Simulwatch - Swearing for Great Justice: Angel Cop!

Professor Irony

CYBER FUNKER
Moderator
Episode One: The Telltale Head

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Credit where it’s due; this isn’t the exposed cleavage I was expecting

Despite my general fondness for trash-tier bubble economy OVAs, I must confess that Angel Cop, surely one of the absolute pillars of that ‘throw money at anything’ attitude that so defines the era, is one that I’ve still never managed to get through. It’s not for want of trying; I’ve definitely seen this episode before, I’ve just never felt any urge to watch the rest. Away from the graphic violence, I honestly find it a bit dull. With characters monologuing their brick-subtle motivations at each other, some vague blather about left-wing terrorists and little concern for how policing would actually work, It’s absolute bargain-basement pulp novel stuff. Heck, it’s not so very far removed from the ‘70s Eurocrime b-movie I watched recently, except for psychic Marc Bolan turning up at the end.

I do get the impression that we haven’t really witnessed the full extent of whatever dark night of the soul inspired this one, however, so I am curious to try and push past this stodgy opener and see quite how deep the well goes this time. The one thing I will say for it at this point is that the art is generally quite nice, this being an early outing for Nobuteru Yuki, later of Lodoss War and Escaflowne, who brings his characteristically delicate touch to the designs, most notably for Angel herself.

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WMD

Pokémon Master
Episode 1

I actually really enjoyed this overall. Sure it's a little rough around the edges and the dramatic head turns being shown 3 times for no reason was pretty funny, but the things it did well were really enjoyable.

As Prof said the art is good and the character designs are pretty striking. The main guy wearing a jacket but no shirt underneath and having his chest out was pretty funny. Like hes saying "yeah I dont wear bullet proof vests to a gun fight, you still cant stop me!"

I thought the action was also well done. The car chase scene was really fun to watch.

Outside of that I really appreciated that we got to see the squad do actual investigating to solve the crime. Sure it lead to it being a bit expositiony but there was a nice logical chain from the stolen car at the start to the stock exchange for the final showdown. I liked how different members of the crew contributed and how non nonsense their cheif/leader is. Though Angel's ethics are pretty loose! I hope that's setting up some tough choices for her.

Also a note that for an older show the English dub is reall good! The longer monologues without mouth flaps to match really seems to have allowed the actors to just act and the performances throughout are all so much better than I was expecting. The more naturalistic acting style also really fits the gritty violence of the show.

Edit: I've watched episode 2 as well. Should I post for that today?
 
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HWR

CCG’s Reaper
AUKN Staff
Episode 1: Special Security Force

This first episode does a solid job of setting up the world of Angel Cop and took some time to showcase the characters in their line of work.

The Blu Ray itself is also decent, looking a little soft but this is likely due to the limited picture on the source material itself.

I am looking forward to seeing what the next five episode have to offer. Oh and to note I watched this in Japanese.
 
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Professor Irony

CYBER FUNKER
Moderator
Edit: I've watched episode 2 as well. Should I post for that today?
Sure! I’ll try and be a bit quicker about getting the second episode watched; I’m actually curious to see how the Japanese voice track compares to the English one (beyond its infamously offensive attitudes).
 

WMD

Pokémon Master
Episode 2

Yeah I'm really getting into this show. The exposition dump atvthe start, although spoken, is very reminiscent of the word crawl at the start of star wars films bringing us upto speed with where we stand.

Really enjoyed the start seeing the guy methodically go through the traps so he can use it as a diversion to get to the terrorists and the opening action is done really well. We also see how brutal this covert police group is. They criticise Angel for her lack of morals/ethics whilst they secretly torture someone. It a nice way to start building the theme of this show which seems to be along the lines of corruption/ethics/doing what you think is right. The show has presented us with the terrorists, the police and now the vigilantes who are all brutal murderers yet only see themselves as righteous.

The little girls switch from tearful to horror movie psycho was quite something! And Angel actually shooting at the terrorist who had the child hostage was pretty crazy. She actually didnt care at all!

The reveal at the end was also a cracking cliffhanger to end on. Can't wait see where the show goes next!

There were 2 absolutely cracking lines in the dub in this episode. One being "This is f***ing crazy!" And hes not wrong it really was! The other being "S**t! He's a f***ing lobster!" Which had be cracking up even though it was another brutal moment! Both delivered by this member of the team:
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Professor Irony

CYBER FUNKER
Moderator
Episode 2: Bang a Gong

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Haven’t I seen you in a Mamoru Oshii film?

Maybe I was a bit hard on the first episode, but I felt it was kind of rote procedural with little going for it other than the art design. This episode though, I found a lot more interesting - the fact that the story has now abadoned any realistic counter-terrorist thriller pretenses and embraced something a lot sillier just made all the difference for me. Raiden's reappearance even made it feel a little like we're pushing into tokusatsu territory, and I can get behind that. Heck, even the ending theme, which I initially didn’t like, has grown on me.

I also appreciate that Madonna has finally turned up. No idea why she's here (what happens on the blonde ambition tour stays on the blonde ambition tour), but I enjoy her evil businesswoman aesthetic tremendously.

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Marry me.

While I don't think I'm likely to come away from Angel Cop with a massively high opinion of it, I am at least more interested to see where it goes now. It initially struck me as a typically brash product of Japan at the height of its economic flexing, with the narration consciously stressing the country's place on the world stage, and the open brutality of the SSF seemingly in tune with that might-makes-right attitude of the time, but as we're now seeing counterpoints to that, it does look like maybe the show is a bit more self-aware than I was initially giving it credit for.

Mind you, we've not seen the anti-semitism yet, so maybe I should hold back on the praise for a little longer.

"S**t! He's a f***ing lobster!"
Even as a fan of Manga UK dubs, I really struggled with that first episode and had switched to the Japanese track, but that line does kind of make me want to go back and check out the dub for ep2...
 

WMD

Pokémon Master
but that line does kind of make me want to go back and check out the dub for ep2...
Even if you just watch that clip it's worth it. Its genuinely great delivery of the line.

Overall I'm enjoying the dub so far. The little fire girl has been a weak link in performance terms but I feel everyone else has been of a much higher standard than I was expected and many have been genuinely good.
 

HWR

CCG’s Reaper
AUKN Staff
Episode 2: The Disfigured City

This time around I tried out the dub and it’s cheesy and pretty typical of the time. There’s some gruesome content in this episode and I found it overall better than the first though the series has a trashy feel to it, almost like an 80s B-movie, that I expect to carry through all six episodes.
 
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WMD

Pokémon Master
Episode 3

This was a pretty intense episode! We got a lot of information and the political corruption, the hunters, the doctor and his experiments, but it managed to present it in a pretty engaging way. The team leader bugging the police chief (I think) and finding out more about what's going on was really well done and continues the shows good track record of showing us the team being good at what they do.

The torture scenes were really brutal! And makes you wonder if were really supporting the good guys!

Everytime the doctor speaks he has this supervillain monologueing his evil plan vibe going on. I dont want to trust him but he did save Raidens life and is seemingly making the team stronger.

The big shoot out at the end was great. Everything from seeing the team set up their traps and then execute their plan was awesome and really visually appealing!
 

HWR

CCG’s Reaper
AUKN Staff
Episode 3: The Death Warrant

That interrogation sequence sure set a precedent for the episode. Elsewhere this is still entertaining in a gritty sort of way. Despite having some stiff Character animation the storytelling is appropriately moody, the scene with the mirror confrontation for example.
 

Professor Irony

CYBER FUNKER
Moderator
Episode 3: Cop Out

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I AM TRUSTWORTHY.

Bit less enamoured with this one than the previous episode - I’ll let them off with the gratuitous headshot in ep1, but I could do without the graphic torture. And it’s by our apparent heroes, no less. Any hokey tokusatsu-style shennanigans with Raiden seem to have been put on the back burner too, as we instead watch the SSF killing off what are presumably the same people they were working alongside in the previous episode.

No doubt this would be more affecting if I felt some emotional attachment to either side, but the SWAT team are more or less interchangeable (bar the French commander who seems to have wandered in from Golgo 13: The Professional and that one guy who keeps throwing up) and the SSF, well, what are we supposed to be feeling here? Does the show want us to admire their ruthlessness in dealing with the vaguely threatening communist menace? None of the SSF are especially developed or likeable, even if Hacker apparently shows some remorse after he’s done killing. Perhaps time has just obscured how much people really hated communists back then.

At the moment, the show consists mainly of grim-faced amoral agencies violently slugging it out with each other and, frankly, the psychic vigilantes seem like the only vaguely sympathetic folk out of the lot of them. I’m not saying this couldn’t potentially be an interesting setup, but I can’t help feeling this is a half-decent production in search of better material.

I’m taking all this far too seriously, aren’t I?
 
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WMD

Pokémon Master
Episode 4

Well I have to say I wasnt expecting the death count for members of the team to be this high! So Lucifer having only had cameos until now, steps up to be a formidable villian! Its interesting that before her entrance this episode we see one of the member sofa the team in a room with what looks like a painting of the Vigin Mary before Freya arrives telling to leave as Lucifer is coming!

Lucifer seems very happy to paint anyone she wishes wants to kill as an evil to be expunged without actually worrying about whether they have done anything to warrant it. Asura pretty much says as much. And the battle on the bridge is a pretty chilling experience with some brutal deaths, and displays of force far beyond what normal people could manage. I wonder if Angel will end up getting upgraded. She must feel pretty overwhelmed right now!

I have to say the exposition dump by Asura while he cried with Freya in his arms was really weird. It definitely didnt fit what was supposed to be an emotional moment. Sure it gave us a lot of need info about the hunters but a few choice flash backs wouldve been far more effective than in just saying it all in a big paragraph.
 

HWR

CCG’s Reaper
AUKN Staff
Episode 4: Pain

Intense and focused on a blonde-haired killing machine who doesn’t seem overly concerned with whose blood gets spilt. The episode racks up quite a death toll-the highest, I think, of the episodes so far.

Also, a potential seizure warning for this episode-there’s a sequence with a computer monitor that contains some intense strobe effects.
 

WMD

Pokémon Master
Epsiode 5

This was action packed! After some brief setup we straight into the action as Raiden heads out for a throw down against the grunts. He struts his stuff and its some of the best action animation we've seen in this series. Its remarkably dynamic for its age and the explosions in particular are really well done.

Then we have the main event. Raiden vs Lucifer and these 2 really give each other a beating! The Dr telling us Lucifers increasing stats letting us know Raiden is getting out matched but he does well though it ends in draw. I mean its mad that she could survive a laser to the head!

As a side note I'm shocked at how skinny Asura is under that jacket! And why was Raiden fixing himself up with duct tape?!
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Anyway the show is called Angel Cop so I'm guessing we will finally get to see Angel strut her stuff in the finale!
 

HWR

CCG’s Reaper
AUKN Staff
Episode 6: Wrath of The Empire

Evil laugh! Evil laugh! Very action-orientated this time around with an awaited showdown as the climax progresses. Old Raiden doesn’t mess around and Sakata packs some fire power too. I realise that despite them being centre front on the box that the Marc Bolan lookalike almost gets as Much focus as her.
 

WMD

Pokémon Master
Epsiode 6

So I'll start with the best line of the epsiode in the dub: "If this is justice, then I'm a banana!" Which kind of sums up the message here. Pretty much everyone was corrupt on one level or another and pretty much everyone suffers for it to some extent. As the ending stated the only real victim was truth.

It's interesting that a show full of crazy tech, psychic abilities, proficient professionals fighting for justice actually ends on such a cynical note. And for all the talk of communism the show ended up being pretty traditionally anti capitalist as the bad businessmen actually masterminded everything for profit!

I've also just read the details of the controversy which are included to read on the blu ray. It's an interesting read which gives some historical context for why Japan was prone to such attitudes, but it caught me a little off guard as the dub had actually removed the anti semitic reveal in the last episode. I'm glad they did, both for decencies sake and because that element diesnt seem to have any real narrative point to it.

Theres also a written interview with the dub script writer that was a fun read and gives a bit of insight into how dubs used to be created.
 

HWR

CCG’s Reaper
AUKN Staff
Episode 6: Doomsday

The finale is here and it feels like there wasn’t really a winner or a morally correct faction here. I’ll give the series credit for ending the way it did and overall Angel Cop is a curio of 80’s anime excess, it wasn’t all that good but had its moments. I think my comparison to b-movies of the time holds up in terms of the general grittiness.

It was fun doing another simulwatch-curious as to what the next title could be.
 

Professor Irony

CYBER FUNKER
Moderator
Episodes 4-6

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Strike a pose.

Well that sure was a thing. On the whole, I think the second half of Angel Cop felt a lot livelier than the first - Lucifer is an entertaining villain and adds a lot of value to the series. The police thriller elements didn't work for me at all (even though the action scenes weren't bad), but watching the SSF and the other psychics duking it out with her brings a kind of pantomime theatricality to the show that I quite appreciated. It's a shame we didn't get more of her in the first half, I might have been more onboard from the get go. Despite having her name in the title (and that slightly spurious picture on the cover). I’m also surprised at how comparatively little screentime Angel has had through the series. Other than this last episode or so, I don’t feel like her presence has been any more significant than any of the other SSF members - she never really felt like the defacto main character in the way I’d expected her to.

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Her power level is over a certain number.

The finale was a bit odd though. While I suspect budgetary concerns may have played a part, it did feel rather like they went out on a bit of a whimper. It seems like, all the way through, it’s been a show of two halves - we’ve had the dour police conspiracy thriller and the crazy tokusatsu story with the cyborgs and the psychics, and, ultimately, they both had separate endings. Angel’s triumph over Lucifer wraps up the toku, then ‘THE ONLY VICTIM WAS TRUTH’ coda concludes the potboiler, and neither one seems to have much to do with the other. It’s hard to know what they were really reaching for there, beyond trying to look cool and cynical, I suppose. I wonder if they ever intended to do more?

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Is it just me or is Ichihara literally Peter Cushing?

Interestingly, I didn't realise until I read Justin Sevakis's piece on the show that Nobuteru Yuuki wasn't the only notable name to work on Angel Cop. Yasuomi Umetsu contributed some key animation on the first episode (which might explain the detailed consumer goods and lingering cigarette smoke), but it especially hadn't sunk in that the writer and director for this whole shebang was Ichiro Itano - the animator best known for coining the 'Itano Circus' aka that flourish where missle trails will entertwine and criss-cross each other. Despite his reputation though, it's notable that Itano has only a couple of writing credits to his name - this one is shared with Sho Aikawa, later of Full Metal Alchemist 2003, and yet another person who should surely know better.

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We must stop this senseless killing. Right after I reanimate this headless corpse and use his machinegun like some twisted Weekend at Bernie's sequel.

The other thing Sevakis's article brought to my attention is that there was quite a sizeable gap in the production, with four years having passed (and the economic bubble having well and truly burst) between the release of episodes 3 and 4. It’s not immediately apparent, but clearly there was far less money to work with and, by the end, the characters are barely on model. The faces in episode 6 are quite telling.

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I mean

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Yeah...

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Oh dear. Poor Lucifer.

Thinking back over it, I definitely don't regret watching the series. It’s such a well known example of this particular kind of OVA that I’m glad I can finally say I’ve seen all it has to offer, even though it’s not something I think I'd be running out to recommend to people any time soon either. It’s not as mad as I’d hoped it might be from its prior reputation, and as a serious, nihilistic thriller, it pales before Golgo 13, yet it undeniably has a certain crass charm to it and I did genuinely like the character art. I also switched back to the English dub for the remainder of the show; that absolutely is the way to watch it. I especially warmed to the series the moment Angel shouted 'F**k and p**s' in a moment of mid firefight anger, recalling nothing so much as Malcolm Tucker stubbing his toe...
 

Attachments

WMD

Pokémon Master
I’m also surprised at how comparatively little screentime Angel has had through the series.
Yeah shes only a main character in ep1 and 6 really. Though she is often present for the main events like the reveal that Raiden was a Cyborg and she was the only SSF survivor on the bridge attack.

Is it just me or is Ichihara literally Peter Cushing?
Haha good spot!

We must stop this senseless killing. Right after I reanimate this headless corpse and use his machinegun like some twisted Weekend at Bernie's sequel.
Yeah that was pretty funny!

by the end, the characters are barely on model.
That's probably what was throwing me off. In my mind i was thinking wow these people look very different with their jackets off!
 
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