Irresponsible Captain Tylor - the series

Image of DVD cover (73k jpg)

Released by: Madman Entertainment.
Region: Four.
Aspect Ratio: 4:3
Discs: Four.

Justy Ueki Tylor, age 20. Captain in the United Planets Space Force he commands the Soyokaze ('light breeze') which is a dumping ground for the reprobates and misfits the high command can't figure out what to do with. This includes the Captain himself who irritates Admiral Mifune no end for his slack attitude and distinctly un-authoritarian or military outlook. Not that this bothers Tylor one bit. Having entered the space force in order to get an easier life where they pay for his board and lodging Tylor is completely uncaring about what high command thinks of him. Having stumbled into his captaincy (*) he seems to just have the greatest luck in the universe. Or does he? The Raalgon aren't so sure. Indeed Tylor has quickly come to the attention of the Holy Raalgon Empire early in the burgeoning war with the UPSF. Studied and closely watched by Captain Dom the Raalgons are convinced he is a tactical genius. How else could he so consistantly pull victory out of the jaws of defeat?

So begins a comedy series set in the future with mankind spread among the stars. Despite the martial setting it all is a fairly light hearted jape. The series delights in putting Tylor into fairly impossible situations which he then somehow manages to not only escape from but often gets improbable results. Half the fun of the series is seeing exactly how he pulls this off. If that was all the series was it would be a classic. Unfortunately it is also a product of its time, that being the early nineties. (Although the tone of it feels closer to the mid eighties really.) A current of sexism underpins a healthy percentage of the jokes and story. The series is at its strongest when this is pushed to the background with the situational drama. It also is an oddly touching series - Tylor might be something of a sexist but he also is brave, kindly and often able to be quite perceptive about other peoples motives. At series end you grow to quite like the goofball and his shipmates - all of whom are loveable rogues in their own way.

Madman have taken all twenty six episodes and crammed then onto four discs. This means no special features of any consequence and the episodes themselves have been squeezed in to make the running time of 650 minutes fit. (Or 162 minutes odd per disc.) That is right on the upper end of what a disc can do and certainly my DVD player found the last episodes on each disc a little difficult. We do have a Japanese and English dub both in stereo. The English dub has some strong performances in it but is a little uneven and often takes a few liberties with the translation. To properly understand the series it is probably worth your time to work through it with the subtitles on and in Japanese.

The other oddity of the series for me is that I have seen the OVAs before I saw the series. This has had the slight side effect of letting me see the better animated versions of these characters and ship before I saw the original story. You definitely should see it the other way around but the two sets of stories are sufficiently self-contained that while the OVAs made reference to series events you easily could work out what happened. What I missed was a lot of the character subtleties which means, having now seen the series, I need to rewatch the OVAs again.

All in all it is good to see older series like this making their way onto DVD. Sadly given the way the anime industry is tanking right now (late 2009) chances are that we won't see much more of this sort of release. While I don't regard Tylor as a classic series it definitely is one worth watching at least once - I am glad to have had the chance.

(*) This is a mild spoiler as it doesn't happen till an episode or two into the series. But given it is called 'Irresponsible Captain Tylor' you would have to be a dunder-head to not know it was coming.

Philip R. Banks
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