Burst Angel Vol. 1
I heard about Burst Angel when it was still airing in Japan, and I thought it sounded like a great show. I was hoping that it would get picked up here, and when I saw it was over here, letís just say that I was quite happy and eager to see it. I was pretty excited going into Burst Angel; however, by the time that the first volume ended, it left me wondering where the show that I had looked forward to so much had gone. There is a lot of promise and a lot of bright spots here, but there is also a lot to drive people to steer clear of it. Burst Angel is a very mixed bag, to say the least.
Japan has become an area where crime has gotten out of hand and the streets have become unsafe. Because of this, a law is passed that allows anyone to carry a gun, to decrease the amount of crime. However, this only caused people to get even more out of hand. With the current situation, the Recent Armed Police of Tokyo, or RAPT has been established, and basically, they take over the city. RAPT has been making an impact because the number of people caught has been going up, but the number caught alive has been dropping even faster.
To deal with the current problem, a group of four women have joined together: Meg, Jo, Sei and Amy. They are basically a mercenary group that takes on very dangerous jobs. Out of the four, Jo is the one in the spotlight, and there seems to be more to her than at first glance.
From the start, we see where one of Burst Angel's initial problems rests. Early on, we are given very little background for the world of Burst Angel and these four women. After the first volume, youíre basically left not knowing what direction the story will go in, let alone what the story even is! In this volume, we see the four women capture a wanted criminal, try to recover a data disk for someone, and then attempt to capture another person for someone, but they are beaten to it. As the last story plays out, it seems as if the man who they were suppose to capture had an experiment performed on him for some unknown reason. What you see here is basically what you get. All of these are nice episodes. They only need to have a bigger picture to go along with them. The only glimpse of that would be RAPT getting its hands in some very shady dealings.
On top of the lack of any real story, they seemingly added a character for no reason. The girls ask a boy to be their cook, because apparently girls with super model figures only snack all the time and they need healthy meals to be rouge mercenaries. The problem with this character, besides being annoying, is that heís completely pointless up to this point. Perhaps he might start to actually do something latter on, but as of now it seems like he was there to make the first few episodes long enough. The show would shine more if they just focused on the group of girls, though I could do without the really young computer expert.
The problems as far as the story goes on the first disk donít stop there. It seems that there wouldnít have even been a first volume if Meg wasnít there. Out of four episodes, sheís been caught twice, and already done a number of stupid things. These arenít promising numbers, but hopefully this will change and each episode isnít just saving her.
Despite these problems with the story, there are quite a number of bright spots. Burst Angel is an action/mech show, but with a really nice touch to help make it a little different. Burst Angel has this distinct spaghetti western feel to it which I really liked. I feel there is a really good show here. The problem is it just needs to come out.
Clearly what is probably the best part of Burst Angel is the animation. We are treated to great action scenes that can get quite violent at times, with guns and mechs blasting away. The CG blends very nicely, with an incredible color palate that adds to the great looking scenery and background shots. The show really seems to have this yellow hue to it most of the time, which helps to add to that western feel that I loved. On top of all of this, you get some nice character designs, although there is something about Meg that I donít think Iíve seen many, if any times before, involving a very thin top and being very cold all the time. Burst Angel, like most female combat animes, feels that women fight best wearing as little as possible. Iím still surprised how this one character manages to keep herself in her top, and for some reason Jo wears a bikini into combat, but also wears a huge parka and scarf. It just seems counter productive in my book. Going along with the trend of this first volume, the animation drops in quality at certain times. Although itís usually great, itís upsetting to see when it fails, considering just how good the animation looks most of the time.
Going along with the treat for the senses, Burst Angel has some of the best music that Iíve heard in an anime in a while. You get some great modern-sounding spaghetti western music, as well as mechanical-sounding instrumental and techno pieces. All of the music really fits the show and sounds just great. The icing on the cake is the closing in the sub and dub versions. Unfortunately, the closing is the best part of the dub. Iíd highly recommend watching this show in the original Japanese subtitled format, because the dub is below average and it has some uninspired moments of dialogue.
Burst Angel has some of the nicest, if not the nicest packaging Iíve seen in an anime. I like it when companies take the time to make the packaging look great, even if it was extremely difficult to get the DVD out. Youíll also get some quality features, including a commentary, which I feel is the best feature that you can possible have, as well as a booklet, which Iím also a big fan of.
All and all, Burst Angel is just too inconsistent overall to rate highly. You have great animation, music, packaging and style, but a cast that ranges from annoying and pointless to cool, but not evolved at all, and to top it off, a lack of story. There does seem to be a good show here waiting to come out; hopefully, it can make that leap in the next volume.