Battle Skipper: The Movie - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: All Region DVD
  • Released By: Central Park Media
  • MSRP: 29.99
  • Running time: 90
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Battle Skipper

Battle Skipper: The Movie

By Paul Grisham     April 14, 2002
Release Date: April 09, 2002


Battle Skipper: The Movie
© Central Park Media


What They Say
Trouble is brewing at St. Ignacio High – the spoiled rich girls of the Debutante Club are plotting to take over the world! Only the mysterious Lightning Attacker Ex-Stars and their prototype Battle Skipper robots dare to stand in their way. But can they save the world and finish their homework?

Features the talents of Takashi Watanabe (Director of The Slayers), Hiroyuki Fukushima (Bubblegum Crash), and Toshimichi Suzuki (Bubblegum Crisis, A.D. Police).

The Review!
A strange hybrid of mecha show and magical girl show, with just a dash of Project A-ko, Battle Skipper works better as a toy commercial than as an entertaining anime in its own right.

Audio:
For purposes of this review, I listened to the Japanese language track, but spot-checked the English audio. For the most part they both sound pretty good. The English dialogue has been recorded at a much louder volume than the Japanese dialogue, typical of American ADR practice, so the Japanese track offers a more natural-sounding mix. Music and SFX are equivalent between the two, and I noticed no problems.

Video:
CPM has been delivering nice video transfers for a while now, and this is no exception. There are a few flaws to be found – reds seem oversaturated, flesh tones are a little unnatural, there is some print damage, and the overall image is a little soft – but nothing that distracts from the show.

Packaging:
CPM redesigned the Battle Skipper cover art since the initial press release, and the new design is quite nice. The light blue color with the five Ex-Stars front and center really draws you in. What is immediately obvious is that the show will focus on the girls, rather than their mecha, which is quite appropriate.

Menus:
Menus are typical CPM fare. While I'm not a huge fan of their menu layout, they get points for consistency. You always know where you are in a CPM menu. One interesting glitch, I watched one of the trailers on the disc (okay, it was Ping Pong Club!) and then went back to select the audio/subtitle for my primary review session. After making the selection, the disc is supposed to auto-start the feature, but instead ran the Ping Pong Club trailer again. I never really noticed this with CPM's other menus, but apparently they are executing a "return" rather than going directly to the start of the feature. Weird.

Extras:
At first glance, this disc is loaded with supplemental material, but in typical CPM style, not all of it is useful or particularly interesting. For instance, there is the usual "Meet the Cast" feature, and the trivia game. (The trivia game is pretty funny, though, since they show you a long clip of a naked Sayaka in the shower, then ask you what color shower cap she's wearing. By the way, it's aqua, but it took me three guesses to get it.) The best extra on the disc is the original Japanese TV spots, which aren't so much an advertisement for the show, but the line of Battle Skipper MRV toys! Anytime we get wacky Japanese commercials on an anime disc, I'm happy.

(And for those who were wondering, the Sayaka in the shower clip is also included in the storyboards extra, so she's naked in three different places on this disc – not that I was counting.)

Content:
(Please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers.)

You've probably seen Battle Skipper before.

Okay, maybe you haven't actually seen the actual show, but everything in there you've already seen somewhere else. Clunky mecha: Appleseed. Transformation sequences: Sailor Moon or any of a dozen other Magical Girl shows. Rich-girl catfights and girls' school rivalry: Project A-ko. Crazy hair and wacky battle training: Battle Athletes. Sensitive brunette with huge glasses who turns out to be a tough figher: Magic Knight Rayearth or Agent Aika. Fickle Lesbians: El-Hazard. And on, and on, and on....

I tried really hard to put all of thoes things out of my mind while watching Battle Skipper, and just enjoy it for what it was. End result: it's has some good ideas, good execution, and interesting character design, but it's still pretty average.

The basic premise is that the future of the world is being decided at the St. Ignacio High School for Girls, where the two clubs, the Debutante Club and the Etiquette Club are in direct competition. The Debutant Club is run by the wicked Sayaka who is using the club to attract the daughters of the most powerful families in Japan to increase her own family's power. The Etiquette Club, run by Sayaka's relative, Reika, is really a front for the Ex-Stars, a mecha vigilante group who attempts to stave off the political and economic maneuverings of Sayaka's famlily. The group uses the Battle Skipper Multipurpose Robot Vehicles designed by Reika's father, but which he refused to sell to the military when he realized how powerful they really were.

Enter three freshmen, new to the school, who enlist in the Etiquette Club for all the wrong reasons. They quickly discover the club's secret, and unwittingly wind up in the Ex-Stars' three (!) spare Battle Skipper mechas. Fortunately, the Battle Skippers are equipped with advanced artificial intelligence in them, so they practically drive themselves. The girls do nothing more than squeal with surprise, and spout Sailor Moon-like chastisements of evil and bad taste.

(One question: if the Battle Skippers can drive themselves, why did the Etiquette Club need three new members to pilot them?)

There are also some running subplots about the girls' trials in school, but there's really not enough time in 90 minutes to build any dramatic tension over their personal lives. Mainly it's about the mecha action and about setting up the mecha action. And the mecha action is pretty good, if a bit repetative. The animation quality is reasonably impressive OAV quality, though most of the action involves shooting lots of missles at the enemy and dodging enemy fire. Still, the Battle Skippers themselves are kind of interesting, with their squat, tank-like design, and sassy, Kansai-ben speaking computers. The characters may not deserve a sequel, but I bet the toys are cool.

Though the writing isn't that great, the rest of the production is well done. In general, character designs are distinctive and interesting. Animation and direction is crisp. Much of the humor falls flat but moves on quickly and doesn't weigh down the brisk pace of the show. Music is better than average. Acting is generally pretty good, with Kikuko Inoue, Ai Orikasa, and Yuko Miyamura in the cast, though voices tend to skew towards the high-pitched and squeaky.

Battle Skipper: The Movie is actually quite inappropriately named, as it's really just three rather distinct OAV episodes and not a feature-length movie at all. (OPs and EDs are intact, thank goodness.) But if you like pretty girls, big robots, explosions, and shower scenes (did I already mention that?), there's a good chance that Battle Skipper might be your cup of tea. Just don't expect anything you haven't already seen before.


Features
Japanese Language,English Subtitles,English Language,Storyboards,Original Japanese TV Spots,Trivia,Meet the Cast,Trailers,DVD-ROM Features

Review Equipment
Panasonic Panablack TV, Codefree Panasonic RP56 DVD player, Sony ProLogic receiver, Yamaha and Pioneer speakers, Monster cable. (Secondary equipment, Pioneer 105s DVD-ROM, ATi Rage Fury Pro, ViewSonic A90f, PowerDVD 3.0)

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