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Odex Private Limited presents
Sol Bianca (R0) (2000)

"Truth is truth, what is broken can not be mended. Let's end this once and for all."
- April (Rica Matsumoto)

Review By: Jeff Ulmer   
Published: September 26, 2002

Stars: Hiroko Konishi, Rica Matsumoto, Eri Miyajima, Tomo Saeki, Yoshiko Sakakibara, Junko Iwao, Haruhiko Jyo
Other Stars: Juurouta Kosugi, Takashi Taniguchi, Kouichi Yamadera, Ryoutarou Okiayu, Kouji Ishii, Ryuuzaburou Ohtomo, Akio Ohtsuka, Shinichirou Miki, Furin Cha, Masaya Hashimoto, Hidenari Ugaki, Takako Honda, Kenji Nomura, Yuuji Ueda, Satsuki Yukino, Michiko Neya, Norihisa Mori, Kazuhiro Nakata
Director: Hiroyuki Ochi

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (brief nudity, mature situations)
Run Time: 02h:51m:59s
Release Date: March 25, 2001
Genre: anime


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A- B+B+A- D

DVD Review

In 1993, Sol Bianca, an OVA about a band of female pirates, took top honors at Anime Expo as "best new anime." A second installment followed, setting up a third that never materialized. Fast forward to 1999 when a new six-part OVA, completely updated and entirely produced using a new computer animation system, was released—Sol Bianca: The Legacy.

The "Sol Bianca" is a product of a forgotten time, the grand accomplishment of the Space Frontier Era when mankind left mother Earth behind and headed for the stars. The most powerful ship in the universe, it is sought by many for its unique strengths. Four hundred years later, in this time when the space settlers have all but forgotten their origins, and fallen into a dark age where ideas have turned stagnant and civilization is in retrograde, her crew of female pirates seek out treasures of the past. Their first mission takes them to a backwater planet, where stolen relics from Earth are about to go up for auction. April has a vested interest in one of the items, an ancient pistol handed down from her grandmother. She and her cohorts have bounty to score, but they are not the only ones interested in this remote trading post. Gyunter, a captain of the Terra Forces, has come to reclaim Earth's heritage, with the help of Rammy and his Blue Comets. When April and her cohorts escape with the prize, there is more than just the honor of the Terra Forces at stake, and the discovery of a young, orphaned stowaway begin the crew on a quest for answers from the past, and the planet of their origins—Earth.

Sol Bianca was a very pleasant surprise. Even though OVAs are expected to be produced better, the animation has a fluidity and style of theatrical quality. The character designs by Naoyuki Onda (Bastard) are unique and attractive, and the story is intriguing and well paced, even for so short a series. The six episodes form an overall story arc that holds interest throughout, and the look and feel of the show make for a unique viewing experience. The music is also a highlight, and the staging and sound design are both well done.

While a show can be carried by plot alone, in order to be truly engaging the characters must have depth, and Sol Bianca succeeds in this aspect. Each installment offers a look at a different player, building their background and giving them a sense of dimension. The female characters all have names based on the months of the year, and any of the plot points have a legendary twist to them—the second episode has Jun descending into a recreation of Dante's Inferno with her holographic genie, Sancho, at her side. When the group finally reaches their objective, again things delve into the realms of mythology and legend, but with a decidedly science fiction flair. Sol Bianca was thoroughly enjoyable, and I look forward to revisiting it in the near future.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B+

 

Image Transfer

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


Image Transfer Review: Video quality is impressive, with a vibrant and colorful image, solid black levels and good contrast. The image is crisp, but not overenhanced, and deficiencies are limited to aliasing and interlace artifacts. The artwork is a standout, and is well presented here.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Japaneseno


Audio Transfer Review: Audio is presented in a pleasing stereo Japanese language track. The soundstage is well utilized, with appropriate amounts of directionality. There were no technical deficiencies noted, with a full spectral range, and no harshness or distortion. The musical soundtrack is great on this series, and comes across with a nice presence.

Do note that the region 1 version has a 5.1 audio track not included here.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 6 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Chinese, Malay with remote access
4 TV Spots/Teasers
Packaging: Amaray Double
Picture Disc
2 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Music video
  2. Extra DVD cover insert
Extras Review: Like other Odex releases, things are slim in the extras department, consisting of a Sol Bianca music video, and short trailers for Nanako (parts 2 and 3), Tenchi Muyo in Love 2 and Strange Dawn. The two disc set is housed in a clear double Amaray case, with a second cover insert included should you wish to break the set into two cases.

Chapters are limited to the start of each episode. Removeable subtitles are available in English (with the typical gramatical errors found on most of Odex's discs), Chinese and Malay.

Extras Grade: D

 

Final Comments

With a unique look, well developed characters, and an intriguing and engaging storyline, Sol Bianca: The Legacy makes for a great six-part series. The animation is excellent, the designs original, and the production values superior. If the CGI content doesn't put you off, this comes highly recommended. This Odex version doesn't have all the bells and whistles of the region one version, but is well presented as is.

 


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