Source: Pexels by Koolshooters

If you mention anime to current folk, perhaps you’ll find someone who has seen a Makoto Shinkai film, maybe watches Vinland Saga on Netflix, and thinks that Naruto is a classic. While the last opinion can be somewhat suspect, what is clear is the scope and reach of Anime in the modern world. It has never been easier to get ahold of the stuff. It’s all fairly well produced on computers and thanks to the likes of auteurs like Shinkai, very accessible.

Cyber City Oedo 808 is from a bygone era.

Originally made in the early ’90s by Ninja Scroll director Yoshiaki Kawajiri, it was released a few years later with a dub that could be described as a pure “Manga Entertainment” dub. Swears, swears, and lots of swears. It also replaced Kazz Toyama’s original OST with new compositions by Rory McFarlane.

Dystopian Sci-Fi, How I love thee!

The show starts with three criminals, each serving prison sentences of hundreds of years for various crimes. They’re given a choice – rot away in a Prison that orbits the earth, or work as police officers (Side note: This is a work of fiction, not a training video for the Met Police). Obviously, you can’t trust prisoners so each is fitted with an explosive collar, like Battle Royale, that will detonate if they screw up their mission.

Enter three sassy protagonists!

The main characters are distinctive from each other – the permanently mouthing off Sengoku, the giant hacker Gogol who is played by the kid on the front of the single “How Soon is Now” by The Smiths, and Benten – an androgynous pretty boy with 80’s hair. The supporting cast sees boss Hasegawa who is always threatening to blow their heads off, and Vargas, the most annoying back-talking robot on this side of Johnny 5.

Each episode focuses on one of the three protagonists as they take part in different cases – from ridiculously tall skyscrapers containing mysteries that need investigating, to mystery killings that are linked to a robot. It’s honestly the stuff of Sci-Fi dreams.

So… why should I watch it?

Over three episodes, Kawajiri works on the visual magic that he’d been plying since 1987’s Wicked City. Huge amounts of negative space and a more than liberal use of the colour blue. Towering skyscrapers suggest a technologically savvy city, but the willingness to use criminals as police officers (see: The Met) suggests a dystopian world – if you’ve seen Facebook or Twitter evolve over the last ten years, that seems about right.

Ultimately, for those of us who grew up in a time where Western anime releases skewed towards these violent male-orientated stories, it will feel completely nostalgic. The fact that it was well made by a safe pair of hands in Kawajiri helps it. The only downfall of the show is that it only lasted 3 episodes.

Where can I get my grubby mitts on it?

Where can I get my grubby mitts on it?

Anime Limited recently released the series on blu ray, including newly remastered versions. For our American friends, the series was released by Discotek Media.

Published by AJ Toothill

Creative Writing and Music student with the Open University. Fond of writing in a comedic tone known as 'Absolute lunacy'.

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