Growing up as an impressionable teenager in the mid-90s meant that my first taste of anime came through Manga Entertainment’s infamous VHS releases; sex, violence and science fiction were the orders of the day and as cheap and nasty as this kind of anime often was, I must admit I still think back on that time of my life quite fondly.
Angel Cop is the epitome of everything Manga (at least in the UK) used to stand for; it’s sinister, bereft of moral fibre and overflowing with such uncompromising violence. And when I say violence, I’m not talking about your sweet Elfen Lied rag dolls. Here is a morbid attention to detail which often forces some quite repulsive and uncomfortable scenes of murder and mayhem. I can best describe it is truly visceral gore. The titular lead character is Angel; a harder, nastier version of Matoko Kunsagi with a hatred for terrorists so deep that she is willing to kill a young kid if it means taking down her unenviable target.
Reading up on Angel Cop shows that it caused quite the controversy when first released in the West due to (according to Anime News Network) “… a rather blatant anti-Semitic slant, however both the dub and the subtitles were altered to a certain degree to cover this”. I am yet to see anything approaching racism in these first couple of episodes, though such an offensive subtext would hardly surprise me given the director is Ichiro Itano, who has previously worked with such questionable content in Violence Jack and to a lesser extent, Gantz.
Based on these opening episodes, I must admit that I am quite enjoying my look back at Angel Cop. Nostalgia often has a way of making things seem better than they actually are (imagine my disappointment when I realized Transformers: The Movie actually wasn’t the greatest film of all time, for shame) but this is still holding up today, despite being produced as an OVA series way back in 1989. The action is fierce and shocking and the visuals are reassuringly striking, combining those wonderful (read: ugly, Brian May-esque) hair cuts from the 80s with an exciting science fiction plot involving special government agents fighting psychically-powered vigilantes and pumped up cyborgs. What more could an action junkie want?
4 replies on “Angel Cop – Repulsive, Uncomfortable, Anti-Semitic”
Whoa, what’s this "anti-semitic slant" business? That just seems weird to me because of the fact that like, Japan hasn’t had Jews so there hasn’t ever been a context for any anti-semitism to develop. I’ve even read that The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion there got misinterpretted as a like self-help book instead of virulent propaganda because of the fact that like there simply isn’t any grounds for anti-semitism to actually exist there.
I remember this being one of the first truely graphic anime after Vampire Hunter D. It was cool because it was so different. Though, now I find it distasteful, it still has a nostalgic factor for me.
robin – Distastful for sure; rewatching this I was amazed by just how harsh the likes of Angel actually are. It is fun, but also quite disturbing.
jpmeyer – I wondered the same thing, and Wikipedia came to my rescue. Turns out anti-semitism came into Japan through "Nazi ideology and propaganda" and that "Books about Jewish conspiracies are best sellers." Quite crazy.
Yeah Transformers used to be like … Last Exile, to me. And after I purchased all four seasons worth of DVDs last year, I realised the horrid truth. It was nothing more than a bunch of bad animation, super cheesy machine/transforming/car related puns and one big ad for the toys.
I must watch this show then, because I like violence and being disturbed.