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.
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On Shelves This Week
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.
Synopsis: In a future world where battles are fought by advanced weapons called Objects, two ordinary soldiers unintentionally change the balance of power.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Shelf Life Reviews
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.
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.
That wraps things up for this week. Thanks for reading!
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