The Irresponsible Captain Tylor OVA Anime Review
Musekinin Kanchou Tairaa
The Irresponsible Captain Tylor
US Release By
Space war adventure comedy with a touch of romance
2 47-minute + 10 26-minute episodes
1994-10-01 - 1996-08-01
The uneasy truce between the UPSF and the Raalgon forces is beginning to break down and it looks like the Raalgon have developed a devastating new secret weapon. Before all is lost there is only one thing that can be done--entrust Captain Justy Ueki Tylor and the crew of the Undefeated Soyokaze with a secret mission, so secret in fact that the crew have absolutely no idea what the hell Tylor's doing! It will take all of Tylor's God-given luck to get out of this one alive!
In the aftermath of the mission, the crew of the Soyokaze disperse for a while and go their own separate ways. However, as people have their own adventures something big is building up in the Raalgon Empire. Something that could threaten both the Raalgon and the UPSF with total destruction. Something greater than Tylor and his crew have ever encountered before...
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If you loved the Irresponsible Captain Tylor TV series for its humor, action and the amazing character that was Justy Ueki Tylor, then you MUST own the 2-part masterpiece An Exceptional Episode. Split between Hilarity and drama, this story is Tylor at its best. The rest of the series changes the production crew among other things, but despite some issues and an unsatisfying end, if you appreciated the Irresponsible Captain Tylor TV series for its writing, its moral messages and the characters other than Tylor, it is still worthwhile.
I don't think the OAVs would necessarily appeal to the same crowd as the TV series (except for An Exceptional Episode which is a must-see), and while I suppose in the end I really liked it, you have been warned.
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The Irresponsible Captain Tylor is a strange series and I'm not talking about the humor. There is a strange technical detail which I must be explain as I go along, as it will shape virtually my entire review.
The part of the OAV, a 2-episode arc called An Exceptional Episode, follows almost directly on from the TV series and is in more or less the same vein. The first episode of the two is absolutely hilarious, as good as the TV series at its best, while the second carries a similar level of drama and emotional impact as the end of the TV series. These episodes really are Tylor at its best, if you don't mind it being a little sappy in some places and a little heavy in others. The story is extremely engrossing, the humor hilarious (especially the fantastic interrogation scene near the end of the first episode) and the drama, erm... dramatic. Either way, these two episodes are brilliant viewing for fans of the TV series and constitute an essential purchase in their own right. However, after that everything changes--not all for the worse, but not all for the better either.
The most fundamental change is in the production crew. For the remainder of the OAV series the director, screenplayer, animation director and character designer all change. This is obvious in the character designs, some of which have changed a bit and definitely not for the better. However the most significant change is in the style of the series. As the synopsis says, the crew of the Soyokaze are dispersed for a while to go about their own business. As a result, the next six episodes all focus on individual members of the Soyokaze crew (and Azalyn). These episodes really aren't bad--quite interesting in fact as these episodes bring out the best in the characters, although the first (Azalyn's) and the last (Lt. Yamamoto's) do drag a little at times. However my main complaint with these episodes is that there are too few of them. With only six episodes devoted to this idea far too many characters end up completely or almost completely shafted--the doctor, Harumi, Emi and Yumi, even Kim and Katori and there's no sign of the Soyokaze at all. By the same token the brilliantly written and engaging character who kept us addicted throughout the TV series (I am of course referring to the man, the myth, the legend, Justy Ueki Tylor himself) doesn't get nearly enough screen time either--apart from the episode he shares with Yuriko (which I'll grant is pretty good) he only makes cameos in the last two, which are devoted to Yuriko again and Lt. Yamamoto. These episodes aren't Irresponsible Captain Tylor as we know it but something fundamentally different and, if it hadn't of been for the way the series ends, it would have been better to make this a spin-off series rather than a sequel to the TV series. However these episodes are still good. The writing is fresh, creative and unpredictable (one of Makosuke's complaints with the TV series was that it was a little predictable at times) and it provides better depth of character than we've ever seen in Tylor before. Most commendable was the treatment of Lt. Yamamoto--another of Makosuke's qualms with the TV series was that he in particular was a "slave to the plot." Well not anymore! This could be considered a spoiler of sorts, but by the end of the series it seems that Yamamoto is almost being positioned to replace Tylor as the hero. Read and interpret that any way you like, but the main point is that he gets a real character makeover in his episode and I for one couldn't be happier.
Finally, the ending of the Tylor OAV is something different again, although the crew is the same. Some of the six preceding episodes tie into this in some way, although in most cases it is a manner almost totally irrelevant. The two episodes contained in "From Here to Eternity" follow on almost directly from the Yuriko and Yamamoto episodes earlier. Unfortunately, here the directing begins to let us down and the narrative starts to falter. It isn't because the plot is getting weak; rather it is because the final two episodes jump around all over the place, going from present, to flashback, to different flashback so suddenly that at one stage I was wondering why the same event appeared to happen to Lt. Yamamoto three times within the space of a month! The plot is very confusing to boot and it isn't until near the end of the final episode that I managed to catch onto what was going on. I got it straightened out pretty quickly then, but it was still rather confusing, especially when it all starts getting really intense in the build-up to the end. Finally, the ending of the series may disappoint some (or many). I haven't seen a series with an ending this inconclusive since I reviewed 'The Guyver' and this time there's no excuse of being an excerpt from a lengthy manga. Of course this is intentional--the ending of the series is supposed to convey a message and it isn't quite a cliffhanger ending, all the important stuff has been said and done and now the future is still to come. All very well and good, but I still would have liked to see what happens next (unfortunately this doesn't appear likely--the point is made on the box that this is the END of Irresponsible Captain Tylor). To compensate, near the end of the last episode is a scene of such extraordinary power and impact that I literally stood up from my comfy armchair and saluted with emotional tears in my eyes. I won't say any more, but I think it'll have that affect on other serious fans of the series too.
Technically the Tylor OAV is an interesting mix. The animation has generally improved, as is to be expected of an OAV as opposed to a TV series, but only a little as the Irresponsible Captain Tylor TV series was already of rather high quality (in my opinion). The most notable improvements are in space, the new warp sequences especially. However, after An Exceptional Episode the aforementioned changes to character design kick in and the new designs honestly don't do it for me. Although the characters weren't actually "changed" (most of them anyway--I didn't initially recognize Harumi when I saw her in the last episode), the way they are animated was. The lines of the faces are more rounded and the proportions of the facial features were also slightly modified. In addition, some of the skin tones have been changed a little. These changes are only minor but they ended up making a big difference and are most noticeable on Tylor and Yuriko. Overall the animation quality in the OAV was better, but it loses marks for those damn character changes. In the end it comes out more or less even with the Tv series for animation. Vocally, the cast was still as excellent as ever. I haven't heard a Tylor dub in my life and frankly I don't care to either. You have to agree with me that whoever cast that guy as Tylor was indeed a genius. Once again, full marks for voice. The biggest technical letdown is the soundtrack. The music in the Tylor TV series was excellent, from the addictive opening track (I couldn't stop humming the damn thing for weeks!) to the classical music used during some of the more dramatic moments. Unfortunately, the music in the OAV was unexceptional. There's no proper opening theme and none of the music played during the actual episodes sticks in your mind--I can't recall ANY now, never a good sign. It's really rather disappointing, as I was expecting much better.
Now would be a good time to raise a quick side issue: is it worth splashing out for the music video? I'm afraid the simple answer is, no. This is a proper music video (as opposed to the Ranma 1/2 video jukebox which merely collects all the opening and closing tracks from the seven TV series) but unfortunately it really isn't all that good. Most of the videos are themed for a specific character--Azalyn, Dom, Yamamoto, Yuriko and Tylor to name a few--and the videos range from funny, to artistic, to downright silly, to morally suspect (Azalyn's). However, none of them are really cool and the music itself is also unexceptional (a major letdown for the normally legendary Kenji Kawai, although he wasn't the only one). Plus, the TV series opening is absent. So unless you're a rabid fan I wouldn't recommend getting the music video--you're better off with a TV series soundtrack CD.
Overall, the Irresponsible Captain Tylor OAV is strange fish indeed. I hope I haven't given you the impression that I don't like the series, but I don't think it would necessarily appeal to the same crowd as the TV series (except for An Exceptional Episode which they'll welcome with open arms). I suppose in the end I really liked it, but here are my three guidelines:
- If you loved the Irresponsible Captain Tylor TV series for its humor, action and the amazing character that was Justy Ueki Tylor, then you MUST own An Exceptional Episode, but can disregard the rest if you're uncertain.
- If you appreciated the Irresponsible Captain Tylor TV series for its writing, its moral messages and the characters other than Tylor then this series is most definitely for you.
- If you're just plain nuts abut Tylor then go to it with my blessings, but remember--you have been warned.
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The initial An Exceptional Episode is for you if you liked the Tylor TV series. After that it's almost unique.
Notes and Trivia
A followup OAV series to the Irresponsible Captain Tylor TV series the OAVs are actually composed of two separate series: The initial 2-part "Exceptional Episode" concluding the TV storyline, and an additional 10-episode series of shorter side stories.
The Japanese title of the series is technically "Musekinin Kanchou Tairaa," but it's actually more commonly written using the English "Tylor The Irresponsible Captain."
US DVD Review
In addition to an acceptable if unimpressive video and bilingual audio transfer, RightStuf's DVDs follow the mold of their TV series release with bonuses including heaps of technical information about the Soyokaze and a number of Tylor music videos.
About a 13-up.
Violence: 2 - Not really violent, but there was one rather brutal scene in the second episode which made me wince.
Nudity: 2 - A few spots of partial nudity with no nipples.
Sex/Mature Themes: 2 - Again it's the second episode that gives you pause.
Language: 1 - Nothing noteworthy.