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Sol Bianca

Sometimes the story about an anime can be more interesting than the actual story in an anime. Such is the case with Sol Bianca, a relatively obscure science fiction OVA about a team of female space pirates. Only two episodes were ever released before the show’s producers pulled the plug due to a lack of interest in Japan. As a result, it wound up ending on a bit of a cliffhanger as the plot was beginning to introduce additional characters who apparently know the girls, and was hinting at wider implications as to the origins of their ship and pilot. Meanwhile, the show had an RPG released on the PC Engine CD that could give fans an even more detailed view of the anime. In the end, it wasn’t meant to be as the series was cut short, although it would be revived a decade later as Sol Bianca: The Legacy where the characters were brought back for the most part but the story was totally different. In any case, Sol Bianca had the potential to be a fun sci-fi romp, but ultimately fizzled out.

Given that the show is only two episodes, things never get a chance to meaningfully develop. What viewers get are a couple of fun, self-contained adventures. The first episode sees the girls raiding a transport freighter for its arms cargo, but it turns out a young boy was stowed away on the ship and accidentally gets taken to the pirates’ vessel, the Sol Bianca. When discovered, he eventually explains his plight. He wants to be reunited with his family, but they’re from a world that has been conquered by a very militaristic planet in his star system. This doesn’t stop the girls from helping, especially given it winds up being an avenue for them to get some really nice treasure for their efforts. In the end, they come out on top and even wind up defeating the entire imperial fleet the boy was worried about.

The second episode at least hints at grander things. While on the surface, the girls are trying to rob a star liner that is transporting a precious cargo, viewers are given scenes that suggest that the pirate vessel is very special, and possibly fleeing something. From watching the two episodes, it’s clear that the Sol Bianca is ridiculously overpowered. It mops the floor with whatever tries to start a fight with it. So, at this point, the show was beginning to address this. It also introduced a character who was the emperor of a large quadrant of space, and apparently knew the girls, but they didn’t know who he was. It suggested that at least some of them had amnesia, but, again, the show ground to a halt after this, so viewers never got an explanation as to what was going on.

Characters in Sol Bianca are a potpourri of tropes with each of them named after a month of the year. Feb is the leader of the group. She’s calm, cool, and collected. She also seems to enjoy her wine. Janny is the tomboy muscle, more than happy to get into a scrap when the situation demands such. April doesn’t get fleshed out too much. She appears to be closer to Feb’s age and thus one of the more mature, level-headed members of the crew. She also seems to be the ship’s doctor. June is the pilot of the Sol Bianca and it’s suggested that she has some sort of psychic connection with the ship. It would also appear that she may not actually be human. Finally, there’s May. She’s the youngest member of the crew, and basically still a kid. She’s a fun-loving, bubbly girl who likes to use a small mech when on space pirate business. Given that the show got cut short, none of these characters got much in the way of development. There are hints here and there that there’s more to them than meets the eye, but it never had a chance to materialize.

Art direction is a bit different as it feels a bit like something that was made for a Western audience. At its core, characters still look very anime-esque, but facial features on the girls feel very slightly different. They look a bit like what one would expect from character design for a Western cartoon where all of the art was outsourced to a Japanese studio. It’s ever so slightly not quite dyed in the wool anime art. It does look nice, though. Characters are well done, and many of the space ship designs are pretty neat. Coincidentally, character design was handled by the same person who did the art for Maryuu Senki, but here the art is noticeably different from the much more straightforward approach used in that show.

One thing that stands out about this show that sputtered out so very fast is the various big name voice actors that were involved. Janny was played by Minami Takayama who is the voice of Conan Edogawa. Youko Matsuoka performed the role of Feb, and may be more well-known for doing the voice of Karl Lichter von Randall in Future GPX Cyber Formula and Gina Marceau in AD Police. April was played by Rei Sakuma who has also voiced Shampoo in Ranma 1/2 and Peorth in Ah! My Goddess!. Meanwhile, June was played by Yuriko Fuchizaki who was also the voice of Megumi in Ah! My Goddess!, Ibuki in Maison Ikkoku, Ri Kohran in Sakura Taisen, and Anthy in Revolutionary Girl Utena. Finally, May was voiced by Miki Itou who has also played Lind in Ah! My Goddess!, Android 18 in Dragon Ball Z, Taiga Fujimura in various instalments of Fate, and Natsume’s adoptive mother in Natsume Yuujinchou. For a lot of these actors, Sol Bianca was an early stepping stone in their careers, but it’s amazing the amount of talent gathered here regardless.

In the end, though, Sol Bianca is a neat historical curiosity. With only two episodes and supplemental RPG, there was barely enough story to peak viewers interest. Even then, the show certainly didn’t achieve this in Japan, hence why it got cancelled. This is an OVA more for people that feel compelled to consume as much anime from the early 90s as possible, having heard of Sol Bianca, and wanting to see what all of the hubbub was about (what little there was). The two adventures present were reasonably fun, and the art is pretty good, but that’s all one should expect in this series cut short.

- IroIro
November 1, 2019
Directed by: Katsuhito Akiyama
Studio: AIC
Released: 1990 / 91
Episodes: 2

Sol Bianca Image 1
VHS Cover

Sol Bianca Image 2
April, Janny, and June making their escape

Sol Bianca Image 3
Feb on the Sol Bianca

Sol Bianca Image 4
Janny, June, and May