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Figure 17 Vol. 1: Soul Mirror

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Rating: Not Rated
Studio: Anime Works
Genre: Anime
Running Time: 150 min.
Languages: English, Japanese
Subtitles: English
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Tsubasa is a shy elementary schoolgirl with very few friends.

One night, she sees a shooting star and follows it to a downed alien spacecraft. The alien gives her a clone named Hikaru, who is as outgoing as Tsubasa is quiet. As Tsubasa teaches her new companion about the world, she rediscovers it herself.

When unfriendly aliens begin to appear, Tsubasa and Hikaru unite to form the Figure 17, A bio-humanoid combat system.

Contains episodes 1-3.

GreenCine Member Reviews

Hard Sci-Fi for Little Girls by hamano March 18, 2004 - 10:15 AM PST
11 out of 11 members found this review helpful
This is an exceptionally well done children's show from the perspective of smart pre-teen girls and their SF geek Dads. If it was a "magical girl" show rather than a hard SF show, it might even have reached a larger shoujo audience. If the show's creators had added some weird romantic elements like CLAMP did in Card Captor Sakura (same-sex crushes, teacher/student romance) it might have developed more of an adult/teen following. But this series is what it is, maybe a set-up with a limited audience but a very well-executed one.

The show opens in bucolic Hokkaido, Japan's northernmost major island famous for its unspoiled nature and rolling pasturelands. It's Japan's Switzerland or Montana. A single dad has moved here with his 4th Grade daughter to start a new life apprenticing at a friend's bakery situated in a log cabin by a big family-operated dairy ranch. Tsubasa, the daughter, is a shy girl who misses the best friend she left behind in Tokyo, and is having a hard time trying to fit in with her new classmates. The fact that her dad works from very early morning to dinner-time at the bakery doesn't help... he's so keen on making a baker out of himself that he misses Parents' Day at school.

At the beginning there are obvious echoes of Cardcaptor Sakura, the framed photo of the beautiful dead mother in the kitchen, the cute alarm clock, the even cuter short-haired girl. However, Tsubasa's personality is completely the opposite. She is shy and withdrawn, and has very little confidence in herself. Yet she strives to support her overworked Dad, showing him a brave face even when she's feeling sad. Her school life is shown with some realism. The teachers seem like ordinary people with ordinary lives, and the students behave the way you'd expect 4th Graders to behave, with some boys vs. girls rivalry, some teasing, some showing off, some cliquishness. There are no exaggerated or stereotyped characters like you'd see in Cardcaptor Sakura or Saint Tail. The scenes at school and at home unfold at a leisurely pace... in fact, this may be the biggest problem for younger kids watching the show. The way characters and stories are developed might be too slow to keep their attention, especially considering that this was conceived to be an hour-long show rather than the usual 30-minutes.

Things pick up, however, when an alien "cop" transporting some mutated monster eggs crash lands in the woods nearby. The eggs are scattered, the spaceship is wrecked, and Tsubasa finds the injured alien. She's promptly attacked by one of the hatchlings, and cornered in the cabin of the spaceship, where she comes into contact with an alien artificial intelligence made of liquid metal. This transforms Tsubasa into a Figure, a sort of symbiotic bionic super-girl. Figure 17 has a killer bod, skin-tight er, skin? and FABulous blonde hair. She also has a great talent for tearing monsters apart with her bare hands. If your kids were scared by No-Face in Spirited Away they might also be frightened by these monsters. My 8 year old daughter enjoyed the kinetic fighting scenes quite a bit. After the first fight, through some unexplained process, Figure 17 divides into Tsubasa and an identical "clone", who is dubbed "Hikaru". Henceforce the two are able to join hands and merge into Figure 17 every time a new monster hatches to threaten the peace of Hokkaido. Hikaru is not an exact copy of Tsubasa, however. After all, she's some kind of living alien armor bred to fight monsters. She has all of Tsubasa's memories, but none of her real experiences on Earth. Hikaru also has a very outgoing and happy personality, and confidence and athleticism to spare! She's eager to experience Earth first-hand, and passes herself off as Tsubasa's twin sister to get into the same elementary school.

Much of the sweetness of the show comes from the way Tsubasa and Hikaru play off of each other's mirror personalities. They're best friends, sisters, rivals. Over the course of the first few episodes, each learns a lot from the other, Tsubasa gaining confidence and the ability to make good friends, Hikaru learning what true compassion and things like family are really about. And just when the Dads in the audience start to get sleepy, Figure 17 springs into action, not to mention the feisty Oldeena, another alien "cop" who shows up to help. She's kinda like Mireille from NOIR, but with an even hotter bod! (Moms, don't worry. This show is rated JF, or jiggle-free, by the Otaku Wives & Mothers Association! Absolutely no fan-service!)

Lastly, I'd like to direct your eyes to the lovely art of the series.... most of the backgrounds are rendered in watercolor, and the house and interior designs are very nicely done. The beautiful mountains and meadows of Hokkaido are just superbly drawn! (Did I mention that the OP song/credit sequence ends with a zoom-in/close-up/freeze-frame on Figure 17's chest? I have no idea why, but who cares? Also, the series director and script writer both worked on Berserk.)

DVD not packed with goodies but this series shines. by JLind January 21, 2004 - 9:32 PM PST
3 out of 3 members found this review helpful
It kind of has a quiet, nostalgic feel to it when you start watching it but then you know things are going to start to get exciting and weird. Once the aliens land you are treated to some exhilarating fight scenes and impressive digital animation effects. While little Tsubasa gets a thrill from her being able to merge with her bio-android partner she doesn't seem too reluctant about it, but is kind of passive (as with everything) about her potential duties as savior of mankind. While the aliens aren't attacking, I enjoyed the realism and detail portrayed with Tsubasa learning more about herself and the world around her and the developing relationship between her and her twin "sister," Hikaru.
With episodes that are longer than your average anime series, the animation quality is high but not particularly breathtaking nor filled with lavish backdrop scenery.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 7.54)
79 Votes
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