Cyber City OEDO 808 Anime Review
CYBER CITY OEDO 808
Cyber City OEDO 808
US Release By
3 48-minute episodes
1990-06-21 to 1991-10-04
In the year 2808, high tech crime is rife in the massive cyber cities. To combat this escalating crime rate, the cyber police draft maximum security criminals into the force, equipped with explosive-loaded collars. Successful missions reduce the prisoner's sentence--failure means instant death!
In File 1: VIRTUAL DEATH, 50,000 people are trapped in OEDO tower. Sengoku and his two teammates are despatched to rescue them, but the only man known capable of pulling off a hacking stunt like this died years ago...
In File 2: PSYCHIC TROOPER, Japan's Special Defense Force has developed a new weapon which they believe will make the Cyber Police obsolete. They plan to test it on a live target: the mohawked computer hacker Gogul!
In File 3: BLOOD LUST, three leading genetic scientists are murdered, apparently by a vampire. When the androgynous Benten investigates, he discovers that the three men had all been working on a secret project--a virus which brings immortality... at a price.
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Cyber City OEDO 808 is the cyberpunk anime--it has all the essential ingredients: Advanced technology, a healthy dose of violence, and a bad attitude. It is defined by one word: Cool. The characters are extremely interesting and the plots are engaging. It isn't deep, but this anime isn't meant to be deep--you're supposed to watch it and enjoy it immensely. The first file is the best, with a spectacular climax, and while the third is a bit of a stretch into gothic horror, it's still the "least good" rather than the "worst." It's solid visually, and the action is executed with Kawajiri's usual brilliance--fast paced, smooth and tense. The music is, of course cyberpunk, particularly the maximum rock opening theme.
All in all, Cyber City OEDO 808 is possibly the best cyberpunk anime I have ever seen. Watch it and pray that Yoshiaki Kawajiri makes some more.
Full ReviewSwitch to Quick Review
Ghost in the Shell may be Cyber, Akira may be Punk, but when I think of cyberpunk, I immediately think of Cyber City OEDO 808. This is the cyberpunk anime--it has all the essential ingredients: Advanced technology, a healthy dose of violence, and a bad attitude. It is defined by one word: Cool. The characters are extremely interesting and the plots are engaging. It isn't deep, but this anime isn't meant to be deep--you're supposed to watch it and enjoy it immensely.
The first file is the best, especially at the climax when the five-mile high building is falling over, the orbital laser cannon is locking on and Sengoku is fighting for his life. Psychic Trooper isn't quite as good, but is still excellent. Unfortunately, Blood Lust is incredible--read that as un-credible. The climax is rather implausible, and seems to have made a few unlikely excuses for some gothic horror. Still, the third tape is more the "least good" rather than the "worst."
The content is rather adult--no, make that teenage. The coarse language is extremely prolific especially in the first tape. This is because Virtual Death focusses on Sengoku, who is the most foul-mouthed anime character I have ever seen. The violence is not particularly graphic, nor is it very messy, but it can get a little hairy, especially in Blood Lust. Just grin and bear it. I could.
Visually, Cyber City is, if not a masterpiece, then at least extremely good. The character designs and technology are well crafted, with Yoshiaki Kawajiri's usual realistic style. There are no major letdowns, although from the outset it is hard to tell whether Benten is a guy or a girl (he's actually actually a guy, but for ages I thought he was a hermaphrodite). The action is also executed with Kawajiri's usual brilliance--fast paced, smooth and tense.
The voice acting is, on average, very good. That statement needs some clarification--the main characters (Sengoku, Gogul, Benten and Hasegawa) are all voiced brilliantly, although you may not have been expecting Sengoku's voice to be so deep. However, most of the minor characters, especially the female ones, are average at best. It all averages out at the end and overall you'll find you like it much more than you dislike it.
The soundtrack is pretty single minded: Cyberpunk anime needs cyberpunk music. It's generally pretty good, but the opening theme is absolutely kickin' (pardon the loose speech). From the moment the collar snaps into place (watch the opening sequence and you'll understand what I mean) the music just powers up into maximum rock and doesn't stop until the end. I found myself constantly rewinding and watching the opening just so I could hear the music. Maybe I'm just sad, but on the other hand I might have really discovered something. The ending theme is a much gentler variation on the opening theme and is also pretty cool.
All in all, Cyber City OEDO 808 is possibly the best cyberpunk anime I have ever seen. Watch it and pray that Yoshiaki Kawajiri makes some more. Yeah.
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The series has bits and pieces in common with all the cyberpunk-ish anime; AD Police Files for grit and realism, Bubblegum Crisis for more mecha-oriented, Midnight Eye Goku for dark plots and technology, and even Wicked City for Kawajiri's style.
Notes and Trivia
The city of Oedo is supposed to be the future version of Tokyo. Tokyo was, in fact, named Edo (the very polite form of that is Oedo) until it became the Japanese capital in 1868.
Benten is the name of a Shinto goddess, patron of art and literature, as well as associated with material wealth. Sengoku might also be a reference, as it sounds the same as the name of Japan's Warring States period (about 1350 through 1600); it was followed, appropriately, by the Edo period.
US DVD Review
USM's DVD is one of their earlier discs, and is pretty basic; Japanese and English stereo audio, a subtitle track, and absolutely nothing else. At least the video is pretty crisp. Oddly, at least the version I have (it may have been fixed later) the package says "please see reverse side of this liner for complete credits." ...except unlike their later releases, the box isn't transparent, and the liner is blank on the other side.
About 16-up on account of violence and very rough language.
Violence: 3 - Not excessively bloody, but, well, nasty.
Nudity: 0 - Nada.
Sex/Mature Themes: 2 - More mature themes than anything else.
Language: 4 - Listen to Sengoku swear!
Formerly available in North America from US Manga Corps on a single bilingual DVD. Was also available on three subtitled or dubbed VHS volumes, as well as a dubbed CD-ROM of QuickTime video. All of the above are out of print (though you can still find the Cyber City DVD Used from Amazon).