By James Robert Shaw (The Wind up Geek)
Production Company: GoHands
Series Directors: Hiromitsu Kanazawa and Susumu Kudo
Based on the manga written and illustrated by Tomonori Inoue, Coppelion looks 20 years into Tokyo’s future after a 2016 accident at the local Odaiba nuclear power plant causes the once great city to become uninhabitable. Fast forward to 2036 and the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force dispatches a group of three genetically modified girls called Coppelion (pronounced Kopperion) after receiving an SOS signal from the heart of Tokyo.
I’m going to start off by saying that GoHands, the company that animated this product, has done a wonderful job with the backgrounds. The surroundings look beautiful and are vibrant in both colour and detail. It makes the characters all the more awkward. It’s not the design of the characters but it is the way they stand out from the backgrounds. They appear more suited in a console game environment than they do an anime one.
The story at least is decent apart from one or two details. Of the Coppelion group we have Ibara Naruse (Haruka Tomatsu) who appears to be the leader. Ibara is strong-willed and respects human life. Her plans for saving as many people as she can on this mission might bring her to clash with her commanding officer for not following direct protocol. Taeko Nomura (Satomi Akesaka) loves of animals; it’s bred into her DNA and she possesses heightened senses that surpasses a normal human. Aoi Fukasaku (Kana Hanazawa) acts and appears like any ordinary junior high school girl; her usefulness is still to be revealed. Perhaps her usefulness is by simply being herself she reminds her teammates of how a Japanese girl is supposed to act.
Colonel Onihei Mishima (Rikiya Koyama) of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, better known to the Coppelion as “Vice-Prinicpal”, is Coppelion’s commanding officer and handler. Just how deep his role is in Coppelion as a military (government?) project will hopefully be revealed in later episodes. For now, we know that as a commander he is steady as a rock. And Mishima doesn’t appear quick to anger, which is the behaviour model used for many a male Japanese commanding officer. Just pick an anime or film and you’ll see.
But I still have to wonder just what kind of new otaku the anime/manga industry is grooming, where an anime fan can look at a wholly unbelievable storyline and still accept it as logic. In North America we act this way towards cartoons because we expect an anvil to fall on Wile E. Coyote any second. But usually anime tries to surround itself with some form of logic in order to ensure believability in the story to some extent. So where does someone say that it’s okay for three school girls to lead a mission into a hostile radioactive zone? And it’s not just the radiation they have to worry about, there’s feral dogs with a taste for human flesh too. And let’s not forget any people left in the zone who could be sick, deranged or downright criminal.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the story, it has so much potential. I couldn’t stop watching what was unfolding in front of me. I never knew what was down an empty street or around a darkened corner, I’m hooked!
But please, what is the industry’s need for serving up to current fans anime series that revolves around school kids? I can accept that they are their age because they were genetically modified and bred to handle situations such as the Tokyo zone, and that the program itself is still young. This at least is tolerable and can be believed on a certain level. But you think they would send the girls in with body armour, weapons and other modern equipment? No, they send them in school uniforms and armed with a tranquilizer handgun! I mean really, school uniforms, they may have special talents (at least one of them anyways) but those talents won’t stop a bullet. Perhaps the uniforms are made of Kevlar. I could be wrong.
At least with the series Gunslinger Girls, having kids as the main characters was made completely believable. What person, who is about to be whacked by a ticked off government, would expect a bullet in the chest from a young girl. The girl, who unknowing to the target, was trained in tactics used by the military and the CIA. Put a hole in me as I write “Oh boy was I suckered,” on the floorboard in my own blood, because I wouldn’t have seen that coming.
But with all the criticizing I give this new series, I’ll wait for the second episode with bated breath. I won’t watch this for Ibara and her strong will, for Taeko and her heightened senses, or even for Aoi and her annoying whining. No, I’ll be watching this show because the meat of the story is grade A. And because I have this feeling that, as bad as it is, it’s still better than most of the anime that has been produced recently.
Rating: 4 out of 5