What They Say
Lost for countless eons, the crystal maps show the way to the most priceless treasure in the universe. Now, the key to finding the maps has been discovered, and an insignificant planet known as Earth has become the target of an alien invasion! Rescue by the living starship Lipumira, Gen and Hoshimi suddenly find themselves trapped in an epic odyssey across space and time. Against impossible odds, the two young lovers must locate the missing maps and locate the treasure before the force of darkness can destroy the galaxy!
Contains all 4 episodes.
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo along with the English dub, both of which are encoded at 224kbps. The stereo mix for it is a decent sounding early 90’s mix with some very minor noticeable directionality across the forward soundstage with some of the action sequences. The dialogue itself is kept relatively to the center channel for the bulk of it while the music score makes decent overall use of the mix. There isn’t anything terribly deep or immersive but it’s a serviceable mix that gets the show across. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally released to video back in 1994, the transfer for this four part OVA series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The materials have held up pretty well for the last ten years and the overall presentation, while not a highlight of what an OVA series can look like, is solid throughout in its production values and the transfer reflects that. The show has a good looking color palette to it without being too vibrant or too dull looking. With as much detail as there is to the show, we get to see more here than probably during any previous release and it manages to avoid much in the way of aliasing and cross coloration. The only aspect I don’t care for, and it’s a part of this being a catalog release, is that the opening credits have the English credits covering up the Japanese credits. It’s a product of its times and probably the only master they actually have, but at least the end credits are untouched and each episode is followed by a credit scroll, which is my preferred method anyway.
The front cover is a bright and skin-heavy piece of artwork that has the lead female character of Lipumira upside down and showing off all she’s got in her minimal outfit while some of the other characters and ships float around the background. The background is actually a nice looking stellar piece and the logo plays up that feeling a bit with planets and nebula’s inside of it as it’s sort of twisty looking. The artwork, in general, looks really nice here but I’m just not sure about the upside down feeling that it gives you. The back cover uses the grid piece across more of the open space and provides a number of shots from the show and a cute illustration that shows off more skin. The shows summary covers the very basics of the premise and the bottom is filled out nicely with a complete technical grid section and the usual production information. The insert has the same artwork as the front cover but without the logo while the reverse side is just advertisements.
The main menu is a static piece that takes a lot of the elements from the front cover and rearranges them, such as turning Lipumira right-side up and putting the individual episode selections next to her on the left and below the logo while a brief spin of instrumental action music plays along to it. With nothing on the disc besides the show and some trailers, menu navigation is easy and access times are nice and fast. The disc also correctly read our players’ language presets and played without issue on startup.
While the OVA market continued to dwindle during the early ’90s, a lot of shows still got made and MAPS is one of the more average of the kind that came out then. It’s the kind of four-part series that initially starts off with something that seems interesting but falls into the problem of not being able to really get across anything other than some basic action/adventure moments and relatively flat and uninteresting characters.
The show starts off by introducing us to a young couple named Gen and Hoshimi after they take in a rollicking good science fiction movie, though she was obviously up for some sort of romantic movie. To their surprise, things go higgledy-piggledy when a scantily clad blonde woman shows up claiming that she must have him. With her large ship dominating over the city that’s resembling a dolemn from Rahxephon, she takes the two of them into it as things heat up due to the arrival of another ship that’s intent on destroying her. Through the mix of violence and destruction, we learn that Gen has stored within his genetic data the first Star Map that will allow this woman, Lipumira, to head into space to find the priceless treasure called the Flowing Light.
Gen tries to take all of this in but decides that he’ll agree to Lipumira’s terms and in three days he’ll return to her and join her in this search. To his surprise, Hoshimi has decided that she wants to go too and their journey gets underway after yet another fight with one of those trying to stop Lipumira from discovering it. The battle goes back and forth a bit but not before we see something really interesting; stopping time briefly, the entire planet begins to expand as the tectonic plates “unlock” almost and it allows Lipumira’s ship to go deep inside so that they can find the next piece of the puzzle that they need to move forward. It’s an intriguing piece there and it’s got something really big written all over it, but before you know it everything shifts back into place and we’re left with the rest of the series over three episodes.
The three episodes that follow end up shifting the story to a year later and much of the time has been spent in just getting around the galaxy, doing odd jobs and stocking up on supplies. Gen and Hoshimi have gotten very comfortable at their new lives and dress in an almost 60’s/70’s TV sci-fi nature – and apparently, mullets are a requirement – but they do continue to do their best to find more pieces to the Star Map that will lead them to the treasure. They’ve not had to deal too much with the five sister ships of Lipmura’s that are out there but that’s what the remaining episodes are for as they get involved not only in dealing with them but with some local government feuds and various alien quarrels. So over the course of the first couple of episodes after they leave Earth, we get some standard fare that has them dealing with things that slowly advance the plot and their search for the treasure.
The problem comes in that once they leave Earth, and the hook they had there initially of so much destruction and devastation, what the show turns into is little more than a basic space opera with hardly any depth. You don’t expect too much with just four episodes but other than some basic additional background on Lipmura, which is required to have anything plot related happen at the end with the “big” revelations of what the treasure really is, but you need more than what you get. Hoshimi, in particular, gets the shaft badly here as she’s often not seen for large chunks of entire episodes once they’re off of Earth. The choice of both of them going into space could have been interesting to explore on its own but there simply isn’t the time or desire to tell that kind of story.
This is all providing you can make it past the first episode which just has a lot of moments where you can’t believe they’re doing what they’re doing. With the show opening with as much destruction as there is, never mind the arrival of, you know, aliens, do you really think the school would still be in session the next day? With a massive ship hanging over the city, would everyone go to work? Yes, I know, it’s Japan, it’s different there, but come on, this just pushes things beyond a believable limit for the small stuff which makes the big stuff even harder to deal with.
MAPS isn’t bad but it isn’t a great show either. It’s one of those series that likely could have benefited from being done as OVAs are now in a thirteen episode form and some serious rewrites and updates to fix a lot of the bad areas of writing done in the original. There’s some promise of interesting material in it but it never manages to really tell it and the material it does have to tell ends up becoming pretty uninteresting since the characters are so one dimensional and without much background or personality. There are a couple of neat space battle sequences, some fanservice in the skin department and one or two neat ideas but it’s all badly packaged as a series and shows the shortcomings of some OVAs.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Content Grade: C-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: N/A
Released By: ADV Films
Release Date: January 25th, 2005
Running Time: 100 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.