Power Dolls: Complete Collection - Mania.com

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: 15 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 19.98
  • Running time: 60
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Power Dolls

Power Dolls: Complete Collection

By Chris Beveridge     October 11, 2003
Release Date: October 21, 2003

Power Dolls: Complete Collection
© ADV Films

What They Say
When there's no man tough enough for the job, the Planet Omni calls in the DoLLS! The special Detachment of Limited Line Service, code-named the POWER DoLLS, is an elite team of female pilots riding the meanest battle mechs ever created. Old fashioned blood-and-guts warfare meets the 25th century as women and machines merge into the ultimate in heavy metal mayhem. It's a pure, raw adrenaline high with a thermonuclear chaser as Omni's greatest heroines take on all comers, putting it all on the line to save their planet!

The Review!
A short two OVA series from the mid 90’s, Power Dolls is very much the babes with guns genre, albeit darker than the typical.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. Throughout both of the episodes, the stereo mix came across nicely in filling the forward soundstage and providing a few moments of directionality. Dialogue is very clean and clear throughout with no noticeable dropouts or distortions. This is a pretty typical mix for this kind of show.

Originally released to video back in 1996, the two OVA’s here look pretty solid with this transfer. A bit of age shows in a few areas just in how the print looks and feels, especially combined with the fairly dark look of the traditional animation. The color scheme is fairly muted and dull, which keeps colors from really standing out but also helps avoid any noticeable bleeding. Cross coloration and aliasing are very minimal to almost non-existent.

Going for the action/mecha crowd, the front cover is a nicely stylized white layout that has the main mech with weapons out and ready for use while the military/hi-tech looking logo is below it. In a nod to the politics of today though, they’ve decided to use the headshaking tagline of “Women of Mass Destruction” on the front cover. The back cover has a few shots from the show and some good looking clean character artwork alongside a small summary of the premise. The shows production credits are nicely laid out for both sides of the production and along the bottom is one of the best looking grids I’ve seen come from ADV yet for the basic technical information that I think should be quick and easy to find on any release. The insert is a rather nice piece with one side showcasing another shot of the mechs and highlighting it with even more character artwork at the bottom while the reverse side lists the various bits about the shows formats and previews. Surprisingly, Power Dolls warranted a full color reversible cover, for one side at least. The reversible front side has a really nice piece of various characters and gear from the show drawn up much more stylized than in the show itself. The other side to the cover is just minor background images without any information on it. While not a truly reversible cover, I’m really enjoying the trend of clear keepcases and artwork on the reverse side. If only they’d start integrating the parts from the inserts to it and eliminate the basic inserts like this one.

With this being a simple catalog release, the menus are done in a basic but decent way. Using the front cover artwork for the mech and the background from the reverse side of the cover together, tossing in a bit of music as well, the menu is a simple animated piece with a string of selections that are basically playing an episode or changing your language settings. With little else on the disc, it’s easy to move around and access times are nice and fast.


Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
If there is one genre that has been heavily mined over the years in terms of shows being licensed, it is most definitely the babes with guns one. Power Dolls falls squarely into not only that genre but that time of licensing as well. A two episode OVA series, it’s focus is more on the action and the style of the characters and their adventures than anything else. But like a lot of other anime, there are enough trappings of something deeper to it that lets it get something of a free pass.

Taking place in 2535 on a colony world called Omni, we’re introduced to a war that’s going on between the colonists and the Terran Government. The Terran’s have placed some restrictive and very controlling rules and programs in regards to colonization and administration of the planet. This naturally has not gone over well with those that live there, so they’ve started to fight back to gain some form of control over their destiny. One of the biggest things they’ve done to do this is the development of the Power Loaders that are maintained and sent out by DoLLS.

No, no. They haven’t coated the planet in Windows files. It actually stands for Detachment of Limited Line Service. Or it meant that someone with limited English came up with something and went with it, regardless as to whether it actually makes sense.

These Power Loaders changed the balance drastically in the war and gave a real advantage to the Omni folks. They’ve managed to win a number of victories and have been able to successfully fight back, probably longer than any other insurrection the Terran’s have faced. Naturally, the Terran’s are co-opting the technology as well, but they don’t have the same kind of slick skintight suits that the Omni folks do. And with all the teams being made up of women (I don’t recall any reason being given why), the Omni team is very pleasing on the eye.

With just two episodes to tell some of the tale, we’re given a very small view of things. All the war itself is really just a backdrop for the action and angst, particularly the first episode where we’re introduced to Phan, the marine and Yao, the naval officer. During an operation, their equipment malfunctions and they’re unable to participate in the attack. What Yao ends up getting Phan to do is to help a number of refugees and to get their equipment secured and race back to the home base. This plans infuriates the by the book Phan, who wanted to basically destroy their gear and high tail it back without the refugees.

So it comes down to basic life and character differences in how they view things. With this being a war, Yao’s view is out of favor, with Phan using such classic lines as “You can’t win a war without kindness.” These are the kind of people who end up winning the war but losing the victory afterwards. With them being on the same time and having a commander who almost seems to set them against each other to get them to resolve their problems, there’s some nicely comical friction between the two. A lot of Yao’s reasoning comes from her experiences in losing her father to the dam he helped build years ago, which turned her into an orphan and something of a refugee herself.

And wouldn’t you know it? In order to win a battle, they’re being sent to sneak into the very same dam and destroy it so that it’ll flatten the captured (but supposedly evacuated) city.

Power Dolls isn’t bad in the really bad sense, but it suffers from the basic things that these short OVA series all suffer from unless they’re part of something larger. You really don’t feel for the characters much and the plot is either minimal or too over-packed. The animation is decent and the designs for the Power Loaders are interesting, but it all just flashes by as they move from encounter to angst to encounter. Fans who bought these back when they were separate releases will enjoy how it all turns out here with a good looking transfer and the space of a single keepcase. Ultimately, Power Dolls is fairly forgettable and feels just like another chapter in the release list of the 90’s.

Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.


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