Anime of the Past: Plastic Little

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

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Plastic Little

Plastic Little is a one-shot sci-fi OVA produced in 1994 by MOVIC.  It was created by the team of Kinji Yoshimoto and Satoshi Urushihara.  If these names sound familiar to those that have been following this column, there’s good reason for that.  Yoshimoto and Urushihara were also the creators of Legend of Lemnear.

Like Lemnear, Plastic Little is a production heavily focused on fanservice, but the similarities for the most part begin and end there.  Unlike the poorly plotted, paced, and written Lemnear, more effort has been put into the writing, resulting in a much more coherent, entertaining experience, though still a shallow one.  The protagonist is Tita, the teenage captain of the Cha Cha Maru and her crew of pet-shop hunters; so named because they hunt cloud-dwelling creatures that are sold as pets.  Having overslept at their hotel, Tita races back to the ship when she stops to help a young lady named Elysse escape from a band of soldiers.

Plastic Little

Elysse, the damsel in distress.

The core of the story centers around the relationship between Tita, Elysse and the friendship that grows between them.  This friendship also becomes fodder for a number of the more pandering scenes, such as when the girls spend time in the Cha Cha Maru’s comically elaborate bath.  Though it’s worth noting that despite the gratuitous fanservice and topless scenes, the content isn’t pornographic.  Plastic Little carries a light-hearted, humorous tone, and is just as adept at depicting Tita doling out punishment to a couple of crewmen that she catches peeping at them.

Plastic Little

Captain Tita does not suffer perverts.

If there’s any place where Plastic Little stumbles in particular, it’s in some of its more serious moments.  In a scene between two of the older crewmen, doubts about Tita are raised and just as quickly discarded.  A punch is thrown that, as it turns out, didn’t need throwing.  It’s all rather toothless; present more to aid in the impact of what’s to come than to add any actual drama.

Plastic Little

Two grizzled men being contemplative as they discuss Tita’s past.

The same can be said of the confrontations between Tita and the imperial soldiers after Elysse.  Though she’s shot while confronting them at one point, she makes a very quick overnight recovery thanks to the ship’s doctor (and bulletproof, skin-tight clothing; no, that is not a joke).  Eventually, Tita and Elysse sneak into the emperor’s fortress in order to stop him from activating a super-weapon that will kill all of the civilians on the floating island, but the actual confrontation with the emperor himself is surprisingly brief.  His imperial (imperious) hubris allows Tita to shoot him square in the face from point-blank range, at which point he does his best Emperor Palpatine impression and tumbles over a railing into the depths of the reactor core.

Plastic Little

The emperor, made suddenly aware of the catastrophic flaw in his scheme.

So no, Plastic Little is not particularly complex, nor does it make any concerted effort to be.  It is, in general, almost entirely fluff with little substance to back it up.  But the key difference between Plastic Little and Lemnear is that what substance that is there does a far better job of holding the fluff in place.  The larger cast of characters in Plastic Little demonstrates a greater degree of personality, however simplistic.  Further, the internal logic of the universe makes more sense, and the story has much better pacing, giving it a steady flow.

All this being said, it still bears repeating that Plastic Little is first and foremost an anime produced for those that want a cocktail of titillation and action that’s easy to swallow, and in that sense makes use of well-worn tropes of Japanese sexual humor.  For example, more than one gag is made at the expense of Tita’s comparatively small breast size.  Even her name is arguably in reference to…you know.  And of course, there’s the lecherous crewman Nichol and his penchant for the nosebleed, which, for those of you not as versed in anime, is a common comedic element used to depict male arousal.

Plastic Little

Underwater nosebleeds are the worst.

Before we close, it’s worth noting that ADV, the company that published Plastic Little on DVD in North America, added onto the absurdity with some silliness of their own.  Their release features a trademarked “Jiggle Counter.”  If this feature is toggled on, a counter will pop up each time a jiggle occurs.  It’s an absurd feature that is entirely optional, and really only brings to mind the fact that someone at ADV, whether they were paid staff or an intern, was tasked with counting each and every single one.  And also noting the timecodes when they occur.  As part of their job.

Plastic Little

Finding a work-safe screenshot containing the counter was not easy.

In summary, Plastic Little is a fun, if absurd romp.  While the production is light-hearted and aware that it isn’t meant to be taken seriously, it’s definitely not something for all audiences.  But with that warning in mind, those that are interested may find something entertaining.

Plastic Little was released on DVD in North America by ADV Films.  The release contains both the original Japanese with subtitles as well as an English dub.  It is rated TV-14 for violence, nudity, and adult language.

On a final note, are you wondering where Part 3 of our look at Fist of the North Star is?  Well, have no fear.  Kenshiro and company will be back next week!

About Justin Graham

Justin joined Oprainfall through…belligerence. (Note to others: This is not a good way to get noticed. This sort of thing only works once.) When he’s not writing about games or waxing nostalgic about anime older than a large portion of the site’s audience, he can be found playing JRPGs or beating up lots of dudes in Dynasty Warriors.