Starship Girl Yamamoto Yohko is an anime based on novels by Takashi Shoji. It aired in 1999 in Japan, but was never licensed outside of it. Is it like Gakuen Utopia Manabi Straight and worth looking into or is there a very good reason it was never licenced? Let’s take a look.
The story begins with a High School girl named Yamamoto Yohko doing athletics. She’s bribed into examining a strange event involving a door that only seems to open at certain times and a certain student seems to keep disappearing into. She finds a portal that takes her a thousand years into the future where she’s greeted by several people who seem to know her including a girl from her school named Momiji. She regains her memories during a starship fight and remembers the truth, she’s the one who’s been disappearing. She was going to the future to battle in a war between two factions for control over different territories. She and Momiji return to their battles and recruit two other girls from their time, Ayano and Madoka, to fight with them. Things get complicated when they discover a mystery called “The Old Timers’ Inheritance” and looking into it quickly leads the group into trouble. The premise isn’t bad and there are some good moments, but overall the execution is terrible. There are multiple plot holes, the fight scenes are boring and the series is full of pointless transitions and forced expository dialogue. There are several pointless romance subplots that don’t affect the narrative and only affect the characters temporarily before getting dropped. The only romance subplot that they actually need for the story is the one between Madoka and Yohsuke. The rest are pointless padding. Speaking of which, there’s a lot of that. In a series with only twenty-six episodes.
The characters aren’t so bad. The main four get some good interactions and are pretty complex and developed characters. The main issue is that the vast majority of the other characters are completely one dimensional. The antagonists suffer from the “needlessly toy with the enemy giving them a chance to beat you” cliche. Each of the main characters also gets one episode where they spend an inordinate amount of time moping over something relatively minor. Which ruins part of the tension when they have something legitimate to worry about.
I didn’t want to say this after last week, but the art is lazy and schizophrenic. They don’t change the art technique completely like they did in Leave it to Piyoko, but they’re constantly doing bad effects with the animation that just get annoying really quickly. They frequently save time on doing the colour simply by shading everything one colour. There are moments where they draw a simple scene and just tile it. The result is that the art goes all over the place. Even when they aren’t doing anything screwy with it, it’s not good. Rather, it would be pretty mediocre without the horrendous effects. What makes this worse is that the key animation was done by Sushio, who did animation work for several very well drawn series like Berserk, Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040 and Mushishi. I have no idea what happened here.
The voice acting is actually really good, overall. They got a lot of strong actors like Hayashibara Megumi, Yukino Satsuki, Miyamura Yuko and Matsumoto Yasunori. The music is pretty good as well. One issue is that the characters almost always refer to Yamamoto Yohko by her full name and it gets annoying pretty quickly. Another is that there are moments where the sound effects are so loud that it’s hard to hear the actors.
I’m going to give Starship Girl a yuri factor of 3/10. The main four protagonists all get some homoerotic moments, especially Ayano and Yohko but they go out of their way to give them all gratuitous romance subplots, except for the aforementioned Madoka one, and nothing too substantial ever happens among them.
My final rating for Starship Girl Yamamoto Yohko is a 3/10. The voice acting and music are really the only strong points. The plot and art are both messes and the few decent moments really aren’t worth watching the series for. Even if I’ve watched worse anime that did get licensed, I can understand why the license was never picked up.