Babel II

Some diversions are better than others. I like watching a baseball game every now and then on TV--and the scent of the ballpark itself makes a live game even better--but I can't remember the score of a single game I've seen. Such is the entertainment value of Babel II. Simply put, its initial plot is not unlike Akira...a teenage boy named Koichi finds out that he is psionic (or psychic, if you prefer) after coming into contact with another psi girl. It turns out that he is extremely powerful and the bad guys want his power for their own. Through a series of events, Koichi becomes Babel II, the spiritual if not physical descendant of an alien who arrived here thousands of years ago. Babel II goes after the miscreant psychics who want to rule the world with or without his help, and violence ensues. It's clear that the show is trying to appeal to multiple audiences, as Babel II has three helpers to deal with the nasties--a dragon, a mech, and a cougar. Fantasy, science fiction, and nature unite! Heh.

Granted, Babel II is not really that bad a show. The animation is consistent and reasonably good, and the dub is not too terrible, though it does employ the usual Streamline stable of voice actors. What strikes me about it is its repetitive nature...when all four episodes are watched together, the action sequences seem too similar, and the lack of true direction becomes apparent. In its original format--as an OVA released over the course of several months or years--it may have been entertaining in that the previous episode would be long forgotten by the time the newest episode arrived. However, as all four parts are on the same DVD, it becomes apparent quickly that the show as a whole lacks much more than a "good guy takes on bad guys" element. There's lots of yelling and screaming as they all shock each other and duel it out, but that doesn't make a plot, either. Although the romantic element gets toyed with briefly, it's clear that the show's only real purpose is to be a violent comic-book fantasy, and I suppose it succeeds in climbing that hill. It's just not a very high perch to attain.

(As a special aside to DVD connoisseurs--the disc is in English and in Japanese, which would be nice save for the fact that there are no subtitles. Thus, the Japanese side is pretty worthless unless you have a working knowledge of the language or want to hear the original voice acting, which is essentially better than that of the English dub.)

Babel II -- heavy violence (though not graphic), mild language -- C