Sunday, June 30, 2013

Anime Review No. 59-CyberCity Oedo 808

CyberCity Oedo 808
1990-91 OVA, 3 episodes
Studio-Madhouse, Director-Yoshiaki Kawajiri, Writer: Akinori Endo

Well, Central Park Media Month concludes with CyberCity. This title is more infamously known as one of those shows from the late 80s/early 90s in the same company of Angel Cop and Garzey's Wing: cheaply made, poor dubbing and full of violence and gore. Fortunately, there are some good points to this OVA: decent storytelling, fleshed out characters and some good futuristic concepts. For this review, I shall look at each episode as this is only 3 episodes long, but each spanning about 40-45 minutes. In a way, CyberCity is more like a short anthology series, as one could watch each episode separately without missing much.

Episode 1: Time Bomb
The story of this series takes place in 2808 AD aka the far future. 3 convicts are released from prison to assist the police with high risk cases that the police don't want to deal with. They are left in the charge of Hasegawa, a shadowy authority figure in CyberCity who will pop off their heads with electronic neck braces the three wear. Those 3 convicts are Sengoku, Goggul and Benten. Then the Opening song starts, which is quite nice and rocking late 80s song. Focus of the episode is on Sengoku, who is an arrogant loud bastard (putting it nicely) but eagerly violent. He doesn't play well with Hasegawa or anyone for that matter, treating Varsus (tech support droid) and a young female police officer who admires him like shit. Yeah, what a likeable antihero.
Case in question: A computer controlling a skyscraper has gone mad planning to kill some scientist. Several people have been taken hostages and the situation could easily go awry. Sengoku is go with Googles and Benten to resolve the crisis. Oh yeah, Googles is the tech guy/hacker and Benten who is good with speed and metal wire.
Let me pause for a bit to comment on the English dub which is.....gloriously bad. This comes down to two factors: much of the cast consists mainly of British VAs trying to sound American and failing. Combined that with the fact that much of the dialogue is written with lots of profanity and a rather fast and loose adaptive script only compounds the terribad dub more so. And yet, this fits though with the dark gritty cyberpunk setting. That, and the dub has a lot of memorable one-liners.
Sengoku meets Dave Kurokawa, the scientist slated for execution by the mad computer, who is acting very suspect. As it turns out, Amachi (Dave Kurokawa's mentor) has returned to exact revenge upon him, despite being killed by Kurokawa some years prior.
Sengoku goes to find Amachi in the building. Of course, the story now becomes a ticking clock as the building is set to be destroyed soon. He runs into several obstacles along the way, but manages to get through them all by sheer virtue of being an arrogant bastard. Sengoku then finds out that Amachi is some corpse wired into the computer system, controlling it through power of revenge or something-it is barely explained. Duel between Amachi and Sengoku is a quite bloody and extended affair. But still very awesome and satisfying once it ends.The day is saved...I suppose; Sengoku is still an irredeemable jerk though.

Episode 2: The Decoy Program
Focus this time is on Googles, the tech guy/hacker. He's studious, a bit even tempered well more then Sengoku and a lot more honorable. Story this time around is about an investigation of the Special Forces secret base. However, a former squeeze of Googles, Sara is on the run from the military. She stole some precious information on a top secret project. Her English VA actually slips out of accent after the first scene she's in, which is amusing.
There is also some underlying commentary on a corrupt military in the far future given how no war has made them turn to solving issues of public order and really mettling in affairs they have little to no business being involved in. The military has devised a new killer machine to deal with crime in the city More or less, they made psychic cyborgs. Yes, really. So, Sengoku and Benten act as support cast as they figure out what's happening but the story doesn't focus on them that much. But, Sara double-crosses him and sacrifies herself to finish this-a very poignant moment to be sure.
Out of the three, this is my personal favorite because well Googles goes through so much crap so his final duel against the killer cyborg is more emotionally impactful.

Episode 3: The Vampire
The third and final episode focuses on Benten, the bishounen speedster with the deadly wire. It starts off with a search for some mysterious woman he meets on the street one night, Remi Musada as it is later revealed. However there are mysterious killings with neck wounds involved that require the Benten's attention. The Conclusion: Vampire (naturally), even if it makes no sense initially.
One thing that works in this story is the atmosphere-it is very dark and grim, almost like a horror mystery story. It reminds me of Vampire Hunter, which makes sense as the character design for Benten is very similar. Benten is vastly different from the other two-a smooth operator: cool, calm and collected, nearly to the point of being sinister and detached.
A connection is found to be the chairman of a medical foundation, a writhing old man.
Benten goes alone to find out the dirty research: cybernetic panthers, I shat you not. It is revealed that the chairman has been making an immortality vaccine which, as a side effect, causes pyschic vampires. Once again, yes really. Yeah, cus that's how science being fecking magical.
Remi decides to take matters into her own hands, for no real reason other than the story must go on. In a surprising turn, the chairman is a crazy immortal nutjob, much like Mr Gentlemen from ROD and the big baddie from Master of Mosqution. He doesn't really care for the side effects at all.
Benten vs. The Chairman is a very long drawn out battle, with little bits of immortality philosophizing which manages not to be pretentious. Plus it ends with a pretty gruesome death scene. Remi Musada gets her proper death-a journey to beyond the stars, Roll credits....

CyberCity Oedo 808 is an interesting mess. On the one hand, it has decent story, fleshed out characters (even if most are a-holes), and some rather interesting sci-fi concepts (even if it is sometimes laughingly implausible). On the other hand, it has an english dub that outright refuses at times to take itself seriously and animation that while looked good back in the days, it looks cheap to the modern viewer, though even this is good to look at times. Yet, this does get a recommendation from me. The good parts (setting, characters and plot) work well, and even the bad aspects (the dub and animation) of it are at the very least entertaining.
Next month is taking a look at two shows that mean a lot to me from when I started off with anime
Crest of the Stars 7/13-14
Read or Die the TV Series 7/27-28
'Til next time
The Eclectic Dude

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