Angel Cop was a six-episode OVA cyberpunk series animated and released by Soeishinsha from September 1, 1989 to May 20, 1994. The series was released on VHS in the 1990s by Manga Entertainment and later released to DVD in 2000. Both formats of the series are now out of print. Alongside Mad Bull 34, Angel Cop is notable for being among a trilogy of horrifically bad Manga Entertainment releases dubbed the “Holy Trinity of Suck”.
In an alternate universe of 1990s Japan, the country is the world’s economic power with a communist terrorist group called the Red May trying to take down and take over the government. In response to this threat, the Japanese government has formed an agency called the Special Security Force, who have the authority to operate outside the law. However, the Special Security Force comes to discover that a second group is also hunting down the terrorists.
Angel Cop attempts to create a cyberpunk anime out of events that took place during the late 1980s and early 1990s for Japan with its focused themes on communism, political corruption and Japan’s bubble economy. Unfortunately, the series never bothers to go into much depth with these major themes for its plot as it is more focused on showing off its gritty mood, graphic violence and mostly unsympathetic cast.
The anime never bothers to go into depth about the motivations concerning the multiple factions of the series and why one should care for their beliefs, instead portraying a sense of jingoism with Japan being the sole superpower in the world that others wish to attack for no particular reason. Angel Cop is quite infamous for its later plot twist being quite anti-Semitic when it is revealed Jews are responsible for influencing the problems plaguing Japan. Fortunately, Manga Entertainment did have the courtesy of altering this plot element in their English dub and subtitles, replacing it with the influence being an American corporation.
Angel Cop does sport a good amount of graphic violence with characters shown to be killed in horrible and gory ways. In one notable instance, you get to see a female terrorist being shot in the head, which explodes in gory fashion to show off brain matter and an eyeball flying out.
The characters in the series don’t help matters in the title’s quality as many of them lack depth and/ or are rather unsympathetic. For instance, our female lead Angel is willing to kill off a terrorist and his child hostage in one scene, placing her mission over the lives of civilians.
The visuals to Angel Cop also have their faults in terms of quality and the way its settings and characters are shown. Some of the character designs (particularly Lucifer and Asura) and settings (a music bar with a glam rock band) were meant to depict popular trends of the 80s, yet were hilariously outdated as Angel Cop was animated into the 90s as these trends died out. Also, the animation quality of the series tended to be quite inconsistent throughout its run, having its well animated spots and awful moments in various scenes.
Like a good number of Manga’s early dubs, Angel Cop is peppered with profane language not found in the original Japanese version of the series and has a laughably bad English dub with flat emotional delivery and some unintentionally funny lines in the dub’s script.