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Angel Cop - Anime Review

March 8th 2007 23:34

Angel Cop - Anime Review


Title: Angel Cop
Episodes (Total): 6 (OAV)
Episodes (Seen): 1-6 (English Dubbed)
Category / Genre: Police, Conspiracy, Sci-Fi, Action
Year: 1989 (Japan) / 1994 (US)
Age Suitability: 18 (Profanity, Violence, Gore, Brief Nudity, Adult Situations)


In a nightmare future, violence is the only law. Japan is under attack. A group of violent terrorists, known as the Red May, have launched a wave of bombings and murder across Tokyo, threatening the stability of the entire country. In response, the government calls in the Special Security Force (SSF), an elite law enforcement division with the authorization to use any methods necessary to protect public safety. As the Red May continue their assault the SSF unleash their deadliest weapon: Angel, a woman whose beauty is matched only by her skills in combat. But Angel soon learns that the situation is far more complex and dangerous than she first thought. The terrorists are dying before she can get to them, ripped apart by some ferocious and inexplicable force. Someone else is after the Red May - someone with the power to destroy anything or anyone in their way – including Angel and her team!

Anime Review:

Let's get this out of the way - Angel Cop is Violent (notice the capital V …). We’re not talking guns-and-things-that-go-boom violent (although, that is present in spades), we’re talking brains-on-the-wall, heads-ripped-off, face-on-the-pavement violent. We’re talking the kind of torture where a terrorist’s arm is allowed to rot away with gangrene, to the point that maggots infest it.

The story follows the SSF, an elite, licensed-to-kill Japanese police force put together to combat a wave of terrorism threatening to destabilize the country. The series begins with a new recruit, Angel, joining the force in the middle of an operation. Early on, when a member of the SSF flashes his badge to a regular force detective, we see the fear in the detective's face. Even the police are wary of these guys, and for good reason: they’ll do anything to complete a mission. The setting is in the near future, so expect mostly everything to be recognizable, modulo slightly more advanced weaponry.

Now that the stage is set, let’s consider the cast. Other than an odd, out-of-place scene involving Angel at the very end, we get no character development, no background, and no reason to really care about the main characters. Indeed, there are only 2 or 3 characters that even remotely resemble someone with a socially acceptable moral ethos. Characters like this have appeared before in shows like Kite or Golgo 13, but there never seems to be any motivation for their immoral behavior other unexplained, extreme job dedication. When the torture scenes are being shown, one has to wonder who the bad guys really are, since our main characters are shown acting way worse than the "terrorists" they’re hunting.

Angel is the newest addition to the SSF, an elite police force. The animation is a mixed bag. Sometimes it looks good, and looks like this.

The redemption of the series comes from a rather well developed government-oriented background story about a political land graft. Conspiracy theorists will love this one, since there are constant twists and turns, even though it is pretty clear from the outset who the "bad" guys are. The series presents an odd situation -- by the end, the motivations of the antagonists are revealed, while the protagonists remain undeveloped. The convoluted plot is complemented by some very cool battle scenes between powerful psychics and the police, including one multi-episode battle between a cyborg and a psychic named Lucifer. All told, the plot is a fun ride.

The animation is uneven and the backgrounds are generally dismal; however, there are periodic bright spots in some of the storyboards and direction. You’ll notice a great layout here and a nice composition in motion there, but once again, it's uneven. The character designs go from being very nice to mediocre; I recommend the manga if you want really nice artwork.

The music is forgettable, with some spots being downright bad. The music has aged poorly. However, the closing song surprised me. After the first episode, I knew it stunk. After the second, it was bearable. By the last episode, I was looking forward to it. I woke up humming it this morning - scary! Two thumbs up for the lone vocal track.

By the end of the 6 episodes, I felt it was at least a worthwhile watch. The story is developed enough by the end that I felt a sense of completion when it was over, but it really is not a happy, uplifting road. The violence is truly excessive at times, though there is enough redeeming value to keep it from being obscene. Watch it only if you like really dark, gritty political action dramas.

Grade: B (minus) - Don’t expect to laugh; Angel Cop is a rough ride.

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