If anyone out there hasn’t heard of Cyberpunk: Edgerunners yet, and you happen to be looking for something new and something that is aimed at more of a seinen audience, and you also like sci-fi, then take a look.
Maybe even if you don’t like the sub-genre all that much, still give it a try, I reckon. Especially if you’re a huge Studio Trigger fan in general, or perhaps you just love bright, fast-paced anime?
Because as I keep saying, I reckon Edgerunners is worth your time.
(Even if you’re a bit gun-shy after the disastrous release of the Cyberpunk 2077 game, I believe that should you start and finish this anime, you won’t find it to be ‘unfinished’ or ‘rushed’).
Actually, to keep jamming descriptors into my lumbering introduction, and also to go out on a limb a bit with this recommendation stuff, maybe consider trying this anime if you’re into the ‘doomed romance’ thing too.
Especially if you’re not adverse to gore and nudity, since Cyberpunk has a lot of one and some of the other. But to sneak back to my comment on its audience, about it being more seinen, I’d argue that not only due to the visual content, but the themes.
I’m making that claim for a couple of reasons, I suppose.
For one, it feels like the way Cyberpunk: Edgerunners uses revenge almost as bait-and-switch might bug an immature audience (which is not the same thing as a ‘young’ audience). Or the way that communication (or lack thereof) remains a very human theme, and one entirely distinct from the amazing technological advances in the setting.
And further, the anti-corporate, anti-capitalist bent is so clear – perhaps some of the more pointed ‘punk’ aspects to the series.
Body modification is another main theme in the anime, though Edgerunners spends most of that aspect on related violence rather than identity. No surprise, I guess – since the anime is an action-thriller too…
… and I’m suddenly back on ‘genres’ and ‘conventions’ once more 😀
Well, for me, that stuff is almost always interesting at the very least.
And in Edgerunners, I remember the first few episodes setting up what seemed to be an underdog-revenge story. By the end, it’s clear that it fits in a whole lot more.
I finished the anime wondering if, in addition to everything else I’ve mentioned above, there isn’t a bit of Psychological Horror included, with a touch of the ‘last girl’ trope thrown into the pan too.
Connected, perhaps, are Splatterpunk elements, both in terms of story and visuals, which feed into the action and horror as much as the cyberpunk.
That’s the beauty of really effective stories though – they can easily fit more than one aspect from more than one genre. Sometimes, the mix results in something that escapes the bounds of any one genre and either creates something new or at the very least, something that will last.
Having said all of that, the guts of the Edgerunners story does have a single focus, it’s the relationship between leads David and Lucy – and to a lesser extent, between David and his sort-of mentor, the imposing but flawed Maine (not that he’s the only one with flaws).
That core relationship between David and Lucy keeps all the moving parts of the anime together, and each thing I learnt about the setting and world seemed quickly or eventually relevant to David and Lucy’s struggle to survive, and to protect one another.
I’ve already mentioned the range of genres, but another I could see an argument being made for is that of tragedy – well, kinda.
And I’m not talking about the fact that pretty much everyone dies but Lucy, instead it’s that David destroys himself well before his futile (yet understandable) battle with Adam Smasher occurs, even after seeing Maine destroy himself in nearly exactly the same way.
The more I write on this anime, the more I’m thinking that Edgerunners is not precisely a Tragedy. Or, the more I can’t decide how well it follows the classic conventions of a tragedy. So maybe it could be, after all.
Could be that the show is simply not a tragedy in a somewhat narrow sense, wherein a character does all the right things and yet is still punished/made to suffer/fails.
Because I believe that the narrative perfectly shows that our main characters don’t do all the right things, that they aren’t at all ‘unfairly punished by circumstance’. Instead, they make choices themselves, and those choices just don’t work out.
Not that the choices they make are easy ones.
After finishing the anime, I wonder if I missed something or not… because I’m still doubting the idea of it being a tragedy.
For instance, Lucy is shown to be able to hide extremely well. Could not she and David have fled the city? And maybe they wouldn’t have been able to hide forever, but the simple fact that they were (perhaps understandably) too afraid to be honest with each other about who was protecting who and from what, I’d argue that they were doomed by their own failure to communicate.
And so perhaps character flaws (or fear) drove their actions as much as anything else – but whether I’m off the mark or not about genre doesn’t really matter in the end, because that doesn’t change the fact that the characters were written really well.
In terms of an actual issue at last, the first thing that came to mind was that a certain amount of prior knowledge about the Cyberpunk77 universe and world-building would probably help a little. Still, I was never lost.
I kind of hinted above that the body modification theme wasn’t explored all that much, so that felt like a bit of a missed opportunity.
But moving back to a couple of positives to finally wrap up this review, I found it refreshing to see actual daylight in a cyberpunk story! It seems far too often that low-level lighting is the default for the genre, the predictable fall-back for production design (of course, you’ve got to show off all those neons, but still, I really enjoyed the variety here).
And finally, I think that the ending was very, very effective. I was so happy to finish an anime with a conclusion that really worked… but I’d argue it was not at all bittersweet – it was only bitter 😀
There’s a brief overview on the form itself below, before I get to the actual review.
I hope you enjoy these and as I mentioned before, I’d love to hear any suggestions you might have for future OVA-weeks 🙂
An animated film or series made for release on video, rather than for broadcast/theatrical screening
Generally, high budgets that can mean visual qualities are better than a typical television series
No fixed length, nor broadcast time-constraints when it comes to storytelling
To some extent, created outside regulation – and so they have a reputation for ‘anything goes’ when it comes to restricted content
Often (but certainly not always) based on original scripts, rather than being adaptations
Long wait times between episodes/installments for some OVAs
First OVA to be described as such was 1983’s Dallos from Mamoru Oshii
The ONA (Original Net Animation) is an obvious more modern equivalent
Twilight of the Dark Master (Shihaisha no Tasogare)
Twilight of the Dark Masteris a pretty dark OVA released in 1997 US / 1998 JPN, at a time some years after the peak of the direct-to-video format.
Even so, it’s mostly exactly what you might expect from an OVA – extra detail in general, extra detail on the violence and nudity, with some of it gratuitous but here, not exactly falling into the realm of modern shock-horror either.
And there is a story. And some great animation and use of colour and light at times too – not just via the general high-level from many OVAs, but there was one sequence in particular that was pretty compelling. Not because it was the greatest thing in the world, but because it was just really effective.
I think it’s the mix of flicker, of slow-motion, and the use of muted and also selective colour, that brought things together – I wonder how much of it was computer-assisted via layering, possibly? Seems like a lot of work to get everything in place.
The story follows the conventions of a revenge* thriller mixed in with some procedural, magic, horror and cyberpunk aspects too, and has at least a couple of surprises to go with the wide range of genres.
Now, that might sound like a lot going on, and it is, but I enjoyed the mix.
Today, director Akiyuki Shinbo would probably be best known for March Comes In like a Lion. Obviously, something such as a previous work by Akiyuki, The SoulTaker, is a far closer comparison in terms of content, when it comes to Twilight of the Dark Master.
In the end, I’m not sure how much of the visuals I can attribute to Akiyuki Shinbo or storyboard artists, verses manga artist Saki Okuse, but from the composition to lighting to framing, it’s definitely all well-above average for me.
So too, some of the character designs, which have both detail and some range. (Again, I mention this to contrast what seems like one of my more recent pet peeves – anime with characters who all look generally quite similar).
Now, this OVA is most definitely not suitable for the younger viewers out there – although, I doubt Twilight of the Dark Master is on the radar for that age group anyway.
(Or perhaps, on anyone’s radar for the most part).
I must note that for all the things I enjoyed about the OVA, Twilight of the Dark Master suffers a little from its reliance on low-key lighting and some pandering, but maybe more than that – as the ending just wasn’t as strong as the rest of the short film.
Ridiculously, I can’t put my finger on exactly why that is… maybe the shift in scale? It feels too sudden for me. If you’ve seen this one, that might make sense. Or maybe not!
Vivy made me wonder whether great art, exhilarating fight sequences, catchy songs and fun costume changes with engaging characters were enough for me to say yep, 5 stars – even in spite of some disappointment with the plot.
Vivy: Fluorite Eye’s Song (2021)
(In the end, it doesn’t matter whether I finish the review with a 4 or 5 star rating, or any other number, but apparently I enjoy overthinking and so I’m still not sure about a score :D)
Anyway, getting back to Vivy itself– if you’ve been craving time-travel science fiction and action that looks great (with an interesting compression of a 100-year timeline) then there should be more than enough to keep you watching.
And there was for me – I looked forward to each new episode and in addition, it was really fun to see the show via Karandi’s posts too.
Occasionally, I felt some of the jumps in time were a bit sharp and Matsumoto can be hard work to listen to, though those were minor issues for me. Again, I personally find it easy enough to overlook aspects I didn’t enjoy when the visuals are great and WIT studio lives up to their reputation here, I reckon.
While there are a few threads / mini arcs that I preferred over others, I think I’ll quickly mention some fav scenes or smaller aspects instead:
The robot welcome in the factory stood out, nice way to humanise them and also kinda manipulate the audience
The ‘falling’ fight scene in episode 9 is pretty ace
Gradual thawing of Vivy’s personality works really well
OP is a cool song
I also enjoyed the little bit of exploration around possible rights/privileges of non-humans (robot marriage etc)
Without spoilers, there was a particular point toward the end where the choices of characters (and connected time-travel difficulties) gave me fair pause, and some disappointment there did impact the finale for me.
And in spite of the issues I had with the last few episodes I liked that time-travel wasn’t something that solved everything neatly, often when Vivy and Matsumoto took action, they found changes harder to make than planned.
In the end, Vivy: Fluorite Eye’s Song is definitely a show I’d like to add to my collection one day, no doubt about it.
I’ve been thinking about Akudama Drive on and off since finishing it and I’m wondering if it’s actually Cyberpunk in name and aesthetic only.
And if so, does that even matter?
This was one of my fav shows from the last few seasons and I enjoyed it plenty, no matter the labels that have (or have not) been attached to it by other folks, or by me for that matter 😀
A bit more on genre further below, but for now I’ll do a sort of short, general overview.
For fans of action, science fiction and also amps that go up to 11, I reckon Akudama Drive will have exactly what you’re looking for – flashy action, boldly drawn characters that sometimes push beyond their archetypes and a neon cityscape full of corruption.
There’s even a slight Suicide Squad feel to the premise.
Now that I’ve opened by saying I enjoyed the anime, I will say that I might not have finished the series without Swindler (or the kids, I guess) as there were very few characters I wanted to see succeed.
But by the end I definitely wanted to see some vengeance.
And a real plus for me was the fact that the anime actually has a resolution and an ending, and one that feels both inevitable and satisfying. So fear not if you’re the kind of viewer who is endlessly frustrated by anime without endings.
Getting back to my opening paragraph, typically I harp on a lot about genre so I’ll try to keep it brief here for a change.
Basically, I think Akudama Drive is most concerned with the action conventions of spectacle, both visuals and violence, and less about exploring technology’s impact on humanity, and thus it might not be a Cyberpunk text in every sense of the word.
On the other hand, when you consider that the anime is so clearly fulfilling that ‘punk’ side of resistance – fighting an oppressive state/government that needs to be defeated, then Akudama Drive in that respect is indeed cyberpunk through and through.
If I were to pick at a minor issue, for me the kids’ story could have been introduced earlier but I still enjoyed it.
Cutthroat is merely “psycho for the sake of psycho”, which feeds quite neatly into the action movie conventions and while one highlight is probably the sequence with Swindler in the abandoned factory, once again the threat of sexual violence seems like a predictable go-to. (Also, a trope that feeds directly into the action-genre.)
Akudama Drive has quite a big finish too – and despite my quibbling over genre above, the anime does address the role of technology in our lives but it’s just not the main focus.
In the end, I still think of this show as an action series before anything else, but I’m not claiming that as a problem, just my reaction 😀
(It’s also a series I might collect in the physical edition one day too.)
As I’ve mentioned here ad nauseam by now, science-fiction, futuristic, cyberpunk stories tend to be among my favs and so I expected to enjoy Goku Midnight Eye. In the end, it’s not my fav cyberpunk release but it still has plenty of the things you’d want from the genre.
Goku Midnight Eye(1989)
So too, if what you want is that the cross-pollination between US cinema and anime, with an undertone of ‘action-movie-from-the-1980s’ clear in both episodes.
Episode one was probably my fav of the pair, probably due to it being an origin story where we see how Goku gets his magical eye, an eye that can hack into any computer in the world.
Almost a year later comes episode two, which features a somewhat overpowered Goku. He still faces threats, and while his super-extending staff is almost comical, there’s maybe a tongue-in-cheek feel to everything that keeps this and the previous episode entertaining.
If I did read the tone of the OVA correctly, I do wonder how much of that is due to Buichi Terasawa’s manga – who is also responsible for Space Adventure Cobra, where the film adaptation is somewhat similar in tone but in a less grimy way, I guess.
And despite great direction from Yoshiaki Kawajiri there are a few tired clichés, especially when it comes to women characters, who seem to have only two options: femme fatale or eye candy (so very much noir-influenced). One character especially is noteworthy for her role as world-building element.
Ultimately, I would have watched more Goku (if any had been made) because I do like lone detective stories but I don’t know how to rate this.
(It’s a product of its time for sure, maybe of the OVA-era too… and something about that stripper-motorbike hybrid struck me as the kind of element that you could write an entire post on, but I’ll save it for now).
I can say that Goku is not aimed at kids, at least.
But if you want that mix of action, violence, nudity, oddity and futuristic tech from a bygone era of anime, then Goku’s your man.
Sin: The Movie is a cyberpunk OVA with a few big action sequences but a fairly brisk plot in some sections – maybe too brisk. It’s only 50 or so minutes long, but it feels like it’s telling more of a feature-length story.
A connected issue was the character work – the variety in design isn’t matched by the depth of charactarisation, which is a shame, as a bit of extra screentime would have been great – especially for Elyse who too often feels like a plot device.
It is an action-focused cyberpunk anime and so that’s where the focus is (and sometimes that’s exactly what I’m looking for) but maybe Sin didn’t have the kind-of breathtaking action that often makes up for other possible deficiencies.
On the upside, if you’re a fan of the era, the style or genre in general then there’s probably going to be just enough to satisfy.
But before I finish, I want to quickly jump over to video games for a moment.
Back in 1996 there was a game called Quake, which was pretty big deal in the gaming world, and its engine and variants thereof would soon feature in more than a few games that followed, one of which was Sin.
And I mention this of course because Sin: The Movie is loosely based on the game and I was interested to learn that the game team seemed at least somewhat involved in the movie. (It was also produced by ADV Films from top to bottom too, which I hadn’t realised).
3 Stars if I’m feeling generous.
I forgot to mention, the music is performed by the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra, which does give the movie an extra dimension.
Very excited to kick off this collaboration with Iniksbane atIn Search of Number Nine, since we’re writing on one of my all-time favs, Ergo Proxy!
I’d put off reviewing Ergo Proxy for a long time but being able to work with Cameron took a bit of the pressure off, and I’m really happy with what we came up with. Thanks to Cameron’s awesome posts over the years, I’ve been introduced to a heap of great anime – and one that comes to mind instantly for me isRahxephon.
But getting back to Ergo Proxy, we’ve split the posts between our blogs, so below you can read our review conversation and next up is our analysis post over at In Search of Number Nine – link to follow once we go live 🙂
But now, let’s begin – and Iniksbane’s up first:
Iniksbane: I’m curious when and where you first encountered Ergo Proxy? I have a little bit of personal history with this show. I initially saw the first episode at Otakon in 2006, and I was blown away by how this show looked. Sure. There were other stylish shows that I had seen, but between the austere sci-fi setting and the voice-over, I was intrigued.
I’m not sure if I would say I was hooked, but I was interested in learning more.
This show holds an important spot in the anime distribution history in America in that it was one of the final shows that Geneon released. Pioneer and then Geneon were responsible for distributing a lot of the more unusual anime, stuff like Ergo Proxy, Serial Experiments Lain, Haibane Renmei, Paranoia Agent and Gankutsou, to name a few. The End of Geneon USA – Anime (bellaonline.com)
This was around the time I started blogging as well.
It was the start of the change of the anime industry in the U.S. Within a year or so, ADV would become Section 24. They would eventually start rereleasing anime under Sentai Filmworks, but that would take some time.
Funimation ended up being the last one standing. They emerged with all of the Dragon Ball Z money.
But I remember feeling lucky that I got my copy of Ergo Proxy.
In my notes, I noticed that the show has a 4.5 out of 5. I find that interesting because it wasn’t a beloved show at the time of its release. I’m glad that it’s found an audience 15 years later.
Ashley: Wow, that’s pretty awesome that you got to see the opener at a convention!
I remember being only generally aware of Ergo Proxy back in the early 2010s and sometimes seeing it on informal lists here and there afterwards, it seemed like a real favourite for a lot of people but at the same time, not a series that was well-known, yeah.
I reckon I first saw a preview, probably on a DVD of another show and that got me searching for the series, thinking I ought to finally track down a copy and see for myself what it was like. (That copy was the Funimation reissue).
Glad I did too :D.
Iniksbane: What did you think about the show when you first watched it? What do you think of it now? I’ve heard another review of this show that divided it into three parts and said the beginning and the end were weak, but the middle was great.
I’m not sure I remember much from my first time watching the show, I remember the quiz show episode and the one where they were stuck, and I vaguely remembered Iggy’s fate.
Honestly, this time through, I liked the beginning. I loved the middle episodes, and I am still torn about the ending.
To give you some to react to, I thought the first few episodes moved fast enough to set up what happened after they started the journey. I don’t feel like it wasted any time, or rather I felt like it spent enough time doing what it needed to.
The show really kicks it into high gear once they leave the dome. I found Hoody’s story arc engrossing. I liked the interplay between Daedulus and Raul.
The conflict between Iggy and Re-l was great. In particular, I love the line, “You don’t get to write me off just because I’ve gotten complicated.”
Although Vincent is strangely hands-on with Re-l in a way, I wasn’t comfortable with and didn’t understand. I wrote down in my notes that Re-l attracts creepy stalker guys.
My biggest problems come in the last three or so episodes. I’m still struggling with what they were trying to do there. It’s the only part of the show that felt self-indulgent. The show would have these long panning shots without anything going on. Raul and, to a lesser extent, Daedalus felt like non-entities at that point.
It’s not a bad end, but it felt a little lackluster in comparison to some of the frankly brilliant stuff they do in the middle.
Ashley:That’s interesting re: the review you mention. For my first viewing I had the opposite response, to me during some of the middle episodes it felt like the tension was beginning to fall off. I remember preferring the beginning and ending parts.
And yet, on subsequent viewings those middle stretches contain some of my favourite moments. A bit like you, the ending is the part that I now wonder about. I wish it had been expanded for a few more episodes at least.
When I finished Ergo Proxy the first time I remember feeling like I had to immediately go and watch the first few episodes again to catch the foreshadowing I’d missed. Viewing it now feels like watching familiar, (and some) beloved characters fighting against cruel manipulation and that abandonment you mention below, I feel like I can focus more on character and less on unravelling the plot.
I guess like a lot of post-apocalyptic/cyberpunk fiction the fear of what humanity cannot control does seem to motivate a lot of characters and I like how that played out in Pino’s character, since she humanised the robots who are ‘infected’ with the Cogito Virus. (Maybe a bit like Robin from Witch Hunter Robin?)
Iggy stood out for me too – poor guy, Re-l seems to treat him as a punching bag at times. Agree that Re-l is definitely a magnet for those sorts of fellows.
I also agree that Daedulus and Raul had some great scenes together but that the narrative seems to abandon them by the end, which was a real shame. Again, maybe just a few more episodes and that ending could have given them more time too?
One thing I think about the show now compared to the first time I watched it, is I realise more just how long the audience is kept in the dark in terms of piecing the bigger picture together, which is mostly only lurking behind the smaller investigative events for a fair while.
Iniksbane: Do you feel like the show succeeded with its more surreal aspects? So I’m leading a little bit here, but I felt this show was good at adding weight to what are largely surrealistic episodes.
In particular, I pointed out in my notes that I liked the library episode. In particular, I said One of the things about this show is just how surreal it is without losing all of its footing in “real” life. The bookstore in the middle of the wasteland is the height of that weirdness.
This is also true with the episode Ophelia, as they are in the dome with the grocery store, and they keep running into a proxy that could copy other people. I don’t know if it’s the Hamlet reference, but I think the episode succeeds in making me realize that the proxy felt lonely but was so scared of being lonely that she killed everyone.
Ashley: The Ophelia episode was one of my favs, absolutely – the surrealism throughout that plot was ace. It’s interesting how well those episodic sections of the series operate to build tension, expand the world and delay the answers everyone is seeking.
It also fit right into the unsettling tone – sometimes it’s almost absurdist, which kinda built upon the unease for me.
And I know what you mean, the further into the show you get, the clearer it becomes that the Proxies are desperately unhappy or lonely, often broken by their roles. I especially felt bad for the Disney Proxy who was maybe doing a better job at protecting his charges than what we see in other domes.
Iniksbane: What character moments/episodes stood out to you? I’m curious. I liked two episodes in particular. One was the quiz show episode because it’s such an unusual way of getting exposition across.
I also really liked the Disney episode. One of the characters I felt like got shortchanged in the early episodes was Pino. She seemed a lot like a cute mascot girl, but that episode gave me a sense of who she was. She really is a nice person who wants to help people. She was just a child in danger of getting thrown away.
There is another moment that I like in the last few episodes after both Re-ls reject Daedalus. He says, “When I look into her eyes, I want to see my reflection.”
This is one point I probably should make about those last few episodes. I do think they’re messy, but there are a lot of great moments. At one point, we see Raul limping down the street, and there is a voiceover from Pino.
Re-l has a monologue where she says, “Once this clockwork paradise bored me. So I prayed for change. Any change. I now have to wonder if those awful prayers were the catalyst that woke the sleeping Ergo.”
Ashley: Pino really became a stand out character for me too, yeah. Seeing her learn and grow as the series went on, and that Disney episode is a highlight for her – I love the teacup scene for a lighter moment, and there aren’t tonnes of them in the show, huh?
Agree on the game show episode – Ergo Proxy just cuts in on a lot of those episodes with zero transition, and so I remember experiencing a bit of whiplash at first, but when I watched it again I thought it was a pretty cool way to deliver exposition.
I think the first episode is one of my favs – I finished it with so many unanswered questions and was immediately drawn in by the detective/noir stuff. Upon re-watch, Monad’s struggle takes on a different tone too but above all, I think it’s the action sequences as they punctuate the investigations. They feel pretty explosive and fluid too, like a good chunk of the budget went into hooking the audience with that ep.
Next up for me was probably the Ophelia episode. I really enjoyed being confused at first, and then once I figured out the team were being manipulated I was suddenly second-guessing everything I saw, that was fun.
Visually too, the emptiness and all the wide shots, or the reflections and mist, it all made for heaps of memorable compositions. The atmosphere and symbolism around duality is pretty strong here too and Pino’s ‘cooking’ is a nice little moment of levity.
Iniksbane: According to an ANN interview, the series composer Dai Sato said they wanted to “create an image somewhat like a darker breed of American superhero.” Do you think they succeeded? Do you think that is a worthy goal? Link to the article. Interview: Dai Sato – Anime News Network
Ashley: That’s really interesting – although, I probably don’t know enough about superhero texts to offer an opinion on Ergo Proxy’s success in reflecting that… but I think it’s fascinating that the end result made me think of things like Tim Burton’s Batman films from the 1990s.
Good question, I think maybe it is worth trying because it might end up in something really distinctive. So, to bring in superhero stuff to a noir/cyberpunk/dystopian story resulted in Ergo Proxy so that’s pretty cool. And that ‘darker’ idea seems clearly realised, as it feels like most characters are anti-heroes, villains or at least always at cross-purposes throughout the series. (Maybe I’m exaggerating a bit there though).
Iniksbane: Most famously, the show used real philosophers’ names along with referencing Descartes’ “Cogito Ergo Sum,” do you think this worked? I remember this being the most significant sticking point with Ergo Proxy. To put it kindly, people thought this show was up its own butt.
Even Sato, in that same ANN interview, said, “I thought that project was a little too fast-paced. We had a lot of ideas and things we wanted to incorporate that we couldn’t fit.”
As a story, I think you can completely ignore this point, and for the most part, the story stands on its own. I’m not sure if I remember the names of the philosophers that are referenced, and I don’t think it bears looking up.
That said, thematically, I think the ideas of self-determination and free will are core to what the show is going for. And here is where I’m going to dip a bit into spoilers.
Raul starts off the show talking about people filling their assigned roles and has a deterministic outlook on life. But by the end of the show, he’s trying to fight against Ergo Proxy. He rejects the “God” of their world.
In particular, Raul tells the regent, “You have spent your existence seeking a god that betrayed you. I am free of your illusions.”
This back and forth between fate and free will is a recurring theme in the entirety of the show. I feel the show solidly lands in favor of free will, but there is a lot of plot driven by characters who believe they are fated for destruction.
So I guess I will end this with another question. Where do you think the show lands on that theme?
Ashley: I think the individuals in the Collective could have been called anything and it wouldn’t have made any difference, definitely.
I don’t recall their dialogue as distinctive or even suggesting any of the curiosity you’d expect from a philosopher – by which I guess I meant, they pretty much towed the line and never seemed to question their own part in the dome and the greater plan. (Admittedly, they weren’t infected so maybe I shouldn’t be surprised).
For the theme, those final shots seem really defiant so that especially makes me think the show comes down on the side of free will. Bleak as it can be, and even with all the collateral damage.
You mentioned Rual and I think he’s a perfect example of a character playing out the tension between those themes – he’s got quite a lot of development too, swinging from sympathetic and less so and then back again, from antagonist to maybe a supporting protagonist which I found interesting since Vincent/Ergo Proxy isn’t strictly a hero or even an anti-hero, I think.
Or at least, not until the end perhaps – when I guess his resolve is channelled along the lines of free will being worth preserving?
Hope you enjoyed this post and that you’re ready for the next part, which you’ll soon be able to read over atIn Search of Number Nine 🙂
This is a classic (and fairly violent) OVA series and one which I suspect most cyberpunk fans are at least aware of, but is definitely worth watching if you like the genre but have never had the chance; it’s probably online somewhere by now but I’m not sure who streams it.
For me, so much of Cyber City Oedo 808 feels wonderfully connected to the 1980s (no surprise considering the release dates) whether it’s the assumption that floppy disks will be part of the future or the big hair and heavy metal theme song, or the old school blue palette used for night, it has so many things that I tend to be fond of.
At the same time, in terms of plotlines, the anime is a little more fantastical, even mystical – considering the way machines and computers infiltrate humanity, but especially when I think about episode 3 (Crimson Media) which features the ‘vampire’ storyline.
But in all the big ways it’s definitely science-fiction.
For one, there’s a crime-ridden, megacity-setting where the power of technology is used to both monitor and maim. Cyber City Oedo 808 also makes extensive use of futuristic weapons, equipment and vehicles, and conventional ideals of what it is to be human are abandoned. It’s not a long exploration of those issues though, since the focus is firmly on action, technology and sometimes the gore (directed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri)… so the anime is not setting out to be philosophical perhaps, but I felt like there was plenty of room to consider those aspects if I wanted to.
Cyber City Oedo 808 follows three convicted criminals who have been offered the chance to commute their sentences by hunting down and executing other criminals. Each lead basically gets their own episode, though they do operate (somewhat grudgingly) as a team at times.
I quickly alluded to this before, but as a Yoshiaki Kawajiri film, there is a bit of fan-service when it comes to the detail on the violence, but in a way, it seemed like both less and more than what you’d see in things like Wicked City or Ninja Scroll.
With each episode, the storytelling is really focused; I felt like I was in good hands when it came to info around setting and character motivation too, and I hadn’t realised that Akinori Endo also did screenplays for Armitage IIIand Battle Angel, which was cool.
I love each storyline and so it’s hard to choose a stand out without going into spoiler territory, but since Benten is my favourite character, I reckon I have to go with the menace of Crimson Media, complete with its quieter moments. (You can also see a real echo of Benten’s own temperament in ‘villain’ Media, but again, I don’t want to drift into spoilers here!).
Welcome to my 6th ‘Abandoned’ post and of course, my usual disclaimer that I might come back to these one day!
Ga-Rei: Zero (2008)
During my slump the other month (when I was having a lot of trouble finishing things) I started and abandoned various anime and Ga-Rei: Zero was one of them.
I’ve seen (or attempted) a fair few shows in the supernatural genre of late and this one had a few interesting things that I hadn’t seen heaps of times before, and visually I certainly had no complaints… but it made a classic storytelling ‘error’ as I see it.
I understand that the style of error I’m eventually going to mention is usually played as a twist but it had a secondary effect for me, which was to make me stop watching.
Basically, between episode 1 and episode 2, Ga-Rei: Zero changes the cast of characters completely. Suddenly, I had to meet a whole heap of new folks and do the work of finding reasons to care about them – and instead, I just didn’t and ended up moving on to a different show.
Maybe if I wasn’t in a slump I might have kept going… but I didn’t have the energy to watch (basically) two versions of Episode 1 back to back.
2. Ghost in the Shell: SAC 2045(2020)
Gave this a shot the other day but I couldn’t get on board with the visual style. Cool to hear original cast members back for the voices however 🙂
Ultimately, I didn’t see enough to have much of a response re: storyline or anything else about this series, and I could probably come back to this one day, just to see more and give myself a chance to form a real opinion. For now, it’s pushed down a bit on my list.
3. El Cazador de la Bruja (2009)
The ‘girls with guns’ sub-category is one of my favourites and the setting was great so I think I’ll give this a shot again one day for sure, but since I tried El Cazador during my slump, I wasn’t able to finish the first episode.
It felt like it was taking a bit too long to kick off and in a way, that’s probably not true, but again, mid-slump I was only able to finish things that immediately and deeply hooked me from the opening few minutes.
How’s this for a fun premise? Strong-silent-type mercenary who can recreate anything he eats wanders around a cyberpunk/dystopian/fantastic world taking on all kinds of jobs!
Well, both adaptations of Eat-Man are indeed that – but I’ve been having trouble deciding precisely how I responded to them. They were only made a year apart and both completed by Studio Deen, so there are plenty of similarities in terms of art style and other production aspects.
The biggest differences are story, character and tone.
In some ways, Eat-Man is less satisfying than Eat-Man ’98 due to those differences… or at least, so I thought at first.
Usually, I try to complete an entire post for each anime when I do these comparison-style write-ups, but I’ll combine these two series into one post today, I think because it’s going to be a fair bit shorter than usual.
Here’s a comparative overview:
Our hero ‘Bolt’ is generally very quiet and seems unhappy
Narrative is episodic with Bond ‘girl of the week’ feel
A whole heap of unexplained stuff
Art style has a little more detail in some aspects
Quite a moody, even mystical tone
Our hero ‘Bolt’ is extremely taciturn and seems cold
Narrative has no overarching storyline but more connected episodes
Less unexplained stuff
Art style more polished overall, maybe more variety in direction
More of an action/adventure tone
In this version of the adaptation, Bolt seems to wander in an attempt to find meaning, and his characterisation seems a little more enjoyable to me overall. The anime steps away from the manga but remains similarly episodic, yet throughout it sneaks in foreshadowing: there’s a floating wreckage of what appears to be a space ship.
In many episodes it’s just hanging there in the background and other times it’s framed with Bolt appearing to look at it – it’s a nice narrative hook that maybe didn’t pay off for me, considering that it’s rushed into focus at the end.
But probably the most fascinating things to me were the fantasy elements that were almost… occult-like, and added a whole lot of mystery but also deep confusion, even if it did at times make for some striking imagery.
In this first series too, there’s a minor difference – which is the colour of Bolt’s glasses, here they put me in the mind of Vash more than they did in the second series. (And to quickly play chronology, the Eat-Man anime predates the Trigun anime by a year, and the Trigun manga pre-dates the Eat-Man manga by a year.)
One clear mark against this version for me were the filler-moments, or the stretching out of certain scenes beyond what was needed, something that I didn’t notice anywhere near as much in the 1998 show.
Eat-Man ’98 (1998)
Here, the mystical elements are stripped away a fair bit, and a little more cyberpunk pushes through. More of the episodes present little arcs or multi-part storylines here, in stark contrast to the 1997 season. This mostly removes the ‘girl of the week’ feel though the series is still ultimately episodic.
Bolt is a little colder, seemingly more unyielding – but the storylines like to play with the idea that he’s cold, yet there is usually a reason for his manner. It’s also in this re-do that we get a few more tantalising hints about who or what Bolt really is, though I imagine more seasons would always have been needed to get any more answers.
One welcome change here is that there are actually a few characters that return, or have an impact on Bolt and so it feels like there is a bit more at stake. I probably slightly prefer the direction in this version of Eat-Man, something that jumped out to me during the highlight of the Bye Bye Aimie episodes.
And now to quickly sum up!
In the end, I think that the 1998 Eat-Man is essentially a better adaptation (not precisely because it’s more faithful to the source either) and I preferred its OST, but despite the faults of the 1997 iteration, somehow I enjoyed it a little more. It’s less conventional within an already unconventional setting/premise and I preferred the art-style.