Finished off two series this week.
The first one is Angel Cop
. The premise of the series is that Japan has become the leader in the world economy, which has upset some very powerful people who seek to turn country into another puppet government or make it a desolate wasteland. To prevent this, the Japanese government has created an anti-terrorist organization call the the S.S.F. who are above all other organizations with the additional bonus of a license to kill. However, the S.S.F. are now on the run as it looks like someone else is pulling the strings. To explain the actual structure of the plot, it's a predictable conspiracy story that you can see coming from a few blocks away if you've paid moderate attention to world politics over the past 30-50 years (If you haven't, let's just say that things started back in 330 B.C.
, arguable 2340 B.C.
, and you can piece everything together from there
). However, with that being said, it does feel like the series is rushing itself quite a bit, and feels like something was lost along the way. For example, the "main" protaginst of the series, the cold-blooded bitch Angel, goes from leaving her wounded partner behind in the first episode to actually caring about her comrades when they're dying left and right towards the end of the series (When the actual story itself just unfolds over the course of a couple days). Then, there's also the fact that once the series actually "ends", it feels like nothing was resolved and the actual end message is "Nothing was changed, Japan was lost,
"; which leaves me confused in several different ways because I'm trying to understand if the writers were trying to make a political statement about Japan's place in the modern world or if they just ran out of time and figured "Hey, it's an ending" (Or maybe both, or perhaps the manga picks things up and resolves the plot). Anyway, the other thing that frustrates me about this type ending is that I've seen it done better in other places such as Blue Drop
and Armitage III
; where the former series ended with actually showing what the distant outcome of the anime's events was (However, I will forever say it is one of the worst endings I have ever seen, and still leaves me fuming to this day); and the latter ended with both of the main characters not being able to stop anything, but still riding off into the sunset once everything is over. In fact, Angel Cop
reminds me of several different series, but I'll get to that in a moment.
The animation for the series is another aspect that I found to be a mixed bag because it flip flops between scenes being animated with as few frames as possible and some damn beautiful animation that shows exactly why digital can compete but never be able to match actual hand drawn animation. It can be argued that it's so that the studio doesn't go over the budget, but it's jarring as Hell to go from beautiful fight scenes to almost snapshot dialogue scenes. However, I didn't care for the overly-detailed art style they went with because it does some of the characters look very alien in appearance. Then there's the music, which is rather nice to listen to, that goes between someone laying on the piano keys to a sort-of soft rock.
Now, to get the main issue that I was having out of the way, it feels like everything that Angel Cop
has to offer, I have seen elsewhere in other series (And done better). MD Geist
, Ghost in the Shell
, Armitage III
, Mach Rider
, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
; in fact, jumping off of that, Angel actually does remind me Major an awful lot when it comes to her designs, and then there's where another main character (Raiden) literally becomes a cyborg with a motorcycle. I wouldn't be that surprised if Angel Cop
did have an influence on the development of some Japanese media (Like Future Boy Conan
on Miyazaki Hayao
's works, Go Nagai
when it comes to the mahou shoujo and mecha genres and "the devil in me" stories, Tezuka Osamu
when it came to kemono and moe), but, looking into it further, it looks like the reverse may have happened. MD Geist
, Ghost in the Shell
, and Mach Rider
all came out before Angel Cop
; which makes me wonder if it's ripping off of those instead of the other way around.
Also, to address the fact that many releases of this series is censored (Because, of course, any Japanese media that doesn't 100% agree with Western ideals is censored):
Spoiler (mouse over to view)
1. When will people get over the fact that when there's a negative reference to a group, and that reference is not in any favorable light, and that reference seems to reinforce a negative stereotype that people keep trying to say isn't true only to be proven wrong more often than not, perhaps there's something wrong with that that group (Itself) that should be addressed. And, that should be the main issue to the people in that group that they should attempt to be solving rather than trying to play it off as "unbiased prejudice" and continue it act like the scum that people go after them for being. Anyways
2. Just because a form of media rightfully calls out people for doing wrong and putting them in their place, that does not mean that the media, itself, is good. Loki's speech to the other Gods only worked because he was drunk and angry about how he's always punished while the other Gods can get off with much worse. Mercutio's rant only worked because the guy realize that he devoted his life and died because of a family feud that started over God knows what. Having a character pulling the same thing when they're in a sober state of mind and trying to make a statement without any sense of irony is NOT good writing. It's preaching, pure and simple.
, Angel Cop
is a good series, but I have a hard time recommending it. Like I said, it feels like much of the series' material was done better in the other media that I mentioned earlier, and the actual quality of the show itself is much of a mixed bagged. If you're looking for a good conspiracy story, you can certainly do much worse, but Angel Cop
will leave a feeling of wanting something more.
The second series that I want to talk about is Patlabor
. The premise of the series is that the world is rapidly advancing in growth and expansion, which has given rise to the use of mechs to help with construction (Referred to as “Labors”). However, with this, this has also resulted in crimes starting to be used in conjunction with the robots. This has prompted the police to create a “Special Vehicles” unit to start specifically combating these crimes, with the series focusing on the members of the newly creates second division of the unit. To get something out of the way, this is not you're standard mecha series with action taking place every episode as the show comes off like it's trying to play off more as a police series. But, even then, I feel hesitant to describe the series like that. The first two episodes are do feel like actual police work, then you have two episodes of what amounts to filler, and, then, the last three episodes start touching upon dealing with mechs designed for
military use. And, my main problem with this is that it I wanted to see more of the actual police work. I did like seeing how they initially slowed down and stepped away from trying to be “just another mech series”, but then it doesn't really feel like anything was actually done with it. However, with that being said, I wonder if my expectations where influenced about how the first couple episodes of Patlabor
reminded me of my experience with Rail Wars!
. Where I thought that was going to be a comfy train conductor series, only for the veil to be thrown off and reveal the series being about public safety enforcement.
The animation for the series has a more cartoon feel, especially I comparison to Angel Cop
, and is actually a very smooth series to watch. There really isn't point in the series that I can point to where studio actually did cut corners in order to meet the budget. And, that's on top of how I really like the colorful pallet that the series used. Overall
, I did enjoy, and would recommend, Patlabor
, but I have a hard time saying that I actually liked it. It's possible the rebooted TV series, or films serving as a follow-up to the OVA, scratch that itch, but it the original series feels like it falls short of what it was trying to do.