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  Sky Girls S'cuse me while I kiss the sky
Year: 2007
Director: Yoshiaki Iwasaki
Stars: Ayako Kawasumi, Ayumi Tsuji, Saori Goto, Shizuka Itou, Junji Majima, Keiji Fujiwara, Kisho Taniyama, Yui Horie, Ryoko Shiraishi, Kumiko Higa, Momoko Ishikawa, Toru Okawa, Yuko Kato
Genre: Drama, Action, Animated, Science Fiction, TV SeriesBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: In the future year 2074, planet Earth is at war with alien invaders called Worms. While a global alliance successfully drives the monsters away, the conflict severely decimates the male population. Ten years later, following the Worms re-emergence, three plucky young girls - Otoha (Ayako Kawasumi), Eika (Shizuka Itou), and Karen (Saori Goto) - are chosen to pilot flying robots called Sonic Divers and defend mankind from the alien menace.

Given the premise you might be expecting a slam-bang sci-fi actioner, but Sky Girls isn’t really like that. What it is, is yet another sci-fi re-spray of girls’ sports anime clichés. A genre much beloved by girls and boys, most notably the classic Aim for the Ace! (1973), sports anime was given a sci-fi spin in Studio Gainax’s groundbreaking Gunbuster (1988). Since then almost every studio has given it a go and what was once fresh and inspiring has grown predictable and stale. Of course second-hand ingredients do not necessarily mean the spectacle of cute girls in sexy rubber outfits flying giant robots with samurai swords lacks appeal.

Although the characters seem computer-calculated to appeal to Japanese boys, their personalities and personal dramas are very much in the girls’ anime mould. Good-hearted country gal Otoha is our lead and embodies all the gutsy, stick-to-it virtues of shojo heroism. Eika is the frosty, super-competitive fighter ace who gradually thaws and learns to value friendship. Demure, soft-spoken Karen is the science whiz, so shy can’t speak to boys. As in Starship Girl Yamamoto Yoko (1999) a bunch of mismatched girls set aside their differences and learn to work together as a team. And like the heroines of Dominion: Tank Police (1988) and Mobile Police Patlabor (1989), Otaka starts thinking of her robot as a living being.

Sky Girls’ biggest problem is its slack handled pace. It takes several episodes before the gang even earn their nickname of “Sky Girls”, while the Worms are all but forgotten as test runs and air shows become the primary focus. One whole episode is wasted on a visit to a hot spring (along with shower scenes, de-rigueur for anime shows with all-female casts) while another concerns a ghost supposedly haunting the base. An appealing sit-com supporting cast, including team coach Captain Togo (Keiji Fujiwara), sisterly sky controller Nanae Fujieda (Yui Horie), big-haired engineer Ryohei Tachibana (Kisho Taniyama), hapless boy chef Takumi (Ryoko Shiraishi) and pink and blue haired twins Ran (Kumiko Higa) and Haru (Momoko Ishikawa) add their own subplots to mild personal traumas like Eika’s issues with her military father, and Karen’s with her absentee big brother.

After a lot of time-wasting, things kick into high gear when the girls mount a rescue operation to save victims of a sudden earthquake. Plus there are hints that the Worms are lurking out there somewhere. The CG enhanced Sonic Divers are undeniably cool and the sky combat, when they do come, are well animated and exciting. Like its heroines this is a show still in the process of maturing.

Click here to watch an episode

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

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