In the year 2808, criminal activity is at an all-time high. Desperate for results, the Cyber Police look to three skilled operatives to help them clean up the crime-choked city of Oedo. Their names are Sengoku, Goggles, and Benten: three very capable men, and three very dangerous convicted criminals.
summary by Ender
Highs: Fun concept
Lows: Terribly formulaic; lackluster animation and art; tepid characters and stories
When one thinks of Kawajiri Yoshiaki’s list of contributions to modern anime, I can guarantee that Cyber City Oedo 808 will find itself omitted.
The brief series starts off well enough with a concept that merges Bubblegum Crisis-style cyberpunk with The Dirty Dozen. Naturally, this kind of science fiction all but forsakes compelling ideas for extended action sequences: for example, a scene involving a resurrected saber-tooth tiger provides for a neat afterthought involving immortality, but it’s chiefly there to give Benten an exercise in violence. Even then, the action sequences come as mediocre — which is a huge disappointment when considering Kawajiri’s love of eviscerations.
Still it is a shame though to think that an entire world was built for this OVA only to see it turned into a dull-looking set piece. The last part I blame on the lackluster art and animation. In all seriousness, the series looks worse than most television series that came out around the same time. Most of the high-end animation is reserved for the fight sequences and even those are lacking. There seems to be absolutely no imagination in planning this series: most of the characters look like the cast of Lupin III by ways of Mőtley Crűe roadies, and the sprawling cityscapes (the time-honored cyberpunk archetype) look like rejected storyboard frames.
The characters themselves are stock tough guys. I understand that they are criminals, but even then there is rarely anything interesting about them except for a few cliché sentiments. We never really get a sense of their “badness” beyond their constant self-referential bickering. What really hurts is that each episode concentrates on a separate character and story; but there is really no point when the leads act completely identical and their stories lead to the same mystery-into-brawl formula.
This series was made at a time when science-fiction became an outlet for hyperviolence. But with a director of Kawajiri’s repertoire working on this, I was expecting a higher level of quality and less short-sightedness. Cyberpunk, when utilized properly, is a genre that can work congruently with any sub-genre and medium…just don’t expect to see that here.
Cyber City Oedo 808 can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.