Cyber City Oedo 808 (of 1) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Monday, June 04, 2007
Release Date: Tuesday, March 13, 2007
What They Say
In a future plagued by murderers and thieves, a team of convicts-turned-cops stand guard over the innocent. Three men, Sengoku, Gogul and Benten have been offered a deal; hunt down and destroy their former allies, and receive a reduced sentence in return. But if these form criminals fail to complete their mission within 24 hours, their booby-trapped collars will explode, executing them and leaving the city defenceless!
Cyber City Oedo 808 is finally available in Region 4 territory and damn it's good to see it again!
Having seen the show so many times in both languages I checked back and forth between the Japanese stereo and English. It's your standard stereo soundtrack with nothing spectacular direction wise but like the video I wasn't expecting much from an old show like this. In the 90's when Manga Video did the dub for this the decided to spice up the script with liberal use of every offensive word they could think of, they also created their own harder rock musical score for the video release. While there are fans of the Manga score this release does not include it but it does include one of the most offensive dubs ever made.
The video is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and for a show that started in 1990 it looks pretty good.
It's your standard NTSC to PAL transfer which does make the video look softer then it should and there is edge enhancement throughout as well as interlacing but I wasn't expecting miracles with the transfer.
The cover for this release does have the most attractive artwork but this is probably because Cyber City Oedo 808 is around 17 years old and there doesn't appear to be that much in the way of production artwork. What we have here is a serviceable front cover with Goggles/Gogul, Sengoku and Benten one behind the other on a dark red and black background with the title above them. The obligatory from the director of Ninja Scroll and Wicked City is above it all and the big blue OFLC logo makes the whole thing look worse then it should. It won't stand out on the shelf but it does the job. The back cover consists of some shots from the show as well as a shot of the three main characters in the top right corner. The synopsis and special features are listed clearly and Madman's technical grid is located at the bottom. The inside cover provides a chapter list and ad for Kawajiri's other anime.
The main menu has a still shot of all three characters in their cyber police uniforms as seen in episode one with the theme song Burning World playing in the background. The sub menus are all static images without any music and everything was quick and easy to access. As with the packaging the lack of promotional artwork limits the look of the menus but they are functional.
The extras for this show while not numerous are rather nice. We have a commentary track for both episodes 1 and 2 with Yoshiaki Kawajiri and Masao Maruyama as well as some CPM staff. I found the commentary to be a real treat and Kawajiri is one of my favourite directors and it's nice to hear him speak about one of my favourite anime. Rounding out the extras is the standard sketch and art galleries as well as CPM's trailers for each episode and Madman trailers. It would have been nice to see a clean opening or closing but the fact that we have extras for a 17 year old show is pretty good anyway.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Yoshiaki Kawajiri is a director well known name among anime fans, the man behind popular OVA such as Wicked City, Goku Midnight Eye, Demon City Shinjuku, Ninja Scroll, Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust and the new Highlander anime. With a style that is instant recognisable and a great attention to action sequences he makes anime more for adults then anyone else and he is also responsible in some small way for the anime boom of the 90's in Australia. Right after he finished on Wicked City and Goku Midnight Eye he started on one of my favourite OVA's Cyber City Oedo 808.
Back in the 90's one of the first anime I ever bought was Cyber City Oedo 808. In the days of a largely male audience Manga Video was bringing every sort of action anime it could find. While sometimes they spiced things up by adding more profanity then David Mamet's collected works it was an instant win for an adolescent male such as myself. This really takes me back; it was something I hadn't seen before with great animation and style it just blew me away. While my horizons have been broaden a lot I still have a soft spot for this anime.
The plot revolves around three cyber criminals in the year 2808. They are all imprisoned in an orbital prison above the earth, and they are offered a deal by Juzo Hasegawa; the chief of police that allows them to leave the space prison in exchange for working for the police. The catch is that they are all fitted with explosive collars that can be triggered at anytime Hasegawa sees fit. Most of the time he does this to "encourage" them to complete their assignments quickly but never chooses to just blow them up if they screw up.
Each character has their own episode basically devoted to them and while they all appear in each episode its clear who is the main focus from the get go.
Sengoku Shunsuke appears to be the most volatile of the bunch with the least percentage of being released. He's a rebel that's very anti social but just oozes cool with his high velocity revolver, a fast police car and stylish red leather trench coat. While he doesn't seem too happy with the deal he is given he still accepts it and appears to be very capable as an officer. Normally he is accompanied by a robot called Varsus which he uses as a verbal and physical punching bag.
His episode titled "Memories from the Past" involves someone hacking into a giant cyber city sky scraper and holding the city hostage as the building has links to the military. It's up to Sengoku to find the criminal before everyone pays for the crimes of the past.
Gogul or Goggles depending on your preference looks like something out of an 80's punk rock band. With a large red mohawk, a cybernetic eye piece that resembles Cyclops' visor from X-Men and large build he isn't the most attractive character but he definitely stands out. He is an expert hacker and is able to think on his feet quite quickly in the face of the threat in the first episode. He also posses a rather violent temperament and shows a lot of rage towards people that cross him, despite this he has the highest percentage of being released.
His episode "The Decoy Program" deals with him being targeted as a test subject for a military experiment with a new type of cyborg, old partners are used to lure him into the test but the military are being closely watched by Hasegawa as this "psychic trooper" appears to be breaking more then a few laws.
Benten rounds out the cast. He is the quietest of the bunch, with very effeminate bishounen looks and seems to be an albino with pale skin, hair and red eyes. He appears to wear red lipstick and painted nails as well as having both his ears pierced, he uses a razor sharp wire as his main weapon. He's and expert gymnast and that allows him to be rather agile in combat and can dodge almost anything. He also has an interest in stargazing and is steadfast in his belief that nothing can last forever.
His episode "Crimson Media" follows the investigation of several unlicensed geneticists being murdered with strange bite marks on their skin and a series of numbers written in their blood. All evidence points to an old man on the verge of death but there are obstacles to stop Benten's investigation at every turn.
They all report to Hasegawa who just seems to manipulate them behind the scenes. Even though he already knows what is going on most of the time within the cases. He just gets the characters to do the dirty work for him.
The animation is top notch for an OVA and still looks fantastic 17 years later. The character designs are very reminiscent of other Kawajiri titles and we are still seeing this style today. While some of the character designs looked very dated they are instantly recognisable and it's a shame that we only see these characters for three episodes. I would have loved to have seen a complete series devote to these characters.
The music in the show can sometimes seem a little flat with only a few different themes throughout each episode. Manga video redid this for their video release and it had a much harder rock feel to it, even though it isn't the original score it would have been nice if Madman had included this soundtrack as well for the fans that do enjoy it.
I did have one problem with this disc when watching the second episode, it freezes up at around 39:32 and this does appear to be an issue with most of the discs as has been reported on Madman's website. It is only a minor annoyance as it can be skipped to a few seconds after and everything plays fine but it's not ideal. If you have this issue I suggest you head over the Madman forums and see what the have to say in the technical section.
This show is a true gem from the 90's and I'm glad it's finally released on DVD in Australia. Each episode is exciting with a great mix of action and suspense as well as a little humour. The animation is top notch and all the episodes are really well paced and there is very little in the way of boring exposition or dull moments. While the dub is very offensive I can't help but recommend this title. This isn't exactly high brow entertainment but it's just plain fun and action fans would be hard pressed to pass this up.
Japanese 2.0 Language ,English 2.0 Language ,English Subtitles ,Director's Commentary by Yoshiaki Kawajiri (Episode 1 and Episode 2) ,Art Gallery ,Sketch Gallery
LG 32LX2D 32" HD LCD TV, Sony DVP-NS50P Progressive scan region free DVD player, Monster component cable, Yamaha TSS-15 Home Theatre Sound System.
Mania Grade: A
Audio Rating: B
Video Rating: C
Packaging Rating: C
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: A
Age Rating: 17 & Up
Region: 4 - Australia / South America
Released By: Madman Entertainment
Running time: 135
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Cyber City