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Rim Delapaz wants to rescue his mother from the evil dictator Battros. He disobeys his father, stows away on a cruiser, and hopes that the rest of a plan will come to him before he arrives. But the cruiser is hijacked by pirates, the crew of the Sol Bianca, who are ready to throw Rim out of the airlock before he tempts them with the treasure that lies in Battros's vaults. The pirates decide to help Rim in his mission, but their landing team is ambushed by Battros's minions. As their fellow buccaneers mount a rescue mission, Rim's father decides it's time to mount a revolution, in which the crew of the Sol Bianca are caught.
Take a bunch of girls and a spaceship and you have a very wide range of possibilities. Luckily not all of them are pornographic (though see Spaceship Agga Ruter). Strangely redolent of Blake's 7's Liberator, Sol Bianca is an alien ship faster than any other vehicle in space, while its pirate crew, in the eye-candy tradition of Bubblegum Crisis, are all female: laid-back, wine-drinking captain Feb; butch Janny, good with weapons but inclined to fly off the handle; complex, tough-but-fair April; intelligent but reserved June, whose empathic link with the ship and its guidance computer, G, has mysterious origins; and the very young May, with a penchant for frilly clothes but an ace engineer in the bargain. After the promising beginning, the second SB video slid into anime hackery, with the girls chased around by a rival pirate whose gun can disintegrate their clothes, and the ship overrun by clunky "viruses" that look like cybernetic worms. Though it ends on a cliffhanger with the suggestion that the Sol Bianca's original builders want her back, a third chapter of Sol Bianca never arrived-this is despite a popular reception in the English-speaking world, where it's available in two translations, of which Kiseki's, in the U.K., is the better. In the U.S., AD Vision published a short-lived spin-off comic called SB: Treasure of the Lost Sun, which featured the girls on an Indiana Jones-style treasure hunt, with no mention of their video antics.
Pioneer remade the series from scratch with SB: The Legacy (1999), featuring all-new character designs from Onda, a new script from Hideki Mitsui, and contributions from two stalwarts of the company's 1990s success: Armitage III-director Ochi and El Hazard-composer Nagaoka. The revamped version takes the concept from the earlier series that Earth is semilegendary to the people of the far future, and then postulates a group of religious fanatics, the "Earthians," determined to preserve artifacts from the homeworld. This turns the crew of the Sol Bianca, somewhat pointlessly, from devil-may-care pirates into iconoclastic art thieves. SB: The Legacy also "updates" the characters, mostly ignoring the precedents of the first series. April is now captain, having found the Sol Bianca and put together a crew. Janny is still the muscle. June is still the brains, with a powerful symbiotic relationship with the ship and its computer. The biggest changes are in Feb, who still drinks but doesn't really seem to have a role in the crew, and May (now Meiyo), who supplants Rim as a stowaway and ship's mascot, though she too can link with the computer as June does. The computer can also take the form of a huge, shadowy woman, sometimes resembling the Christian Madonna and sometimes the goddess Diana. As with most TV anime of the late 1990s, digital animation gives the show an overly "clean" look, though it adds considerable charm to the spaceships. Released almost simultaneously in Japan and the U.S., SB: The Legacy was derided in Japan for "smelling of butter;" in other words, it was a little too Americanized for Japanese tastes-though art connoisseurs will find a treasure trove of cultural references, from Dante's Inferno to Alphonse Mucha paintings.