Sol Bianca

cover for the video

Rating: 2½ Rampages

Synopsis:
What's better than treasure? More treasure, of course. And these larcenous ladies just can't keep their hands off. At least, till a boy trying to get to his home planet comes into the picture. Janny, Feb, April, May, and June, the crew of the Sol Bianca, help out this home-bound young pup in hopes of getting the most sought after treasure in the galaxy. But in the process, the Sol Bianca and her crew help fight a war being waged between two planets and do more than their fair share of damage. Babes in battle armor. What more could you ask for? Janny blows things up Review:
A team of mercenary babes in a cool spaceship. Gee, why does this sound familiar? All kidding aside, although the characters and story may not be particularly original, itís still fairly well executed and the first one at least is worth watching once. Good art for it's time, but not much character depth, and the plot is rather flimsy. Good action scenes and some rather amusing banter make for some fun viewing, but overall it's really only average.

Availability:
Available subbed or dubbed from AD Vision.




Sol Bianca: The Legacy

The new ladies of the Sol Bianca.  From left: Fab, Janny, April, June and May

Rating: 3½ Rampages

Synopsis:
The adventures of the rambunctious space pirates of the spacecraft Sol Bianca continue with the first two episodes in the new story line, The Legacy. In "Emblem," Captain April and her unruly crew set out to recover a rare Frontier Age flintlock stolen from her years before. They find it at an auction on a distant planet, and snatch it from the grasp of the sinister Gyunter of the Terra Force. In "Memories," Gyunter and brash Lieutenant Ranny pursue the Sol Bianca to the ruined planet Consegra. Jun and Mayo find themselves in a deadly maze, more or less inspired by Dante's Divine Comedy, but navigate it with the aid of Sancho, a genie/graphic interface that Jun keeps in a ring. Director Hiroyuki Ochi and writer Hideki Mitsui give them plenty of fast-paced battles, wisecracks, sky chases, and explosions.

The new Sol Bianca

Review:
WOW. This is quite the improvement over the original. Take a quick look at the screen caps and you see what I mean, but it's not just the snazzy visuals that got me here...what bothered me about the original was the lack of any development of any of the characters (aside from April, a little) but here the OVA platform allows them to focus on a new crew member just about each episode. While this could also be a bad thing as the others get shut out when this happens, they manage to maintain a good balance of character focus and action involving the whole team. The best part is that at it appears to either be set before the movies, or just disregards them altogether. Sorry, fans of the movies, but this is far superior. The character development is handled much better, the art is (with the exception of a few fairly shoddy CGI scenes) far superior, and the music is certainly far more entertaining than the flat BGMs of the original.

Another big plus is the excellent treatment the DVD got. While it is only 2 episodes per disk, you do get a good number of extras, a really nice (pretty, yet uncluttered) interface, and much better sound and picture quality (dolby digital 5.1 anyone?). While May's first appearance leaves a lot to be desired (her quiet, pensive demeanor is a far cry from the cheerfully destructive little girl in a power suit we remember from the movies) time will tell how she develops. As for the rest, April is pretty much the same as before, Fab is more of a goofy drunkard, Janny is even MORE butch and badass than ever before, and Sancho is funny without being over-the-top and stupid...more of a sarcastic smart-ass. While it's still not high on the sophisticated and complex plotlines, the stories certainly do keep your attention (the whole "Dante's Inferno" maze had me quite intrigued) Sol Bianca firing the "Goddess Bow" and the pacing and action are done well enough to keep you interested for at least a few viewings beyond the first. A good choice for Sci-Fi fans, especially those with DVD players as that is really the ONLY way to watch this interesting OVA series. Recommended.

Availability:
Available subbed or dubbed from Pioneer.