8 Man After (1993)

8 Man After is a short OVA series that I’d recommend to cyberpunk fans or folks who collect 1990s anime – especially if you crave a bit of violence, as it has what might now be called an ‘old-school’ violent anime feel. However, it’s not R-rated or anything, and there is a bit of character development and time spent on the setting too.

What I’ve been wondering about is to what extent the 8 Man After series is a response to things that came before.

And to discuss that, I think I have to jump back to the 1960s and 8 Man. Based on the manga by Kazumasa Hirai, the original iteration could be grouped into that robot boom in anime, the one that included Cyborg 009 and Astro Boy for instance. Tonally, those two shows might differ somewhat from 8 Man but again, I suspect modern audiences would find the ‘60s version of 8 Man somewhat ‘tame’ in some ways.

However, getting back to the ‘reactionary question’ I wanted to share a part of the premise I copied from Wikipedia:

Murdered by criminals, Detective Yokoda’s body is retrieved by Professor Tani and taken to his laboratory. There, Tani performs an experiment that has failed seven times; Yokoda is the eighth subject to have his life force transferred into an android body.

Sound at all familiar?

A cop murdered by street trash and returned to life as a robotic avenger – sounds nothing like Robocop, right?

Well, maybe if I look at the changing levels of onscreen violence in media during the 1960s to the 1980s and then further in to the good old grungy 1990s, then I think I can see what 8 Man After was going for. And after the grit of Robocop, maybe the teams at Ashi Productions and J.C. Staff felt that audiences wouldn’t accept a comparatively ‘clean cut’ cyborg revenge story?

In 8 Man After our hero Hazama is sometimes a little callous, and you could argue he must be in order to survive a city steeped in grime and corruption but the basic detective and cyberpunk tropes play out much as you might expect if you’re a fan of the genre.

Now that I’ve spent all those words putting the OVA into a bit of context, I should get to a few of the things I enjoyed; definitely the designs and fast pace, along with 8 Man himself, who had non-conventional abilities in some ways, but one of the things I remember most is the way American Football features in the story. There are a few links back to the original 8 Man too but I won’t spoil them here of course.

I was also interested to hear just how different the US and Japanese audio tracks were – my Diskotek release has both and while the US one is uptempo, semi-industrial techno at times, the original soundtrack can be perhaps a little more moody. Both suit the story but I really enjoyed the ending credits of the Japanese OST. I can’t actually find it on Youtube to share, so you have to trust me that it’s more interesting, I guess!

Ultimately, I don’t feel like the series has a whole host of flaws or anything and so maybe my rating might seem as though I didn’t enjoy the anime but that’s not true either, I think that instead, I found it more fascinating than enjoyable overall.

3 Stars

Ellcia (Gensō Jodan Elicia)

Ellcia is, for me, a somewhat standard ‘chosen one’ story with a few surprises nevertheless.

Ellcia (Gensō Jodan Elicia) 1992

It never gripped me but I still enjoyed it; there’s a nice mix of humour and action throughout, along with some striking visuals, even if the animation isn’t through-the-roof-good.

I also enjoyed the way the storyline opened up a little to reveal how certain characters were at cross-purposes, adding an extra element to what starts off as fairly a straight forward Good vs Evil tale.

At times, some aspects tended to feel a little rushed, particularly in the final episode, and maybe if Ellcia was closer to 12 shorter episodes that could have alleviated the issue for me, however, seeing the magical ship in action was always interesting and I loved its design. So too, for one of the main (somewhat) panther-like villains, who managed to make whiskers seem evil! On a related note, I couldn’t help feeling that the ‘motley’ look to the costumes of Ellcia’s crew didn’t signal ‘pirate’ as much as ‘circus clown’ at times?

Maybe a minor quibble – but the sum of its shortcomings weren’t enough to ‘ruin’ this lesser-known OAV series by any stretch, and so it’s a definitely ‘3 star’ kinda show I reckon. One of the reasonably early works of J.C.Staff, who you might recognise as being behind (among many others) shows like Revolutionary Girl Utena and Excel Saga.  

3 Stars