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All text is © copyright VIZ, LLC. No reproduction without written permission. All images are © copyright their respective copyright holders as noted. No reproduction without written permission.

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Irresponsible Captain Tylor (TV series) © Hitoshi Yoshiyoka/Kadokawa Shoten/Tylor Project (OAV series) 1995 Tylor Project (VAP/MRC)

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Fate, destiny, luck, and all the other universal forces seem to be on his side, but what's in store for Tylor next? A slightly less irresponsible future awaits the crew as the Irresponsible Captain Tylor original video series sets sail. By Auden Reiter

I can't say for sure that I would want Tylor's life. Attractive as blind luck is, I would be too worried that it would run out and, despite the witness of friends to the contrary, I would never want to be quite that oblivious. Tylor's Zen-like take on responsibility--or irresponsibility, as the title suggests--makes him oblivious...and mysterious...and forever contradictory, yet his bumbling is completely free of consequence. Ignorance is bliss, they say, and in Tylor's case you'd be inclined to agree.

Based on a series of novels by Hitoshi Yoshiyoka, Irresponsible Captain Tylor (original Japanese title: Musekinin Kanchô Tylor) aired on Japanese television from 1993 to 1994 and ran for 26 episodes. Set in the far future, this space comedy brings us into the tense beginnings of an interstellar war between the human United Planets Space Force and the humanoid Raalgon Empire. The series is rife with homage to the greats of science fiction, from Star Trek to Space Battleship Yamato to Superdimensional Fortress Macross.

The titular character, Justy Ueki Tylor, is an extraordinarily lazy yet charming young man with the uncanny ability to talk himself into and out of any situation, from joining the military to hostage negotiations. Unfortunately for those around him, it seems Tylor serves only Tylor.

Through fate, destiny, luck, and all the other universal forces that seem to be on his side, coupled with the appreciation of a retired admiral, Tylor is put in charge of the space destroyer Soyokaze ("Gentle Breeze"). Under his command are the biggest collection of misfits and outcasts that the United Planets Space Force has assembled and, oddly enough, also the most skilled.

Throughout the 26 episodes, the Soyokaze's crew manages to stumble through demotion, enemy capture and an interstellar war without getting killed. Tylor on the other hand, wins the heart of every woman he comes in contact with, accidentally thwarts several attempts on his life--some by his own superiors--and manages to put a stop to that pesky war that is keeping him from having just that much more fun. (Think Captain Kirk without all the bravery baggage.)

The message of the television series is a wise one: "Do what you love and the rest will follow." Though this message is mixed with a comedic fallacy that we all practiced as children after the lights went out: "If I can't see it, it can't see me." Tylor and, by association, his crew of misfits, seem to always come out on top of every situation no matter how dire the consequences may be for others caught in their wake--but hey, it's a comedy so we won't dwell on it.

The TV series ends with our heroes banding together, defying all orders to take the Soyokaze into deep space--once again with massive property damage--and true to that ending, their adventures are far from over, and the story continues in a 10-part OAV (that's "original animation video," alternatively known as "original video animation," or OVA) series, now available in the U.S through The Right Stuf under the title The Irresponsible Captain Tylor OVA Collection.

During the TV series, every one of the crew grew and learned (against their will, mind you) from Tylor's antics...except for Tylor, that is, which is why the first two OAV episodes are so impressive. In "Tylor's War," a.k.a. "An Exceptional Episode," Admiral Mifune assigns Tylor a secret mission. Mifune, it seems, has decided that Tylor has his uses. If you can't beat them, point them toward the enemy. This mission is particularly significant because during the course of it Tylor finally begins to suffer from a (gasp!) sense of responsibility. (This seems almost blasphemous after all his mad escapades.) The Raalgons have developed a weapon that can penetrate a ship's shields, destroying it from the inside. The crew of the Soyokaze is sent with another ship to destroy the weapons before they can be loaded into the regular Raalgon arsenal. Of course, Tylor finds a way to foul everything up and the Soyokaze is once again in the hands of the enemy. So it's reunion time with the Raalgon leaders, including Dom and Empress Azalyn, who is on vacation. Only this time, Tylor's role as the fool is made far too clear to everyone and Dom, in complete contrast to his usual attitude in the series, slowly becomes a raging madman. Sadly, this episode marks the last of the original author Yoshiyoka's guidance for the series, as he passed away during the production of "An Exceptional Episode." His daughter, Taria Yoshiyoka, took the reins for the rest of the series.

The next group of episodes begins a new story arc and, in fact, uses a different character designer--Masa'aki Kannan--adding to the different feel these stories have from previous episodes. A little more serious, a little more realistic (as realistic space fantasies can get, anyway), the first few stories focus on individual characters and how they are spending their time on extended leave during a time of peace between Earth and the Raalgon Empire.

In "The Importance of Being Sixteen," Empress Azalyn is confronted with her childhood, but like everything else since her taking the throne, her pleasant memories are shattered by the harsh choices of duty. This story is one of those little gems that sometimes surface when a writer approaches an established series from a new angle--the sort of thing that Star Trek and Babylon 5 were famous for. Ace pilot Kojiro Sakai is given time to show off in the next episode, "The Samurai's Narrow Escape." Kojiro has been assigned as a test pilot for the new UPSF space fighters. His reputation precedes him and another hotshot pilot is eager to test his skills, but the fun is ruined by the dogs of war and Kojiro comes awfully close to death--many times over. (Where would Tylor be without in-jokes? Gundam and Macross references abound in this one.) In "The High-Tech Opposition," Marine First Lt. Anderson comes face to face with his memories of academy days, as a mecha designed by a deceased friend runs amok in the streets--kind of like Patlabor: The Movie meets Mad Max. If there's a theme that runs through these episodes, it's that dreams are often shadowed by reality. That's kind of dark for a comedy but appropriate for the other, more straightlaced characters of a series dominated by a funny man.

The next episode, "White Christmas," gathers all the remaining characters for a cameo-filled story about Tylor trying to make it to a simple date with Yuriko Star. Along the way he manages to spread a little Christmas cheer to everyone he meets. This is touching to say the least, and reminiscent of the Macross episode "Private Time." Then, Yuriko Star and Lt. Yamamoto are featured in the next episode, a two-parter called "If Only the Skies Would Clear." Yuriko is assigned to investigate the mysterious destruction of an Earth ship. Though her investigation reveals nothing, she is kidnapped by a trio of mystery men. Yamamoto witnesses her abduction and becomes her only hope for rescue. In the second part, Lt. Yamamoto finally gets his chance in the spotlight as the captain of an escort fleet. Unfortunately, the entire fleet and the ship they are protecting are destroyed. Depressed beyond reason and confused by the mysterious attackers, Yamamoto must figure out where he went wrong if he is to save his already meager reputation.

At this point it becomes apparent that the writers have been sprinkling clues over several episodes, hinting that something is going on behind the scenes, and the explanation comes in the last two episodes (but to reveal that would be telling).

All in all, the Tylor OAV series is not the madcap ride of the TV series, and the new character designs may be a slight adjustment for some, but these episodes do continue the adventures of a group of lovable and engaging characters. And that's always something to celebrate, no matter how irresponsible you are.