and a strangely compelling storyline that far exceeded my expectations in a genre I tend to avoid.
Set in an athletics school, Battle Athletes Victory is packed to the rafters with competitive svelte beauties. The extreme track and field events put the strength girls' relationships and their competitive spirit to the test. The daughter of a highly renowned Cosmo Beauty, Akari, shoulders the expectations of her peers that one day she too will rise to the University Satellite as the strongest and fastest participant. Starting off as a weak, blithering idiot, she is soon picked up and forcefully kicked into shape by her best friend Ichino. Seeing the hidden potential in Akari, her competitors support her through frequent bouts of inner turmoil and preposterous self doubt to gradually build her into a strong competitor.
Focusing on the rivalry between the top two students, Battle Athletes Victory explores the relationship between the cold and bitchy Jessie, versus the robotic Ayla. The two complement each other perfectly and are given ample screen time to develop a competitive rapport. As the show moves into space, the antagonistic attitudes continue with new characters Mylandah and Lahrri; each with their own reasons for fighting, they give an engaging reason for the viewer to empathise with their onward struggle, without being bored with just one feckless protagonist.
Unfortunately, as more science fiction is introduced, the cohesive plot takes a nose dive and the story gropes desperately for new devices to keep itself running for 26 episodes. Veering away from the fun and careering headfirst into the stupidly bizarre, the only redeeming point being the return of a host of familiar faces to balance the pure insanity of the Nerilian invasion. Although a half alien-girl, half car creature called Countach is funny – car enthusiasts will understand why – it takes away from the sporty heart of the exciting penultimate battle, one where Akari will be asked to prove she can excel past her own mother.
Although the show is guilty of repeatedly preaching the “fight on to win” message, it’s still a surprisingly enjoyable ride from start to finish. What I found more irritating were characters giving up part way through a battle, then suddenly finding the self-belief to become a winning athlete – regardless of how much time they lost languishing over personal issues. However, no matter how unbelievable or unlikely the challenger, everybody loves an underdog and you find yourself cheering them on towards the finishing line.
Demonstrating typical 90’s bold and slightly blocky animation, Battle Athletes Victory romps along in the realms of mild fan-service. From the brightly coloured Lycra-coated lady bits, to a plethora of long shapely legs, the animators seem to have aimed the artwork at males in quite a subtle way; there are no obscene bouncing breasts or in your face panty-shots, instead each girl is squeezed into a skimpy swimsuit that I’m sure helps their sporting abilities, and just happens to look great from behind as they cycle. Overall, the animation hasn’t stood up well to the test of time, and some of the proportions of the characters seem very unfitting for the planet’s best athletes – such delicate and willowy competitors would seem out of place at a regional sports meet, let alone the Olympics.
The entire soundtrack is inoffensive yet forgettable, starting with a mediocre J-Pop opening track it never gets into the exciting pace of an engrossing story. The original Japanese voice acting is superb; however the English dubbing is some of the worst I’ve had the misfortune to experience. For example, Akari has a voice that doesn’t match her character – although a cute klutz, there is no emotion comes through in her monotonous and whiny voice. Bucking the trend, the highly amusing and a purposefully stereotyped Chinese girl, Ling-pha, has an Engrish voice actor who was velly velly good, and added to the overall comedic charm of the show.
Playing host to the strong female protagonists Akari, Ichino and Kris, Battle Athletes Victory makes a pleasant change from numerous other shows in the genre; the relationships and bonds are a satisfying part of an otherwise sport-centric show. Although the girls have many vulnerable moments, the strength and skills they obtain from helping each other is quite touching at times. The lack of males and close proximity of the female characters leads to some unlikely sexual advances; a lesbian kiss becomes a well used comedy device that added depth and development to an otherwise innocent cast.
Though the characters have many flaws and weaknesses, the sporting idols are still believable despite an overzealous use of stereotyping. The zany Tanya is a wild and buoyant terror from Africa who sits alongside Ling-Pha as a witty distraction from the voyage of self discovery undertaken by the more serious competitors. Providing a well padded back-story, each character is rounded and adds to the team dynamic, offering strength in times of trouble and a competitive reason to keep fighting.
In the year 4998 the biggest sporting event is the competition for the title of “Cosmo Beauty” and girls from around the world brutally compete for the chance to represent their respective training academies on the University Satellite.
Clumsy and slightly clueless 16-year-old Akari Kannzaki would love nothing more than to hide away from the world. Unfortunately for Akari, she is the daughter of Midoh Tomoe, the most famous Cosmo Beauty in history. Akari must somehow tap into her athletic abilities to overcome insurmountable odds and achieve victory.
I know you’re thinking that “Cosmo Beauty” is the dumbest title ever and you’re right, it is. But you shouldn’t let that detract from this series because over all, it is wonderful. I have seen a lot of sports movies, but Battle Athletes just makes sports in general look really spectacular and awesome. Especially since the entire second half of the series is set in space, so some of the events are very creative. Zero-gravity lacrosse? Who WOULDN’T play that???
The characters are really great, even the mean ones because they are just so funny you have to love them. There are a couple of hurdles you have to be able to overcome, however. First of all, Akari’s self-esteem is critically low throughout most of the series. She cries a lot and quits every other episode and that can get a bit annoying. But her personality flaws are offset (wonderfully) by the other characters. Every character is competing because they were somehow inspired by Midoh Tomoe and the irony that Akari never even saw her mother run or compete in any sort of sport is poignant.
I really enjoyed the character relationships in this show and how they revolve around Akari, kind of weaving through her life as well as one another’s. The perfectionist Jessie who hates Akari and yet somehow spurs her onwards toward greatness. Does she really hate her? You be the judge. The roughneck, brassy Ichino who serves as Akari’s rock. The wild and crazy Tanya who serves to remind Akari that sports are fun! The list goes on. And of course, as is necessary with any story of this sort, the other girls learn something from Akari as well.
Every character has her own little back story and the series does a wonderful job of filling us in without taking up too much time or becoming boring. Also, unlike other shows where the the theme is “Just try your best”, Battle Athletes takes a different approach, almost as if to say “If you win, you know you tried your best”. Unconventional but I love it. I don’t care how many feel-good sports movies/shows you watch where they tell you that “winning isn’t everything”, we WANT to win.
The character design isn’t spectacular (and there are some definite “hair” issues with some of the characters – really, what were they thinking?), but the animation is incredible. I never thought running could look so cool. Some of the sports are a little…excessive and unrealistic but honestly, it is set at an academy…in SPACE. So, we’re not starting off realistically, anyways. I wish I could have been at that meeting when they made up some of these sports. At any rate, whether the sport is real like the pole vault or fake like the whole life size air hockey competition (which was awesome, by the way. They need to actually find a way to make this work in real life), we are only here for the ride, folks. Enjoy it, for it is sweet.
Recommended audience would be 9+. All violence in Battle Athletes is purely of the slap stick variety and there really isn’t any fan service. I give Battle Athletes a 9/10. Now, go watch it!
Let’s start with what this series is not. This series is not a serious sports anime. Neither a serious coming-of-age social drama. Neither an epic adventure of saving mankind from invading aliens.
Let’s now mention what this series really is. This series is a sports parody. It is full of pretty chicks, running around in sport uniforms, while occasionally offering fan service in the form of underwear and lesbian relationships. It is a silly story, where everything is possible if you want it really bad. Training in order to get better has nothing to do with increasing the chances for victory.
By the way, the series is a remake of an older anime, which I found more appealing than this newer version. The original 6 part OVAs were more serious and spicy; thus more likable than this 26 episode lukewarm comedy.
ART SECTION: 5/10 [Dumb chicks in uniforms.]
The animation is average at best. The backgrounds are not very detailed. Characters share not only the same type of uniform but also the same kind of body type. Another case of having their hairstyle as the only way to tell who is who. Motion fluidity is a joke, as the use of SD and low-frame movement take up 90% of the time. Even the visual effects are clearly cartoonish. The only good thing I find in them are the several silly grimaces and the wacky reactions and poses the characters made in various situations. Hiding in a carton box when feeling down is a simple and yet funny example. Body language equals comedy factor. There is of course plenty of nude and spicy scenes, where naughty ideas cross your mind.
SOUND SECTION: 6/10 [Dumb looks, dumb voices.]
Music themes had no impact on me. Voice acting was average but with strenght and appropriate tone for such a show. Trying to give accent to some of them was a nice touch. Sound effects are as wacky as the visual effects. As for the dialogues… Well, how should I put it? The characters talk all the time about becoming better, reaching the heavens, feeling the beauty of sport fever, cooperation, friendship, world peace, blah, blah, blah… Although all sports anime share this idealistic pile of stupidity, at least Battle Athletes tries to make fun of them. Becoming friends with someone and then double-crossing him in the last minute just to win is a simple example. This parody was enough to earn something above average in scoring.
STORY SECTION: 2/10 [Silly girls, silly story.]
Ok, don’t look for it. It is just an excuse for stupid sports events and wacky situations. It starts the usual way; a rookie girl trying to become the best athlete. And then jumps to a quest of saving mankind by winning in a race against aliens. But there is no real progress in the story as willpower, genes and even cheating resolve every obstacle. There is no realism in it; just silly girls doing silly things. The plot goes nowhere, as you could jump from the second episode to the last two without missing any important events. As for the last two episodes, well, they certainly do feel a lot better than the rest of the series. We now have villains in the story, a world crisis and even people coming back from the dead. The story doesn’t get any more serious in the conclusion; just more grand-scaled and exiting and leaves you with a nice last impression of it.
CHARACTER SECTION: 3/10 [Harem material.]
They could easily make a harem anime out of them. Or even an average hentai. Because they are only archetypes with no real depth or development in their personalities. You will remember them as the perky one, the shy one, the serious one, and so on. Or the red-haired one, the black-haired one, and the like. The leading girl is the only one who actually has some interest. She is the daughter of the best athlete and has a really low esteem of her capabilities. Crying and feeling bad most of the time, she has to live up to her legacy and find the strength (Deus Ex Machima) in order to win. Not that she actually learns anything or really improves at something. By the end of the last episode, you will feel nothing for any one of them.
VALUE & ENJOYMENT SECTION: 2/10 [Don’t put your money on it.]
It was partially funny. It had half a dozen of interesting scenes. It even left a nice last impression. But in all, I find no reason to watch it again or have something really good that’s worth remembering.
VERDICT: 3.5 / 10
This series got last place in the race.