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Content rating: 7
Posted 2003-07-31 by StupendousMan
Endorsed by kurt on 2003-08-24 05:09:00
The very first thing I thought as I watched the opening episode in this series was "Teenage girls in skimpy outfits pulling steamrollers across the desert? Oh, get real..." And, it must be said, most of the athletic action (and there's a lot of it) is played for a laugh. If you're hoping to see realistic depictions of world-class athletes, you'll have to go somewhere else; maybe to the "Sports" section of your video store instead of "Anime."
The story is simple and not very original: a bunch of girls from different backgrounds compete for the title of "Cosmo Beauty Queen" (strangely enough, there is no tie-in to the American magazine) and a chance to go to the Satellite University, which apparently is the Ivy League of the distant future. The characters will be familiar to most viewers: the cat-like girl from Africa (see: Koalla Su), the decent Japanese girl-next-door, the buxom blonde American, the klutzy girl who cries a lot, the wealthy brat who uses her faithful retainers to cheat. So why should we bother watching?
I think that the answer lies in the fourth and final episode on the disc, called Rivals. Two of the girls in the group seem head and shoulders above the rest: Jessie, the American, and Ayla, a laconic Russian. We see little bits and pieces of their personalities in earlier episodes: Ayla has apparently been groomed for this task since her early childhood, and faces life with a stoic mask. Jessie -- well, we don't really get a look inside her yet, apart from learning that she isn't interested in getting to know one of her fellow competitors really well (nudge, nudge). The heart of this series, I believe, will lie in watching the interaction between these two girls, gradually learning more about their histories, and seeing how each one reacts to the challenges which will undoubtedly be placed in their way. For example, because Ayla is made out to be the strong, silent type, I was surprised to see her offer the hopeless Akari some unsolicited advice. It's good when a show surprises me.
I'm not sure that I'm going to be surprised by every aspect of Battle Athletes, though. It seems pretty obvious that Akari -- the main character -- has some serious family hangups: her mother was the most famous Cosmo Beauty Queen in history. Akari appears (right now, at least) to have no business in the competition. It looks as if she is being pushed into it by her parents, or her need to live up to her parents, or perhaps by the somewhat sinister organizers of the tournament (who are looking for publicity, perhaps). Now, I can see Akari's future going one of two ways:
- hidden powers within her awaken, she transforms into an amazing athlete and wins the tournament (and our hearts).
There's already a hint of this in an incident during a bicycle race. I hope this doesn't happen; I mean, it's a pleasant story, but we've only seen it before in thousands of books, movies, TV shows, bedtime stories, etc.
- she remains a mediocre athlete and doesn't win the competition, yet serves as a focal point around whom the other characters revolve. Now, this would be novel and, if done right, really interesting.
I suspect strongly that we'll see the conventional plot, but even if we do, I am sufficiently intrigued by the interactions among the other characters to continue with this series.
Equipment used when writing this review:
Sony DVD player, JVC 27-inch TV, stereo speakers
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