For many consumers of modern media, there’s nothing quite as appealing as the combination of the hyper-technological with the antiquated equipment of the past. Post-apocalyptic worlds combine the mystery of the new with the blurred vision of the old, resulting in a miasmic mixture that attracts individuals of all genres. The success of gaming’s Fallout series, the silver screen’s Mad Max and 12 Monkeys, along with a whole host of celebrated books, only proves this point further.
While FUNimation’s Solty Rei is certainly set in this genre, more of the viewer’s attention will be riveted on the characters in the series rather than the world that they live in. The story behind Solty Rei derives its roots from a cataclysmic event known as the Blast Fall, which occurred twelve years prior to the unfolding of the anime. In the beginning of the series, viewers won’t really know much about this disaster except that it destroyed a vast chunk of the city, killed or maimed hundreds of thousands of citizens, and resulted in a number of children and adults with amnesia. Nobody knew why the Blast Fall happened. The viewpoint of Solty Rei focuses on one particular man, Roy Revant, a bounty hunter who lost his daughter, Rita, in the Blast Fall and has since searched every inch of the city – even its seedier elements – to try to find her.
After giving up hope, Roy’s life becomes little more than a chore until a girl – who turns out to be the Solty from the title – falls from the sky. Viewers quickly learn that Solty is more than just an ordinary girl; she survives a free fall of several thousand feet, can take out criminals with a single punch, and is generally awesome at everything she does•except cooking. Solty eventually gets inadvertently adopted by Roy and becomes his unwanted live-in daughter.
That sounds relatively simple and straightforward so far, right? All we need is an outside conflict and the story will be fairly intriguing. Unfortunately, the writers behind Solty Rei weren’t convinced that having two protagonists was enough, so they proceeded to add a third main character, Rose Anderson, into the mix. While I won’t give anything away, Rose plays a much larger part in the overall story than she deserves, taking the focus away from Solty and Roy, which is, in my opinion, a total shame.
The interactions between Solty and Roy are what this show is all about, and every time they interact on the screen you can’t help but feel the tortured emotions that plague Roy, or Solty’s need to feel acceptance from Roy in order to truly feel at home in their world. While I typically don’t favor English dubbing over subtitles, these particular subtitles were absolutely abhorrent and Christoper Sabat (who I fell in love with as Vegeta) and Carrie Savage do a tremendous job portraying their two leading characters with a variety of emotional range. Savage’s last few lines as Solty were absolutely astounding and really were a nice change of pace from her voicing throughout the rest of the series.
To me, Solty Rei is like one of those chocolate figurines you get for Easter or Christmas; there’s plenty of sugary goodness on the outside, but you’ll be disappointed when you take a bite only to discover that the inside of the figurine is filled with nothing but air. Solty Rei astounded me at first with its high animation standards, terrific effects, and well-integrated 3D models. The dubbing was incredibly well done and the story was heading in a nice direction with Solty and Roy being the center of attention. After the midway point of the series, however, the storyline became so lackluster that I had to force myself to continue watching. If not for the final episode, which was a nice reversion back to Solty and Roy’s trials and tribulations, I would’ve been left with a bad taste in my mouth.
Another complaint I have about the show – one that I often had to explain to my wife – is the ridiculous assortment of gratuitous shower scenes along with a dabbling of episodes completely devoted to the female anatomy. I’m all for ridiculously bouncing boobs or jiggling asses if that’s what the show is about, but the inclusion of these scenes in Solty Rei really wasn’t necessary and actually caused me to groan every time I could sense one coming.
Did Solty just get some dirt in her hair? Let’s go to the shower! Have we included the girls from R.U.C. in this episode? No? Let’s have •em take a shower together! While there is never anything that puts Solty Rei into the “Mature•bCrLf category of anime, there’s still plenty of cleavage, gyrating, and girl-hugging-girl action to entice any man that’s interested in cartoon females.
That said, I couldn’t help but wonder what audience Solty Rei is really aimed at. Breasts, butts, robots, and big guns all point me straight toward the guys, while the obvious assortment of strong lead females drives me back toward the girls.
Solty Rei excels at being a true two-headed monster. On one face is the most beautiful creature you’ve ever seen, but the other is so hideous that you have to look away. If you’re a fan of excellent animation and enjoy some gratuitous cleavage scenes tossed into your anime, you’ll fall head over heels in love with Solty Rei. But if you need a storyline that holds up over a full 24 episodes, then you may need to check out a different series or really get a good feel for what Solty Rei is about before you purchase this set. Priced at $69.98, this series isn’t going to come cheap, so make sure you know exactly what you’re getting into before plunking down your hard earned dollars.
©2005 GONZO / Solty Rock Project