Starship Girl Yamamoto Yohko TV
In the year 2999: humanity is split into two factions, Terra and Ness, in a war fought by starships. One of the foremost of the pilots is the cocky teenager Yamamoto Yohko, and during one of her missions, she and her crew are sucked into a temporal anomaly (a la Star Trek) that sends her back to our time. Amnesiac, she only thinks of herself as a typical high school student - until a course of events sends her back to her ship the TA-29, with her newfound friends fighting at her side in a war that looks suspiciously like an arcade game (complete with 100 yen ignition costs!).
When I first saw the character designs for this series, I couldn't help but think - Spice Girls in space. That's not exactly quite right, though, as this series is not an easy one to put into any category but strange. The visuals are surreal, and the plot, though interesting, seems, for now, hampered by some strange directing tactics that left me utterly confused as to what was actually happening.
Starship Girl Yamamoto Yohko was originally released as a pair of three-episode OAV series (neither of which I have seen as of yet), and apparently, this series exists in a parallel universe to the originals. Still, I felt like I'd missed out on plenty of in-jokes as I watched this thing. The TV series adaptation features some pretty decent voice-acting, though the animation itself shows obvious signs of a limited budget. In the second episode, one scene (with Ayano and her grandfather) looks like it was done in nothing but shades of gray. Still well-drawn as a whole, though.
So far, the plot has been a bit muddled - the introductions are done perhaps a bit too jarringly. The first episode especially seems to go from scene to scene without proper transition, though things settle down by the second episode. Still, a lot of this series seems to be obtuse and confusing because it wants to be, and that's not necessarily a good thing for people trying to get into it. After a while, you almost just want to give up trying to understand the darn plot and characters and just watch the pretty pictures flash by. But there's definitely something here, though we'll probably have to wait a few episodes to see what's really beneath this silly thing. It takes itself way too seriously to be absolute fluff, that's for sure. Beware! Shiny forehead!
Then there are the pilots themselves. Yamamoto Yohko is one of those girls that's good at *everything*. Especially sports and video games. Naturally, she's confident in the abilities she has. Her best friend Ayano is your typical proper Japanese girl. Kagariya Momiji is, well, pretty darn Sporty-looking, and there's Yohko's rather nosy and belligerent school rival, Madoka with the Shiny Forehead. (Don't ask.) Together, they fight against the forces of Ness in starships that look like they came straight out of the arcades. Really.
On the plus side, it's got a lot of cute-girl main characters, a decent soundtrack, fun mecha action, and Hayashibara Megumi. On the minus side, a confusing as heck plot, sometimes glaringly low budget, and intermittently sketchy direction. Either you'll like it, or you won't, but it may take a few more episodes than what I saw to make your decision on this series. It's not Nadesico, that's for sure. (Or Hummingbird, for that matter.)
Remove one star if you want your plot *right away*. This series takes some getting used to. Though it's not quite right for the Evangelion crowd either... — Carlos/Giancarla Ross
Recommended Audience: Only recommended for the serious anime fan. If you don't catch the joke in the title of this series (yes, there's a very *bad* pun involved), and don't quite get why they're dressed as samurai in the opening sequence, you may want to pass this one by. As far as the conventional ratings - no sex, no language, and all the violence is limited to exploding spaceships. (Even the enemy pilots seem to teleport away before defeat.)
Version(s) Viewed: VHS, raw Japanese
Review Status: Partial (4/26)
Starship Girl Yamamoto Yohko TV © 1999 Shouji Taku / Akaishizawa Takashi / Kadokawa Shoten / YOHKO Project / TV Tokyo
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