80s/90s Cyberpunk: Angel Cop
I LOVE THE EIGHTIES!!! Be it their fantasy films (I’m talking David Bowie Lycra here!) or their music (Nik Kershaw’s ‘The Riddle‘!) or anything else, the 80s is an era I have always admired. And I wasn’t even born in it! I LOVE THE NINETIES!!! Why? Because without the nineties I wouldn’t exist! HA HA HA!
It’s exactly the same for anime, I love retro anime, and I and many others consider the 80s and the early 90s to be the ‘Golden Age’ of anime. It brought forth my most beloved movie of all time: Akira, after all.
Now after the boom of Akira, everyone wanted to jump on the bandwagon, and this resulted in a slew of cyberpunk anime, primarily focussed on cops, government and lots and lots of violence. This trend continued, thus how we ended up with the most violent anime: Genocyber. Anyway, rewind back to late eighties going into the early nineties, and we end up with Angel Cop.
WARNING: The following review contains MAJOR spoilers for the Angel Cop anime, and mature content. Reader discretion is advised (but admit it, you’re going to read on anyway).
So what is Angel Cop exactly? A 6-episode OVA series airing from Sep 1, 1989 to May 20, 1994, created by Geneon Universal Entertainment, Angel Cop follows the story of a Special Security Force which can act outside the law, and in particular one member of that task force; Angel.
Now despite her name, Angel is anything but. Want to know how she is first introduced? Well, the first episode outlines the current state of affairs in Japan (in this anime it’s the largest economy in the world), issues with terrorists bla bla bla, just an exposition about this alternative universe in the 1990’s era and how a radical communist group called the Red May are trying to overthrow Japan’s booming economy. One man, Raiden, pursues some Red May terrorists, waiting for his supposed back-up to arrive. Anyway, he ends up with a girl pointing her gun at him, and the end seems to be in sight (oh noes!) when-
See what I mean about the violence? If you hadn’t already guessed, Angel Cop is rated as one of the most violent anime out there. The English dub is also laden with an obscene amount of profanities. Here’s a stellar quote from our ‘angel’ herself:
“Don’t be an idiot, anyone can see you’re totally fucked!”
Yes, perhaps it’s time to mention that Angel Cop is one of those few anime which MUST be watched dubbed. The English dub is absolutely hilarious, every word is practically a swear, and it’s fucking gold. And the fact is that our protagonist is pretty much an anti-hero at the start, even stating that she would kill a child if it would mean completing her mission. Wow, our hero everybody! When she’s not busy overkilling, she’s promoting child murder.
Anyway, back to the story. Raiden gets injured by the terrorists, and Angel leaves him for dead to go after them….Once again, our hero everybody…
Now eventually, later on in the series, we do see that Raiden has been turned into some sort of cyborg by a man named Ichihara. You know…just throwing that out there.
What about side characters? Well they all pretty much get murdered brutally. And who does most of the murdering? Well, eventually more and more Red May terrorists are killed off, and it’s not by the Special Security Force, it’s by another force altogether. And what is this force, I hear you so enthusiastically enquire?
A…glam rock band?
No, actually these are psychics, bent on ridding the world of evil. So, psychics…see how this links in with Akira? And before you ask, yes, one of the psychics IS evil. Can you guess which one?
The shemale of course! (Seriously, I didn’t know the gender at first). This sexy beast is Lucifer, and she (?) issues most of the orders to her companions, Asura (apparently voiced by the voice of Tetsuo in the Japanese no less!) and Freya.
So, back to brutal murder. Well, Asura and Freya become cautious of Lucifer and break away from her, while Lucifer goes on her own bloody rampage (reminiscent of anything?) at one point targeting two of the prominent side characters, Hacker and Peace. Using mind control, she gets Hacker to blow himself up with a grenade, but before she does, she goes borderline lesbian with Peace.
After blowing her shirt off, she fondles her a bit then I guess by dragging her nails a bit down her front, there’s major blood loss and she kills Peace? I dunno, it seemed that it was boobs over gore in this scene. Naturally.
The little girl Freya is pretty creepy too. She is all sweet and cutesy one second, and then her face and voice go ape-shit. How’s this for bipolar?:
“My quarrel’s not with you, I wish you no harm. BUT YOU ARE GUILTY AND MUST DIE!”
Admittedly, she talks to two different people in that line. As for the…Tetsuo perm guy (?), he’s probably the most sensible and the least creepy (that hairstyle aside). He eventually assists Angel, as she (in her own cybernetic suit), Raiden and Asura fight against Lucifer in the final episodes. Eventually they do kill her, but not after we’ve seen her recover a billion times. Raiden also says one of my favourite lines in the series:
Raiden: “No I don’t think so.”
Though it’s still not as good as:
“You’re gonna be the dead fucking ranger!”
Wait for that one. (And dead fucking ranger? Power Ranger or what? Dead fucking Power Ranger? Thanks for killing my childhood.).
So yeah, that’s the basis of what happens in Angel Cop and some of the highlights of the series. Like I said, there’s plenty of gore and nipples and even Angel’s dream of legal child murder comes true (psst, Freya dies 0o0 GASP! ). Don’t worry though, by the end of the series Angel is a much better person. Just…maybe not quite an ‘angel’ yet.
If you’re looking for guns, motorcycles, and lots and lots of gore and grossness (just see the maggot scene…blegh! Rena Ryuuguu eat your heart out…), and if you just have a bit of spare time on your hands (6 30-minute episodes isn’t exactly a big chunk out of your life), then I suggest checking it out. So, what are the scores?
The story is pretty simple: Japan, the country with the biggest economy in the world, is being threatened by terrorists, primarily a communist group called the Red May. So the Japanese Police establish a Special Security Force to counter the attacks, but find that they aren’t the only ones wiping out the terrorists. It’s easy to follow, and I was in the mood for something that wouldn’t make me think too much (so Death Note was off the list) and so it sat well with me. Maybe they didn’t explore as many themes as they could have, maybe by shortening some of the fight scenes they could have fit some more things in, but it was fine enough if you wanted some long doses of mindless violence (except it wasn’t mindless because they were using their minds to blow each-other up ;P ).
I’d say it scores a little higher than the story, but is closest to 7. For some, the art will be just too westernised, in which case I say BE A LITTLE MORE TOLERANT. I mean, it’s refreshing when you get an anime without big-eyed moe girls, right? I certainly think so, I love this style of anime, and it was very common at the time anyway. It’s not always fluid, but for the most part the animation moves well, and looks cool. The colour is used well, particularly when Angel is racing after Raiden on her motorbike through the orange neon tunnels.
I’m a sucker for retro music. Sure, it’s cheesy nowadays, but if you actually listen, it has a good beat and I often found my foot tapping along to the OST in this anime. I’m not sure what the tracks are called, as the OST is hard to find, but the one where Angel is chasing after Raiden (mentioned above) is one of my favourites. The Achilles heel is the ending song, which seems to be damn off key…
A weak spot. It’s kind of difficult because the series is working with a smaller length of time, but a lot of the characters weren’t very memorable. Apart from Angel, Raiden and Lucifer, I couldn’t really remember any of the other names. I completely forgot about some of them altogether. It’s a shame, because if a little more time had been spent on character development, and a little less time on the prolonged fight against Lucifer, it could have bumped up the score a bit. It would have been particularly good to focus more on the change in personality of Angel. (If there is much of one).
I really didn’t like the ending. So…anticlimactic, inconclusive and downright depressing. Basically states that after all that, nothing has changed at all. We’re watching anime people! You don’t have to be so realistic! Sigh…
The ending is a major weak spot, but the rest of the series is a lot of fun to watch. The English dub may have removed the stabs at Jews from the original Japanese (I kid you not), but it adds in so many swears and so much plain ridiculous dialogue:
“Fuck and PISS!!!”
That it’s just so entertaining. The overly violent scenes and crazy moments only add to the enjoyment level. However, if you don’t like violence or cursing then you won’t find much to shout about here. But if you do, then I highly suggest picking it up. Sure, it’s essentially a “bad” series, but I had so much fun watching it, that I really do love it.
Also, there is an Angel Cop manga, but it’s pretty hard to find. However, you can check out the anime here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BrgDrmgCl5g
Feel it’s all too much to take in at once. Check out a fan-made ‘condensed’ version for a taster: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bVpwJbLLivU
~Adiós bitch (if you get this, then kudos)
Posted on June 17, 2013, in 80s/90s Cyberpunk, Anime and tagged Akira, Angel Cop, Anime, Dubbing (filmmaking), Geneon Universal Entertainment, Nik Kershaw, Original video animation, Riddle. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.