Shelf Life
Angel Cop

by Paul Jensen,

I'll be writing our streaming reviews for That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime, and I am unreasonably pumped about it. I'm not expecting it to be the best show ever made, but something about the main premise puts a goofy smile on my face. Let's hope it stays that way all season. Welcome to Shelf Life.

Jump to this week's review:
Angel Cop

On Shelves This Week

Dance with Devils - Complete Collection BD
Funimation - 300 min - Sub+Dub - MSRP $29.98
Currently cheapest at: $20.59 Amazon

Synopsis: High school student Ritsuka Tachibana's life is turned upside-down when she discovers that several of her male classmates are actually demons in disguise.

Extra: We have episode reviews for this series, along with a review of a previous release. It's available streaming on Funimation and Hulu.




Heavy Object - Complete Collection BD
Funimation - 600 min - Sub+Dub - MSRP $69.98
Currently cheapest at: $45.79 Amazon

Synopsis: In a future world where battles are fought by advanced weapons called Objects, two ordinary soldiers unintentionally change the balance of power.

Extra: I wrote our episode reviews for this especially nerdy mecha series, and we also covered its first and second halves in Shelf Life. You can stream it on Funimation and Hulu.




The Irregular at Magic High School - Complete Collection BD
Aniplex - 650 min - Sub - MSRP $164.98
Currently cheapest at: $129.98 Right Stuf

Synopsis: At an elite school for magic users, two talented siblings challenge the campus hierarchy.

Extra: This series was previously released in three parts, and we have reviews of those here, here, and here. It's available streaming on Crunchyroll, Hulu, and Netflix.




Juni Taisen: Zodiac War - Complete Collection BD+DVD
Funimation - 300 min - Sub+Dub - MSRP $64.98
Currently cheapest at: $43.49 Amazon

Synopsis: Twelve warriors with names taken from the Zodiac compete in a battle to the death, where the winner can have any wish granted.

Extra: We have episode reviews and a full series review for this one, and it was also covered in This Week in Anime. You can stream it on Crunchyroll and Funimation.




Mamoru Hosoda Movie Collection BD
Funimation - 445 min - Sub+Dub - MSRP $99.98
Currently cheapest at: $71.49 Amazon

Synopsis: Contains four films directed by Mamoru Hosoda, including The Girl who Leapt Through Time, Summer Wars, Wolf Children, and The Boy and the Beast.

Extra: You'll find reviews for all four of these movies here, here, here, and here. For what it's worth, I like 'em all.




Monochrome Factor - Complete Collection DVD
Maiden Japan - 600 min - Sub - MSRP $69.98
Currently cheapest at: $39.99 Amazon

Synopsis: High school student Akira Nikaido is approached by a mysterious man named Shirogane, who wants to recruit him to help restore the balance between the human world and the shadow world.

Extra: This series originally aired in 2008, but wasn't licensed in the US until this year. Our user ratings for it have an average of 6.3 out of 10. It's scheduled to be available on HIDIVE starting on October 17th.




Orange - Complete Collection BD
Funimation - 325 min - Sub+Dub - MSRP $29.98
Currently cheapest at: $20.59 Amazon

Synopsis: Naho Takamiya must figure out what to do when she receives a letter from her future self with instructions on how to prevent the death of a classmate.

Extra: We have episode reviews for this series, along with a review of a previous release. You can stream it on Crunchyroll and Funimation.





The Seven Heavenly Virtues - Complete Collection BD
Sentai - 50 min - Sub+Dub - MSRP $29.98
Currently cheapest at: $17.19 Amazon

Synopsis: In response to the activities of hell's most powerful demons, seven angels are assembled for an important mission.

Extra: This is a spinoff of Seven Mortal Sins, which we covered in the Spring 2017 Preview Guide. It's available streaming on HIDIVE.




Snow White with the Red Hair - Complete Collection BD
Funimation - 600 min - Sub+Dub - MSRP $69.98
Currently cheapest at: $45.79 Amazon

Synopsis: A red-haired girl named Shirayuki ends up on a grand adventure after the unwanted attentions of a prince force her to flee her home.

Extra: Our episode reviews cover this full series, and we also have separate reviews of seasons one and two. You can stream it on Crunchyroll, Funimation, and Hulu.




Terra Formars Revenge - Complete Collection BD+DVD
Viz - 325 min - Sub+Dub - MSRP $59.99
Currently cheapest at: $43.99 Amazon

Synopsis: Alliances crumble as humanity continues its battle against the mutated cockroaches that control Mars.

Extra: While this sequel season only made it as far as the Preview Guide, we have some reviews for the first season here and here. It's available streaming on Crunchyroll, Hulu, and Viz.com.




Shelf Life Reviews

Shelf Worthy
Nothing this week.
Rental
Nothing this week.
Perishable
Angel Cop

I went into this week's review hoping that the hyper-violent OVA Angel Cop might be the right kind of dumb anime to help ease my Preview Guide hangover. It's certainly dumb, but not necessarily in the fun way.

Angel Cop has the dubious honor of coming to us from both the late 1980s and early 1990s; despite only clocking in at six episodes, its original release schedule stretches from 1989 to 1994. That drawn-out production process isn't the only speed bump in this OVA's history, either. Its original script features some anti-Semitic elements so obvious that they were entirely rewritten in the English dub in order to avoid potential controversy, and that dub itself is infamous for cranking up the level of profanity to a comical level. For what should be a forgettable piece of pulp, this thing is downright fascinating, provided you have an interest in disastrously flawed productions.

The story mixes some basic cyberpunk concepts with a tale of terrorism and international conspiracy. A vaguely near-future version of Japan has become a leading economic superpower, but as a result it's been targeted by terrorist groups. An elite police unit called the Special Security Force is tasked with eliminating Red May, a particularly dangerous group. The SSF members soon discover that someone else is also going after the Red May, and their investigation uncovers a conspiracy with the potential to throw the entire country into chaos. Unfortunately, the government is in on it, and the SSF must take on the rest of the police and military in their pursuit of justice.

Angel Cop gets off to a decent enough start, provided you have a taste for bloody and merciless pulp action. Even among the hardened veterans of the SSF, female protagonist Angel has a reputation for shooting first and only asking questions if she feels like it. That turns out to be a useful trait, since the team's missions have a tendency to involve car chases, explosions, and lengthy gunfights. People's heads explode in gory detail, walls get covered in blood, and everything is presented with the grim excess typical for this vintage of OVAs. It's particularly entertaining if you enjoy elaborate depictions of SWAT-style units storming and clearing buildings, with plenty of jargon and codenames to go around.

Then the story begins to develop, and Angel Cop starts its slide into nonsensical badness. You see, the same baddies that the SSF is fighting are also being hunted by a team of super-powered assassins. These “Hunters” can teleport, throw trucks around, and set people on fire with their minds, which makes them absurdly powerful and clearly out of place in what had previously been a more grounded cyberpunk story. Their arrival is accompanied by a steady increase in the amount of clunky big-idea dialogue. The show's occasional descents into political and philosophical arguments between characters become more and more frequent, and by the end they make up the majority of the script. This saps the story of its emotional component, reducing most conversations to poorly written manifestos on justice and national sovereignty. It's as insufferably dry as it sounds, and it drags the pace down to a slow crawl.

In case that's not enough to kill the popcorn action vibe, the conspiracy plot features some stunningly blatant anti-Semitism. In case the killer psychics weren't ridiculous enough, it turns out that this whole sequence of events is being orchestrated by a group of Jewish villains who already control the United States, have orchestrated decades of warfare in the name of profit, and now have their sights set on turning Japan into a nuclear waste dump. Yes, it's basically what you'd get if someone made an anime out of a rambling paranoid Facebook conspiracy theory. It's not hard to figure out why the old English subtitle track tried to tone down this particular plot point or why the dub got rid of it entirely.

Visually, Angel Cop is all over the map. The art style isn't exactly attractive, and the character designs range from forgettable to notably bad. The animation quality is pretty strong in some scenes, but it drops off significantly in others. This release from Discotek Media is unusual in that it contains two English subtitle tracks: the older “censored” version and a new track that leaves the objectionable parts of the script intact. The dub is an old Manga Video UK production, which has become somewhat infamous for its comically excessive use of profanity and cheesy one-liners. There are also a couple of interesting on-disc extras, including an interview with the dub director and an essay that puts the script's anti-Semitic elements into a big-picture cultural context. Both are worth checking out if you happen to pick this new release up.

From a purely academic standpoint, Angel Cop is a fascinating pile of trash, but at some point garbage is still garbage. Even if you avoid the offensive stuff by sticking with the old subtitle track or the amusingly dumb dub, it's still not a good series. The pulpy entertainment of the early episodes is far outweighed by the bad dialogue and increasingly glacial pacing of the second half. Part of me enjoyed trying to wrap my head around this train wreck, but for the average viewer it's probably not worth the effort.
-Paul[TOP]

That wraps things up for this week. Thanks for reading!


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