The adventures of Tylor and the Soyokaze continue with this follow-up to the classic TV series.
What They Say
Six long months have passed. The Raalgon Empire has developed a horrible new type of weapon, and Tylor has been charged with the duty of intercepting them as it is being transported. But when all that could go wrong, does go wrong, the crew members of the Soyokaze find themselves at the mercy of their enemies. As the hours tick down toward their execution, the crew wonders: Has their irresponsible captain misled them? Or is this all a part of some greater strategy? Contains the complete 10-episode OVA series!
Both language tracks for this release are available in 2.0 stereo. The mix is nice, with plenty of directionality and no dropout among the various tracks. Dialogue is clear and there is no distortion at any point. I always want to hold out for a 5.1 mix, especially for a title with plenty of action, but I will not complain too much. What is here is fine in its own right.
With a series as old as this (1994-96), I did not expect much for the video quality. While it is true that it looks old, in terms of style and coloring, it actually looks very nice. The originals appear to be fairly blemish free, and the transfer is impeccable. As I said, character designs are a bit old-school, and the coloring is a bit drab compared to more modern titles, but this looks about as good as it can. Good stuff.
This set features pretty standard thinpak packaging. The artbox has a shot of the Soyokaze on the one side, with Tylor on the other. The thinpaks themselves have outline sketches of some of the characters on the front, with a series summary, screen shots, and technical details on the back. The covers are not reversible. I did find it a bit odd that the summary on each thinpak was exactly the same rather than disc specific, but in general, it is a nice set.
The menus are also pretty basic. The main menu features the same outline sketch that is on the front of the specific thinpak for that disc, with the selections offered below. The selections are in white, and the highlight red, which stand out well against the navy blue background. Simple design, and easy to follow.
There are some nice extras spread out across the four discs. We get quite a collection of music videos, mostly all centering on a certain character. There is also a fairly comprehensive technical breakdown of “The Undefeated Soyokaze.” But what I was most interested in, and something that more anime should include, are the liner notes, which really helped bring out some of the more obscure moments in the series.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Having recently enjoyed The Irresponsible Captain Tylor TV series, I looked forward to the opportunity to check out the OVA series as well. There are ten OVAs in all, telling two different stories. In this set, the first two episodes have been seamlessly merged to create a single movie, “An Exceptional Episode,” while the final eight take a meandering path to tell the second story. In the end, I did not enjoy the OVAs quite as much as the TV series, but this set is a more than worthy entry into the Tylor animated universe.
“An Exceptional Episode” begins roughly six months after the TV finale, with the crew of the Soyokaze enjoying life as space heroes. But a new weapon being developed by the Raalgon Empire threatens the peace forged between Tylor and Azalyn. In response to this new threat, Admiral Mifune sends Tylor on a secret mission and gives him command of the UPSF forces once again. But when Tylor surrenders his ship and crew, forcing the rest of the UPSF fleet to retreat, his motives and judgment are called into question. Yet, despite mutinous behavior from his crew, Tylor impudently presses on with little regard to his reputation.
The second storyline picks up an indeterminate time following the events of “An Exceptional Episode.” The Soyokaze has been grounded for repairs, while the crew has been reassigned to various new units and are allowed to enjoy an inordinate amount of downtime. The marines have been assigned to help test a new robotic battle suit, while Kojiro is sent to help out at the academy; Yuriko rejoins the intelligence division, and Tylor and Yamamoto receive desk jobs with very little to do. All-in-all, it is an easy, though unexciting, life. But there is a plot afoot to reignite the old hostilities, and only Tylor’s crew can get to the bottom of it before the two sides reignite the long war for all the wrong reasons.
As mentioned above, the second storyline is told in a bit of a roundabout way. Unlike the movie, the second story is strictly episodic, and for the most part, there is no real evidence that they are linked in any way. Each episode is a self-contained story, and it bears little connection to the others outside of the fact that they all take place during the grounding of the Soyokaze. There is an entire episode concerning the marines’ return to school, another with Kojiro’s training sessions, and still another about Azalyn going on vacation to a favorite spot from her childhood.
It is not until the very last episode that it becomes clear how this all works together, and how the events build to one full story. It is a pretty interesting structure, but unfortunately it leads to my biggest problem with the OVAs, and the reason they do not quite live up to the TV series: the joy in watching The Irresponsible Captain Tylor is Tylor himself. Watching the way he seemingly stumbles from disaster to disaster, only to come through at the end and earn even more respect from his crew is where the greatness of the series comes from, but Tylor gets very little actual screen time during the second story arc.
Because Tylor drives the series so much for me, it is little surprise that I really enjoyed “An Exception Episode,” since it follows the same basic formula from the TV series; but the second arc lost me a bit. That said, I did really enjoy the episode titled “White Christmas,” where Tylor is supposed to meet Yuriko for a Chrismas Eve date, only to keep getting delayed in true romantic comedy fashion. But again, the episode I enjoyed the most followed Tylor and his various foibles.
One slight adjustment I really liked in the OVAs concerns Admiral Mifune and his attitude towards Tylor and the Soyokaze. For most of the TV series, Mifune and Fuji do everything they can to get Tylor—and by extention, his crew—killed, only to be foiled by Tylor’s incredible luck. It was a dynamic that seemingly appeared with little reason, but made a bit more sense as the series went on if only because Tylor kept surviving their plans.
But late in the TV series, Mifune starts to have a bit of a change of heart, and that continues through the OVAs. He is still not a big fan of Tylor, but he understands why Tylor’s brand of insanity is necessary for the work they have to do, so he begins to soften his stance towards Tylor, and stops attempting to undermine him at every turn. Fuji is still vindictive towards Tylor, but Mifune is now a little more reserved; it adds a new dimension to the Fuji/Mifune dynamic, and it is a welcome one.
But for all of my disappointment in the lack of Tylor in a series that bears his name, I still enjoyed the OVA series. It still contains much of the humor that makes The Irresponsible Captain Tylor so much fun to watch, but gives it a little more of a serious tweak than the TV series tended to have. At first, I was left just a little frustrated at just how open ended the finale was, especially since it is unlikely that we will see any more Tylor animated series at this point, but the liner notes did a really good job explaining where the story went from that point in the manga, so I cannot complain too much. Now we just need to get the manga brought over too.
After the greatness of the TV series, The Irresponsible Captain Tylor OVA series is a slight disappointment, if only because Tylor has so little to do with the later episodes. But what made the TV series so fun to watch is still on display here, so I cannot complain too much. What is here is a little more serious than what the TV series offers, but the humor is still more than present. If you love the TV series, there is no reason you will not also love this; if you have yet to see any of it, go get them both now. Recommended.
Japanese 2.0 Langugae, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Magnavox 37MF337B 37” LCD HDTV, Memorex MVD2042 Progressive Scan w/ DD/DTS (Component Connection), Durabrand HT3916 5.1 Surround Sound System