“Mecha” has always been a sore point for me, especially when I wasted far too much time on “Gundam Seed Destiny”. My son used to watch the Gundam shows and, yes, I will admit there is something kind of cool about a giant fighting robot, but when it is an endless supply of giant fighting robots doing the exact same thing against another endless supply of giant fighting robots doing the exact same thing, episode to episode and series to series, the luster wears off pretty quick. How many times can you curse and scream and shriek at your enemy, who will also curse and scream and shriek at you? *sigh* But what about if it is a bio-enhanced suit?
Technically, it is a mecha, as they have the accoutrements to be a robot, but I am not piloting a ship, but being the actual robot. Is it still mecha? I bring this up as that is kind of one of the thrusts of this series, “Active Raid: Kidō Kyōshūshitsu Daihachigakari” (“Akutivu Reido Kidō Kyōshūshitsu Daihachigakari”, “Active Raid: Public Mobile Assault Unit Eight”). It is the future; well, it’s mostly about the future in animes, right? And where are the hover boards, eh? There are these bio-suits that are used by the military and special groups of so-designated people to help maintain order. We have Unit (Section) Eight, and that is really played up for all it’s worth.
It is a grouping of those 12 people, but only about half of them actually have a suit (or ACTIVE, which stands for Armored Combined Tactical Intelligence Vanguard Elements), although for some reason, they call them ‘Willwares’. Their job is to render help and aid, but they have a tendency to create more damage and havoc than the bad guys do. Kind of like “Hancock”, but without all the hand-wringing. I mean, it takes a special talent to destroy a building. And I don’t mean severe damage it, with a chipped façade and broken windows; I am talking about collapsing the entire edifice. There’s another trillion yen down the rat hole. To try and combat this negative image, a new girl, Asami Kazari (top row, third from left) is assigned to the unit, but it a tough row to hoe.
We see them go through their paces to show to the city and the citizenry that they are a viable and trustworthy force, as they work on their PR. The odd thing is the transformation sequence, which is done numerous times. First, they have to be in their skivvies before the suit is applied. They get these rings of power applied to them at the wrists, ankles and neck. The neck one causes pain and discomfort when it tightens, as they all grimace. Not a nice feeling. They then get the overlay of some kind of skin or leotard that is placed upon them. Next, they go down a hallway where the actual suit is applied, piece by piece, so when they are finally set to be catapulted into the sky, they are ready to go.
Yeah, you also have the stereotypes to deal with: the hot-shot macho man; the cool and calculating fighter; the girl tyro, trying to prove herself; the grizzled veteran who runs this troupe, etc., etc., etc. Initially, it is not a bad show, if they had stuck to the PR approach and trying to illustrate to the populace that they know what they are doing, even though it is painfully obvious that they do not. It also follows the standard arc for me in a 12-run show: the first four episodes show everyone and put them through their paces, the next four shows are a caliber of filler and the last four shows have the real plot show up, when they are faced with a real danger that only they can really resolve.
All in all, not a bad show, but I feel they could have made the suits a bit better than they are, as it appears those Black Market jobs are more powerful than what the law enforcement types are able to possess or upgrade towards. I also got the feeling that any victories they manage to attain is more sheer luck than that a concerted effort. Well, whatever works, right?
On a scale of 1 to 10:
Artwork 7 (The ladies have HUGE eyes)
Plot 6 (Partially abandoned)
Pacing 6 (The fights slow things down)
Effectiveness 6 (Uncertain where to take the show)
Conclusion 5 (It reaches a ‘coupler point’, but hasn’t ended)
Fan Service 0 (A similar show would be “Honey and Clover”)
Overall 6 (Kind of lost their way)
And remember, it’s first run until you’ve seen it. You work for Unit 8?