Five space pirates (more like mercenaries) and their ship, the Sol Bianca, travel the universe taking on odd jobs for payments. One day, they find a stowaway on their ship. A young boy, Rim, wants them to rescue his parents from the evil dictator ruling the planet they live on. With the promise of treasure from the dictator's palace, they agree.
This title has just about as many things going for it as it has things going against it. In the end, it smells somewhat of an unfinished deal that had the potential to be a great OAV series but was prematurely put to an end.
For being a title well past ten years old, the art and animation is remarkably good. Even the settings are quite well done, particularly the design of the Sol Bianca itself. And despite the issue of there being an all-female crew, it's also rather short on fan service. In fact, this OAV is as serious as they come, and all the girls are potential Ripleys.
The VAs, like most of the original Japanese VAs I've encountered, do a great job. While I AM a dubbie first and foremost, I don't really have any complaints about it. The music was, well ... okay, I guess. I don't really remember much of it.
What really hurts this title is that this, together with its sequel, is far too short to really delve into any of the many issues it presents, most of them which are introduced in the sequel anyway. This leaves the current OAV being a purebred action feature, which in itself isn't all that bad. And the characters themselves were quite nicely presented too, each of them taking names from the months in the year. (Janny, Feb, April, May and June.) As I mentioned before, the OAV itself is also remarkably free of any fan service whatsoever. Since the girls are "on the job" during the entire OAV, they are seen mostly clad in their battle armor. Girls in full-body armor? I almost feel cheated.
But in the end, we're left with the short end of the stick, wondering where the rest of it is. None of the people on this title is really explored much, either their personalities or their pasts. Even Rim seems thrown in there just to give the girls something to do to give us some sort of justification for the money we've spent on it. And before we know it, it's over.
And that's another thing. I'm all for strong, female characters in movies and series, but the sheer powers of the Sol Bianca crew were perhaps a little too excessive. I don't think I'm stepping too far out of line if I were to compare it with the battle scene in Plastic Little, where the small pet-hunting ship took on the might of an entire military force. I did enjoy seeing the dictator get what was coming to him, but the sheer lack of suspense left something to be desired.
I have to give them credit for the little twist at the end, though, which I won't spoil for you. It was nice, and left me feeling good. Not quite a lifesaver, but a nice gesture anyway.
Well, I guess that's all there is to it. Somewhat short on length and substance, but with some nice characterizations and action scenes. A bit short on plot and character development, though not excessively so. All this sounds like the ingredient for a nice rental, don't you think?
Too short and inconclusive for a four star, unfortunately. — Stig Høgset
Recommended Audience: Given the amount of violence in this one, I'd say it's off limits for younger audiences. There isn't anything else of objectionable nature, though.
Version(s) Viewed: UK VHS release (Kiseki), Japanese with English subtitles
Review Status: Full (1/1)
Sol Bianca © 1990 NEC / Avenue
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