Gen and his girlfriend Hoshimi had just left the movie theater only to encounter a space privateer woman named Lipumira who claims that Gen is the mythical being known as the "Mapman." According to legend, it seems, an ancient race of beings had long ago hidden a treasure of immeasurable value somewhere in the galaxy, and that only the Mapman with the Pieces of Galactic Map can locate it. Naturally, lots of treasure hunters like Lipumira have been looking for this fabled Mapman and the pieces.
Oddly enough, Gen and Hoshimi decide to leave Earth and join Lipumira on this crazy galactic quest for the pieces. After a heavy skirmish with a rival hunter in its own giant spaceship, the three are off to search the galaxy! But the search will not be an easy one, and there are quite a few individuals who would rather not see Lipumira succeed in her quest ...
MAPS is one of those titles that _sounds_ like such a great idea...until you actually see it for yourself. Then, you wonder to yourself, "Just what _were_ they thinking??" This series begs for the coining of the phrase "to make a pig's ear out of a silk purse."
Let's start with the technical aspects. The artwork involves some of the worst, intelligence-insulting designs I have ever seen in sci-fi, including a giant spaceship that looks nothing so much as a giant hood ornament, outfits that would even look out of place in an Olympics opening ceremony, alien races that look like they came from some kind of gumball machine, and a giant cannon powered by the angst of several hundred bunnies being ground alive into hamburger. Strangely enough, the artwork and animation itself is clean and well-executed. One gets the impression of an art scholar being forced to draw "Have a nice day" smiley-faces on T-shirts. Add to this an annoying, not-quite-80s soundtrack, and you've got something that will really make you wince as you watch.
Then, we've got the storyline. The producers take what is at least a very promising premise and then proceed to destroy it with inane, forehead-slapping plots that seem to have been fished out of the pile of rejected episodes for Star Trek: Voyager. Pathetic attempts at drama and even more pathetic attempts at Police Academy-style humor are peppered through the first volume, making me wonder what the heck this series is trying to be. If it is meant to be a drama, I remain unmoved. If it is meant to be a comedy, I remain unsmiling.
Granted, I've only seen the first half of the series. But if the first part is any indication of how the rest of this series is going to run, I've made my decision already. I hope those MAPS lead Gen and Lipumira straight into the heart of a sun.
Recommended Audience: Although the intellectual level of this series is clearly best suited for the pre-school-and-under crowd, this series is definitely not for kids. Graphic violence, profanity, and more-than-gratuitous nudity is to be found throughout the first two episodes (haven't seen the others). Okay for older audiences, although I'm not sure why they'd want to see this thing.
Version(s) Viewed: VHS, Japanese with English subtitles
Review Status: Partial (2/4)
MAPS © 1994 Yuichi Hasegawa / Gakken / KSS / TMS
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