Sol Bianca

Although it's not a part of my official strategy, one of the tests a lot of the anime I review have to pass to get a good grade from me is the "late night" test. If a show can keep me interested when I'm feeling slightly sleepy, it's doing well in my book! Sol Bianca is not a perfect science-fiction story by a long shot, but it is quite entertaining for what it is, and it passed the test easily. Not only does it involve a nice amount of action and some interesting plot twists in its rather short hour, but it has the potential to reach a large audience since it involves several intelligent female characters with a minimum of fan service...a rarity indeed in anime with a bent towards a male audience.

Sol Bianca is the name of a pirate ship run by five women who are in search of valuable and rare cargo, which they pilfer from unsuspecting (and usually less-than-saintly) merchants shipping their wares through the spacelanes. The women--each named after a month--have their own quirks that are used as an attempt to differentiate the individual players. It doesn't work all that well, per se, since there is little time for character development, but it doesn't matter. Rim, a stowaway who accidentally gets transferred to the Sol Bianca during a heist, is a fugitive caught between the warring worlds of Uno and Tres, and the story then centers on how the crew of the Sol Bianca eventually return order to the two worlds. Of course, this isn't easy, and the girls are primarily interested in obtaining the "Gnosis," a rare artifact on Tres that supposedly contains the wisdom of the ancients...but obtaining the treasure requires taking out Batros, the despot who rules the two worlds with an iron fist. Mayhem thus ensues.

Sol Bianca is not perfect simply because it's too short, and this has been remedied both in a sequel and a soon-to-be-released six part series. The translation available through AD Vision is not all that great, frankly, and it uses a lot of foul language that doesn't exist in the original. Besides that, though, Sol Bianca is rather entertaining in its approach to the material. Certain sequences, such as the "death from above" shootout (which you'll recognize when you see it), are absolutely great. I wouldn't say this is life-changing anime, but it's certainly a good evening's entertainment, especially if you like soft science fiction or anything from the "Girls With Guns" category of anime.

Sol Bianca -- occasionally graphic violence, extremely brief nudity, adult language -- B+