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ADV Films presents
801 T.T.S. Airbats (1992)

"There is no way Shimorenjaku could do that stunt. She's like someone who became a pilot by mistake, you know."
- Capt. Kengamine

Review By: Joel Cunningham  
Published: June 10, 2002

Stars: Shinichiro Miki, Aya Hisakawa, Ai Orikasa
Other Stars: Kikuko Inone, Yukana Nagami, Nario Wakamoto
Director: Yuji Moriyama

Manufacturer: MOFC
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (some language and sexuality, brief nudity)
Run Time: 02h:55m:00s
Release Date: June 11, 2002
UPC: 702727026621
Genre: anime


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B A-BB C

DVD Review

I'm something of an anime fan, but in reviewing titles for digitallyOBSESSED, I've discovered that I'm fairly picky about what type of programs I like. I've developed a strong dislike for pseudo-spirituality, extreme violence, and, most of all, panty-flashing "fan service." 801 T.T.S. Airbats is guilty of none of these crimes, which means I don't have any reason to hate it. Luckily, its engaging storylines, well-drawn characters, and overall energy give me plenty of reasons to love it.

Isurugi (Miki) is a starry-eyed new recruit in the Japanese air force. He's always had a love of planes and engines, so he's delighted when he is assigned the position of chief mechanic for the Airbats Squadron. He soon discovers that this all-female stunt brigade is made up of a bunch of loveable screw-ups, pilots too good to sack but to unreliable to place on active duty. A lack of self-control is certainly apparent, as rivals Haneda (Hisakawa) and Mitaka (Orikasa) begin squabbling and fighting over Isurugi's affections. The poor guy. All he wanted to do was get under their chassis. Er, literally.

The love-triangle storyline is amusing, but not just played for laughs. The different ways that the two women try to win over Isurugi reveal a lot about their histories and their insecurities. Their frequent in-the-air dogfights over the boy often put the squad at risk, as the commanding officers would like nothing better than to see the group of misfits disbanded and decommissioned.

Lest you think this is a show about squabbles over men and matters of the heart, there's also a lot of comic relief, particularly from oafish Capt. Konishi (Wakamoto), who is better at winning a ramen noodle eating contest than he is at keeping he pilots under control. Dim but loveable Shimorenjaku (Nagami) and her pet bat are always doing something wrong, and Lt. Saginomiya (Inone) threatens to bankrupt the group by betting all of their spare cash at the racetrack.

The animation is fairly basic, though character designs are wonderful and some of the choreography during the flight scenes is impressive. Where the series really succeeds is in balancing character moments with humor and action. Episode four (produced as a bonus show between the first and second series of three episodes) is a standout, as the squadron visits a secluded health spa in the middle of a snowstorm and becomes involved in the hilarious mystery of the ghost of a Kamikaze pilot.

This set includes all seven episodes of 801 T.T.S. Airbats and comes highly recommended.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: A-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: The image here is generally very fine. Colors are stable, though they lack the eye-popping brilliance of many newer series. Blacks are only somewhat solid, leaving some darker scenes looking overly contrasted and murky. Line jitter isn't a problem, no is edge enhancement or artifacting. A slightly grainy image is forgivable, as that element does not distract from what is, overall, an adequate transfer.

Image Transfer Grade: B

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, Japaneseyes


Audio Transfer Review: Audio is likewise fine, but clearly limited by the source material. Dialogue is clear and sounds fairly natural (though be sure to listen to the Japanese track, as the English dub is pretty poor). The front soundstage exhibits some limited directionality during airplane flybys and other action-oriented scenes, but otherwise, this is a restrained, dialogue-driven track that suits the material.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 35 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
6 Other Trailer(s) featuring Excel Saga, Sakura Wars 2, City Hunter: Secret Service, Devil Hunter Yohko, Steel Angel Kurumi, Dai-Gauro
2 TV Spots/Teasers
Packaging: Double alpha
Picture Disc
2 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Clean Closing Animation for episodes 1,2,3, and 5
  2. Japanese Cast Tidbits
  3. Production Sketches
Extras Review: ADV has put together a modest little extras package for this release, including a few glimpses into the weird, wonderful, very foreign world of Japanese culture. The more typical extras—clean (sans credits) closing animation for episodes 1, 2, 3, and 5; a trailer and a few Japanese TV spots; and a gallery of production sketches—are easily outshined by the quirky Japanese Cast Tidbits, which are rather odd, particularly the one about the voice actor who picked up some yen that was flipped the wrong way, or something. As someone who has never been farther east than Cape Cod, that's about the best I can do.

An ADV preview gallery is also provided, and there are spots for some new series this time around, including the wonderful Excel Saga, Sakura Wars 2, City Hunter: Secret Service, Devil Hunter Yohko, Steel Angel Kurumi, and Dai-Gauro. The menus are typical ADV (functional but unsightly), though I applaud the fact that each of the seven episodes includes a respectable five chapter stops.

Extras Grade: C

 

Final Comments

801 T.T.S. Airbats is one of the most satisfying "lighthearted" anime series I have seen in quite some time. Equally amusing and endearing, with none of the arty affectation that tends to creep into much of Japanese animation, it's certainly worth your valuable time. ADV has produced a very nice 2-disc set for this OVA series, and the inclusion of all seven episodes in the same volume is much appreciated.

 


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