Back in 2011 I went on a splurge of 80s and 90s OVAs. Through the land of smoggy mega future cities set permanently in night time following the tracks of cyborg policeman as they chased sexy ladies with massive hair while including the obligatory singular boob shot that was required by law at the time. It was an amusing trawl that I eventually burned out on because there’s only so many big haired ladies one can deal with before it all starts looking the same. 3 years though and I’ve recovered from that burnout and I’m eager to get back into them.
So here starts The Cart Driver Dot Com’s second great OVA splurge, which I in no way chose because they’re shorter series and I have way less time since I started my full time job. Look, to prove that I’m going to review two of these OVAs at once: Blazing Transfer Student and Prefectural Earth Defence Force.
Blazing Transfer Student
Blazing Transfer Student originally caught my eye because it was brought up a lot by People In The Know as something Kill la Kill was heavily inspired by. It’s an old Gainax OVA from 1991 in which a mysterious transfer student arrives at his new school and immediately gets into battles with the leaders at the school. The school runs entirely on student power and whoever beats someone else in a fight can claim whatever the loser owned. The influence is fairly clear, albeit made stranger by the fact the original Blazing Transfer Student manga was itself intended as a parody of old 70s fighting manga like Tomorrow’s Joe. We’ve human centipeded our way through anime history where nothing is original anymore and parodies are turned straight.
The story is all very flimsy in Blazing Transfer Student. This punk ass dude has ‘won’ a girl from another guy and now she’s forced to be his girlfriend. But then in comes our transfer student bent on rescuing the girl because if he does she will totally put out and this is oh so romantic. The two of them get into a hastily constructed boxing ring on the school grounds and fight for her heart, with the fights being decided largely by who can say the name of their death-punch faster. Well that, and a pair of vultures who land on the person they deem to be worthy of laying a nest on. Since it’s a mock-up of 70s manga it follows the same aesthetic with big thick lines and poofy hairdos. I’d heard a bit of fuss made over the animation since it was the Project A-Ko team together. It’s generally pretty well animated and dynamically presented by early 90s OVA standards, but it did remind me how glad I am we have moved past the period where much of the episode is repeated animation.
It’s largely all gags, which is why it’s a little disappointing that many of the gags miss rather than hit. Pulling perv faces, yelling loudly or hitting someone make up many of the gags. Thankfully there’s enough good ones to make it worthwhile. The original back and forth of rhetorical warfare when the transfer student enters the school originally is brilliant, and the whole layer of self-parody makes it funny. On some level I would have preferred it be much wilder, but that may have been me spoiled by Kill la Kill and its giant flying speakers shooting recorder missiles, and it wouldn’t necessarily fit with the tone it was going for. It treads close enough to the real thing that it’s extra funny when battles are decided by someone saying the name of their death punch faster. It’s fun, but a total trifle that you’ll forget the exact details of a week later.
Prefectural Earth Defence Force
Bear with me, I’ll get my head around this story. So there was this Indian bloke caught in a car crash. The doctor’s hand slipped while fixing him and accidentally turned him into a cyborg with missles in his shoulders. Meanwhile a terrorist organisation called the Telephone Poll Group turn up promising….errr, nothing in particular. A prefectural earth defence force is drawn up from the local prefectural school (because where else would you get a prefectural earth defence force, it stands to reason) to combat the new terrorist group and their leader with her sexushii bodii and giant Dirty Pair pink hair. The two groups try to hire the cyborg Indian for their respective teams but the Indian gets really mad after being turned into a cyborg and blows both parties up. And then he goes to school. And then gets turned into a lady and we see his/her boobs. Because this is an 80s OVA and the Japanese Government required animation companies by law to have at least one boob shot in their OVAs.
The whole thing is very silly indeed, even sillier than Blazing Transfer Student. It reminds me of the old Yatterman/Time Bokan series with its ineffectual super villains and silly heroes where they break the fourth wall and generally completely fail at being threatening. The only reason you know they’re evil is because they have a load of minions at their disposal, and only villains have minions. We know they’re minions because they all have ‘minion’ written across their face. The minions are probably my favourite part because they like to jump around in the background when the villains are talking going “hi mum look at me I’m on TV” and being very unprofessional. There are a few other really clever gags too, like the boss of the villains spending most of his time giving interviews to journalists about his plan for world domination and how he loves to drink milk in the morning. But these yet again can often fall back to the usual unfunny routines of perv faces, shouting loudly and hitting people for humour.
The animation is shockingly good for an 80s OVA. Like really excellent with great swooping action scenes with a lot of things going on. Shame the sound design doesn’t always keep up. I don’t think this was a problem with my file either. Character’s reactions and explosions wouldn’t necessarily mesh with what’s going on screen, so I think it was a real design choice. I’m going to put that down to age though, since I have seen that before in other older anime and it might just be something I gotta get used to. Again, like Blazing Transfer Student, it’s fun but forgettable. Got some great moments during its 40 minute run, like the politician receiving a list of banned lewd dojinshi, but then lots of people yelling and hitting things for humour. It’s a shame that the best jokes in this highly kinetic and well animated OVA were all from the writing rather than physical.