In the near future Japan has risen to become the preeminent world power. (Egos were apparently running rampant in Japan around the time Angel Cop was made. A few years later reality set in with the Asian economic crisis.) But being on the top makes Japan an attractive target to terrorists, and a government office forms the Special Security Forces to combat terrorism by whatever means necessary.
In the first episode of this six episode series we meet Raiden a tough SSF agent who is trying to hunt down a Communist terrorist group called the Red May. He is teamed with stoic female cop Angel, but on one of their first missions together Raiden is crippled.
Angel continues hunting down the Red May, and the group's leader is captured by the SSF. But a new threat rears its head in the form of the Hunters, a group of powerful psychics that are killing all the Red May members they can find. The Hunter's leader, a woman named Lucifer with enormous powers, is willing to kill even law officers if she perceives them as protecting terrorists. As the SSF begins clashing with powerful telekinetics and pyrokinetics they get back up from an unexpected source: Raiden, who has been resurrected as a cyborg!
Angel Cop is a mixed bag in the worst sense: the bad stuff can ruin your enjoyment of the good stuff. The animation is quite good, and the battles between cyborgs and psychics are exciting. Because these fights make up a lot of the movie, and nearly all of the last two episodes, that's almost enough to suggest the movie.
But then there's the bad stuff. Angel Cop is very violent, often gratuitously so. There is one extended torture scene in particular that is simply not needed, and the psychics tend to kill their victims in the bloodiest manner possible.
Between scenes of violence and fighting the plot bogs down in an impenetrable conspiracy story about who hired who and who formed what group. This goes on forever, and this plot is punctuated by rhetoric about how much America wants to destroy Japan, and characters worrying that Japan will become decadent like Kuwait! Some of this material, particularly the film's coda, has been redubbed with less inflammatory dialogue for the English language version.
The worst thing about the story is the character of Angel. She barely registers as a person throughout the film. She only begins to have any effect on the plot towards the very end, when she is outfitted with an armored suit similar to Raiden's, though she gets the special "Whore" model. Perhaps the point of the movie is that Angel learns to care about her fellow man (or machines) but it isn't very well developed.
Apparently this was not a very high priority title for Manga, because the transfer is decidedly sub-par. It looks like they used the VHS transfer, a fact confirmed by the fact that some of the episodes have end title cards telling us when the next VHS volume will be available. As such, the transfer looks hazy, almost out of focus, and there is some very bad ghosting during the action scenes. The stereo sound is fine on both soundtracks. Unlike most anime titles we've seen on disc, the Japanese track is more robust than the English one, so much so that the music occasionally overwhelms the dialogue
There are no extras other than the standard conglomerate trailers for other Manga DVD titles.
Scott Hamilton, 10/29/00