Burn Up! is a ★★☆☆☆︱Big Crimes, Big Busts

I just had to use the tagline on the ADV release, for the review title; it was too good to pass up! Now, let’s get into the Burn Up! OVA, the one that exploded into a multi-TV series/OVA-spanning franchise. The original OVA is like a gust of smog, that turns a shroud of clouds grey, before the cleansing rain comes to wash away the pollution! It’s a concept that was alright-looking, but never really got far, in its original form!

⚠️ This review will be spoiler-free ⚠️

—Story/Characters

Synopsis: To the unsuspecting eye Maki, Reimi and Yuka may not look like ace crime fighters, which might explain why they’re stuck on traffic patrol instead of more “exciting” police duties. All that changes when Yuka gets herself kidnapped by a white slave organization run by a politically connected businessman who’s got the rest of the police cowed. Now it’s up to Maki and Reimi to don skin-tight battle armor, liberate a tank, and make sure that a certain slaver learns that when you play with fire, you’re going to get your ass burned!

The main heroines can be summed up with the “Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt” archetypes: Maki (“the audacious, loud-mouthed blonde-bimbo stereotype”) and Reimi (“the soft-spoken, raven-haired beauty—in other words, the less impulsive and more rational of the two”). I use Panty and Stocking as examples, but that stereotype has been around since Archie comics! Naturally, these stereotypes are okay in an action-movie setting, but it really brings nothing new to the table.

In Burn Up! W and Excess, there were typical “moe” tropes, but they were later explored and deconstructed. The caricature-like personalities were almost exemplified in that way, so that the characters could shed their skin in a type of ego death comeuppance; in order to rectify their flaws, so to say! Rio Kinezono’s growth in each installment was great, she went from being an obnoxious “sitcom”-like character to actually conveying somewhat of a heart and soul towards the end of each sequel. Whereas, Maki and Reimi are just empty desktop icons. 

Unlike the aforementioned spin-off series, the OVA concludes like an American action flick, and the show pairs the female leads with the only two male characters that get a spotlight, other than the corporatized villain. In their successor series, romance isn’t the prerogative of the plot, but Yuji and Rio do seem to have an underlying chemistry in their relationship. The ending of the original “Burn Up!” had the same kind of thoughtless conclusion as a Disney princess film, where it’s like, I guess they like each other… because they’re members of the opposite gender? Or something? It doesn’t feel as though the OVA had much thought invested into its characters or story.

—Technical

Luna’s Favorite Works by Each Respective Creator = ✅

Yasuhiro Takemoto (director), notable works:

  • Cream Lemon
  • D4 Princess
  • Ganbare Goemon: Jigen Jō no Akumu
  • Hanaukyō Maid-tai
  • Idol Fight Suchie-Pai 2
  • Onegai☆Teacher
  • Onegai☆Twins
  • Silent Möbius 2

Commentary: This is kind of rare for me, but out of Mr. Takemoto’s discography, there isn’t a series that I am particularly a fan of. Some of the shots were really cool in the Burn Up! OVA, though. Like, there’s this winding car-chase scene with Maki, in the beginning, that was vaguely reminiscent to something you would see out of animation cells in “Riding Bean!”

Kenji Kawai (music composition), notable works:

  • 009 Re: Cyborg
  • A-Ko: The Versus
  • Akachan to Boku
  • All That Gundam
  • Bakuretsu Hunters
  • Barakamon ✅
  • Biohazard: Vendetta
  • Blue Seed
  • Busō Chūgakusei: Basket Army
  • CB Chara Go Nagai World ✅
  • Chibi Neko Tomu no Daibōken: Chikyū wo Sukue! Nakama-tachi
  • Corrector Yui
  • Cosmos Pink Shock
  • Cyborg 009: The Reopening
  • Devilman: Tanjō-hen ✅
  • Devilman: Yochō Sirene-hen ✅
  • Dragon Fist
  • Esper Zenon
  • Eyeshield 21: Maboroshi no Golden Bowl
  • Fate/stay night ✅
  • Fate/stay night Movie: Unlimited Blade Works ✅
  • Fūjin Monogatari
  • Geisters: Fractions of the Earth
  • Girlfriend (Kari)
  • Gosenzo-sama Banbanzai! ✅
  • Groove Adventure Rave
  • Gunparade March: Arata Naru Kōgunka
  • Hakuouki Movie 2: Shikon Soukyū
  • Hana no Asukagumi! 2: Lonely Cats Battle Royale
  • Higashi no Eden ✅
  • Higurashi no Naku Koro ni ✅
  • Hime-chan no Ribbon
  • Hyper Police
  • I: Wish You Were Here
  • Iczer-Girl Iczelion
  • Innocence ✅
  • Jinki:Extend
  • Joker Game
  • Jūsenshi Gulkeeva
  • Kidō Keisatsu Patlabor ✅
  • Kōkaku Kidōtai ✅
  • Kurogane Communication
  • Kyūketsuhime Miyu ✅
  • Mahō Senshi Louie
  • Maison Ikkoku ✅
  • Majū Senshi Luna Varga
  • Maroko
  • Mermaid Forest OVA
  • Metal Fighter Miku
  • Mezame no Hakobune
  • Mob Psycho 100
  • Kidō Senshi Gundam 00
  • Mutekiou Tri-Zenon
  • No Guns Life
  • Oira Uchū no Tankoufu
  • Ranma ½ ✅
  • Ryūō no Oshigoto!
  • Sayonara no Asa ni Yakusoku no Hana wo Kazarō ✅
  • Seirei no Moribito
  • Servamp
  • Shōka
  • Shōmetsu Toshi
  • Starship Operators
  • Subete ga F ni Naru
  • Tachiguishi Retsuden
  • Taiho Shichau zo The Movie
  • The Sky Crawlers
  • Tōken Ranbu: Hanamaru ✅
  • Towa no Quon
  • Twilight Q
  • UFO Princess Valkyrie
  • Wakaba*Girl
  • World Trigger
  • Xi Avant
  • YAT Anshin! Uchū Ryokō
  • Zetsuai 1989

Commentary: The soundtrack creates a cybernetic orchestra of an atmosphere, despite the characters being plastic husks, instead of human beings. 

I watched Burn Up! with the ADV dub, so I will list the Japanese seiyū, but comments will be on the performances of the English voice actors.

Yumiko Shibata as Maki, notable roles:

  • Sherry, The Humanoid: Ai no Wakusei Lezeria
  • Cherry, Twinkle Heart: Gingakei made Todokanai

Tiffany Grant as Maki, notable roles:

  • Suzume Sakurajosui, Akihabara Dennō Gumi
  • Moffle, Amagi Brilliant Park and Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu ✅
  • Kaori Azumanga Daiō ✅
  • Chocolate Misu, Bakuretsu Hunters
  • Koume Sawaguchi, Blue Seed
  • Stella Harvenheit, Chrno Crusade
  • Daichi Sawaguchi and Densuke, Dennō Coil
  • Kanato Sakamaki, Diabolik Lovers
  • Asuka Langley Sōryū, Neon Genesis Evangelion ✅
  • Sella, Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya
  • Mai Tokudaiji, Ginga Ojōsama Densetsu Yuna (Galaxy Fräulein Yuna) ✅
  • Laura Bodewig, IS: Infinite Stratos
  • Nōmi Kudoryafuka, Little Busters!
  • Kuriko Kazetsubaki, Maburaho
  • Rika Anju, Magikano
  • Christiane Friedrich, Majikoi!
  • Susumu Tsukumo, Wandaba Style
  • Ellyse Aldomordish, Plastic Little ✅
  • Haruka, Sister Princess
  • Morgan, Tears to Tiara

Commentary: Ms. Grant is always a show-stopper, and her role as Maki is no different. She excels at playing the strong-willed, “badass” female lead; like her role as Asuka Langley Sōryū in “Neon Genesis Evangelion”!

Miki Itō as Reimi, notable roles:

  • Lind, Ah! My Goddess ✅
  • Kirara, Aoi Blink
  • Jessie Gartland, Battle Athletess Daiundōkai
  • Saori Minami, Dengeki Oshioki Musume Gōtama
  • Jinzōningen 18-gō “Android 18,” Dragon Ball Z ✅
  • Taiga Fujimura, Fate/stay night ✅
  • Gally, Gunnm “Battle Angel Alita” ✅
  • Miyo Takano, Higurashi no Naku Koro ni
  • Sachiko Ogasawara, Maria-sama ga Miteru ✅
  • Tōko Fujiwara, Natsume Yūjinchō ✅
  • Princess Minerva, Princess Minerva
  • Eiko Magami, Project A-ko ✅
  • Asa Shigure, Shuffle! ✅
  • Jessica May, Sol Bianca
  • Hokuto Sumeragi, Tokyo Babylon ✅
  • Eva Ushiromiya, Umineko no Naku Koro ni ✅
  • Nanase, Yami no Shihosha Judge

Amanda Winn Lee as Reimi, notable roles:

  • Mimiru, .hack//SIGN ✅
  • Momiji Fujimiya, Blue Seed
  • Pandy, Dead Leaves ✅
  • Mika Seido, Geneshaft
  • Gally, Gunnm “Battle Angel Alita” ✅
  • Rally Vincent, Gunsmith Cats ✅
  • Rei Ayanami, Neon Genesis Evangelion ✅
  • Yukiko Amagi, Persona 4: The Animation
  • Titaniva Mu Koshigaya, Plastic Little ✅
  • Nancy Makuhari, R.O.D: Read or Die ✅
  • Saki Asamiya, Sukeban Deka ✅

Commentary: Ms. Lee does a great job! She always plays characters that are both lovely and memorable; really glad she played my best girl, Reimi. She had big shoes to fill with Ms. Itō’s performance, but despite this, she made a charming transformation into the character.

Kumiko Nishihara as Yuka, notable roles:

  • Kayako Nakajima, Ayane-chan High Kick!
  • Diana, Bishōjo Senshi Sailor Moon ✅
  • Rumy, Fortune Quest: Yo ni mo Shiawase na Bōkensha-tachi
  • Lynn Russell, Hello! Lady Lynn
  • Milk, Idol Fight Suchie-Pai 2
  • Finn Fish, Kamikaze Kaitō Jeanne
  • Renko Kamishakuji, Kujibiki♥Unbalance
  • Pirotessa Merestianna, Lodoss-tō Senki: Eiyū Kishi Den ✅
  • Perona, One Piece
  • Selma Scheele, Power Dolls
  • Iris Chateaubriand, Sakura Taisen ✅
  • Shiori Takatsuki, Shōjo Kakumei Utena ✅
  • Yumi Arama, Time Travel Tondekeman! (“Time Quest”)

Kimberly Yates as Yuka, notable roles:

  • Leena, Dirty Pair Flash
  • May Hopkins, Gunsmith Cats ✅
  • Azusa Kanzaki, Mamono Hunter Yōko
  • Yomiko Readman, R.O.D: Read or Die
  • May Jessica, Sol Bianca

Commentary: Ms. Yates made Yuka have the atypical, shrill anime girl voice. Like her performance with Lilica in Burn Up! W (and Excess), I wasn’t the biggest fan!

Conclusively, out of the “Burn Up!” installments… the original OVA is not nearly as bad as Scramble was, but it doesn’t have the same, ambitious vision as W and Excess. If you’re looking for something similar to Gunsmith Cats or Gall Force, I would give this one a watch. But, overall, it earns a 4/10!

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Other Burn Up! Rankings:

Burn Up! W ★★★★☆

Burn Up! Excess ★★★☆☆

Burn Up! Scramble ★☆☆☆☆

Published by eggheadluna

H.E. Rodgers is the author of the Juniper's Tree series, also known as the 真柏Project. MyAnimeList: https://myanimelist.net/profile/Egghe... Twitter: https://twitter.com/EggheadLuna #真柏Project #JunipersTree

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