Virgin Fleet Vol. #1 (of 2) (Mania.com)
Review Date: -
What They Say
What do you get when Red Company (the creative team responsible for Sakura Wars) and AIC (the team responsible for both creating and animating Tenchi-Muyo!) collide and produce a new anime OVA series? Give up? You get Virgin Fleet! (Whoa, big surprise!)
This show bears a lot of resemblance to Sakura Wars, both in it's historical setting and the central concept of psychically gifted teenaged girls (in this series their psychic power is referred to as Virgin Power). The story is set in the 1940's (by appearances); the Virgin Fleet being comprised of girls able to use their power to fight in battle. The main character in this show is sixteen year old Shiokaze Umino (shown prominently on the cover pictured here). It's pretty apparent that Red Company has found a new sub genre to work with, but I don't think they've overused it so far -- this doesn't wind up being a Sakura Wars clone, and stands well on its own.
The artwork is gorgeous, and the story is light and humorous, much like Sakura Wars. AIC is one of my favorite anime studios and they don't disappoint on this one; while the animation isn't as spectacular as their recent Photon series, the animation is still quite good. Hiroyuki Kitazume (Moldiver, Zeta and ZZ Gundam, Char's Counterattack, Bastard!, Dragon Century) did the outstanding character designs in this series, though I didn't recognize it as his work right off -- I was very surprised when I translated the name on the keepcase. It appears that he has been influenced by AIC's Masaki Kajishima & Kazuto Nakazawa (Tenchi-Muyo! & El Hazard). Very impressive work though, the girls are very cute.
I saw no real problems with the DVD video transfer, everything looked clear with vivid color throughout. Audio was also very clean, presented in Dolby Digital 2.0. The soundtrack wasn't as dynamic as some titles I've seen recently; it had a somewhat typical OVA mix, nothing special.
The menu is on this title is near perfect, very responsive with great artwork. You even get unobtrusive multimedia in the chapter select submenu where all six chapter windows have video running in them (and no audio, which is wonderful!). It works out very well -- I wish they would do it this way more often. The are also lots of extras on this menu; including key staff bios, a complete character guide with loads of info (which even includes the girl's "vital" statistics!), and even a promo television commercial.
The disc comes in a very cool keepcase molded in white plastic, similar to other Beam Entertainment releases. Great cover art on the front and back. A liner note foldout is also included, with release info for the other DVDs in the series and a character guide.
One of the drawbacks of this title is the short 31-minute running time. I believe the series is projected to run through three volumes, so the final cost is likely to be around 15,000 yen for the set of three DVDs. That's some serious cash outlay for a ninety minute film (assuming all three episodes run about the same length). As an import collector, I'm used to the higher prices, but I'm sure this will put a few would be importers off.
I'm not aware of any plans to release this series domestically at this point, but that seems to change rapidly day to day. I suspect that AD Vision may grab it if Sakura Wars does well for them.
In closing, I'm looking forward to the rest of the series, and I'll be sure to post up reviews as they filter in.
Japanese Language,Staff & Character Bios,TV Trailer,Liner Note Insert
Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: B
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: A
Menus Rating: A
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: All
Region: 2 - Japan
Released By: Beam Entertainment
Running time: 30
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Virgin Fleet