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COPPELION Review: Living in the Nuclear Wasteland

There is always something fascinating about watching or reading about dystopian worlds and the wonder of how somebody can manage to survive throughout there whether it be zombies, vampires and other miscellaneous creatures but then there is the nuclear aftermath and that’s how Coppelion comes in.

Coppelion is a 2013 anime based on the manga series written by Tomonori Inoue started from 2008 and still ongoing as of today. From its vivid presentation courtesy of rookie studio GoHands to the concept, it has the details of a post-apocalyptic anime that could become a great hit across audiences.

Story

In 2016, a catastrophe occurs after a nuclear meltdown from the nearby Odaiba nuclear power plant contaminates Tokyo, forcing the government to order its citizens to evacuate. 20 years later, Tokyo has become a ghost town due to the high levels of radiation which the government has banned entry for anyone. When a distress signal is received from Tokyo, the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force dispatches 3 teenage girls from the Dispatch 3rd Special Force Coppelion, who comprise the “Healthcare Team”. Due to genetic engineering, the Coppelions are immune to radiation while also possessing special skills. Thus the Coppelions journey to the ruined capital to find survivors.

The show really doesn’t start off with an overarching conflict aside from just looking for survivors but the continuing aspect of the plot starts when they have to get a pregnant woman somewhere safe in the green zone to deliver her baby safely as many obstacles get in the way, whether it be rogue JGSDF officers or crazy powerful sisters that want to cause mayhem. However, some plot elements of the first 4 episodes should have been cut from the final product. They do work as an introduction for the show and characters but something like the missing child episode felt unneeded and only there to be filler.

The rest of the story worked out fine like a simple Point A to Point B scenario only with a slight change in travel. There are tidbits of what we as an audience need to know about these Coppelion girls and how they feel human to the things and people around them despite them being an advanced breed. However, the writing of that comes off as generic, predictable and often too maudlin to feel genuinely compelling. It isn’t emotionally manipulative as you do care about them but never fully invested in there.

Characters

The main 3 characters, the Coppelion girls Ibara Naruse, Aoi Fukasaku & Taeko Nomura, are compelling to know about but it’s mostly because of their immunity to the nuclear radiation around them and their special skills like Ibara is the leader with her accurate shooting techniques and Taeko has heightened senses and trained to be in many medical situations. Then there is Aoi, who is the most ‘human’ out of the girls and possibly the most problematic. The character can be either liked or hated as she is liked in the sense that you can see yourself in her whether it’s enjoying food or feeling guilty of getting your friends in dangerous situations and wanting to do something with it but hated in the sense of being whiny, yells a lot and leading said friends in danger. Character development for them isn’t as scarce but it leaves little to ponder over and also the 13-episode count doesn’t help much matters either.

The Ozu sisters, Kanon and Shion, are the main antagonists of the show and is easily the enthralling part of the series when they were introduced. They are equal adversaries to the Coppelion girls when it comes to combat especially with Shion having strength greater than Ibara and Kanon having electrical powers and they are about as malicious as most people imagined. However, if they would’ve shown up earlier in the anime, it would’ve been more engaging as they don’t appear in full until episode 8 and they made the first half looked dull in comparison before they showed up.

Then there’s Haruto Kurosawa, the only male Coppelion showed here and like the girls, he is highly skilled in guns and explosives. He gives a first impression that he is capable of doing what he does and maybe even better than the girls usually do it (or just better than Aoi). There are hints of Ibara and Haruto that might become a couple or insinuate that they are but that element felt unneeded and just thrown in there for frivolous reasons.

Animation

Animated by Studio GoHands, the team that brought you the Mardock Scramble movies and K, they have brought stunning visuals and signature animation on the forefront as they have already proven with the aforementioned titles. They do have a tendency to overuse a blue or aqua-colored tint in their shows but that isn’t the case here. It’s a mix of bleaker, darker colors with that tint and some various vibrant colors as well.

The visible thick black outlines on each character design was distracting as it felt too cartoonish in something grounded in pseudo-reality. For the most part, the CG was well-integrated into the action sequences with the notable one being the giant mechanical spider sequence. There was hardly any clunky or unfitting frames used in there and if they did appear, it lasted merely a second.

Soundtrack

The score is fitting to the series’ tone overall yet it’s mostly an average one at best, like something you would hear out of an adventure video game with high-tech instrumentals with some percussion and drums thrown in there for good measure. The opening theme “Angel” and ending theme “Tōku Made” are both sung by j-pop band Angela and both songs offer different and fitting tones to the show with the opening’s moderate  and upbeat action elements and the ending with the resonating dramatic aspects.

English Dub

The acting performances on the Viz Media/Bang Zoom-produced dub was strong in its representation of these characters and as suitable as the performances in Japanese. Newcomer Erica Lindbeck provides the voice of Naruse and she gave a solid performance along the three women; the other two being Cassandra Lee Morris & Shelby Lindley as Aoi and Taeko, respectively. Morris played what she knew in her past character roles and does her role well and Lindley was fairly decent although doesn’t have much of a notable presence as Lindbeck and Morris.

Cherami Leigh and Sarah Anne Williams played the Ozu sisters (Kanon and Shion, respectively) and they were by far the best performances of the series, particularity Leigh’s Kanon as we rarely hear the actress play an antagonist and she has the right amount of maliciousness and villainy in her performance.

Final Verdict

Coppelion doesn’t live up to its potential to be a great anime but it’s far from being a bad show. It’s a serviceable show with a durable story in some areas, decent and likable characters and gorgeous looking animation. This is probably another one of these anime where more excitement comes from the manga but this show makes a good commercial for that.

3.5 out of 5 stars

3.5 out of 5 stars

 

Cover image via

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Categories: Anime Reviews

Author:Mark King

Well, what is there to know about me? I am the creator of "Anime Discovery" and what is it you asked? I'm a story writer/reviewer for his one-man project website The Mind of the Hybrid One. He is also a fan of many things media, including movies, TV, music and, especially anime. my blog/review series Anime Discovery is aimed towards the people who might still consider themselves either as a beginner, rookie, or possibly even the most knowledgeable of anime. I review titles that are either the ones you know and love to the titles that need some love or some forgotten gems that needed to be….well, discovered.

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2 Comments on “COPPELION Review: Living in the Nuclear Wasteland”

  1. 11/29/2015 at 4:06 PM #

    I lean more on disliking Aoi than finding her funny. At least she redeems herself in the later episodes.

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