Yamamoto Yohko, Starship Girl - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B-

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Nozomi Entertainment
  • MSRP: 39.99
  • Running time: 180
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Yamamoto Yohko, Starship Girl

Yamamoto Yohko, Starship Girl

By Chris Beveridge     October 09, 2001
Release Date: October 09, 2001


Yamamoto Yohko, Starship Girl
© Nozomi Entertainment


What They Say
A thousand from now, the great battles between civilizations have been reduced to the shoulders of a handful of chosen champions. When a war is waged, each side picks its representatives, gives them spaceships and the fight is on! Of course if their champion looses, they must admit defeat and give into the wishes of the other. Very handy, very civilized ... unless you don't happen to have any good fighters...

Terra team has had it tough lately: Ness' "Red Snappers" team has had things their way. Even with technically superior ships, things are bleak for Terra...

To make matters worse, they only have three pilots. Despite a concerted effort to recruit girls from the past, the team simply keeps losing! Now they desperately need someone special...Someone powerful, capable, and who possess a killer instinct. A pilot of extraordinary skill to crew the new model ship. They need ... Yamamoto Yohko!

Now if they can just convince her that a better life awaits her in the future, with new friends, new videogames and some very powerful hyper technology (well some things just take less convincing than others!), Terra might be able to defeat the Red Snappers for a change!

Are you ready?

Contains the entire OVA Series!

The Review!
Yamamoto Yohko, Starship Girl was a three episode OVA series based on a long running series of novels that did well enough to spawn a better looking second set of 3 OVA's and eventually a full season of TV episodes. What we've got here is the two sets of OVA's, so there's three hours chock full of Yohko.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. This is a pretty simple stereo mix with a decent amount of directionality with the effects and the music. Dialogue is mostly center channel based with only a few moments of being used properly along the forward soundstage. Thankfully there were no dropouts or distortions, but on a minor technical nitpick, the language tracks are just numbered, not listed as English or Japanese.

Video:
This is a fairly recent show, so it's got some solid looking production values being an OVA. The second OVA series has much better looking coloring and animation, so that set of episodes tends to look better, but both have a fair bit of softness to it. There was one video glitch on the last episode where a high activity sequence went into some serious macroblocking for about a second and a half or so. But other than that, there was no cross coloration, shimmering during camera panning sequences was minimal and colors overall looked solid.

Packaging:
The main focus of the cover, as evidenced by the spotlight on her, is Yohko in a frilly dress. Something I don't recall actually seeing in the show, but it makes a nice image for the cover and the overall look of it works well. The back cover has a good summary of the show as well as a few pieces of animation as well as the usual brief credits on the bottom. No listings of features, languages, running time or other specs are included. The only clue that there's three full hours of anime here is the small listing of 6 episodes on the front cover bottom. There's also no insert with this release.

Menus:
The menu layout is pretty decent, with most everything accessible from the main image that comes up after a brief bit of animation. Episodes are quickly selected, and hitting the extras is a breeze. The languages menu is a tad bit trickier as there's no indication of your selection actually being selected (such as a default color change or the movement of an object, etc). The credits page is also a tricky one, where it defaults you to the Web Site button. Unless you're actually playing on a PC, don't click it, it'll either lock your system up or boot you out. Most companies don't have these as actives, so I was surprised that this one worked.

Extras:
There's two extras included on the disc. The first is a video gallery of artwork (cel and other) that runs a few minutes and provides some nice looks at the show. The other is a couple minutes worth of dub outtakes, which provide some amusement.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Here's a show a lot of people are going to really split on.

As mentioned earlier, this is based off of a series of novels. A thousand years in the future, wars and such have been replaced by teams from various worlds/federations that compete in games for economic power. Want to win the rights to mine an asteroid belt? Gotta win it in the starship games. Looking to acquire a couple of new solar systems for colonization? Same deal.

For pilots, the Terran team has used the unusual decision of acquiring high school girls from 1000 years in the past, or present day for us. The reasoning isn't explained at all, but if you've read science fiction novels throughout the years, you can generally fill in the blanks yourself. Some parts of this series feel a lot like the Last Starfighter, and this is one of those moments.

The Terran team has been on a losing streak lately, as they lost one of their unit. Lawson, the older male character who has worked on the ships and manages the team, lets the team know that he's picked out their fourth member, someone they know from their school. So he sends them back again to feel her out and to let her know what the deal is.

This is where we come across Yohko. She's something of a loner in her class, very intelligent, very competitive and very much a video game freak/master. We get to know her in the arcade, which is where her future teammates come to find her out and to try and get her involved in things. She takes an instant competitive nature with one of the girls, and they just go at it via the video games.

After this, Lawson arrives and everyone starts going over what the deal is. Yohko decides to do it just for the fun of it, and once she gets in her ship and into the first combat, she's a natural. Her skills give her the edge she needs and her nature gives her another one-up on the competition. In fact, it's this very nature that's likely to alienate a lot of fans.

Yohko is very much a confident young woman. Not your typical confident young anime woman mind you, but one whose extremely sure of herself and her abilities. She's cocky, and it pays off each and every time. She knows she's the ace of the team and uses that to her advantage. And since there's no actual death or potential for serious injury involvement in the starship game encounters, she plays it with a passion and a precision that many really avid video game fans do.

And what really made it for me, is that she's voiced by Minami Takayama. While she's done a considerable number of roles over the years, the character she seems to adopt into Yohko the most is Nabiki from Ranma 1/2. Just imagine this as Nabiki, Starship Girl and it'll add a whole new level to it. The voice is very much done in a similar style, and the characters have quite a bit in common.

The first set of OVA's is mostly self contained adventures. I got concerned with the second one, since anytime you introduce a hot spring episode you know they're going for something that's not original at all. And when it shows up that early, I'm even more concerned about how well a show can play out. The second OVA set works much better in terms of story, as it has some overall arc and nature to it with regards to the pilot Yohko took over for and more insights into the enemy, the Red Snappers group.

The second OVA set also has noticeably better animation. The opening is done up in a very western style that was really reminiscent of Mike Mignola's artwork from Hellboy. The episodes themselves have more fluid animation and better coloring, but both sets of OVA's are pretty good looking to begin with. The voice acting for both languages is pretty decent, and it's probably a good guess that since Megumi Hayabashira had a role in this series, that's one of the reasons it got to reinvent itself as a TV series after the second OVA series ended.

Yamamoto Yohko, Starship Girl is a pretty solid three hours of entertainment, but one that isn't for everyone. I enjoyed it pretty well, more so with the second set, but my wife didn't care for any of it. I just enjoyed having the smugly arrogant female character actually be the lead for once instead of part of the background cast.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Slideshow,Outtakes

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Skyworth 1050P Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.

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