In the ancient past, a great civilization known as the Ords flourished on the Earth, worshipping light and the sun. In the present, Professor Rayna Kizuki is studying the Ords and possesses a mirror rumored to have the power to unlock the powers of the ancient people. Keeping track of the mirror, however, is a difficult task with twins Mai and Mami Tachibana and power hungry Rieg on her tail, who want the mirror for themselves! The mysterious secrets of the ancient ruins is about to be uncovered, but is the world ready for this ultimate power?
StoryLike Indiana Jones or Tomb Raider? Explorer Woman Ray will probably appeal to you. Though the name suggests the story will revolve around someone named Ray, for the most part, there isn't a set main character. Ray, indeed, is one of them: she's an archaeologist who is studying the lost civilization of the Ords, a people more advanced than present day humans, who worshipped light and the sun. Ray owns a mirror (passed down from her missing grandfather) that supposedly unlocks the power of the Ords, but everyone else wants it for their own selfish plans. Mai and Mami are two incredibly obnoxious twins (who look like little boys) who are also main characters, and manage to interfere in many ways, trying to get the treasure for themselves. There's also a man named Rieg and an extremely frightening looking man (due to the horrid character design) named Johnson, who also want the mirror. Explorer Woman Ray is definitely like Indiana Jones... it's full of action and adventure, but unfortunately, nothing more than that. Don't get me wrong, I like suspenseful action flicks. I really enjoyed Black Magic M-66, which was fairly devoid of plot or character development, and was just straight entertaining. Explorer Woman Ray, on the other hand, just seemed to not have a lot of life in it, and didn't succeed in keeping my interest. It might have been the pacing, which ranged from action filled to very slow (sometimes I kept wondering how the characters went from one high octane situation, to a really boring one all of a sudden). It might have been the lack of any good characters, or the fact that it never seemed like there was a main character and focal point to the series. Then there was the issue of this ultimate power of sorts that Ray didn't want to see unleashed, but the power itself was quite disappointing. If I'm watching something that deals with an ancient advanced civilization, I want to see cool lasers and robots or super energy in some way, not a bunch of light beams going everywhere. Who cares if it's supposed to be powerful? If it's not doing something cool, it's not impressive, I'm sorry. Overall, an interesting idea for a story, though it's been done before in many contexts. For anime, sure, I haven't seen a lot of things like this, but I still felt it was fairly boring, uninteresting, and unexciting.AnimationAnimation-wise, Explorer Woman Ray was seriously all over the place. Occasionally I did feel like the graphics were well done. For example, in the inner ruins, occasionally, the walls were very detailed with intricate carvings and such. Unfortunately, the rest of the time seemed like they chose a number out of a grab bag and changed how bad it was depending on how low the number was. Some scenes looked incredibly simple and cheesy, and reminded me of scenes out of Roots Search (specifically, the hallway near the end). Water was incredibly solid and had only a few black lines to indicate motion, for example. The colors were VERY dull and uninteresting, though typical of series in the 80s. Character designs were quite laughable, and not in a good way. Ray was the only person that mostly resembled a human, looking like a normal woman. Mai and Mami were supposed to be two female college student twins, but looked (and sounded) more like pre-adolescent little boys. Johnson was one of the scariest characters ever with his huge bug eyes and fake looking muscles everywhere. In general, the designs looked very crude and simple, and unattractive. The animation just really wasn't a strong point of Explorer Woman Ray, hands down. SoundI love old school console games. I still have a NES and SNES, and play them sometimes. I love reminiscing about old games I used to play. In fact, for some reason I always remember playing TMNT 2... you know, the part where you are underwater disarming the bombs? Classic. There are times when remembering something like this is appropriate, and then there's times that really aren't. Case in point? Explorer Woman Ray's music. Now, I've seen many anime series whose music reminds me of playing an RPG. Usually this applies to at least SNES level, if not greater. EWR's music, however, sounded like playing one of the first NES games, with extremely simple beats and cheesy tunes that didn't work pretty much anywhere. It either sounded like a NES game, or one of those mini keyboards we used to have as children, where you could press a key and different synthy sounds would chime in. Whatever the case, the music was utterly laughable. Voice acting was fine except for a few occasions. First of all, Mai and Mami's voices were incredibly nasal, whining, and piercing. Reason #4350 to dislike them, I suppose. Secondly, some of the random expendable diggers would make weird grunting noises when acknowledging something. Yes, I know "mmnn" is a noise people make in Japan to acknowledge things, but this was different. It sounded bad, period. CharactersThe characters were definitely not the most developed or interesting. Ray is pretty much the only person who is developed, as we see one flashback, but the flashback itself is confusing and I personally felt like nothing was explained (kudos for trying, though!). Mai and Mami, as I've mentioned a few times, were totally useless and were ANNOYING AS HELL. I kept hoping a giant woodchipper would appear and they would fall in on accident. Other secondary characters such as Rieg didn't make any sort of an impact, and scary ones like Johnson were around just to make you laugh, due to how absurd he looked. For an action series, I don't expect there to be a ton of character development, but I do expect the characters to at least have their little quirks or memorable features (and the only one that did in this OVA was the two twins simply because they were annoying as hell, and Johnson, who was scary looking). OverallOverall, Explorer Woman Ray was average, but definitely nothing more. If I wanted mindless entertainment, I'd rather watch Black Magic M-66 or a number of other series over this one. Yeah, Tomb Raider style action is interesting, but the bad guys weren't bad enough, the treasure wasn't interesting enough, and the characters were too annoying in general. Top that off with low budget animation and overall blandness and you have an anime that probably isn't worth most of your time. If you enjoy rare things, though, you might want to check it out.