Megumi ToyoguchiRie TanakaBurn UpHiroki Takahashi
Burn Up Scramble
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2004
Director: Hiroki Hayashi
Studio: AIC Spirits
Actor: Mamiko Noto, Megumi Toyoguchi, Rie Kugimiya, Hiroki Takahashi, Rie Tanaka, Yuko Kagata
Keywords: anime, boobs
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 12 episodes
Series: << Burn Up
Website category: Anime early 00s
Review date: 12 September 2014
It's annoying, stupid and ugly to look at. It improves in the second half, but I'd still advise against watching it.
The Burn Up franchise returns... and dies. There had previously been the original 1991 OVA, the 1996 Burn Up W and its 1997 sequel, Burn Up Excess. None of those were anything special, but I quite enjoyed them. This is a further continuation of the franchise's fairly thin premise and, to date, the last of them. Can't say I'm surprised.
Burn Up is about female cops. They're called Team Warrior. Here they're very roughly the same as W/Excess but with different voice actors, comprising Rio (violent, blonde, big boobs), Maya (loves guns, big boobs) and Lilica (psychic, big boobs). You might have spotted a motif.
1. Rio's got the strength and agility of Spider-Man, but the self-control of a toddler in an ice cream factory. She's basically the same as before, except that her motives in looking for a boyfriend have become less mercenary. She believes in horoscopes and lucky colours. In short, she's an idiot. I didn't like her and my notes for episode four begin with "Rio being an annoying twat; what is she, eight?"
2. The new Maya is still a gun nut, but no longer to a near-sexual degree. She's also had her personality erased, making her calm, emotionless and indifferent to whether or not she's being disagreeable. She's also capable of being even more annoying than Rio. She fires guns all the time, but without ever hitting anyone and instead just causing massive property damage for effect that would surely get her instantly fired from any police force. The only time we see her unambiguously killing people is in episode six, during a flashback with an unreliable narrator.
Just as irritatingly, she's one of those cold-as-ice characters who likes strolling at a snail's pace through a firefight as a million bullets tear through the air around her. She should be dead. There's a word for this: "sitting target". (The worst show I ever saw for this was Trigun.) I think we're meant to think this makes her cool.
Oh, and in episode one, she stops giving sniper back-up to Rio (who's single-handedly facing down a biker gang) because a call came in on her mobile.
3. Lilica is a new character, with no point of similarity with the old Lilica bar the name. The old Lilica was a tech wizard, but this one is a clumsy, nervous psychic with no self-esteem who'd apologise for breathing. In her first episode, she's even more annoying than Rio and Maya.
In fairness, these characters improve over time. Lilica in particular is quite a nice girl, once you've learned to live with her childishness and incompetence. Rio is at least honest and straightforward. Maya gets humanised in episode six with some backstory and a deceased adoptive father, despite denying that what she said was true.
Oh, and once again there's a skirt-chasing perv called Yuuji who's chasing Rio and keeps getting beaten up by her. Sometimes, in fairness, this is funny. Sometimes, though, he's tedious enough to drag down the entire episode and you want to slap Rio for wasting time listening to him.
The show has three kinds of story: (a) light-hearted stuff that almost never works, isn't funny and is silly in a bad way, (b) beating bad guys, which is better, (c) a plot in episodes 10-11. Examples of the silliness might include, in episode five, a running gag with some comedy robbers. Our police officer heroines foil a robbery, but don't arrest the robbers. Why? Later they run into the same crooks and stop them from committing yet another robbery, but again don't arrest them. Why? Eventually the robbers switch to burglary and break into... our heroines' apartment. Gee, what are the chances? However this is near the end of the episode and so there's no time for yet another hilarious capture-escape loop, ergo at last our heroines arrest them. Am I supposed to find this entertaining?
The continuity is sloppy. Maya in episode six goes from a cowgirl outfit in one shot into a plain white one in the next, because it's time for an Emotional Death Scene. Rio in episode eight goes from "shirt revealingly torn open" to "shirt intact", then back again to "revealingly torn".
Twice the script includes "it's showtime" and once "it's party time". Death's too good for them.
The show improves, though. The first four episodes have no merit and can be burned. Episodes 5-6 humanise Lilica and Maya respectively, albeit still with annoying story points. After that, though, the second half of the series starts doing action plots that are worth watching. The villains are badass, the action is inventive and there's a playfulness that can actually be quite interesting. Eventually the show wheels out the serious heavies to smash Team Warrior into little itty bits, at which point the show got properly good. Episode 12 is anticlimactic and sequel-hunting (ahahahahaha), though.
Then there's the fanservice. From the neck down, all these women look like clones of each other and the show loves showing us their panties or their huge boobs. The closing titles are staggeringly shameless. However it's coy by modern standards, with only one nipple shot in all twelve episodes, and the art design is ugly as sin. Who in the world could find these women attractive? They don't look human. The art style's superficially realistic, yet the girls have insect-like faces, with deformed, droopy eyes and tiny, disturbing mouths that in some shots barely seem to exist at all. How do these aliens eat food? Do they suck blood through a straw?
This is a lazy, irritating show that seems to exist in large part for fanservice that these days is nothing to write home about, but is still blatant enough to make you roll your eyes. The show's first half seems to be going out of its way to make you hate it. Admittedly I quite liked the second half, but not nearly enough to make me give the show a pass. It's clearly the worst Burn Up, I think, despite being arguably less silly than X/Excess. It's a question of tone.
I'm not surprised that this killed the franchise. I'd probably watch more if they ever made it, but this show is full of examples of What Not To Do.