Akemi's Anime World

MAPS Anime Review

MAPS Box Art


2.5 stars / OVA / Action / 15-up

Bottom Line

A lot of potential that isn't quite capitalized on.

It’s Like...

...Star Wars meets Tenchi Muyo.

Vital Stats

Original Title


Romanized Title


Animation Studio


US Release By

Section23, ADV Films


Spacefaring Adventure

Series Type



4 30-minute episodes

Production Date

1994-07-08 - 1995-02-24

What's In It


Look For

  • Gunfights
  • Tokyo Getting Blown Up
  • Super Technology
  • Big Lady-shaped Spaceships

Objectionable Content

  • Violence: 3 (significant)
  • Nudity: 3 (significant)
  • Sex: 1 (mild)
  • Language: 1 (mild)

full details

See Also


  • MAPS: The Legendary Wandering Starfarers (alternate telling)

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Plot Synopsis

MAPS is the story of Gen, an average Tokyo resident who happens to be a descendant of a long-dead race of star travelers. When a massive spaceship crafted in the shape of a beautiful woman shows up over the city and gets involved in a messy tiff with its sister ship, Gen and his girlfriend Hoshimi end up running off into space with a lady with a long name who's the embodiment of a huge, ancient battleship. They're all looking for the three pieces of a star map that apparently has something to do with saving the galaxy... they think.

Quick Review

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MAPS is yet another story about a kid who turns out to be the chosen one and runs off to save the world (or galaxy, or local galactic cluster, or universe). The idea is basic, but it has a lot going for it--nice art, characters with a lot of potential, and a properly wild and convoluted story. Sadly, it's hamstrung by a failed attempt at cramming a lot of manga into a little bit of OAV, resulting in hectic pacing, a disjointed, rocky first episode, and a couple clumsy logical lapses. If you tough out the beginning, it does eventually get some footing, but it just doesn't budget its time well enough to establish a solid connection to the characters. At least the time saved by whipping through the plot is spent on some spiffy-looking action sequences, one of which makes up the bulk of the final episode.

Based on a fraction of an epic space opera manga series, MAPS blows a lot of its potential with its poor writing and ends more on a stopping spot than a conclusion, but at least it's good looking. If you enjoy not-entirely-serious sci-fi adventure with a wild and convoluted plot, it's worth at least a rental.

Read the full-length review...

Full Review

Switch to Quick Review

MAPS is yet another story about a kid who turns out to be the chosen one and runs off to save the world (or galaxy, or local galactic cluster, or universe). The idea is basic, but it has a lot going for it--nice art, fairly interesting characters, and a properly wild and convoluted story. Sadly, it's also hamstrung by poor writing, hectic pacing, and a couple of clumsy logical lapses.

Almost all of the series' problems can be blamed on the fact that it is based on a small part of an epic space opera manga series. Further, the chunks it's based on aren't contiguous, partly explaining the rather large jump between the first episode and the rest of it. The end, while a decent stopping point, is not at all conclusive, again because the original story continued for years after that point. I'm of the opinion than an animated adaptation should stand on its own, so I don't consider that an excuse for the bungled abbreviation, but it does explain how so much potential could go so wrong.

Anyway, the story doesn't make a whole lot of sense as a standalone work, but that's never been much of a hindrance in fun space opera. Exactly how fun, MAPS can't quite seem to make up its mind on: It starts out looking serious, lightens up considerably in the middle to the point it threatens to become a comedy, then moves back into more serious territory for the conclusion. A more even mix would have been nice, but after the first episode it works well enough.

The big problem MAPS has is that everything happens so suddenly you never have a chance to get caught up in it. The first episode is again the worst of it--it whips by so fast there isn't any time to get interested in the characters. That episode also features one of the more implausible reactions to alien invasion I've yet seen: Two giant ships appear near Earth, duke it out, cause massive collateral damage, and then just sit there. Tokyo's response? It makes the paper, but nobody even seems to consider evacuating, say, the immediate area underneath. I understand the anime incarnation of Tokyo is used to being destroyed on a regular basis, but you'd think most folk would consider maybe taking a vacation before the shooting started again.

Things improve a bit in the middle stretch, once the cast gets settled into space-wandering. The upside of slamming out the plot in about a minute and a half is that the time saved gets spent on action (at the beginning and end) and suspenseful moments (in the rest), both of which work relatively well. The fourth episode in particular amounts to one extended action scene, and is probably the best part of the series, so long as you don't try too hard to figure out any details of what's going on (or look for a satisfying wrap-up).

The characters in MAPS have a lot of potential--attractive designs, distinctive personalities, and even some decent backstory in the case of Lipumira. Again, however, the poor writing and harried pacing robs them of a lot of their likability, particularly at the beginning. The group was intended to be a team of misfits hurled into a wild journey through space, which they might have been given proper time to develop. As is, it isn't until well into the story that I felt any empathy for any of them, and I never did get all that interested--the series is practically begging for more downtime.

On the technical end of things, MAPS is more consistent. The art looks good all-around, and the characters are particularly well drawn and designed. The ship design is certainly original--the six sister-ships look something like giant female Romanesque statues, and they're nicely rendered to boot. The non-action character animation is a little awkward, but the action (of which there's plenty) looks great, particularly the scenes of mass destruction. The best stuff is in the first episode (the only unequivocally good thing about it).

I haven't seen the subtitled version, but the acting in the English dub is quite good, as is the casting. In an unusual reversal of the norm, some of the minor aliens are actually the best roles; they have distinctive voices and odd accents to keep things interesting. (That also gives the impression that not everyone in the galaxy speaks English, even though they apparently do). It's a shame the plot didn't give the cast more to work with.

The music is above average. The theme song, by Yasuhiro Mizushima, is moderately catchy, while Masahiro Kawasaki's well-orchestrated and nicely performed acoustic score is a suitable backdrop for a grand space adventure.

Summing up, MAPS is based on a solid idea and characters with lots of potential, but is severely marred by a poorly written story that tries unsuccessfully to cram too much manga into too little anime. On the positive side, the action is slick and if you tough out the first episode or so, it does get its footing. If your thing is not-entirely-serious sci-fi adventure, MAPS is worth at least a rental. Also, if for some reason you're a fan of watching cities getting nuked, you may want to check out at least the first episode just for that.

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Related Recommendations

Nothing immediately comes to mind that has quite this blend of sci-fi, action, humor, and drama (other than maybe Star Wars). Somewhat similar stylistic matches include Space Travelers and Birdy the Mighty. It also bears a passing resemblance to the Gall Force movies.

Notes and Trivia

Based on an epic 4000-page space opera manga series by Yuuichi Hasegawa; it consists of 90-plus acts and ran from 1985 through 1994. There was also a set of ten more side stories published between 1995 and 1997. None of the above are available in English as of this writing.

There was in fact an earlier animated adaptation, a short 1987 movie titled "MAPS: The Legendary Wandering Starfarers" ("Maps Densetsu no Samayoeru Seijin-tachi" - マップス 伝説のさまよえる星人たち), based on the first act of the manga. The cast was not the same as this later 4-episode OAV series. It also has not seen US release as of this writing.

This OAV series is roughly based on the first 5 acts of the manga and the "Book of the Six Ghost Ships" story arc, which comprises acts 11 through 19 (or 12 through 20, if you count an early side story).

US DVD Review

I have not seen either edition of ADV's DVD, but both feature English and Japanese stereo soundtracks and no extras other than ADV previews.

Parental Guide

ADV rated it 15+ on account of raunchy humor, occasional nudity, and rather bloody violence (things get messy for the ship-women whenever their large-scale personas start getting shot).

Violence: 3 - Some cities get wiped out, but the really bloody violence never actually kills anyone.

Nudity: 3 - Several scenes spread through the series and a lot of very skimpy outfits.

Sex/Mature Themes: 1 - One humorous scene involving a... misunderstanding.

Language: 1 - Not noteworthy.

Staff & Cast

(Note: Cast translation by AAW; Japanese names appear family name first.)

Japanese Cast

Lipumira: Touma Yumi
Gen: Midorikawa Hikaru
Hoshimi: Kouda Mariko
Tsukime: Anzai Masahiro

Part 1:
Dain: Orikasa Ai
Karion: Onosaka Masaya
With: Satou Shinobu, Inaba Minoru, Suzuki Takuma, Ugaki Hidenari, Shimamura Kaoru

Part 2:
Jaruna: Takahashi Miki
Lim: Koorogi Satomi
Gahha Karakara: Ohtsuka Yoshitada
Chairman Sasandora: Mine Eken
Zeo: Kaneo Tetsuo
With: Hayashida Naochika, Komuro Masayuki, Yoshida Miho, Shocker "O"no (Shokkaa Ouno)

Part 3:
Lim: Koorogi Satomi
Shian: Ogata Megumi
Rain: Inoue Kikuko
Radou: Tominaga Miina
Gatarion: Maruta Mari
Ringurodo: Katou Saizou
Karion: Onosaka Masaya
Controller: Kawai Yoshimi

Part 4:
Radou: Tominaga Miina
Shian: Ogata Megumi
Rain: Inoue Kikuko
Lim: Koorogi Satomi
Dain: Orikasa Ai
Karion: Onosaka Masaya

English Dub Cast

Gen: Jeff Gibbs
Hoshimi: Missy Atwood
Lipumira: Claire Hamilton
Daine: Amy Gamber
Mother: Lainie Frasier
Teacher: Amy Bizjak
Calion: Paul Wright
Svelgard: Robert Newell
Jarna: Amber Allison
Lim: Sascha Biesi
Gahha Kala Kala: Michael Dalmon
Bruhha Kala Kala: Charles Campbell
Commander Zeo: David R. Jarrott
Cheif Commander Sasandra: Jose R. Brown
Distressed Caller: Gary Dehan


Original Story: Yuuichi Hasegawa (Comic NORA, Gakken)
Script: Masaki Tsuji
Producers: Masao Mochizuki (KSS), Mikihiro Iwata (TMS)
Director: Shusumu Nishizawa
Animation Director: Hideyuki Motosashi
Character Design: Masahiko Ohkura
Music: Masahiro Kawasaki

Theme Song: "The Wind Rides on Wings, Wings Ride on the Wind"
Lyrics: Yuji Hasegawa
Composer: TSUKASA
Arrangement: Teddy and Melvin
Performed by: Yasuhiro Mizushima

Produced by KSS and Tokyo Movie Shinsha


Available in North America on a single hybrid DVD from Section23 (nee ADV). The 2008 edition is a re-release of a 2005 disc with different cover art. Was originally available on two subtitled or dubbed VHS volumes.

RightStuf had the DVD in stock at last check.

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