801 T.T.S. Airbats
801 T.T.S. Airbats, originally adapted from the manga Aozora Shoujotai and released in 1994 in Japan, has now arrived on DVD courtesy of ADV Films. All seven OVAs are presented in this double disc release.
When Isurugi is transferred to the 801st Tactical Training Squadron (T.T.S.) to be a flight mechanic, he expects it to be some sort of secret division of the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force. However, he soon learns the truth: it's a team of female fighter pilots who perform aerial acrobatics for publicity. The team is led by two hotshot pilots, Mitaka and Haneda, who upon meeting Isurugi, vie for his affection both on and off the ground, often with dangerous results. Now with another evaluation coming up, Isurugi must bring the team together if they're to have any hope of becoming an official combat squadron.
I really enjoyed most of Airbats. While the first three episodes focus on what the 801st is and how it was formed, the last four are mostly stand-alone episodes. In particular, the fourth highlights the team's vacation in a snowy mountain resort, while the seventh and final episode is a flashback to Konishi and Saginomiya's early days at the academy. However, the series ends with several important plot threads unresolved. What happens with the love triangle between Isurugi, Haneda, and Mitaka? Where was episode seven going with Konishi and Saginomiya? Despite this, Airbats is both enjoyable and humorous, with some decent action throw in. The series is given a 15+ rating by ADV for some nudity.
Airbats is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1. The transfer is quite good, with vibrant colors, solid blacks, and no color bleeding or smearing. However, there is some slight edge enhancement and a few small marks.
Airbats is presented in Dolby 2.0 Stereo in English or Japanese. Optional English subtitles are available in two flavors – subtitles in English for only the music and feature-length subtitles. The stereo mix makes adequate use of the front soundstage and features some minor directionality. Dialogue throughout is crisp and clean with no distortion. Though I primarily listened to the Japanese track, I watched a fair amount with the English dub, and while it certainly wasn't bad, Yohko's voice is absolutely annoying.
Extras include production sketches, the series trailer, Japanese previews for episode four, Japanese cast interview tidbits, ADV Previews, and clean closings for episodes one, two, three, and five. ADV Previews are available for: Excel Saga, City Hunter: Secret Service, Dai-Guard, Sakura Wars 2, Steel Angel Kurumi, and Devil Hunter Yohko.
ADV's release of 801 T.T.S. Airbats boasts every episode in the series for a reasonable $35 MSRP. While the series is quite enjoyable, it doesn't feel complete, as several plot threads are left unresolved. Despite that, the series is definitely worth checking out as a rental and possible purchase, especially for fans of anime. Recommended.