Battle Athletes OVA Vol. #1 (of 3) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Thursday, January 31, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, December 29, 1998



What They Say
Sixteen-year-old Akari Kanzaki whose mother attained the legendary title "Cosmic Beauty," finally accomplished her biggest dream: attending the famous "University Satellite."

Although other competitors intimidated her, Akari's natural charm and bravery lead her to overcome all her troubles. She meets friends she can trust, and with them she beats persistent bullies in the university. Facing anxiety and her aspirations, her lifetime of battles has just begun!

Includes: "Mission One, Chronicle Beginning" and "Mission Two, Oath Entrant."

The Review!
In the year 4999, war isn't the way conflicts are solved. Physical competition, similar to the Olympics, are what it's all about. Paramount physical abilities win the day and the war. Humanity has been to hell and back, and this is what they learned. Oh, and they also show their love of 1960's Saturn V rocket boosters. More on that shortly.

The audio on the disc is a good pro-logic mix. Both the English and Japanese tracks are good, but the Japanese track definitely has a better more natural feel to it. The front soundstage is the primary source, with very few rear usage.

The video is probably as close to perfect as one can get on a 1.33:1 show. Very clean and clear with no noise, pixellation or anything that shows a poor transfer. Excellent across the board. A and A+ ratings now only go to 16:9 enhanced flicks, so an A- is the best an OVA or TV episode can hope for.

Presented in a keepcase, the cover artwork is very eye-catching, right down to the little super-deformed versions of Akari on it. At the least, any dirty old man will eyeball the cover for a minute or two.

The menu is an odd one this time out. Instead of the generally smooth flowing menus we're accustomed to, this one almost reacts just like a CPM menu. The reason? The use of changing the icon both when you move up and down along the menu, but when you select as well. These types of eye candy, while appealing, do weaken the menus. It's a niggling problem, nothing major, but something I still hear the gripe over from people.

As for the show itself? This disc contains the first two episodes (of 6), with the first episode being a lengthy 45 minutes or thereabouts. I'm actually glad the first one was longer, as it gave it less of a rushed feel. The first ten minutes alone were spent entirely on recapping 3000 years of future history. 10 minutes you say? Hey, it's more than a lot of shows give!

So, in the year 4999, we have Akari and her friends going through their entry into the University Satellite, where the best girls/women train to become the Cosmic Beauty, the ultimate achievement of physical training. There's no explanation of why men aren't allowed on (at least not yet) which is strange since the concept behind the University was based on a males achievement 1000 years prior to this. Maybe it'll be explained later on.

Through the cute and funny trials and tribulations that are similar to going to a new school, we meet a wide variety of cast members, from the cold upperclassman to the girl-watching Headmaster. Add in some strange friends (including a nature-loving pacifist from the moon) and you have the usual interesting cast.

So yes, essentially it's close to a sports show, something we haven't seen much of here in the US, but it's entertaining. I really began to enjoy the show during the last 10-15 minutes of the first episode, and found the second episode to be equally fun. I'm definitely looking forward to the next two discs.

As a side note, as of this writing, Pioneer has announced plans to release the TV series of this OVA as well onto DVD. Knowing Pioneer's usual plan to release TV series of their popular OVA's, the TV series should be relatively to completely different from the OVA's, so I wouldn't hold off buying one because of the other.

One thing that must be brought up. I normally, as many who read here know, do not watch dubs. I do however watch Pioneer dubs since they've been pretty good overall in the past. The voice acting itself on Battle Athletes is quite good, except for the southern girl who just made my wife want to cringe and smack her. Please, don't stereotype the southerners. :) The one thing that bothered me about the dub was just how... hmmm, americanized and "grrlized" it seemed to be. "Boss Bitchin"? "Rock On"? "I've really been a bitch"? And the best came early on with "Don't have a cow!". Ugh. And they wonder why people hate dubs. The one truly fun one that didn't make it was during the preview for episode three, when they mention that there'll be a bath scene next episode. The dub voice over says to the effect of "It's a Pioneer show! Of course it'll have a bath scene!". That one had us laughing.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Limited Run of Stickers

Review Equipment
Toshiba CF36H50 36" TV, Pioneer 414 codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE915 DD receiver, Monster S-Video cable and Sony speakers.



Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: B
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: B-
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 12 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
MSRP: 29.98
Running time: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Battle Athletes