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  • BABEL II: PERFECT COLLECTION compiles the four OAV episodes of BABEL II (1992) into a single 104-minute film. Based on a 1973 animated TV series created by Mitsuteru Yokoyama (of "Gigantor" fame), it tells the tale of Koichi, a Japanese schoolboy who finds he's the chosen successor to Babel, an alien stranded on earth thousands of years ago who had the original Tower of Babel built so he could contact his home planet, an effort that ended in failure when the people of the time destroyed the tower. So Koichi, now dubbed "Babel the Second" (the proper way to pronounce the title, not "Babel Two"), uses his newly discovered inner powers to go to war against a band of criminal psychics who first seek to recruit him and then try to kill him since their leader, Yomi, considers himself Babel's true successor. Making things interesting for Koichi is Juju, Yomi's fetching young female aide, who is drawn to Koichi and keeps trying to get him to come over to their side. Adding some spectacle are Babel II's three "servants"—a giant robot, a black panther and a winged four-legged mammal that Koichi rides around on. Also on hand are a pair of U.N. Security Agents who monitor the action and, after first suspecting Koichi of being one of the renegade psychics, soon give him valuable support.

    The first half does a very good job of setting up the characters and situations and includes a spectacular psychic battle in an abandoned urban area that foreshadows some of the Tokyo-set fighting action in "X" (both the 1996 movie and the 2001 TV series). However, at a certain point the whole thing plays like a compilation of scenes from a much longer series. Cuts between sequences get more and more abrupt and key information is withheld from us. It also gets mighty repetitive, as each battle between Koichi and his super-psychic-powered opponents comes to resemble the last, until Koichi and Yomi replay their climactic big battle from earlier but in a different setting. It's exciting and fast-paced but a bit wearying.

    Juju is an interesting character and gives Koichi a female counterpart in whom he invests some real feeling. Their bonding gives the proceedings some genuine emotional resonance. It doesn't hurt that the petite lilac-colored-haired Juju is pretty and sexy and wears a steady stream of attractive fashions throughout.
  • Normally, one likes to promote 80s and 90s anime to help educate fans who think that the genre started with Dragon Ball Z, but no new fan can be faulted for giving this series a miss. There is pretty girl to get things going, of course, but she is dull and lifeless and a rather poor motivation for any of the action that comes next. The main character, typically, is an ordinary high school kid who finds himself in the middle of an improbable adventure and privy to the existence of secret societies and hidden worlds, but they are all rather routine and unexciting. The action animation is not very well executed - too many speed lines and still images in fight scenes for my liking and nothing about the secret worlds we visit is particularly memorable. This for me is the series key weakness: every good fantasy has some kind of catchy hook, much like a good pop song, that makes you want to re-visit it once it's over. This one does not. I saw it once and have no interest in watching it ever again. Avoid.