Sol Bianca 2
I wasn't expecting much when I read the cover of Sol Bianca 2. Though I enjoyed the initial adventure of the ship and its crew, the video box promised over-the-top graphic violence and nudity, the lack of which (except in very small amounts) made the first Sol Bianca a surprisingly interesting entry in the genre of brave women blowing stuff up. Thankfully, Sol Bianca 2 is more of the same, not anything visionary but engaging, and not anything as extreme as what was advertised. If you read the cover of Sol Bianca 2 as it is distributed in the US by AD Vision, you may be sorely disappointed; however, the show is quite good and certainly enjoyable despite a dramatic misstep at the very end.
As Sol Bianca 2 starts, the crew is about ready to pull off a heist. They are after a smuggler's stash of pasha, one of the most extraordinary and rare substances in the universe which can dramatically improve spaceflight even in minute amounts, which makes it astronomically expensive. ('Course, the Sol Bianca is made of the stuff--if you can afford it, why not use the best?) The girls find out that they aren't the only ones interested in the loot, and their adversary, a balding scowl of a man, is ready to use any means necessary to stop the Sol Bianca in her tracks. When the ship's AI goes down due to a mysterious infestation on board, it's up to June and the others to get things working before the interstellar police finally catch up with them.
The nice thing with Sol Bianca 2 is that it tells a nice, concise story in a short period of time and does so with excitement and vigor. The video is a little short, coming in at quite a bit less than the advertised hour, but it accomplishes most everything it sets out to do. It does assume that you're familiar with the characters from the original film, so if you aren't, you may not feel that there's much character development. At the same time, though, if you just want a good action show, you really don't need that much background anyway, and it's not necessary to see the original to enjoy this one. (Frankly, there really wasn't much character development in the first one, either.) The character designs are unique, much more realistic than what most anime features, and they are a nice change of pace. For a short OVA of this sort, what matters is that it's exciting and entertaining, fulfilling the promise of a true "girls with guns" mini-show.
This isn't to say that everything about Sol Bianca 2 is great--there's a reference at the end of the episode to a possible ongoing storyline that's never followed up, since there never was a Sol Bianca 3, and it really ends the show on a strange, annoying note. Besides this, there are a few plot strands that strain credibility (though I know many people who'd probably like a clothing removal beam weapon) and an overwhelming lack of teamwork that makes you wonder how these five could possibly be feared throughout the galaxy. Blind luck, I guess--the Crusher Joe team, they aint. Combine a few minor plot holes with this, and the viewer with high expectations will be disappointed. However, this is not a title to overanalyze; it's a success as pure dumb fun. (I do fault AD Vision with filling the sub script with profanity not in the original--they did this with the first one, so it's not a surprise, but it's unnecessary and frustrating to those of us who don't care for it.)
Sol Bianca 2 is another enjoyable anime that won't change the world. I went in with expectations for a decent show, and that's what this is--no more, no less. I'm looking forward to seeing the new Sol Bianca series that has been released on DVD in the US--hopefully, it will build upon the best of the original show and bring a few of the elements like character background with it.
Sol Bianca 2 -- brief nudity, violence, profanity -- B+