Coppelion Anime Review (Or how to really jack up a story.)

Coppelion Anime Review

Coppelion Anime ReviewWhenever a I decide to elevate one anime series over another, there usually is some compelling element that hits me just right. With Coppelion, it was the promotional art, which displayed a post-apocalyptic Tokyo, and three high school girls within this environment. I was immediately reminded of Tokyogenso‘s post-apocalyptic Japan artwork, which I discovered on a Japanese forum in 2010 and found very intriguing. For that reason alone, I decided I’d give this series a try. While its art, animation, and premise may have been good, that’s about all that is good with this anime, which I actually stopped episode blogging.

Coppelion Anime ReviewThe basic premise of the series is that in the near future, a terrible accident at a Tokyo nuclear power station causes the city to become a massive, radioactive mess. Many of the people are evacuated, but many die. For various reasons, some folks refuse to leave and some, like the Japanese Self-Defense Force 1st Division, are abandoned by the government. At some point years later, the government stops sending in relief supplies, but despite that, the people somehow survive. However, calls for help start coming in and a group of genetically modified clones (Coppelion), who have various supernatural abilities as well as an immunity to massive radiation, are sent in to rescue people or clean up contamination.

Coppelion Anime ReviewThe series focuses on the three girls that make up a rescue team — Ibara, the team leader and Coppelion class president who has incredible strength; Aoi, an undisciplined whiner who has some powers she’s unaware of; ad Taeko, a quiet girl who can commune with animals. Although these girls can withstand any amount of radiation, they are sent in alone with little gear or supplies, and very limited support. They are even segregated from other Coppelion teams for mysterious reasons. Why a rescue team wouldn’t go in with a vehicle like the M1133 Stryker Medical Evacuation Vehicle and some heavy duty medical knowledge is only the start of the problems with this anime series.

Coppelion Anime ReviewI kept wanting to scream because these girls were cloned, given special abilities, and supposedly trained from birth for the mission they are currently on. Despite this, they are highly emotional, to the point of making me want to scream in frustration at times. Aoi was the worst as she just kept whining all the time. Even Ibara, who’s the most competent of the group, succumbs to emotionalism at times (whether tears or anger or whatever). This is supposed to make her and the other girls more human despite their “doll” creation, but instead, all it does is make them look stupid, and it makes the people in charge of the Coppelion project look like incompetent morons.

Coppelion Anime ReviewThe anime’s writers are given the unenviable task of cramming an astonishing 81 manga chapters (that’s over eight volumes of material) into only thirteen, 24-minute episodes. As such, massive amounts of material from the manga, especially materials that help establish the situation and the characters, especially those that the trio meet, gets cut. This means that often, the story only touches things that get fleshed out a lot in the manga, or worse, cuts things that would make the story flow much better.

Coppelion Anime ReviewOne of the things clear to me is that this series is basing everything on the Chernobyl disaster from 1986. Since the Coppelion manga started in 2008, things like the Fukushima reactor incident aren’t taken into account, which proves (1) we’ve come along way since 1986 and (2) the corrupt, communist Soviet system added to the whole Chernobyl disaster.  Because those elements aren’t taken into account, the anime’s story immediately gets off on the wrong foot as the writers (taken from INOUE Tomonori-sensei’s source manga) attempt to make this fictitious nuclear disaster worse than Chernobyl.

Coppelion Anime ReviewThis leads to the anti-nuclear, anti-military, anti-capitalism preaching that comes out of the anime.  If you think the anime is bad, the manga is worse. Unfortunately, facts about nuclear power and the like are flushed in favor of emotionalism and cliched tropes that are easy to get folks riled up on. Well, playing on people’s emotions to drive them in a certain direction isn’t anything new, but this series completely fails in its attempt to convince me of anything, namely because everything is so cliched in its negativity, whether against the military, the nuclear industry, or even business. Had the writing not tried to pound me in the face, they may have been able to make a point. But clearly, the Inoue-sensei’s source writing wants to make sure you understand the true evil in the world.

Coppelion Anime ReviewIf all that weren’t bad enough, there are some elements that are so bad, they are laughable.  For example, an evil, greedy Japanese corporation is supposedly making a huge profit by getting paid by other countries to dump nuclear waste in Tokyo.  To accomplish this without being spotted, they have a B-2 Spirit “Stealth” Bomber.  Yeah, ’cause the U.S. sells those. Oh, they don’t. Ah, but this is not just a bomber. It is also a cargo plane. After all, if it can carry nuclear missiles, it can carry nuclear waste in a cargo area right? Oh wait, the B-2 doesn’t have a cargo area. Ah, but the B-2 has cannons so that it can strafe people on the ground, right? Oh wait, it doesn’t because the whole point is stealth so that it can get in, drop bombs or fire missiles, and get out undetected.

Coppelion Anime ReviewEpisodes five through thirteen cover a single arc, where the rescue team encounters a group of survivors at a high tech Japanese astronautics facility, including a pregnant woman, but they are thwarted in getting the survivors out because the military’s assets have to be used to protect an international conference, and two rogue sisters from a Coppelion cleaner team decide they want to help the rogue, abandoned military unit in the city destroy the world. Kanon, the evil “clone” of Mikoto from A Certain Scientific Railgun, is given electrical powers for whatever reason and her She-Hulk-like, strong younger sister Shion further prove the stupidity and lack of proper training for Coppelion members.

Coppelion Anime ReviewWhile I accepted the fact that the JASA people would have a self-contained facility with electricity and such, I could not believe that an abandoned military unit who’s original goal was to evacuate the disaster area of Tokyo would have the ability to create a massive, armored and armed mecha spider. Nor could I believe that with a few, relatively speaking, small repairs, power could be restored so that a light rail train could carry the survivors to safety (Shinjuku in the manga). Nor could I believe that these psychotic sisters and this rogue military unit who wanted to destroy the world would suddenly see the light at the last second and be saved.

Coppelion Anime ReviewIt really is a shame, because Coppelion could have been a really good series. By not cutting so much of the manga in order to cram it into relatively few episodes, things would have been better, as would a softer approach on the message verses beating the viewer over the head with anti-whatever messages. Having characters that actually seemed like they were properly trained would have been really good.  Alas, none of this was to be, thus this anime goes down as one to just pass on, despite the excellent art and animation used throughout the series.

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