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Holy Trinity of Suck: Angel Cop

Stunning conclusion of Count Zero's 3 part guide

Welcome to part three of a three part article called "Holy Trinity of Suck".  In part one and part two we covered the two super sucky anime Mad Bull 34 and Violence Jack.  Go read those articles if you haven't already! 

NOTE: These three works make up what is known as the Manga Video Holy Trinity Of Suck – so named by Daryl Surat of the Anime World Order podcast.  Follow Daryl Surat on twitter: @DarylSurat
 

Angel Cop

      Angel Cop:  I always thought Angel's would be more modest
      Angel Cop:  I always thought Angel's would be more modest

In the late 90s, Japan's bubble economy was showing signs of coming to the end, and with it the OVA boom. Around this time, Akira hit theaters, and Masamune Shirow started the manga Ghost in the Shell . Ichiro Itano, meanwhile, had come off of Megazone 23, and had done some episode direction work on the original Patlabor OVAs (directed by Mamoru Oshii, who Itano had worked with on Urusi Yatsura: Beautiful Dreamer).

Itano's next project, Angel Cop, would be a cyberpunk series of his own creation. He get help on the concept from Hideki Takayama, who had directed Urotsukidoji, and Hiroyuki Kitakubo, who had directed the first OVA based on one of Masamune Shirow's works, Black Magic M-66, and had worked with Itano on Macross and its spinoff movie, Do You Remember Love. The script would be co-written Noboru “Shou” Aikawa, who wrote the Violence Jack OVA, along with Urotsukidoji, and would later go on to write the first Fullmetal Alchemist TV series, along with its spin-off movie.

The Story

In the not-to-distant future, the government of Japan finds itself besieged by the Communist terrorist organization Red May. In response, the government forms the Special Security Force, and gives them carte blanche to protect the government of Japan from any foreign influences which would seek to destroy it.

The Characters

Of the series in the Trinity, Angel Cop is perhaps the series with perhaps the most characters that it's worth taking the time to keep track of, with the series 6 episode run-time.

Angel – The titular character, and one of two female officers working for the Special Security Force. She cares little (if at all) for human life, prioritizing the mission over all else.

 

  

  

  



As an aside - he's not wearing a shirt under that coat
As an aside - he's not wearing a shirt under that coat
Sakada Raiden – Angel's partner, who later becomes a cyborg after being injured on a mission.
 

  

  

  

  

  



 From left - Hacker, Peace
From left - Hacker, Peace

Hacker – An operative for SSF who is... wait for it... a hacker!

Peace – SSF's demolitions expert, and their other female agent.

 

  

  

  



Taki
Taki

Taki Haishyo – Chief of the SSF.

Ichihara – R&D chief of the SSF, who performs Raiden's cyborg conversion.

 

  

  

Lucifer, Freya and Asura – Three psychic Hunters who seek to destroy not only Red May, but the SSF as well.

Why It's Bad

 Scanners?
 Scanners?

Aside from the terrible dub and unnecessary fifteening job that the series received from Manga Entertainment, there are several other problems that need to be addressed. The series is grotesquely violent. Itano makes sure that lots of people die very horrible, gory deaths in the series. A notable example where a character is shot in the head, and not only is person's brain matter visual, but a eyeball is even blown out of their skull.

There is also the matter of the anti-semitism and jingoism. The ultimate antagonists of the series are revealed to be a Vast Jewish Conspiracy™ to destroy the Japanese economy – as in the series Japan has become the world's only economic superpower and put the nail in the coffin by buying up the island of Hokkaido and turning it into a nuclear waste dump. To the credit of Manga Entertainment, in the English release any traces of the Vast Jewish Conspiracy™ were replaced with an Evil American Corporation™ in both the subtitles and the dub.

Ironically, the plot of the series played very heavily on Japan's bubble economy, assuming that it would continue forever and playing off a sense of ultra-nationalism growing in Japanese corporate circles at that time. By the time the series concluded in 1994, the Bubble economy had burst and the economy of Japan in general would experience a dive that they would pull out of until 2001.

Whatever Happened To...

Ichiro Itano – Itano, despite being responsible for Violent Jack and Angel Cop , is still active in the anime industry. Itano achived fame for being a key animator and animation director for the Macross series (the famous “Macross Missile Massacre” is also known in some circles as the “Itano Circus”), and he would be active in every successive Macross series save Seven and Frontier . He would later go on to direct Blassreiter and Gantz .

Noboru “Shou” Aikawa – Would, as mentioned earlier, go on to write the first Full Metal Alchemist TV series and film.

Hideki Takayama – After this series he would go on to direct a second Hentai (his first being Urotsukidoji) in Mystery of the Necronomicon , before directing more “normal” fare in the OVA Rumbling Hearts – Next Season (Kimi Ga Nozomu Eien ~Next Season~) .

Hiroyuki Kitakubo – In addition to working on the first half of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure , Kitakubo would go on to direct the Katsuhiro Otomo penned Roujin Z , as well as Blood: The Last Vampire , and would work as a planning assistant on Occult Academy .

The License – As with the other series in the Trinity, the license for this as well has lapsed, but not before the series received a DVD release. The quality of the release was rather poor (just a straight VHS-to-DVD rip), but it is out there, though rather hard to find.

Alexander Case (Count_Zero) writes about science fiction for Bureau42.com when he isn't writing stuff here, and he can also be found on Twitter (@Count_ZeroOR)
Villainesson March 30, 2011 at 3:49 p.m.
For all their faults, I'd still MUCH rather watch each of these three anime OVA series over the flood of moé/emo we've had over the last 10 or so years. A return to some grittier, cel-based anime would also be a visually refreshing change of pace, in contrast to today's softer and sterile look.

/counter-rant
Destinyheroknighton March 30, 2011 at 4 p.m.
@Villainess:  
Really!? You do know that most of the moe/emo stuff have more of a story then any of these movies (The emo and moe stuff was in the past to you know). Also it not all moe/emo these days :(    
  
Chris2KLeeon March 30, 2011 at 4:28 p.m.
@Villainess said:
" For all their faults, I'd still MUCH rather watch each of these three anime OVA series over the flood of moé/emo we've had over the last 10 or so years. A return to some grittier, cell-based anime would also be a visually refreshing change of pace, in contrast to today's softer and sterile look. /counter-rant "
I don't know, Angel Cop was REALLY bad. I remember renting it and thinking I'd get a Bubble Gum Crisis/ Blade Runner vibe off it, but it was just pure crap. Recent stuff has been kinda one note, but at least it looks good. Angel Cop looks like it was animated over a weekend.
Villainesson March 30, 2011 at 4:34 p.m.
@Destinyheroknight

I just miss the days when Japan was actually willing to make something like an "Angel Cop". To have a hardened female protagonist who couldn't be further from a fragile, delicate flower designed for her cuteness appeal. Or in Mad Bull/Violence Jack's case, an action-packed anime made for a mature audience that doesn't try to take itself too seriously.

Modern tastes may have moved away from what was popular in the 80's and early 90's, but an anime industry that doesn't try so hard to be deep is where my heart remains.  

@chris2klee:

 
 
Again though, for me, that imperfection was part of the charm of cel-based anime. Technology has made everything so squeaky clean that it all  starts looking the same.
Destinyheroknighton March 30, 2011 at 5:01 p.m.
@Villainess:  
Nowadays anime have more character development, story, and better dubs (that don't make your ears bleed). But really I didn't like Angel Cop when I saw it as a kid, the story wasn't that good. People want more things nowadays, so making an anime like Angel Cop will not cut it for these days   
MiniPatoon March 30, 2011 at 5:08 p.m.
I appear at the mention of Patlabor. And now I must go.
Villainesson March 30, 2011 at 5:08 p.m.
@Destinyheroknight: 
 
The dubs are the one thing I can definitely agree on, though for AC and VJ, I've only watched them in their original Japanese.
 
And for the record, I don't feel that every anime should be as "check your brain at the door" simple as these three, but as Chris mentioned, everything now just seems too one-note. Like they're all striving for the same end result.

To a slightly lesser extent, I feel the same problem has encased modern JRPGs, though it's nice to see old-school series like Dragon Quest, where the plots are all about fun, continue to be so successful.
Destinyheroknighton March 30, 2011 at 5:27 p.m.
@Villainess:  
Can you tell me how the story are good? 
I do like old anime like Ariel and other old anime, but Angel Cop isn't good. I would watch Shinji cry for two hours, then watch this again. (Ok, probably not)  
Count_Zeroon March 30, 2011 at 5:30 p.m.
While I agree that too many one-note series are a bad thing, it's also nothing new. Even some classic series have this problem.
EDIT: Misclicked while attempting to add examples.
 
Golgo 13: Duke Togo comes to town, has alterations made to his gun or ammunition. Has missionary position sex with a woman (always missionary position) which is the best sex the woman has had in her life (and will ever have). Guys try to kill Togo, get killed instead. Togo carries out the hit and then leaves. There isn't particularly any witty banter, the motivations of any of the characters involved aren't delved into very much, and there definitely isn't any character development for Duke Togo.
 
Actually, come to think about it, most of the series on this list are basically series that are not marketed to anime fans of any age. They're adaptations of manga that, ultimately are marketed to businessmen. Not just college students, but rank-and-file businessmen to read on the commute as bizarre wish fulfillment. Consequently, these series tend to be either gonzo or bland (never really in between) but have the common traits of a "Japan Uber Alles" attitude, with foreigners being incompetent at best, malicious and out to destroy Japan at worst, and with female characters socially and sexually subservient to all around them.
 
Angel Cop is a rare exception to this portrayal of female characters, though the series idea of having Japan as the world's greatest economic and political superpower fending off destruction by the sinister Zionist conspiracy out to destroy them does play into that power-fantasy. I'd almost compare the popularity of these series to the "US Gets Invaded" branches of alternate history and speculative fiction, but that's something for another topic, elsewhere.

The irony in all this the show, and others like it, were basically brought on by Akira, a film and manga where the protagonists are the exact opposite of the main characters in Angel Cop. In Akira the government, police, army, scientists, businessmen, everyone who the businessman who reads manga prefers as a main character - is the bad guys or at best are characters who make things worse. It's the juvenile delinquent, the revolutionary, the biker gang member that are the heroes. So, while Angel Cop tries to capitalize on what its creators think are the things that make Akira popular, they miss the point. The heroes are the establishment. The radicals are the first group of bad guys, and get replaced by The Jews as the second group.
 
Even then, the series is still one-note - the radicals are sponsored by the Soviet Block (outside influence/gaijin) and when they're replaced, they're replaced by another group of outsiders/gaijin, except one driven by economic instead of political ideology (yes, they share common religious background, but their motivation is just about money and the accumulation of power, which is why in the Manga Video release, they were able to change the villains to a business without altering the plot too much.)
EganTheVile1on March 30, 2011 at 5:43 p.m.
Vast Jewish Conspiracy™  
Is of course a trademark and copyright of Mel Gibson
Villainesson March 30, 2011 at 5:51 p.m.
@Destinyheroknight: 
 
 It wasn't the plot that I enjoyed (and Angel Cop is my least favorite of these three), but rather the concept. Even if Angel Cop had the most brilliantly-written story for an anime, I could not see it being made today, with that same appropriately gritty art style, because for the most part, modern Japan only seems to want females who embody the female stereotype and look the part. 
bybeachon March 30, 2011 at 6:18 p.m.

Nasty screenshot of the guys head. That and the atavistic plot seems to describe this anime as a story attuned to those who want this kind of thing. Kind of a red dawn with stronger impulses of nationalism leading to isolationist fascism. I'm glad they dropped the Jew bit and chose us the americans, has more a tinge of honesty to it rather than just a traditional western borrowed hate object.
Destinyheroknighton March 30, 2011 at 6:26 p.m.
@Villainess:  
Let see
Motoko Kusanagi  
Olivier Milla Armstrong  
Lina Inverse 
Erza Scarlet   
Revy

Are strong female characters who don't embody the female stereotype, and let face the fact that in the 80's and 90's do the same thing as today with there female characters. It really not that different  
Also the gritty art style wasn't that good, old stuff is cool but it still old and out of date. They will never be like the old days, but you can still enjoy with the new stuff 
Hailinelon March 30, 2011 at 6:59 p.m.
Oh, geez.  I remember reading about Angel Cop's over-the-top jingoism and references to the Vast Jewish Conspiracy in another article just a few months ago.  They even linked a video clip with an accurate subtitle translation and just...wow.  I mean, I had no words.  Even as I look back on it now, I still don't.  That was just amazing, and I can't blame Manga Entertainment for editing that bit of insanity out of the localization.  Because holy shit.
Villainesson March 30, 2011 at 7:02 p.m.
@Destinyheroknight:  

Ghost in the Shell and Slayers are 15-16 year old creations (22 years in both cases, if you include the original manga/novels). The mid 90's was right around the time when the strong-heroine proposal started dying off.

Olivier Milla Armstrong and Erza are side characters. I will give you Revy.

Strong women aren't an entirely excinct species in modern anime, but I sure would have thought that in 22 years time they'd be far more numerous than they are now .

And I disagree about the art style. It's a bad one if you want to do an anime about girls in highschool. If you want to have a dangerous, crime-filled or horror setting; one that relies on intense or frightening imagery, then I'd go so far as to say it's a requirement.
Hailinelon March 30, 2011 at 7:20 p.m.
@Destinyheroknight said:
" @Villainess:  Nowadays anime have more character development, story, and better dubs (that don't make your ears bleed). But really I didn't like Angel Cop when I saw it as a kid, the story wasn't that good. People want more things nowadays, so making an anime like Angel Cop will not cut it for these days    "
I don't know how you can say that they have more character development now than they did twenty years ago.  I mean, I could probably just as easily cite a plotless harem anime from the past few years as easily as I could cite a plotless wonder from twenty years ago.
Destinyheroknighton March 30, 2011 at 7:37 p.m.
@Villainess:  
We are talking about the anime (not the original manga or novels), Slayers got two new anime and Ghost In The Shell came out in the 2000's. So they count as nowadays anime now, that mean we can still get strong female as the leads characters. 
They are side characters, but they still better then some other 80's/90's female side characters(like Vampire Wars and Psychic Wars), and every time they show up they steal the show.  
  
Hellsing did a pretty good job at it (The CG is the only thing I don't like in nowadays anime), and Monster did a good job to.    
We have to take the pro and cons, there can't be a perfect anime in the past, present or future. Just think about 15 years later when kids who grow up with these shows and say "the 2000's have the best anime". 
Destinyheroknighton March 30, 2011 at 7:42 p.m.
@Hailinel:  
I just going by the anime I watch, so it probably unfair (When I was a kid, I mostly watch actions shows. Now I watch shows that are not really based on action and more on character).  
Villainesson March 30, 2011 at 8:09 p.m.
@Destinyheroknight: 
 
GitS the tv series came out in the 2000's, the first anime film was made in 1995, as was the original Slayers anime. I bring up the manga and novels because these characters have been around since 1989, regardless of whether or not their respective series have a modern reboot. I do indeed have doubts that a Slayers or GitS would find success if it were a new ip today.

At any rate, the initial point I wanted to make was that if I were to choose a 5 year period which housed the worst anime had to offer, 1987-1991 would not be it.
N15PCAon March 30, 2011 at 8:17 p.m.
I so called this many years ago. :LOLL

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