Plastic Little Anime Review
US Release By
Tita, captain of the good ship Cha Cha Maru (that's a submarine ship, not a space ship), and her crew rescue a girl, Elysse, who's being chased by a villain with really huge shoulder pads, ambitions of world domination, and an army at his disposal. They decide to put an end to this fellow's machinations and lots of action ensues.
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Plastic Little follows a simple, time-tested recipe: Start with some good looking girls, take their clothes off occasionally, drop in a tall skinny bad guy (this time with the world's largest shoulder pads), add a healthy pile of explosions and destruction, toss in a pinch of romance, and shake vigorously. Very vigorously. Plastic Little is cheescake, Urushihara style, done right. The art is beautiful, the animation is good, and there's lots of action. What more could you ask for? (Other than plot or anything resembling character depth, that is...)
You'd better not be watching Plastic Little for the story, and it borders on tasteless at times (not necessarily a down side), but there's enough action (and bath scenes) to keep almost any fan of that kind of thing happy.
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Plastic Little is Satoshi Urushihara's specialty--T, A, and action--done right.
The basic idea is pretty much the same as everything else his name is attached to: Start with some good-looking girls, take their clothes off occasionally (Tita's ship has a built-in "bath tub" the size of a small water park, complete with water slide), drop in a tall skinny bad guy (this time with the world's largest shoulder pads--he looks like a freestanding shower curtain with a head), add a healthy pile of explosions and destruction, toss in a pinch of romance, and shake vigorously. Very vigorously.
The resulting dish may not have much in the way of substance, but if your taste is simple and you don't have a problem with a huge slice of cheescake on the side, it's a lot of fun anyway. Even if the relatively convoluted story isn't much more than an excuse for the action and occasional exposed skin (isolated to one long scene), the fun characters do their part to hold it together.
Tita is a spunky, no-nonsense girl who is never reduced to a damsel in distress; when she needs rescuing, she does it herself. She also pulls off one of my all-time favorite denouements. Tita's "love interest" and Elysse don't do much much more than fill space, but the two older crew members on the Cha Cha Maru are an appealingly wizened pair in contrast to their spunky young captain. And the doctor, Mei, is... well, very attractive, and the only female character who is never naked.
But it's pretty obvious from the get-go that what makes Plastic Little worth watching is the visuals. The art is the most true to Urushihara's style of any of the anime adaptations of his work--clean and appealing, with fun, varied, thoroughly attractive character designs by the man himself. The animation is well above par, too--nice character animation, solid action, and watch for some great chase scenes.
The background music is more disappointing--things are remarkably quiet in fact--but I really like the mellow end theme (even though it has nothing to do with the story). The Japanese acting gets the job done without being particularly memorable, though I do rather like Yuriko Fuchizaki's energetic-without-being-annoying take on Tita.
Overall, while you'd better not be watching Plastic Little for the plot, and it borders on tasteless (not necessarily a down side, depending on your taste), there's enough action and pretty girls to keep almost any fan of that kind of thing happy.
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Sol Bianca (and its sequel) is a well done but less sleazy version of the same sort of thing. For a similar feel with a very different setting, try Cutey Honey. Be warned that the other of Urushihara's animated features, the Legend of Lemnear, did not fare as well as this one. Though the formula is the same, the feel is sleazier, and it's just a lot less fun.
Notes and Trivia
There is also a one-shot Plastic Little manga by Urushihara, on which this is based. It features an assortment of stories about the crew of the Cha Cha Maru, and quality artwork by Urushihara. It's available in English from CPM Manga as a 5-part comic series, and as a graphic novel called Plastic Little: Captain's Log.
ADV's subtitles on this one aren't as "creative" as some of their other early releases, but the subtitles on the end theme have almost nothing to do with the actual lyrics (I'm assuming this was somebody's attempt to make it read like a song). We did a full translation of it if you're curious.
US DVD Review
The DVD is a quality ADV production: sharp video, nice audio in both languages, and subtitles for just the songs or everything, plus a nice gallery of sketches and storyboards. It also (whether this is a good thing or bad) shamelessly panders to the audience Plastic Little is targeted at: It features what may be the world's first "Jiggle Counter," a menu-selectable feature that pops up a small counter in the top corner of the screen at appropriate moments. Tasteless in the extreme, but I had to admit pretty funny if you watch it with the right mindset (and group of jeering/leering friends).
Appropriately rated 17+ by ADV, for a lot of nudity and some relatively graphic violence.
Violence: 3 - Several bloody deaths, as well as some city-scale destruction.
Nudity: 3 - Lotsa upper body nudity; one extended nude scene, and a couple of others.
Sex/Mature Themes: 1 - Even with all that nudity, there's not much more than some cute romance and a couple of nosebleeds.
Language: 2 - Some light profanity.
Staff & Cast
Original Japanese Cast
Note: In the early ADV-released tapes several cast names were apparently mistranslated, but these should be correct. The names in brackets are the characters' full names, as they appeared in an Urushihara art book. Actor names are Japanese style, family name first.
Tita [Tita Myu Koshigaya]: Fuchizaki Yuriko
Elysse [Elize Altmodisch]: Shiina Hekiru
Balboa [Joshua L. Balboa]: Wakamoto Norio
Nichol [Nichol Hawkins]: Yamaguchi Kappei
Roger [Roger Rogers]: Nakao Ryusei (Takanori Nakao)
Mikail [Mihail Deargref]: Ohtsuka Chikao
Mei [Mei Lynn Jones]: Yokozawa Keiko
Guizel: Ienaka Hiroshi
Nalerov [Nalerof Altmodisch]: Akimoto Yosuke
With: Hoshino Mitsuaki, Sugawara Junichi, Ugaki Hidenari, Miki Shinichiro
Executive Producers: Yutaka Takahashi, Megumi Shirakawa
Screenplay: Masamoto Sekijima
Character Design: Satoshi Urushihara
Art Director: Tsutomu Ishigaki
Cinematography: Akihiko Takahashi
Sound Effects: Fusanobu Fujiyama
Music: Tamiya Terashima
End Theme: "You are Everything"
Written and Performed by Keiko Toge
Animation by Movic and Sony Music