This is review number sixty. This anime is part of the Fall 2013 lineup. This is also the most voted one in my “Review Poll”. If you want your show reviewed then click on the picture on the right that has “Review Poll” in it then cast your vote. Anyways, the anime I’ll be reviewing is this anime called Coppelion. It’s a thirteen episode anime about a bunch of girls in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. It sounds cool but this is actually a massive letdown. It’s truly truly a letdown. Let’s read on.
This show is set in the future where a nuclear meltdown caused the city of Tokyo to be unlivable. It had a high radiation that makes the place inhabitable and the government has decided to close it off. The story is about three girls that were genetically engineered to survive the harsh conditions of the quarantined Tokyo. They have a mission to save everyone that was left behind in the city. This is a really wonderful mission because they get to save lives but the situation in this quarantined city isn’t as straight forward as it actually seems as the girls discover of its dark past and the inhabitants living within.
Taking the Pants Off
So a handful of my readers wanted me to review this anime called Coppelion. I saw it hyped by Animax back when it was airing and it does look like one cool “girl with guns” kind of show. I saw a commercial with one of the girls in her small cut skirt and uniform fighting a bunch of armed men wearing masks and I did thought that it was cool. This show was animated by GoHands and I remember that they did this anime called “K” back in 2012. K was something faulty but easily forgivable when you have GoHand’s high quality standard delivering one amazing fight scene after another. It might have its faults but I was still able to enjoy it. In the case of Coppelion though, I think GoHands inability to tell a proper story finally bit them in the ass. For you to make one convoluted ball of nonsense from a wonderful sci-fi manga is something that clearly presents how green you are in terms of being a relevant studio. No amount of amazing scenery and stunning cinematography can cover how dull and unfulfilling the entire show is. I was honestly hopeful because I was hoping to at least see the growth of GoHands after taking in what they learned from K. K had a confusing story but had a stable base so it can present action sequences without straying from its initial plot. Coppelion was something different. I did not have a good story but the action sequences also served no purpose. As the show progresses, it was pretty clear that GoHands is a studio that prefer style over substance. They prefer visuals over story. I’m actually fine with that but you got to at least thrive to better yourself from your previous shows and it seems that GoHands didn’t do that. So we got the same inexperienced studio but without the promising shine it once had. It’s a bit tragic, actually.
Coppelion had a promising start. The initial premise actually sounded good. It’s about a world where Tokyo is turned into a hazardous zone after a nuclear meltdown. Any form of life is unable to thrive here and the rest of the world decided to seal it off. During the initial meltdown though, this was the center of Japan and the evacuation wasn’t smoothly planned out so a lot of people got left behind. They weren’t able to escape and the place being sealed means that they are no way for them to leave. The show is about three genetically altered girls that can thrive in the hazardous infected environment of Tokyo. They were a new government project called Coppelion and they have one goal. They must search for survivors and rescue them. Right off the bat, you can feel the potential of the show just roaring to come out. A post-apocalyptic setting within a concrete jungle about three lab born girls displaying their idea of “humanity” as they scour about the place is a damn good premise if there ever was one. The show is mostly about the girls getting caught up in some kind of trouble as they save the people trapped inside Tokyo. The conflicts are actually baffling as the girls discover the secrets this wasteland hides. It’s a really exciting premise that really got me tuned into the show. My otaku gut was telling me that this show going to be awesome. I trust my otaku gut but then again, this thing also told me Guilty Crown was going to be epic. So you have to tread carefully sometimes.
This anime has three plot points. The first one is about the girls trying to save people inside this nuclear wasteland. The girls aren’t affected by the harmful stuff that spreads in the air so they can walk around freely in the city. They find people that are overwhelmed by the toxins in the environment and they do their best to save them. After locating a person, they’d radio in their commander and then a helicopter will enter the city and save the person the girls rescued. It’s pretty straight forward. The girls find a person then they save them. The first plot point isn’t all that liner though. As the show progresses, the girls soon find themselves in a lot of conflict as they discover a working human society thriving inside the hazardous Tokyo. The people inside the wall aren’t just simple damsel in distress. Some of them are out for trouble and some of them truly just want to die in a blaze of glory and this complicates the girls’ jobs. It seems that rescuing people in dire situations isn’t enough. Some of them needed to be knocked out cold first before agreeing to be helped. It’s a really cool plot point. The idea that humans live in this concrete jungle sounds intriguing and thinking about what kind of desperate and horrifying people they are, after spending too much time in the toxin filled air, actually makes it a bit more intriguing. As the show progresses, the human society within the wall is slowly uncovered and the ugliness of the situations dawns upon the girls. They aren’t deterred though and they’ll still try to save as many humans as possible.
Under the first plot point, there is also this little subplot of the events that happened during the fateful day Tokyo was quarantined. A lot of the people left behind have tons of stories to tell and the people that are blamed are soon put on the spotlight. It’s not much but it does give you an idea just how ugly the whole situation turned out to be and you get an idea at how ugly people can be sometimes that they are willing to abandon the very person that saves their lives. It’s a powerful thing but it’s sadly something the anime fails to convey. The first plot point really sounds promising but the anime wasn’t able to present it properly. I’ll get into that later on.
The second plot point is about the girls themselves. They are created in a lab from DNA samples. Basically, they’re clones with special powers and they were born to just do one thing: save people. As the anime progresses, you are given insight to what the girls really feel. There are three of them and they all express different things about their every existence. One of them seems a bit hopeless thinking that all they can ever do is save people. They’ll die inside the concrete jungle and people won’t care because they’re just clones created for rescue. The other one though has a really bright attitude towards their situation. She just smiles and would express contentment with her duty. She doesn’t mind if she has no other purpose as long as she can fulfill her goal in life. It does get a bit heavy at times when the girls would show sign of weakness during the show. Their situation is a complicated one and their very existence is questionable. No matter how big a smile the girls would give, the audience would discover that the girls are actually hurting on the inside. It’s a pretty interesting plot point. The sci fi elements of the story was nicely utilized and made more personal when the characters are faced with an existential crisis. Much like the first plot point though, the show wasn’t able to present this one properly. I’ll bash the show later on so let’s just keep laying the whole thing out first. Believe me. I would love to list all the things the show did wrong but just keep reading below.
The third plot point is basically the first and second plot point crossing paths. Towards the second half of the show, more Coppelions are introduced. The girls are billed as the rescue team where they help the wounded get out of the quarantined area. The new Coppelions are called “cleaners” and they do one thing. They love to create chaos. The cleaners have actually teamed up with a bunch of people inside the wall. They have the same goal, you see. They want to turn the rest of the world into something like Tokyo. They want it to be one big hazardous wasteland as well. The details of their plans are nicely presented and this group of antagonistic entities really has deep hate for the rest of the world. The first plot point’s idea of people left behind the wall coupled by the second plot point’s existential crisis makes up the bulk of the third plot point. Basically, a bunch of bad guys with really bitter personalities appear and they claim to want to destroy the world. Of course, the rescue team wouldn’t have any of that. They decided to face the enemy head on but things aren’t that simple. An all-out brawl between humans and lab babies is fine. But with a ton of problem soon piling up in the rescue team’s lap, they have no choice to go about things slowly and try to find the best possible way to solve all the problems. From what I can gather, there were more than seven appearing at the same time and the rescue team was pretty much screwed at one point unable to think of the proper move to take.
While the show did have three very interesting plot points, I think the anime made a wrong move of making each episode revolve around certain conflicts. The structure of the show is usually about one problem after another. I recall that they were helping someone reach a hospital and the show was mostly about that until the group was attacked by some baddies then the focus was on the fight with the baddies. This proved decent when you have an action packed show and you constantly need to move from one awesome scene to another. Except this show wasn’t like that. It had its moment of dialogue and it had its moment for action. Focusing on one thing per episode proved ineffective for the anime because the show never developed properly. The plot points felt disjointed and lacks decent build up you’d expect from such a straight forward show. I have a problem with how they were executed as well. A rescue mission by the team would have the characters crying at one moment and then just being bad asses in the next. Instead of gradually building up a personal story about the dangers of man and technology, the anime’s near sighted attempt at making a story sadly turned the whole ordeal into a shallow discomforting experience. It was not good and you’re basically bored at some point of the show because you can’t properly invest in it. The lack of a proper buildup really hurt the show but it’s more than that. The plot points weren’t properly developed because the show wanted to focus more on the various cool missions the girls undertake. I honestly don’t care about the girls saving a man about to die because the show never gave me a good reason to. Yeah, they spouted idealistic stuff about how important a man’s life is but it was forced and the whole thing felt shallow.
The one thing I think the anime wanted to achieve was a story about Hope vs. Despair. In this concrete jungle that serves as man’s reminder of his ugliness, there are people that are trying to keep on living inside the wall because they are hopeful. I think the show was trying to present a story about how dark and grim the situation inside the wall was and the rescue team served as this beacon of light that was destined to save the day. The problem was that the whole Hope vs. Despair thing wasn’t properly utilized. There were honestly too many positives in this show. The scenery gives you this impression of a damp, gloomy and depressing place. You see people in their radioactive suit talking to the girls. It gave off a feeling of gloominess that I think the show should’ve tap more into. The problem was the show didn’t want anyone to die and they didn’t want anyone to fail. A hopeless situation would turn bright in an instance because that’s just how the show wants it to be. Even if the girls are under direct heavy fire inside a crumbling building with bombs attached to their chest, the show would still find way to make sure the people firing at the girls aren’t really bad, the building collapsing isn’t anybody’s fault, the bomb on their chest isn’t anybody’s fault and the girls would still survive the situation simply because they had to. The girls never had bombs strapped to their chest, by the way. I was just trying to prove a point. The amount of hope and situations that turns out right was really sickening because it felt like a disservice to the potential beauty of the show. What if you had the rescue team try their hardest to save someone but that person still died? The girls would cry and they’d feel helpless. You can introduce the second plot point here. You can turn this show as gloomy as Magika Madoka if the show truly cared. What if they put more emphasis on flashbacks? Retell the events of Tokyo getting quarantined. They could use the people the rescue team saves to tell that story. These people would share their hatred, disgust and anger towards the people that left them here but also pull a 180 by appreciating the efforts the girls make. What if the show was set up like every person the girls meet provide some kind of philosophical sh*t that compliments the sci fi nature of the show and also presenting this unsettling dissection of humans in general? There were a lot of ways to go about with the show but the anime chose the most mediocre and mundane route. It’s disgusting, in my honest opinion.
Perhaps the one element that really made the show subpar was the characters. The show had a rich setting. It had action and some interesting backstory to play with. It had some really solid plot points to utilize but I think none of these felt as effective because the characters were truly sh*tty. I won’t be nice about it. The characters are one dimensional letdowns. The three main characters had fixed personalities. One was the quiet nerdy type while the other was the loud annoying type. The main character that was focused tremendously was Naruse Ibara. She was the class president back in their academy and she was a very positive girl. I think she was the most disappointing character in the show. She spouts idealistic non sense that feels forced and shallow. She would claim how people’s lives are important but there were never a moment for you to side with her. She was a massive Mary Sue in a show that had a lot of Deus Ex Machina. Basically, she was the perfect character that was in situations that always favored her success. It was annoying and she also had these sad moments that also felt forced. In a scene where she is shooting at people, a dialogue would suddenly make her cry. It’s really annoying. The characters weren’t properly fleshed out and the show wasn’t able to properly give them enough opportunity to grow. The show always favored them so character development doesn’t really matter.
The rest of the characters are one dimensional as well. The people they rescue and the humans inside the wall all had a fixed role to play and they didn’t do anything beyond that. They’d give us an insight of how bad the quarantined area is but that’s basically it. They had the same obnoxious personality as the main characters. If you combine obnoxious with one dimensional then you’re really getting the worst kind of characters in a show. A lot of them are also massively wasted because you can seriously tell that they have more to offer than the show gave them credit. There is one character that was among the people that caused the nuclear meltdown yet he wasn’t properly utilized. I was hoping for a mushy story of how human error can ruin the world but he disappeared before you know it. There was also this Coppelion guy that was part of the cleaners and he was awesome. He gave off an aura of awesomeness but the show never really gave him a chance to display his awesomeness. It felt like he was the realistic Coppelion that see things as it is as opposed the good two shoes belief of our main characters but the anime never got out of its shallow confines so he was really wasted. He could’ve done more to the show and I’m a bit pissed his potential was denied by the anime.
There were also the antagonists of the show. I like the idea that there were some resistance in the anime but the show had this stupid idea to make sure that the bad guys become good guys in the end. I think it was trying to point out that they might be bad that they were pushed to that point by certain circumstances but it just didn’t feel right. There are characters that just wanted to let the world burn and they had this conviction of killing anyone that hinders that plan. The rescue team was shot at, electrocuted and even played with psychologically but somehow they still want to save the same ass hats that tried to kill them simply because they can. It’s really stupid. Bad guys would do their best to kill but then they’d suddenly turn soft. It’s really irritating. There are a lot of ways to save people but wouldn’t a demise of at least one of the antagonistic personalities of the show make it more interesting? For some reason, a bad guy would just become good when the situation calls for it. This show is insane on a whole different level that I can’t believe such an anime can exist in 2013.
I honestly wanted to like this show. I mean, the concept alone was pretty solid and the dark element it had was pretty interesting. A whole lot of bad things happened in this show though. The story, the characters and everything in between was so bad that it’s really disheartening. The annoying part was that the show clearly had potential but it’s also evident that the show can never reach it. I used to like GoHands. The anime they released previously was pretty outstanding. It was bogged down with a lot of bad decisions but I was hopeful that the studio would learn from its mistake. I was wrong. Coppelion is proof that the studio learned nothing and even managed to screw more things up. It’s fascinating that I’ve seen a lot of studio maintains their level of standard despite never breaking out of the glass ceiling yet I think this is the first time that I saw a studio that just fails at things it attempts. They should cut down on the visuals because it’s clearly affecting the way they tell a story. I would rather watch a flash based anime with a good story than one with great effects and high quality animation but with a story so shallow and dull that it’s not worth dedicating time to.
Sight and Sound
One of the best things in the anime would have to be the background scenery. The anime did a wonderful job of creating a concrete jungle with all the abandoned buildings and the eerie appeal of buildings being covered in plants and moss. GoHands was able to make this really sophisticated. They’d combine tedious CG work on the buildings with the color palette they are known for. The green blueish palette GoHands prefers works wonderfully in this show. The sci fi appeal comes out at almost every scene and everything just screams picturesque beauty that you can’t help but be amazed by it all. Seeing the girls go about the deserted Tokyo was wonderful and the visuals really elevated the experience. I did not like the story of the show but I loved how the background looks. A great marriage of the conventional with the sci fi made up the things you’d see from this show and, as you progresses, you’d see how imagination plays a part in the background work as well.
Character design is pretty decent. I saw the manga and the quality differs as well. It was gritty and it lacks sophistication. The bold lines were present in both the manga and the show. I think the design of the show was actually better. Tomonori Inoue (the author) didn’t put much emphasis on the design but the manga was saved by the sci fi appeal and the story progression. Most of the characters have large necks that felt awkward with their small heads. The character design in the show was pretty good. It was able to capture the grittiness of the manga while making sure they look proportionally beautiful as well. The characters had much more feminine features in the show with the way their legs are given emphasis and the way the skirt teases from time to time. It was something that the manga didn’t have in mind. Aside from that, everything else seems to be in order. The design of the uniform is pretty great and the rest of the characters look alright. I love how most of them wear suits and it just makes the anime a bit original, in my opinion. The suits may look the same but the characters are still able to bring out their distinct personality to make them stand out.
The animation is outstanding. The show had high quality animation. The camera work alone is enough to give the animation praise. It was static and it moves with the characters. Whenever a character rolls, the camera would zoom in and out then pan out to make the scene more complex. Every bullet fired was given great detail and every vehicle fight was amazing. The story was shallow but the anime was certainly action packed. It boasts complex movements whenever characters fights and the effects really elevate every scene. If you combine the camera work, the effects and the high frame rate then, no doubt, this anime is outstanding. I personally don’t like the bold lines of the characters and their 2D bodies next to high cg rendered backgrounds but it doesn’t take anything from the show. I think you’ll be able to enjoy the show more if it was just a bunch of cool fighting montages, to be honest.
The anime’s OP is “ANGEL” by angela. It’s a decent song. It tells about some ambiguous sh*t I can’t really follow. It’s basically about the show where wounded angels are fighting off cowards. The lyrics are pretty plain and it feels a bit forced as well. It does have a decent chorus but not enough to really grab your attention. Angela’s voice is also a bit simple. It lacks the needed emotion I was expecting from the song. The OP sequence features the girls walking in the abandoned wasteland and there are a few montage of the events of the show. It’s a decent OP as well.
The anime’s ED is “Tooku Made” by angela. I love this song. It’s a song about facing all the ugliness since it’s part of being human. It tells of the story of the main characters mainly Naruse Ibara. It’s a really gloomy song with a nice idea of hope ticked within. It’s something I think the show should reflect but I think the song does it better. I love the rhythm and the chorus is insane. It features angela shouting some lines then singing softly afterwards. It’s really catchy. The ED sequence features the three girls and a few shots of Ibara symbolically drowning in her thoughts and fears but somehow managing to get out of it. It’s really subtle and I like it that way.
4/10 “It’s dull and shallow but with very complex and praise worthy animation.”
It had a promising premise but the anime wasn’t able to present its full potential. The whole thing felt disjointed with the shallow mind set of the show really bringing the experience down. It lacks even decent characters and also needs a more developed plot. If you enjoy cool animation with shallow plots then you’ll like this show. If you like cool fight scenes with shallow plots then you might want to check this one out. Bottom line, this show could’ve been better and it had every opportunity to do so.