Burn Up is a 45 minute OVA that definitely feels like the first episode of a TV series, that leaves you wanting more...
In the city, a high tech police force is on the prowl for bandits and bad guys, and three women, Reimi, Yuka, and Maki, are some of the best cops the force has ever seen. A recent rash of kidnappings has been reported -- kidnappings that lead to young girls being forced to become sex slaves. The trio goes undercover, and alas, Yuka is kidnapped! Action and ass-kicking ensues, as the remaining two women try to rescue Yuka AND take down the bad guy.
An action packed police thriller at heart, Burn Up definitely will appeal to action fans, and disappoint those who are looking for anything complex. I really don't see why you'd watch this OVA for any reason except to get some mindless entertainment, though that isn't necessarily a bad thing. The beginning opens with an interesting car chase, and has exciting moments from that point on, scattered throughout the 45 minutes. These scenes were effective, and the overall tone and mood were well done (and fitting), but there was one part that I didn't enjoy: the pacing.
The pacing, unfortunately, was quite sporatic. The beginning makes you think you are in for a high octane ride from start to finish, but this definitely wasn't the case. In between the action bits are incredibly slow droning parts that fail to impress or excite. Perhaps this is because the action scenes are quite interesting, contrasted with slower scenes that seem more boring due to the contrast with the action scenes. Another contributing factor is surely the fact that these "downtime" scenes of sorts had zero music accompanying them, making the scenes seem even more flat and uninteresting. For a one shot OVA that is under an hour, I would have preferred high octane the entire time (ala Black Magic M-66, for example), but instead, Burn Up alternated between fast action and dreary slow scenes, which wasn't a plus.
Besides the pacing, though, I enjoyed the story a lot more than I thought I would. Granted, there's nothing mind shattering here, and nothing that will inspire you in any deep sort of way. Burn Up feels like a classic and in general is just entertaining, plain and simple. It's just too bad that the running time was so short, and the ending was so unfulfilling and open. But hey, there's three more Burn Up series to watch, so maybe that will fill in the pieces (I haven't seen any of them to date).
Visually, Burn Up is quite interesting for older animation, especially with the colors. It's pretty rare that I see anything from that time period that actually has very vibrant and interesting colors. Though these colors were darker and more neutral as far as the pallette, they still were very colorful and vivid, which was a big plus. The animation itself was decent for its time, and looked great, especially with the city shots and the car chase scene at the beginning of the OVA. There definitely were a few things that seemed a bit cheesy as well, though, such as the way people pseudo-exploded when they were shot, and the uber cheesy dance scenes (aka "I don't know how to animate people dancing so I'll just put a strobe light in and show them one frame at a time").
Besides the general animation, the character designs were fairly old looking and uninspiring. Characters suffered from huge bangs syndrome with large misshaped heads and giant foreheads. Very oval eyes as well. Characters of this time period always remind me of someone who has down's syndrome, to be honest. The outfits that Reimi and Maki wore were definitely "interesting", with round ball shaped things on the front that presumably held the breasts, with sharp clam type shell looking things on the outside, jutting up. I half expected them to be survival suits in case there was a disaster and all the ground water was poisoned or something. "Wow, that sucks, but at least I can collect rainwater in my breast clam shells!" Fanservice was around, but not crushing, so that was good. We saw the occasional nudity (no sex) and/or interesting choices of outfits (or lack of clothes at all).
Overall, decent animation for its time, though definitely a few kinks in the road.
The music for Burn Up was either nothing at all (total silence music-wise), or wailing buttrock (sans vocals, for the most part). I'll admit that I tend to be biased against shows that utilize this kind of music, because I always seem to think it sounds ridiculous. With Burn Up, however, it definitely fit the mood very well. The point of the OVA, after all, was to be an ass-kicking high octane good time, so the wailing pseudo-metal fit in just fine. The total silence parts, however, really hindered the success of the OVA in my opinion, helping the boring parts stay incredibly boring, and not helping with the pacing problem.
Voice acting-wise, everyone did a fine job, though Yuka's little girl voice was a bit grating and didn't help me believe she was a cop by any means. Everyone else was fairly non descript and decent sounding.
Definitely the most failing part of the OVA, if I had to choose one. Due to the length, we see little of the girls (not on a physical level, that is!), and know essentially nothing about themselves or their pasts. All we know is they work together, and try to save each other in the plot of the OVA. Period. This doesn't leave me with that great of a feeling about the characters, nor did I care about anything that happened to them. Even if there is no character development in a series or movie, I need something to help me bond with the characters, even if it's just on a "wow, they are so funny" level. Burn Up, unfortunately, didn't accomplish this in any way.
The one saving grace of the characters was a co-worker cop who would pop out of NOWHERE and scare the girls. This led to some pretty comical situations, and made me laugh out loud. The humor didn't really extend past this, but this person was definitely the comic relief, and was definitely a breath of fresh air amidst the good yet average cop drama going on.
Overall, Burn Up really wasn't that bad. I expected to be bored the entire time (as police action flicks aren't really my thing), but Burn Up succeeded in being entertaining and enjoyable nonetheless. As mentioned, the pacing was fairly crappy and the characters weren't the best, but if you are looking for mindless action, Burn Up might be a good way to go. And hey, at only 45 minutes, you don't have much to lose, right?
So Burn Up! Is a one episode OVA that spawned two 12 episode T.V series and another 4 episode OVA. If I had to compare it to anything it would be Bubble Gum Crisis also by AIC, excpet not quite as good. It's pretty much your basic cops OVA, with a bit of violence and fanservice here and there.
Story- So the story is pretty much about these female cops in the future who have to defeat this evil organization and rescue their friend... yeah not the most origianl story there ever was. The story dragged a little in the middle, but the actiony parts were quite engaging.
Animation- Easily the best part of the OVA, the early 90's animation was quite well detailed and fluid and this especially showed during the action scenes. The char designs are what you would expect to find in 80's anime. Very similar to the designs in Gal Force and Bubble Gum Crisis.
Sound- Nothing particularly impressive, fairly common fare for 80's anime (this anime has a very 80's vibe despite being made in the early 90's) nothing really stuck out to me, definitely not on par with the BGC OST. Voice acting was fairly decent for the dub that I saw, nothing seemed particular terrible or excellent though.
Characters- Yeah the characters here, are deffinitely no standouts here, fairly common character archetypes for this type of anime. The antogonists were also very bland.
Overall- Not a bad, short OVA, I'm not really looking forward to watching the rest of this franchize though, considering I wasn't overly impressed with this.