Battle Skipper: The Movie
When a wicked and power hungry young debutante plots hatches a plot to take over the world, the only people seemingly standing between her and her plan are the mysterious vigilantes known as the Exstars who used modified versions of mecha called battle skippers. A coincidence and a childish crush will bring two young innocent girls straight into this battle between the Exstars and their nemesis who seeks their battle skippers for herself.
Well, I've seen a lot worse, which is a bit sad when I think about it.
The first strike against this production is the incoherent plot. I've seen enough anime that I don't always expect plots to be, and this is being charitable, 100 percent logical but I do, at minimum, expect them to have some sort of internal consistency. Battle Skipper features a number of odd plot twists and directions that honestly made me wonder if different people were writing the different scenes and not paying any attention to what happened previously. Key plot points in one episode would seemingly be absent or ignored in the following episode with no explanation. Even the main basis of the plot, the apparent desire of the villain to acquire the Exstars' battle skippers makes increasingly little sense (despite a very lame attempt to justify it with one special feature of the aforementioned battle skippers) as you see the type of resources and military hardware that she has available. If the show took itself a bit less seriously, perhaps it could have gotten away with a lot of this but given how seriously the plot takes itself at times, the poor writing stands out all that much more. A final scene that offers some brief explanation for certain glaring plot questions didn't do much to mollify me.
The battle skippers represent one of the single lamest mecha designs I have ever seen in an anime title. It honestly would have made for better scenes if the characters were using some sort of hovertank or anything else instead of the clumsy and unpractical pieces of metal that the were supposed to be impressing the viewer. I actually laughed aloud during the first scene in which a battle skipper appeared. They offered a lame attempt to anthropomorphize the mecha by giving them AI that spoke in the Kansai dialect. This was supposed to be rather amusing comedy gold, "Oh, look at these silly mecha talking like Osakans!" but it ended up seeming very forced and pointless.
These unappealing designs did not stem from a sadistic mecha artists but rather the show's true origin: a series of TOMY wire-controlled fighting robot toys . Through the help of several helpful DVD extras, I had a chance to view the Japanese commercials for the original battle skipper toys. Honestly, I think they look a bit silly even as toy but I'm not a Japanese child, so it isn't as if TOMY had to appeal to me. Interestingly enough, the original toy commercials have short anime sequences that feature characters and settings that have absolutely nothing to do with the actual OAV series. I'm not going to dismiss Battle Skipper out of hand for being a glorified advertisement for a goofy toy but I only wish they would have put some more effort into making it a higher quality production. A ninety minute fully animated OAV series costs quite a bit of yen to produce.
While the show's animation wasn't awful, it was far from the spectacular and the action sequences, for the most part, were rather uninspired. Given how much plot emphasis was made on the special abilities of the Exstars' battle skippers, I was a bit surprised to see those abilities almost never used. The series also treats us to several hand-to-hand fights between the Exstars and their foes. All these scenes occur after a stock transformation sequence which, I'm guessing, was supposed to imply that that the transformation enhanced their combat abilities but it was never particularly clear to me. I also was rather unimpressed that they had to use a stock transformation sequence for an OAV series that was only three episodes long.
The character work was barely decent. At times, it just seemed like they had too many characters and that they were more concerned about making sure certain standard character types were present (tough girl, smart girl, cute girl, elegant girl, et cetera) than in actually developing the characters. The characters, I suppose, were likable enough when I watched the title but their lack of depth also made them quickly forgettable. The AIs in the battle skippers received so little screen time, it almost seemed pointless to present them as sentient. They simply ended up being more characters in an already crowded and undeveloped cast. The music, for that matter, was equally forgettable.
While not offensively awful, this glorified commercial (for a toy that wasn't that cool to begin with) is a very sub-par example of anime. Being poorly written, featuring forgettable characters, and having the world's most unimpressive mecha made for a less than entertaining experience. I've seen a lot worse but I've also seen a LOT better. — Jeremy A Beard
Recommended Audience: They open up with a pointless and exploitive shower scene (that uses a few strategically placed pieces of equipment to hide a few key points of anatomy). Most of the violence is fairly bloodless but there is an implied attempted rape in one episode. Overall, I think this title is appropriate for teens and above.
Version(s) Viewed: R1 DVD
Review Status: Full (3/3)
Battle Skipper: The Movie © 1995 TOMY / ARTMIC Studios / Victor Entertainment
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