801 T.T.S. Airbats (1994)
Review by Dindrane

Based on the Manga by Toshimitsu Shimizu and Tokuma Shoten
Character Designs by Yuji Moriyama
Directed by Yuji Moriyama, Shin Misawa, Junichi Sakata, and Tohru Yoshida
Cinematography by Takashi Azuhata
Music by Norimasa Yamanaka


Dindrane's Anime Warnings:

Rating: 15+

Anamorphic: N/A

My Advice: Buy it, buy it, buy it

801 T.T.S. Airbats relates the tale of the 801st Tactical Training Squadron, aka "The Airbats." They're an all-female stunt flying team that is also where the Japanese Self-Defense Force dumps their problem cases.

The characters are deep enough to be amusing and create favorites. Pilots Miyuki Haneda (sweet and smart) and Arisa Mitake (bitchy and sharp) have a rivalry that is only sometimes good-natured, and seems to have more to do with Isurugi, the new mechanic and the only male in the unit, other than their officers. Isurugi is much like the heros of such titles as Tenchi Muyo and Love Hina--a good-hearted goofball who doesn't realize the effect he has on the women around him.

The plots of each episode are mostly self-contained, though the disc does contain all seven episodes of the series. The plots revolve around such devices as a ghostly kamikaze pilot, American stunt pilots, and the team proving themselves to The Powers That Be. What the plots may lack in complexity, they make up for in humour, warmth, and cleverness. The characters really are nicely balanced with each other, leaving plenty of room for fun.

The audio and video are both quite good in this series, though I have to wonder if that's desirable with respect to the audio--the Japanese voices are exceptionally high-pitched. The English voice actors are mercifully more in the human audio range, though they, too, have their share of squeaky-squirrel moments. The colors and art are clean and attractive, with a very lively style that highlights the aerial action. I noticed no specks or other visual problems; the transfer was top-notch all around.

The extras are very enjoyable, as well. The gallery of production sketches is nice, if a bit ubiquitous at this point, but still, it's good to have them. The trailers and previews are enjoyable, also. Fans of the art in the show will appreciate the chance to see the clean closing sequence. The star of the features list, however, is the information on the Japanese cast. Even if the interviews themselves seem a bit silly or shallow, it's still good to see the faces behind the voices and help the voice actors develop their own fan base in the West, just as they have in Japan.

Overall, 801 T.T.S. Airbats is a funny series that's delightfully different and original. Kind of like Top Gun meets A League of Their Own, it holds its own in the crowded field of anime films. Fans of military anime titles will enjoy the jet action, as will viewers who prefer the comic influence of Ranma 1/2. In short, it's a fun series with action and comedy.

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