Nipple-biting rats don't quite do it for Judge Mitchell Hattaway.
Across the universe the ultimate weapon awaits!
The four-episode anime series Maps is the tale of an ordinary teenager who discovers that clues to the location of a vast interstellar treasure are hidden in his DNA…or something like that. The story is so jumbled and the characters so ill defined that it's hard to tell exactly what's going on.
The series opens as Gen and Hoshimi, two Tokyo high-school students, are accosted by Lipumira, a half-organic/half-mechanical creature who is also the living brain of a large humanoid-shaped starship. Lipumira electro-scans Gen and discovers that he is the Mapman, the being who will lead her to the Flowing Light treasure. Gen and Hoshimi decide to leave their families behind and venture out into space with Lipumira. Their journey to uncover the treasure will lead them to battles with Lipumira's sister ship-brains, an encounter with a princess whose people are involved in an interplanetary war with a race of sentient parakeets, and a run-in with a lecherous mercenary/slaver.
Maps somehow manages to be both too short and too long: too short in the sense that it contains too many characters and plot elements to be fully fleshed out during its running time, and too long in the sense that it's so unfocused and boring that it wears out its welcome after about ten minutes. Characters are introduced, their names are shouted a few times during the heat of battle, and then they vanish. It turns out that the Star Maps everyone is looking for aren't roadmaps to a treasure; they're actually parts of a weapon capable of destroying an entire galaxy. A race of ancient beings known as the Mystic Ones are looking for the maps so they can reconstruct the weapon and destroy the Milky Way. Lipumira and her sisters were created by the Mystic Ones in order to find the Mapman, but Lipumira rebelled and has decided to use the Mapman in her attempts to destroy her makers…I think. The plot contradicts itself quite a few times, some confusing back-story is dropped in at several points, and characters shift loyalties at the drop of a hat. It's incredibly hard to follow—much less care about—what's happening at any given moment. It's also repetitive. In every episode Lipumira's ship is attacked and barely manages to limp away to safety. It later returns just in the nick of time, and during the second bout, it somehow manages to stand up to an even larger threat and come away unscathed. (There is one exception to this rule, but it's actually a continuity error. Lipumira's ship begins the third episode in a damaged state, although the ending of the second episode indicates the ship was being repaired.) And there's no real ending. There's a big battle, some people die, and then just when you think there's going to be some type of resolution…you get nothing. It just stops.
Oh, before I forget—Lipumira has a pet space rat that enjoys biting the female characters' nipples. I'm not sure what the point of this is, but it's there for anyone who is interested in that sort of thing.
ADV's release of Maps sports a very good transfer; the only flaw is some instances of edge enhancement. (The animation itself is nothing special; it too often looks cheap and rushed.) The stereo soundtracks predominantly come across more like two-channel mono; only in the music can any real channel separation be found. There's more low-end activity than I was expecting from an anime soundtrack of this age, but it's still not enough to rattle the windows. The only extras are previews for other ADV releases.
Given the quality of the series itself and the rather high price of this bare-bones release, I don't think you'll want to give Maps a shot. Unless you have a thing for nipple-biting space rats, that is.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: ADV Films
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