Battle Athletes Victory
It is the year 4998 and humanity is again focused on its main event - the Cosmo Beauty title. Only three students from each training school (in this case, the one in a very tropical Antarctica) may advance to the Orbital University Satellite to compete in the pageant/extreme sports meet, thus there's a lot of rivalry, a lot of sneakiness, and, naturally, a LOT of cute girls. (Whee!)
Among the contestants is the hapless Kanzaki Akari, a cute, unassuming, and incredibly underachieving young girl who would like nothing some much as to hide beneath her "house" (ahem) and never be noticed except by her friends, if even that. Unfortunately, she is also the daughter of the most famous Cosmo Beauty of them all, Mido Tomoe; and she must use her latent abilities to succeed, whether she wants to or not.
Commence the silliness.
This is a bit different from the OAV series of Battle Athletes, with a largely different cast of characters and a much more lighthearted feel to it to begin with. However, the OAV characters do show up later in the series.
That being said, this is one of the sillier Pioneer titles I've seen in quite a while. Akari has quite possibly the lowest self-esteem I've ever seen in an anime character to date, and yet, she's actually a sweet, cute character, despite being a bit of a crybaby. It may be said she's just one of the countless stereotypes portrayed in this series - just about every generalization of nationality or race is portrayed here, from robotic Russian (Ayla), to savage African (Tanya), to roughneck Osaka girl (Icchan), to perfectionist American (Jessie), to conniving Chinese (Lingpha). It would be borderline offensive if the characters weren't so darn cute, but it's still off-putting that Lingpha just *has* to be good at bicycling, and Ayla *has* to be good at swimming. (Or that Tanya is practically a wild animal, wears war paint, and worships totem gods.)
Still the characterizations, though hopelessly pigeonholed, offer a lot of humor, like when Jessie, the American, is confronted with the Japanese "oneesama" phenomenon (a girl having a crush on her female superior), with rather embarrassing results. And they do become less and less stereotypical the further along you go in the series. What's fun is that various scenes are punctuated by an Osaka-based news reporter, who's a total hick, but still great commentary.
Bonus points for "Akari's house", worth a laugh every time you see it. (If not rolling on the floor and embarrassing your houseguests.)
The animation itself is beautiful, as this is obviously a Pioneer title. Though not to the level of Cowboy Bebop, it's certainly on the high end as far as TV series are concerned. The music's fine, though the end song is a bit on the weird side. Then again, the whole show is a bit weird, when you think about it. The initial race (er, midterm) has the contestants racing through cliffs, canyons, and minefields while lugging around several-ton concrete rollers. Excessive? Perhaps, but this series isn't about being realistic.
I must mention that the DVD release of this series doesn't properly separate out the episodes - i.e. no eye catch sequences, no openings/endings except at the beginning and ending of the volume. It's a bit jarring, and for the DVD fan, seems a bit of a waste of the DVD capabilities. Besides, I would've wanted to see the eye catches on this show, as funny as it is.
Battle Athletes Victory has plenty of wacky sports contests, weird hairstyles, offbeat characters, and a lead desperately in need of counseling. As such, it's certainly worth watching, if you're in the mood for something light and fluffy. However, if you want something serious, you may want to try to OAV series, or something else entirely.
As for myself, I'll definitely be picking up more of this. I can see this becoming a favorite.
Lots of cute girl characters, and a seemingly inconsequential storyline, but that's fine. Somehow, it reminds me of Gunbuster, so it has the potential to get really good by the end. — Carlos/Giancarla Ross
Recommended Audience: No nudity, but a bit of fan service here and there. (Just check out the cover, silly!) The violence is of the slapstick variety, nothing terribly serious. I personally think the rating is actually a bit nitpicky on this one.
Version(s) Viewed: R1 DVD
Review Status: Partial (8/26)
Battle Athletes Victory © 1997 AIC / iPC / Pioneer LDC / TV Tokyo / SoftX / Mannensha / Aeon all rights reserved
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