Year Released: 1995
Distributor: Unlicensed (DVD formally from Anime Works)
Running Time: OVA, 2 episodes, 27 minutes each
Rating/Recommended Audience: 13+
Related Films/Series: Graduation, Graduation M: Oretachi no Carnival, Tanjo: Debut, Debutante Detective Corps
For Fans Of: Shinesman, Dai-Guard, Martian Successor Nadesico, Mezzo DSA
-Both language tracks were used during this review.
-This is an alternate universe spinoff of the Graduation game/anime series, and there’s no need to have knowledge about said series when watching Sailor Victory.
-Sailor Victory was dubbed by the now defunct Coastal Carolina Sound Studios who were also responsible for dubbing Shinesman. Scott Houle was the voice director for both of these OVAs. Some of the cast return here with Pamela Weidner (Princess Shiina) playing Mami and her Android clone. Tamara Burnham Mercer (Noriko Hidaka/Shinesman Salmon Pink) is Kiyomi. Traci Dinwiddie (Kyoko Sakakibara) is Reiko. I’ll even explain why those were great casting choices in the review.
-Director Katsuhiko Nishijima has directed Najica Blitz Tactics, Agent Aika, and directed/created Project A-Ko. Some of his animation work was also featured in Urusei Yatsura, Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan, and Nadia: Secret of Blue Water.
I almost forgot about this obscure parody anime.
For a while, I’ve been finding some shorter works to watch and review on Iridium Eye. I figured revisiting a little anime OVA that I saw as a teenager on a whim would be a nice way to add some content to my tiny movie/anime/documentary/obscure film review blog.
Sailor Victory takes place on an Earth-like planet called Tatsu Asuka. There are robot crimes happening in Mikado City which is on said planet. However, they are often stopped by the all-female superhero team known as Sailor Victory. Yes, they start out as a quintet that wears sailor suits as one can guess by the name, the DVD cover, and from a certain series that isn’t parodied as much as you would expect. The Central Police Force becomes useless in dealing with these threats and their commissioner even falls under the influence of the malevolent Queen Margarita. It’s up to the Sailor Victory team with their giant ninja robots to save Mikado City.
Let me tell you straight away as you may have guessed from a certain sentence in my last paragraph: It’s not as big of a Sailor Moon parody as one would guess. There are some elements like the sailor fuku uniforms, an all-girl team, girl power hoopla, Queen Margarita who is an OBVIOUS Queen Beryl lampoon, and in the Japanese version, the nerdy girl Shizuka is played by Aya Hisakawa AKA Ami Mizuno/Sailor Mercury herself. Sailor Victory is more of a parody of mecha, superhero tropes, and a tiny bit of tokusatsu thrown in, so there aren’t a lot of magical girl elements there.
The animation while certainly showing its 90s aesthetics has aged decently. It’s not going to impress Hayao Miyazaki or Yoshitoshi ABe anytime soon, but there’s a surprising amount of fluidity to the fight scenes and comedic moments. There are even some subtle moments of detail like how in one brief close-up, one can see Kiyomi’s eyes through her swirly glasses that typically obscure them. I thought that was a nice subtle touch there. Yes, there are speed lines and dramatic still shots, but they only add to the parody values and there isn’t as much reused footage as one would expect most of the time, especially for the genres they’re making fun of.
Sailor Victory has a fun cast of characters. There’s Kiyomi Arai, who’s this errand girl for the Central Police Force. At work, she’s fetching coffee and tea for her lazy superiors while internally wanting to strangle any of them for their sexist treatment of her. She’s quite fiery and brash which really shows during combat. Mika Kato is a delivery girl who tends to be calm and rational, but she has a subtle need to be first whenever the team gets into a fight and has a penchant for taunting enemies when she has the advantage. Mami Shimura is this very ditzy girl who is obsessed with eating sweets and playing video games. She’s quite klutzy and doesn’t have a clue when it comes to big dangerous moments. Shizuka Nakamoto is this genius who invents all of the equipment and tends to be meek, but she has a secret snarky side that shows up whenever she ends up being right. The de facto leader is Reiko Takagi who takes credit for Shizuka’s inventions, always has to make a dramatic pep talk speech much to the dismay of the rest of the team, and she is obsessed with beauty so much that she’d make the entire Disney Princess roster get douche chills.
I will say that watching Sailor Victory as an adult was a lot funnier than I expected. While the Japanese version had some decently funny moments, I have to say that the English version was way more humorous. The usage of some meta-humor and tons of zingers make this really work. Watching Sailor Victory was sort of like watching a PG-13 Shinesman with some of the dialogue and some innuendos thrown in. Scott Houle and Coastal deserve a medal for their work on the English dub. Tracy Dinwiddie just nails it as Reiko with her vocal inflections and recontextualizing her delivery as Kyoko in this OVA was way too perfect. Tamara Burnham Mercer does an amazing job playing this brash tomboyish character Kiyomi. What makes her performance even more hilarious in hindsight is that both Kiyomi and Shinesman Salmon Pink both work at places where they end up fetching coffee for male co-workers while hating it (for good reasons), yet they are able to beat the crap out of any bad guys out there. I was really impressed with Pamela Weidner playing the spoiled Mami and her android counterpart AKA Annie. She uses two different voices as the real Mami talks in a sugary high-pitched and girly tone while Annie has an uppity Mid-Atlantic alto as she incorporates Reiko’s personality in her hardware, and I thought that this was two separate people voicing the characters. Some YouTube commenters even thought that Annie sounded like Rarity from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic while thinking it was her voice actress which wasn’t the case.
Much like my thoughts on Shinesman, I loved the humor and English dialogue. Here’s a highlight reel of some of the quotes.
Thief: I killed a bus?!
Shizuka: I knew a superhero robot needed a drill. That’s basic logic.
Random cop: Hey, why did you turn it [the monitor] off? That was my favorite anime!
Reiko: I’M NOT DONE WITH MY SPEECH!
Mika: Do I look like a babysitter [when dealing with Mami]?
Reiko: We did it…Who says girls can’t kick ass?! [Does a noblewoman’s laugh]
Even though I usually don’t put much profanity on my review page or any of my blogs, but one exchange was just so funny in the English dub that I just have to talk about it.
Kiyomi: Damn! That witch [Margarita] is a bitch!
Annie: You would be too if you had a broom up your ass all day.
There’s a ton more funny stuff in this OVA that I could go over, but other things need to be said.
While Sailor Victory is a legitimately funny anime, not everything seemed to connect. I thought this anime did resort to fan service when it really didn’t need to, especially the nude scene that happens in the opening credits and they reuse the footage in the first episode before they get called to action. I’m not a prude, but I found that to be unnecessary. In the second episode, there’s a subplot with Annie having a bit of an existential crisis of being a machine compared to her human teammates which made the story darker than it should be. During the final fight against Margarita and her giant magical robot, the anime loses its self-awareness of being a parody show and it got serious. I don’t need to see Cerebus Syndrome in an OVA that lampoons mecha, all-girl superhero teams, and whatnot. Mami can possibly annoy others with her being whiny and nowhere near as good of a hero as Kiyomi and Mika. She is forced to be heroic in the final battle, but she does become a load on the Sailor Victory team more often than not despite some funny scenes she’s in. Mika also didn’t have as strong of a personality compared to the rest of the team except for when she’s piloting her robot. One issue that some people may have is how the cops are portrayed as sexist and useless in their jobs as the latter is played for laughs. The sexist part was there to put some face heat on Kiyomi given her work environment, but I don’t think it got to the levels of something from a feminazi fan fiction project. The police get excoriated as they’re undermined by the Sailor Victory team and their commissioner even resorts to colluding with Margarita who wants all the jewels in the city. Sure, she double-crosses him later, but some may take umbrage with it being an anti-man show which isn’t the point or the case of Sailor Victory.
Sailor Victory was an anime that was a good way to spend less than an hour after some emotionally draining things. It’s not revolutionary or deep, but it does its job of making me laugh. The jokes and little jabs in this anime were witty and I caught some jokes that I didn’t pay attention to when I was younger such as the thief making a Highlander reference during battle. The animation is definitely 90s fare, but at least it was competently produced especially the major fight scenes. That scene of Gion (Mami’s robot) back flip piledriving the thief’s robot off a skyscraper was just awesome in its own right. The theme songs are quite tongue in cheek with the lyrics as the musicality of it. The anime got serious near the end when it really shouldn’t have and I thought they went too far with some of the fanservice elements. Look, Mr. Nishijima. I know you worked on fan service-laden anime like Najica Blitz Tactics, but some of it could’ve been toned down. The English dub is a huge plus and if you remind me of Shinesman in terms of comedy, you’re doing something right. Sailor Victory is a painless two episodes to watch and you may find some parts to be quite funny.
Adjustable Point System:
Add 1 point if you like parodies
Add 1-2 points if you like mecha and/or ninjas
Subtract 2-3 points if you like serious anime
Subtract 1-3 points if you want an overt Sailor Moon parody
-Competent animation and fun fight scenes
-Hilariously awesome English dub
-Funny jokes and some meta-humor
-Pacing and tone issues in the final act of the last episode
-Mami can be annoying sometimes
-Portrayal of the male characters being useless can be too on-the-nose
Final Score: 7/10 points
Content Warning: This was rated 13+ by Anime Works when they still had the license, but the content does push the limits sometimes. The English Dub has some strong language and I’m not just talking about Kiyomi almost saying the F-word. The violence is tame although it does get more intense when Margarita is trying to crush the Sailor Victory robots with her mecha. There’s definitely some fan service like swimsuit shots, a couple of brief panty shots, and the infamous nude scene in the opening credits and first episode. There’s even some innuendo where Mami and Annie do a cake-eating contest to get control of the robot Gion. Annie’s pigtails become vacuums which suck up the rest of the cakes while accidentally almost eating Mami (how either of them can eat this much cake and not get fat is beyond me). Mami’s head is in Annie’s mouth, but she spits her out and says “Yummy. Wanna play again?” [Head-Desk]
Photos property of their respective owners and used under US “Fair Use” laws.