This title had made a huge sensation when it originally aired. It was an interesting for its time take on a dystopia, along with fan catering to draw in even the less demanding audience. It was let’s say the NGE or Ghost in the Shell of the 80’s. With far less context though. It received two different versions, one in the 80’s and one in the 90’s, both of which will be reviewed here.
ART SECTION: 80’s: 6/10, 90’s: 7/10 [Robocop grew tits.]
The graphics in the first version are obviously aged. Since they are mostly hand-made, the colors are dark and the visual effects are cheesy. The way machines and robots are drawn is detailed, but otherwise not special in any way. The way the world is depicted is the average dystopian, claustrophobic megacity almost all sci-fi series seem to depict. In general, the artwork and backgrounds are quite good for their time but far from great. The heroines have the “80’s look” on them (dumb expressions, huge eyes, Barbie-like hairstyles), which is hard to accept if you are accustomed to the far more realistic and vamp looks of recent series. In some cases, the shadowing on them is almost absent, giving a silly cartoon feeling in an otherwise half-serious story. Plus, the Knight Saber suits, although quite practical in appearance and way of donning, they will feel very unrealistic during action scenes. The battles have no real choreography and body movements lack proper fluidity. Characters and motion will feel average at best. There is a rather high factor of fan service in it, as 80% of the cast is pretty girls undressing or moving around in underwear. This may make you forget about the glitches.
The second version improves several glitches of the initial premise and offers a generally better feeling of the same story. The graphics are far better than before. Since computers were used in the production, the colors are lighter and the visual effects are more realistic; especially the computer statistic screens. They still miss the “magic touch” that would earn them a perfect score. The heroines had a face lift and now have the “90’s look” on them. Their more realistic looks make them far more likable to the average viewer, not accustomed to retro series. Plus, their seriousness during dramatic scenes is far more believable. Shadowing effects on them are now consistent all the time and the Knight Saber suits have slightly different colors for a more uniform palette feeling. Choreography still lacks and fan service is still there.
SOUND SECTION: 6/10 [Singer by day, heroine by night.]
Voice Acting is decent but not great. The way the characters talk is mixed. Half the time is gibberish; half the other is serious and philosophical. The music themes are quite good but not memorable. This series has the honor for being the first title to use voice actors both for voicing characters and singing the songs. Yes, I’m talking about Priss. Sound Effects are nothing great to write something about.
STORY SECTION: 80’s: 4/10, 90’s: 6/10 [Chicks kicking cyborg butt and then ponder about the meaning of life.]
The story is rather typical. There is crime, corruption and crazed androids running around in a futuristic city. The normal police have their hands full, until a group of vigilante super chicks, called the Knight Sabers, storm in and save the day. Their identities are hidden, their motives are unknown. So far, the story is like watching Batman. But under the surface, every girl has its reasons for being in the team and there are several secrets behind the origin of the berserked robots.
Although not really multi-layered or original, the story is simple to follow and spicy enough as not to get tiresome. Megalomaniac corporation suits and a quest for perfection are nice ideas that are used to give you something to think about, other than chicks fighting robots.
There is an ongoing-story but in the 80’s version the ties amongst most episodes are quite loose. You can view most of them as stand-alones or in not arithmetical order without much trouble. In the 90’s version, there is more on-going plot but escalates in slow motion. You can skip every other episode without much trouble. Half the time, it will feel like wasted time and not really a build-up towards some showdown.
Most things are explained and all characters have goals. It is a character-driven story and does a rather good job at it. The explanations are not thorough and the motives are not exactly believable but there are plenty of those around to not pay much attention.
The conclusion in the 80’s version will feel like the ending of a normal episode. There is no solid ending, nothing major is resolved; which was also the reason there are so many side stories and follow-ups to the series. Originally, there were 13 episodes planned for the series but the company ran out of money and had to cut the last five episodes, which explains the end open. Bubblegum Crash! is a follow-up to the original but it doesn’t actually offer anything more to the lot; it is just 3 more episodes of loose plot and half-serious stand-alone missions. The producers realized that the franchise had a lot of milking before drying up, so they made something extra for the raging fans. And guess what! A recurring villain is back from the dead, which as tv reality demands, must be far stronger than before. Beyond all this fuss, the story there is even looser than before but the characters are colorized further.
In the 90’s version, there is an ending but it will feel silly. We have this world-shaking event and the heroines are more troubled staying dressed rather than saving humanity. So, ok, the main “villain” in the story has a very good reason for doing all that mess but it will all be resolved in an almost fairy-tale fashion. Not to mention the naked chicks! As a symbolism for purity, they are stripped of their gear and just smile while starring at the sky. Very poetic as a picture but also very stupid as a gullible ending.
CHARACTER SECTION: 80’s: 6/10, 90’s: 7/10 [I am who I am. Nothing more.]
As I said, it is a character-driven story. All of them are there for a reason; even the comic relief stunts and the dramatic side characters that die in the same episode they appear in. This is the good part. The bad is, they are not imposing in any way, they don’t look special, their personalities are blunt, and most have one line of backdrop story. Character development is loose and doesn’t affect their personalities. Plus, the open ending leaves out any kind of real catharsis. So, they are just a bit better than average.
In the 90’s version their personalities are more fleshed-out and their actions more reasonable. The silly ending makes you wander if it counts as catharsis at all. So, they are above average but not great.
VALUE SECTION: 4/10 [Knight Sabers save the day and yet there is a bounty for their heads.]
Rather famous but not a classic. Rewatchability is low since there isn’t exactly much worth remembering or revisiting.
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 4/10 [Slicing the Boomer’s head in half.]
The story is half-serious, the plot is loose or slowm, the ending is open or silly. The main idea of the series is used in better ways elsewhere. Fan service wasn’t that great. Action scenes weren’t that great. I generally didn’t like the franchise much.
VERDICT: 80’s: 5/10, 90’s: 5.5 / 10
Quite a famous series, this title made a steer when it went into market. It made such an impact that several remakes and side stories followed the originals premise for over a decade. It was indeed a pretty ok watch back in the 90’s. Now that many years went by, though, its glamour has been taken over by other, newer series. Its catchy elements have been used in far better ways in other masterwork titles. The only thing that remains of it, is the sweet memory of its initial viewing.
This series is better than:
Totally Spies. An American cartoon with anime overtones with a trio of spy girls. Too fake and stupid.
Charlie’s Angels. An old American series and recent movies with a trio of spy girls. Too fake and stupid, as well... Nice asses, by the way.
This series is worse than:
009-1. A sci-fi anime with a team of anti-terrorist girls. Rather boring but also with nice asses.
R.O.D. OVA. A sci-fi anime with a team of anti-terrorist paper-controlling girls. Great action scenes.
Gunslinger Girls. No sci-fi but it has little girls, brainwashed to become assassins. WAY better characters.
Ghost In The Shell (both the series, the movies and the manga). It also has sci-fi and a woman assassin/swat member in it, but the story is a billion times better and is brimming with issues around humanity, soul, technology and politics. Graphics and sound kick ass!
Battle Angel Alita (the manga). It also has sci-fi and a woman warrior in it, but the story is a billion times better and is brimming with issues around humanity, soul, technology and politics. The battles and the cyberpunk atmosphere are awesome!