In the wake of the Akira phenomenon, came the political action thriller and science fiction mixture known as Angel Cop. Directed by Ichiro Itano, the famous animation director behind Macross: Do You Remember Love?, Angel Cop is a rare piece of work in that its shortcomings actually add to its virtuosity. It is literally so bad that it might actually be good.
It is important to recognize the foundations behind Angel Cop’s premise. It is essentially an 80s show depicting futuristic Japan set closer to the year 2000. At the time, Japan’s bubble economy kept them at the top of the world. In many respects, Angel Cop is a piece of work reflecting nationalist sentiment at the time of its making. On one side there are the left wing liberals called the “Red May” who represent the looming threat of communism. On the other, there is the Special Security Force (SSF), basically the 80s version of Section 9. Their job is to eliminate these “terrorist” who seek to ruin the ethnic purity of glorious Japan.
Simple premise, yet not so simple story. The show begins as if it were an average cop drama. One of the main characters is introduced, Raiden, who is a leather-jacket toting, door-post leaning, badge-flashing, sunglass wearing SSF agent. He charges head on into a terrorist hide out, only to be saved by the show’s main heroine, Angel. The two main characters are dreadfully platonic. Much of the main characters’ development stems from their initially different moral standings. Raiden wants to be an advocator of justice by saving the weak. Angel wants to protect her nation by eliminating terrorists at all costs.
We can already expect that Angel Cop will, given that it is directed by the infamous Ichiro Itano, feature gorgeous animation and character designs. Having designed the variable fighters in Macross, the motorcycles and power suits in Angel Cop are of the same quality, very thoughtful drawn and very detailed. The action scenes are also subject to the same treatment. The problem with Itano is that while the animation is top notch, the storyboard and scripts are absolutely atrocious. Halfway through the first episode, the carefully and intricately constructed world that the show presents is instantly torn down when the teleporting Motley Crue psychic is introduced. This is where the train is officially derailed. There is no way of describing it short of watching the thing yourself.
Final Thoughts: 4/10
The general feel from having sat through the entirety of Angel Cop, is that it tries to accomplish too much and ultimately loses its focus. It has been described as trashy, paranoid, misanthropic, self-indulgent, and even outright racist. Not many people know this, but the American release was forced to alter much of the dialogue due to the blatant anti-semetic, anti-christian, anti-american, anti-french, anti-everything that’s not glorious Japan undertones. Still I can’t help but love Angel Cop, as strange as it may seem. It really is so bad that it ends up being good.