Angel Cop - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: C+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: C+/
  • Packaging Rating: B-
  • Menus Rating: B-
  • Extras Rating: F
  • Age Rating: 15 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Manga Entertainment
  • MSRP: 29.99
  • Running time: 180
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Angel Cop

Angel Cop

By Chris Beveridge     December 04, 2003
Release Date: October 30, 2000


Angel Cop
© Manga Entertainment


What They Say
The Special Security Force was formed at the end of the 20th Century to protect Japan's economic security from the deadly threat of international terrorism. "Angel Cop" is an explosive tour through the streets of Tokyo as violence mounts and time runs out. This is ultra-anime action at its finest! "Angel Cop: The Collection" brings you six episodes of explosive sci-fi action, set in a world where the only thing more brutal than crime is law. For mature audiences; parental discretion advised.

The Review!
Angel Cop, the collection, is the complete six part OVA series presented on one disc. Angel Cop has, at least among the internet circles, been long infamous as a series that would never be released in the US with the original Japanese language with subtitles due to it's strong anti-American message. The original multi-volume release is no longer available. All that can be found now is the dub-only VHS version in the collected movie format.

Thankfully, with the release of the DVD, Manga has finally added the Japanese track and subtitled it. This disc is not a dubtitle as any casual viewing of the show with English on and subtitles on will prove. Of course, you may not be able to take the dub's differences for too long, never mind the mid 90's voice acting.

Audio:
Both the English and Japanese language tracks are in their original stereo format and sound pretty decent. We didn't notice any audible hissing, dropouts or other distortions. The show plays mainly from the center channel on our setup with some of the music and effects moving across the front speakers pretty well. There isn't a ton of directionality in this, but overall it's a decent soundtrack.

Video:
This is a pretty soft transfer. Combined with the older source material which has a few nicks and scratches here and there, it doesn't look bad, but it's not a shining example. We noticed some low artifacting in the backgrounds throughout many scenes but not to a level where it would be really annoying. Colors look decent though there looks to be a little oversaturation in places, but this may be a stylistic choice from the source itself. A quick look in the old Apex and things look much softer and more visible in the artifact department. On our main setup, we switched to theaterwide 1 mode after the first couple of episodes as the quality seemed to be consistent. The show is framed in its original 1.66:1 aspect ratio, so we ended up not really losing anything and getting the fullscreen effect.

Packaging:
The cover is a rehash of the VHS cover, with Angel in the ultra bad mood mode. The back cover gives a decent rundown the show and lists each of the episodes. The features are a bit out of the way, and I'm a bit surprised they didn't push the running time as more of a feature or listing it as all the episodes. The insert is pretty good with the inclusion of biographies of several of the creative folks and what other shows they've worked on.

Menus:
The menus are pretty straightforward with no animations or music accompanying them. Selections are accessed quickly and everything is pretty much on the mark. Episode selection and chapter selection is very well done.

Extras:
The Special Features menu is made up entirely of promotional trailers for other shows and their club. Probably would have been better off labeling it as "info" instead of special features. Extras these are not.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
I don't even know where to begin on this one. This is almost two different shows on one disc. The dub plays like your typical Hollywood action movie. It's loud, it's abrasive and it's pretty plain. The sub plays more political and a bit more philosophical. Regardless, I find both to be pretty boring overall.

In both incarnations, Angel Cop is a very violent show, though probably a bit tame by some of the stuff out there. The show revolves around the SSF, a group created by the Japanese government to take out the terrorists of an anti-communist group known as the Red May. The SSF is a small group, but they're considered the elite of the elite and have special privileges above regular units. The show kicks off with the introduction of the latest member of the SSF, Angel. She's the old school shoot'em all type and is referenced as a Chicago style fighter. In her opening salvo, she takes down this one women with three powerful shots to the head. You see the body slam against the wall, then another one rips the skull open and the final one lets it all spill out.

The first two episodes, at least in the Japanese version, play out similar to this with a heavy political edge regarding the Red May group, the terrorist activities and internal jockeying for power. At the end of the second episode, things take a drastic turn.

Enter: Psychic powers and heavy cybernetic armored suits.

Just once, once, I'd like to have a solid political drama. This show does have plenty of politics, intrigue and ideologies brought up. But it's all overshadowed by the fighting with the impossible to kill psychic villains. The bring up their beliefs during the fighting and some goes on between secondary characters here and there, but this show is all about one thing in the end to me; violence. And more violence.

That's not necessarily a bad thing. There's quite a number of very violent movies, especially from Hollywood, that I consider among my favorite. Reservoir Dogs is not a movie a lot of people can stomach. The problem here is the lack of character development. They're all pretty much the same up until the last couple of frames when they realize what they've learned, bang, end credits.

The character designs are pretty much done in the real world fashion without much in the way of exaggeration. The American woman who enters later on can be considered a bit outlandish at times, but even with her poor fashion sense she's still fairly realisticaly done. The animation is very dark in tone with its closed and cramped feeling by an overpowering city. A good percentage of it takes place at night or indoors, so there's not a lot of lighting going on either.

Watching the differences between the two versions, it's really amazing just how much a story can be changed. Putting aside the poor voice acting (such as the little girl Frea or just about any of the other secondary characters), the English dub has a ton of cursing throughout it, even in places where the original doesn't have any mean-spirited tones.

The changes in terms of plot itself is fairly significant. From talking with others who had seen the Japanese language version through other means, it was told that it was very anti-American in nature. While I certainly agree that the US doesn't come out shining in this, I found the overall involvement of the US and its policies to be pretty minimal in the Japanese version. If anything, I found it to be more nastily directed towards the Japanese themselves, with continual insinuations of their weaknesses, their softness in the eyes of the outside world and the absolute corruption of so many political entities.

Or maybe I'm just misreading things, or the subtitle script was toned down here as well as the dub script from a few years ago. Without any real connection to the characters, no knowledge of their past or their life goals and knowing so many of the people they were supposed to protect were corrupt, there was little to really root for in the end, for either side. Angel Cop is interesting on a few levels, but doesn't really bring itself outside of it's violence in any meaningful way. The philosophical and political pieces end up being drastically outweighed.

Kudos to Manga in the end though for taking the chance and bringing the original language out for the DVD version.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Pioneer 414 codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.

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