Active Raid
Episode 1 also reviewed here:
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Active Raid: Kidou Kyoushuushitsu Dai-Hakkei
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2016
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Season One: episodes 1-12
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11 April 2017
Kidou Kyoushuushitsu Dai-Hakkei
It's an efficient, reasonably entertaining SF cop show, set in the year 2035 with powered armour. I quite enjoyed it. Characterisation's not really the show's focus, but the regulars are a perfectly likeable bunch and the storyline's fine. There's a second season and I'll be watching that too.
Our heroes are an armoured response team called Unit 8. They're allowed to use those armoured suits, called Will Wears, but there are government factions who think they shouldn't. The national defence forces have their own Will Wear teams, for instance, and they're not keen on non-military involvement. The real power struggles in Japan aren't between goodies and baddies, but between different authority groups and this is being played up here. Unit 8 regularly need permission to pursue a suspect or start a fight when they're in an area where some other branch of government has jurisdiction. They don't always get it, either. (The city's governor's capable of being deliberately obstructive to protect himself.) They even need permission to fire their weapons.
Sometimes the show comments on real current affairs, including ones that hadn't yet happened. Ep.5 (broadcast in February 2016) is about legalised casinos, which in real life was yet another hugely unpopular measure pushed through by Shinzo Abe's government (in December 2016). There's also a giant robot episode (ep.6), which turns silly anime mecha into an elegy for dying industries and workers whose skills have been rendered worthless by the march of technology. (Giant robots are fuel-inefficient. It's obvious as soon as anyone says it.) The creator of Morgan and Drew has been forgotten and is going senile in a nursing home. That was an oddly beautiful episode, actually, and for my money easily the strongest of the season.
The plot involves a group called Logos, pronounced "logoss" rather than as the plural of "logo". They like giving Will Wears to emotionally unstable people, then encouraging them to commit acts of terrorism. The first half of the series is light-hearted, but after that things get slightly more dramatic. The show's still basically just a bit of fun, but baddies might turn out to have sympathetic motives (including Logos's leaders) and it's possible for a Criminal of the Week to die.
To my surprise, there's no significant fanservice. Ep.1 has a scene where the police's armour and clothes start dissolving because they've run out of power, but: (a) everyone involved is male, and (b) this never happens again. I'd have bet money that this would happen to all the female cast members, but I'd have lost.
The cast are okay. I liked them well enough and they certainly carry the show, but I'd have been hard-pressed to remember who they all were, especially the female ones. Of the men, there's the brash one, the uptight by-the-book perfectionist, a rather slippery mechanic who never gets the spotlight and the middle-aged section chief. (Personally I liked the latter the best.) Of the women, there's... oh, never mind. I'd have to look them all up on the internet and I can't tell them apart anyway. They don't get enough story focus and they don't have sufficiently distinctive character designs. I remember quite liking them (e.g. the trainspotter, the poker fiend, the puritanical leader), but at the end of the day there must be nearly a dozen cops and support staff in Unit 8 and this isn't a cop-centric series. It's about the incidents they solve and the people who caused them.
I don't think it's a mecha show, although the Will Wear you'll see in publicity images look mecha-like. To me, "mecha" means "giant robot". (I'm probably wrong, but that's the definition in my head.) This is powered armour, more like superhero suits with limited battery power. In ep.2, one of our heroes kicks a baddie too hard and demolishes a school. Besides, I don't think they even wear the suits in every episode.
This isn't a brilliant show, but it's fine and perfectly watchable. The incidental music's fun and reminded me of Read Or Die. The cast are likeable, although I got annoyed by the one who'd occasionally say something in English for no reason, even though her voice actress obviously isn't a native speaker. It's not good enough to recommend, but I'd say it's good enough for a thumbs up if you know someone who's watched the first episode and is wondering whether or not to keep going.
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