Ryotaro OkiayuMaya OkamotoBurn UpMami Kingetsu
Burn Up Excess
Medium: TV, series
Year: 1997
Director: Shinichiro Kimura
Studio: AIC, Magic Bus, DirecTV Japan
Actor: Yuka Imai, Maya Okamoto, Ryotaro Okiayu, Sakura Tange, Yuri Amano, Emi Shinohara, Izumi Kikuchi, Mami Kingetsu, Tsukio Wakamoto
Keywords: anime, action, boobs
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 13 episodes
Series: << Burn Up >>
Url: http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=532
Website category: Anime 1990s
Review date: 25 March 2006
Featuring the further adventures of Team Warrior, aka. the huge breasts of Rio, Maya, Nanvel and Lilica from Burn Up W. Sharp-eyed viewers may notice that there are four police officers somewhere behind those mammaries. Yuji's still here too, but he's a man and thus doesn't count. Plot developments include... hey, did I mention their boss Maki Kawasaki? Yup, that's right. She's got a gigantic pair too. She just dresses less flashily. She's catering to all those "mysterious bespectacled authority figure" fetishes.
I think that's the plot in a nutshell.
I enjoyed this show, but it's best to go in without high expectations. Its fanservice isn't particularly sexy, its comedy is merely amusing, its action is passable and its few stabs at heartfelt drama are rather bitty. It's fun, but hardly challenging. In fact despite its comedy breasts and lecherous males, this would be a fantastic show for children. It's kinetic, colourful and over the top, rarely taking itself seriously and never taking any risks with its audience's attention span.
Mostly it's diverting nonsense, with an endearing streak of insanity. Underwear fetishists, transvestite jewel thieves and Maya's strange family won't win any drama awards, but they're good for a giggle. Episode four even has a Sailor Moon gag which I missed on first viewing. Burn Up W was a well-made OVA, with genuinely strong action and properly done fanservice. Its sequel has less money to play with, so clearly decided to push its tongue further into its cheek and have a laugh. This works rather well, actually.
Admittedly the show can become ordinary when the goofiness flags. It's never actually dull, but there's not much in Burn Up Excess that demands a rewatch. Its opening episode didn't even grab me first time around, when I had the advantage of not realising that it's ripping off Burn Up W's first episode but not even being able to include the nude bungee jump. All shows should have a nude bungee jump.
As for the fanservice... well, the word is "cheesy". It's deliberately cartoonish, with comedy boing noises and no nipples. As long as I live, I'll never understand that. It's the kind of nudity that makes you scream at the television to beg everyone to get dressed again. There's nothing there! It's like looking at a Barbie doll. In addition the characters aren't particularly pretty. Absurdly buxom, yes, but of the four Warriors only Nanvel struck me as cute and her boobs looked better in the OVA. I preferred their boss, Maki.
Arguably however that's unfair comment. Shackled by the constraints of TV broadcast, the show's chosen to play its fanservice for laughs. Thus it goes so far over the top with "boing" and locker room scenes that only someone with a terminal sense of humour bypass could find it offensive. In the Burn Up universe, breasts look like beachballs and men are helpless perverts, which might be a backhanded comment on the target audience. Incidentally the title sequence's most gratuitous shot (Maki's boob grope) is a plot point! However having said that, there's no reason beyond the obvious for Rio's bounce under that helicopter.
Getting in on the act is ADV's infamous "jiggle counter", a tasteless and highly amusing DVD extra that keeps track of all the gratuitous mammary motion. A particular highlight is the scene where the gun-crazed Maya lets rip with a machine gun, in which the jiggle counter actually blurs. A further reason to buy the licensed DVDs is the English dub, which knows how seriously to take this show (i.e. not at all) and is entertaining in its own right.
Continuity with Burn Up W is kept to a minimum. Episode six introduces a policewoman who's the spitting image of Rio's kind-hearted friend whose brains ended up splattered across a computer screen. They're not the same character (this one's called Miyuki Fujidera) but they're so similar that I wondered if she was a manga character whom the creators regretted killing in the OVA and resurrected under a different name. There are other minor inconsistencies, such as Ruby's apparent personality transplant, but it's hardly a big deal. You'd have to worry about fans who got upset over plot details in nonsense like this.
Most importantly, the show's light-hearted tone and good-natured heroines are unchanged. Admittedly a throwaway scene in Burn Up W showed us that Lilica's dad is ridiculously rich and she lives in a penthouse apartment. That's never raised here, but otherwise these are clearly the same characters with the same lives as in the OVA.
However despite all that, again as in Burn Up W, boobs and silliness are only half the story. When you least expect it, there's real emotion. At first glance this looks like the goofiest, dumbest anime series you could hope to find, but I've seen plenty of straight shows whose dramatic highlights don't measure up to those of Burn Up Excess. I was gobsmacked! Episode five has a murderous stalker, which isn't jolly story material and gets played fairly straight. Episodes nine and ten make up the Slam Tank two-parter, which may be a little clunky but definitely have heart and might be the show's most memorable episodes. However why didn't Rio think sooner to ride on the tank? Was she planning to walk for 150 km?
However the real heart of the series is Maki. Her pilgrimage to the memory of her lost husband is the redeeming feature of the otherwise undercooked episode seven. Most of this show doesn't warrant a rewatch, but its last two episodes are impressive. They're a better conclusion than Burn Up W ever got, with powerful roles for both the Warriors and Maki herself. It's satisfying and dramatic. If only they'd drawn nipples in the final fan-pleasing shower scene, 'twould have been perfect!
Overall, this is the kind of show you'd enjoy if it came on television but probably wouldn't put on especially. It's a little tamer than Burn Up W, but probably better on a story level thanks to avoiding its predecessor's inconsistency of tone. Together they make up seventeen episodes of silly fun. Apart from Maki's tragic past coming back to bite her in an episode or two, that's pretty much the start and end of it.