Welcome to 2999, a thousand years in the future, humankind's influence reaches among the stars, a future full of hope and prosperity. Even during this bright time, lurks evils and people sought after riches. This is the story of Yamamoto Yohko, a girl from the year 1999 who is chosen to pilot the most advanced starship ever conceived, the TA-29..
About a year and a half ago they showed this 3 part OVA at one of my local clubs, but after the first few minutes I decided to leave cause I felt it "looked like Sakura Wars in space." I must have been having a bad day, because now that I have sat dow and watched it, I realise I should have stayed. Yamamoto Yohko has NOTHING in common with Sakura Wars. Everything about this OVA is superior to that rather poor excuse of a show that should have stayed as a Saturn game. First off, the animation is wonderful (not to mention very familiar) and the character designs are cute without being painfully sugary (Iris Chateubriand... *shudder*). I was amazed with the acting in this one, they must have broken the bank with the casting as this show is chock full of solid talent, including such heavyweights as Hayashibara Megumi, Miyamura Yuko, Matsumoto Yasunori (Gourry, Dick Saucer, and about 50 others at least...), Tamagawa Sakiko (Officer Natsumi, Dota-chan), Ueda Yuuji (Sanosuke, Tenkawa Akito, Hono, etc), and one of my personal favourite seiyuu as the lead, Takayama Minami (Dilandau, Kiki, Tsuyoshi-kun, Nabiki, and she's also the singer for Two-Mix!). Hell, with a lineup like that they could have had a story as muddled as X: The Movie and I still would have enjoyed it. As for the story they DID decide to go with, it's not a new premise, but because of the quirky characters it's pulled off hilariously. Curtis Lawson (Matsumoto) decided that for his masterfully crafted space battleships, he needed cute high-school girls to pilot them...hey, it sure beats dealing with a bunch of moron guys screaming about how they got a burning heart...
After getting their butts handed to them on a silver platter by their rivals, the Red Snappers, the three girls (Momiji, Madoka and Ayano) realise that they desperately need a fourth pilot before they get their butts kicked for real in the competition coming up in a few days. Curtis decides to head back in time to the same High School that the three girls attended, and grabs the one girl who can pilot his ultimate machine...Yamamoto Yohko, a Pocky-munching, arcade-addicted, foul-mouthed schoolgirl who has the mad X-Wing skilz to pilot the super-advanced TA-29 space battleship. One small problem though is that she's gonna need some convincing (but not much apparently...) before she decides to jump 1000 years into the future to pilot some weird guys ship for the sake of Earth (or something like that). But once she does, look out Red Snappers, 'cause this girl is a fleet all by herself.
Clocking in at 90 minutes (three 30 minute episodes) this isn't a very long tale, and each of the episodes is a self-contained story, but it's still a huge amount of fun if only for the excellent character interaction and fun space battles (asteroid pool anyone?). While the BGM is a bit mixed, the ending song is infectiously catchy (there is no opening song, unfortunately) and I've been searching the net for that particular tune for a while now. I get the distinct feeling that the rather brief and somewhat unstructured nature of this OVA was the studio's way of testing the waters before spending some real money on another project...something which seems likely given the recent production of a TV series following the further adventures of Yohko (thankfully, with the same all star cast) which has been getting just as much attention as the OVA (evidently it was a pretty big hit in Japan). With a little luck, you sci-fi fans will get to see more of the madcap antics of this cast sometime in the near future, as this is just the sort of show to get snagged by a distributor. Light on story but heavy on talented actors, with fun characters, great comedy and wonderfully flashy space battles, Yamamoto Yohko is a lot like watching a John Woo movie...just sit back, suspend that disbelief, and enjoy. An excellent choice for just about any otaku, new or old.
Currently only available fansubbed.