Properly speaking, Volume 7 of Battle Athletes is the penultimate volume, but realistically, it’s the conclusion of the story. Everything that has been masquerading as the plot for this bundle of clichés is tied up neatly here. In other words, we finally learn who wins the title of Cosmos Beauty.
Did we, in fact, have any doubt who would win? All we needed to do was watch the first episode and note that our protagonist was not only the least talented, least deserving and least competent person in the show, but also the most annoying, to recognize that she would of course, be the winner. I’ve talked a lot about the idiot savant hero/ine here. Akari is pretty much the epitome of the type. Her mad skills only kick in when she’s boosted by an outside stimulus. Thankfully, there are many recent anime that go the other route and show us the hero/ines practicing until they drop. Because I am not naturally talented at anything, and everything I have ever become even mediocre at has been because of long hours of practice, it’s no surprise I prefer that latter stories to the former. :-)
Battle Athletes was from way back in the stone age, about a decade ago. It is decidedly old school in its power-ups – as well as in animation, music, voice acting and, well pretty much everything. As it also is rife with Yuri, I’m inclined to be generous. Plus, if you’re watching Battle Athletes in the first place, you gotta know to manage expectations anyway – this is not and never will be high art. :-) (Remind me to share my recent moment of satori about expectations and anime with you all sometime.)
So, we have two decidedly Yuri-riffic couples facing off in the finals of the CB tournament. The two best athletes evar versus two newcomers. In their defeat, Lahrri and Mylandah find each other, and get a nice little backstory which ties them neatly together, leaving Akari and Kris to have last minute angst at/about one another. In the manga, this was fueled by Akari learning that her father chose Kris over her, for no other reason that that he is (apparently) a victory-obsessed psychopath. In the anime, we learn that Kris cannot run the day chosen for the race, due to religious observances. Hmm…which is punchier plot complication? Hard to decide. At least the manga father wasn’t “Mr. Miracle” the chocolate hound. (Which always reminds me of a very evil drawing in the Jesus Drug doujinshi for this series. It’s just not right that that image is burned into my head…)
In the end, of course Kris gains dispensation to run. At last, Akari and she face off in a final battle.
Because it’s so much better, let me talk about the manga here. (And before I do, let me just remind you that the manga is LONG out of print, so please don’t ask me where you can find it. I got my copy at Book-Off, the used manga store, and I have also seen it for sale at Mandarake used book store in Tokyo. If you have a buyer, you can try looking on Yahoo JP auctions or the Amazon JP marketplace. Good luck.)
In the manga, Akari and Kris tie for first. Then they kiss in front of everyone in the whole world. Having achieved her dream, Kris returns to the Beginners to become a priestess.
In the anime, Akari wins and Kris disappears to return to the Beginners to become a priestess. Akari, having just been crowned, runs after her, catches up to Kris and her cow. Kris gently kisses her goodbye.
Read those two paragraphs again. Can you *guess* which one I prefer? I think you can.
And that’s pretty much it. Akari is Cosmos Beauty and she beat her mother’s time. Wow. Amazing. :-)
Oh, wait, here come the aliens! We’re under attack!
End of volume.
There were so many ways this volume could have been *brilliant*. Instead it was all right. Although Mylandah x Lahrri = win. And they will continue to be win through the farce that will be Volume 8. There really was no Akari x Kris, except in the hearts and minds of fans. Bloody shame if you ask me. But that too will come back like the bad penny it is in Volume 8. Because we can never have enough of our old friend old-school UST, i.e., “unresolved sexual tension.” (Remember, this was a staple for all anime of the time – not just Yuri or Yaoi. It won’t make it less annoying, but it makes it seem less unfair.)
So, for a resolution, it kind of wasn’t. I’d REALLY like to see this anime remade, this time with the right ending. ;-) Kanon, pfft. I want to see an updated BAV.
Art – practice profiles please – 6
Story – clinging to cliches is cheesy – 6
Characters – alas and alack, a lack – 7
Yuri – opportunity and motive, but no crime – 5
Service – as you like it – 5
Overall – slightly better than the sum of its parts, minus one for the cow – 6
For what it is, which is incredibly silly old-school junkiness from Mediaworks, Battle Athletes is pleasantly entertaining, without being good. ;-)