Synonyms: Zero Zero Nine One
Status: Finished Airing
Aired: Oct 6, 2006 to Dec 22, 2006
25 min. per episode
R - 17+ (violence & profanity)
L represents licensing company
Score: 6.531 (scored by 1917 users)
1 indicates a weighted score
SynopsisMylene Hoffman, a beautiful cyborg spy with the codename "009-1" lives in an alternative world where the cold war never ended, continuously on-going for 140 years. The world is split into two factions, the West and the East block. A masquerade of peace between the two is slowly dissipated as the conflict occurs. Through politics, the two factions battle over supremacy over technology to threats of a nuclear attack. Mylene Hoffman, teaming up with three other agent, gets surrounded by deception, chaos and rivalry as she carries out missions assigned by her superiors.
[Written by MAL Rewrite]
Related AnimeAdaptation: 009-1
Side story: 009-1 Special
Characters & Voice Actors
Despite falling short of full potential, 009-1 is good, fun spy-fi adventure
Reviewed: May 2012
Version: English dub
With its eye-catching cybernetic bombshell heroine and her futuristic arsenal of weapons and gadgetry, 009-1 appears, at first glance, to be an average spy-fi adventure series with a focus on action and sex appeal, but a close viewing of this anime’s 13-episode run shows it to be more. It is a work that questions beliefs and the dichotomy of right and wrong. It is an examination of the forces that drive individuals and nations alike. Perhaps above all, it is the story of a young girl tossed into a sea of troubles, clutching onto the one thing that helps her weather the storm as she grows into adulthood, and eventually coming to wonder if her life preserver might not be as sound as she once believed.
Based on a 1960s manga by the legendary Ishinomori Shōtarō, and immediately lending itself to comparisons to such classics as the James Bond franchise and Charlie’s Angels, 009-1 should appeal to fans of old-school spy drama. Its primary setting is a Europe of the future—probably the last quarter of the 21st century—in which the Cold War never came to an end, a setting that aficionados of the secret agent genre will probably find familiar. Moreover, it’s got the kind of action, gadgetry, and titillating content that have come to define the genre. As a bonus, the English dubs come complete with fake Eastern European accents. Fortunately, for those who prefer some depth to the storyline, 009-1 provides it.
009-1 centers around the agents of the Zero Zero Organization, an intelligence group for the Western Bloc, and primarily around it’s number one agent, Mylène* Hoffman, whose parents were killed while defecting to the West in pursuit of the ever elusive ideal of freedom and who was subsequently raised in an orphanage before being recruited into the intelligence community and given cybernetic enhancements, including superhuman speed and flexibility, boosted senses, and machine guns implanted in her breasts. Mylène performs her job with the aid of nearly a dozen other agents, all presumably women, though only three of them (009-3, 009-4, and 009-7) are featured. The world in which they work is one not so much of peace as absence of war, and it is a world strikingly similar to that of the era in which the original story was written, at least in terms of politics and ubiquitous technologies; that is to say, the worldview is somewhat simplistic (West vs. East, freedom vs. oppression, etc.) and the only advanced technology seems to be in the hands of those waging the behind-the scenes battles (government agencies have laser weapons, cyborgs, holography, and more, while personal vehicles, cityscapes, and spaceflight technology appear to be right out of the ’60s and there’s not a mobile phone or tablet computer to be seen).
The series is presented in an episodic manner—that is to say, with most episodes focusing on a single storyline that gets resolved by the end of the 24-minute segment, each episode being a mission presented to Mylène by her boss, Number Zero. Despite this, there are a number of underlying currents, themes that recur throughout the series—the questions of perception and absolutes, of good and evil, of right and wrong, of freedom and oppression, of what to do when one is no longer sure of one’s fundamental worldview—along with recurring characters who serve as catalysts. Unfortunately, the series falls short; the undercurrents are not brought to the surface long enough to examine, nor are the questions they raise given enough consideration. Its episodic nature combined with a short run causes it to miss the mark and fall short of its full potential.
The manga on which the anime is based has been reissued a few times over the years since first publication in the 1960s, but it hasn’t yet seen its way into translation. I have a feeling that Ishinomori developed the undercurrents more fully in the manga, and those responsible for the adaptation should have seen fit to continue Ishinomori’s story to its conclusion—or else, why bother adapting it in the first place? What could have been a great series became only a good one, a step above mediocrity and, though underrated, in my opinion, nonetheless understandably overlooked by many in the anime community.
*Note: In the English subtitles and credits, her name is transliterated as Mylene and occasionally pronounced my-LEAN rather than me-LANE.
The tale of Mylène Hoffman and of a cold-war world perpetually on the verge of exploding is an intriguing one that touches upon important issues in a straightforward, if occasionally too simplistic, manner. The series presents some intriguing themes and poses important questions, but it falls far short of developing them to the extent demanded by their nature.
Most characters are present to support Mylène and her exploits and are therefore understandably lacking in depth; others, like Mylène herself, Dr. Green, and Ironheart, are well rounded individuals. Like the themes and questions the stories present, some of the characters also suffer from the short, episodic nature of the series. Most, despite their shortcomings (occasionally including poorly written dialogue, lack of subtlety, melodrama, and contrived emotionality) are well acted—although, as mentioned, some have pretty cheesy accents. Alice Fulks especially does an excellent job portraying Mylène; what seems at first to be a flat (although not completely emotionless) delivery is slowly revealed to be a deliberately cultivated composure, a reflection perhaps of the façade of peace the world at large knows, for like that peace, which could explode at any time, so could Mylène’s composure break, allowing her emotions to burst forth with unintended consequences.
In one word, I’d sum up the artistic style as retro-futuristic. Overall, it and the animation are decent—indeed, in some scenes, style is used to good effect, and the explosions were general well done—but it was difficult for me to get past the faces. Although Mylène and her compatriots, as well as a few others, are drawn fairly realistically, many of the characters seem to be grotesque mockeries, with beakish or lumpish noses and disproportionate features, and that particular stylistic choice drags the score down a bit.
The basic voice dubbing and sound effects in this series presented no outstanding technical flaws. What did stand out, however, were the great melodies of Iwasaki Taku. Various jazz riffs, simple piano melodies, driving action beats, and more are used throughout the series, and each fits its scene precisely. The choice of composer was a perfect one, and his choices in pairing onscreen events with music were all brilliantly done. Moreover, the opening theme, “Destiny Girl”, as sung by popular artist Minato, is catchy and quite fitting. Of all the elements that make up 009-1, I think the soundtrack is, perhaps, the best.
To those looking for good old secret agent or sci-fi action, this series should be at least mildly entertaining. For those who want some story and character development, the show provides some, although, as mentioned, not enough. I found it fairly enjoyable myself and can see myself re-watching it on occasion. Of course, if the anime had continued for a longer run, delving further into Mylène’s past and psyche, as well as the alternate future world as a whole, I’d probably enjoy it even more.
Final Score: 7/10 or 3/5
Although officially rated TV-MA, I feel this anime is suitable for viewers 13 and older, with some parental guidance.
Language/Thematic Elements: Typically pretty mild, but a few episodes throw in some harsher curse words and misogynist epithets. National politics play into the series quite a bit, including military tactics, the use of people as weapons, the threat of nuclear war, and the way in which a faction in a dispute sees and acts upon right and wrong in relation to its own particular worldview—all or some of which would most likely go over the heads of viewers younger than 13. At various points the series introduces questions regarding the roles of individuals in relation to broader political goings-on.
Violence/Gore: Gunfire and explosions permeate the series, and agents and others are killed in the line of duty. Gunshot wounds and blood are often shown. Some particularly gruesome, although not overly detailed, scenes involve images of characters being crushed by machinery, sliced in half, or beheaded. At one point, Mylène is tortured.
Sexuality/Nudity: Sex appeal is part of what makes this series what it is. That said, sexual situations and innuendo are, overall, fairly mild. Mylène manages to show a fair amount of skin, but for the most part, she remains strategically covered by clothing or bedsheets. A couple times, her breasts are exposed, but nipples aren’t seen. She does engage in sexual intercourse a few times throughout the series, as a means to a job-related end, but the act itself is never shown, only implied. Rape is verbally threatened once through innuendo when Mylène is captured and tortured, but the captor is not presented with a chance to carry it out.
+: the action, gadgetry, and sexuality the secret agent genre is known for, along with an engaging storyline featuring interesting characters in an interesting world
-: the lack of development of the characters and their world, dragged down a bit further by a slightly off-putting style of art
Recommended to: anyone 13 or over, but primarily to fans of old-school secret agents like James Bond, Charlie’s Angels, or the Impossible Missions Force read more
009-1 is an action/drama series, which tries to rekindle the spark of the Old School way of drawing. It has a sixties feeling to it, boosted with modern day flashy graphics.
Based on an old title by the now deceased Shotaro Ishinomori (mostly famous for his Kamen Rider and Ultraman live action series), it has been animated by the homonymous company he left behind. It is quite close to the feeling of the original; they did a good job at retaining his trademark gloomy and a bit morbid atmosphere. This is exactly the reason why this show is not for everyone. It won’t feel likable for most of the modern audience and will be appreciated only by retro fans or middle aged men who grew up with Shotaro’s shows and are fans of his work.
It is refreshing to watch and listen to the series, despite its retro style. Thanks to its fore mentioned combination of old and new form of animation, it stands out from most other anime series. If you got tired of the cop-out looks of most modern anime, this one will not disappoint you.
Basically the main characters are all curvy ladies, packed with cybernetic limbs and a hundred gadgets makes them the perfect combination between the Bionic Woman and James Bond . Although remarkable at first, the facial expressions will probably become annoying for the younger viewers. They will seem unappealing because they don’t look like modern anime (such as the mainstream Clannad or Bleach designs) . But this is just an artistic choice and most of the older viewers will have no real problem with them. Even graphic artists may prize them. But for the rest of the audience out there (that is, almost all of them) it will most likely be a big “Geez! How ugly!” But even from an artistic perspective, I can’t say they are that great. They look a bit different but they are otherwise kinda simplistic and definitely not memorable in the longrun.
There are plenty of detailed backgrounds, dressed with nicely made lightning effects. Nothing major, but they pass by your eyes nicely. They are pretty dark colored, with a mostly chilly mechanical/industrialized look on them, which makes them claustrophobic and creepy. If you prefer cheery atmospheres, look elsewhere.
There are fluid movements, backed up with computers to look realistic when they turn around or spin, and there are even some simple battle choreographies present. The problem comes when you try to reason the whole thing. Like in most superhero and action films, the bad guys seem stunned when the heroines pull out their secret high-tech gadget and beat them out of the blue. It feels rather fake when you see the bad guys suddenly moving like slowpokes when the heroines take the offensive.
It didn’t leave me with any specific impressions. Both voice acting and music themes were decent. Sound effects and way of speaking were lukewarm. Generally, above average but not great.
Nothing sort of amazing and yet not the usual “super heroines save the world in the name of justice and love”. The protagonists are a team of female cyber-spies, taking up missions than involve the protection of their leader/creator’s status quo (there is no right or wrong) . The backdrop is interesting but they use it in a very light manner.
Most episodes are stand alones and from time to time a flashback occurs to give a few simple twists to the story. It’s a generally good form of narration with dead time in between. Also the series is short and ends before it becomes annoying.
The scriptwriters offered us an alternative history, where the Cold War still rages on to the future and both sides still use spies, now of cybernetic nature. They otherwise went too easy on the whole technology issues; there is no elaborate explanation about how all this hi-teck gismos work. How does that cybernetic woman move around with a smokescreen bomb thrower inside her kneecap? After awhile the sci-fi setting isn’t any different from a generic fantasy realm full of magic. Ok, I understand it is a light sci-fi series but I tend to like something more when they throw in some explanation, even if it feels like technobabble.
The ending is nothing major. You will get to know the characters better but that’s it. You’ll probably have seen the same scenario on dozens of spy films so far and most likely won’t remember anything special about it after it’s over.
Girls with hi-teck gadgets and sexy bodies. They look lovely and cool but their faces are kind of a turn off. And besides that, they will never feel like they own the screen for you to cheer for them. The atmosphere of the show ends up being more important than them interacting. Every girl has a dramatic past, there are greedy and merciless villains, there is a secret hiding somewhere… Ok, they cover all the basics of an interesting cast but never in a very detailed or realistic way. It feels rather basic and even overblown with cheesy drama after awhile.
Nothing major here occurs to them by the end of the show. Most character development is in reality colorization presented through flashbacks and the ending does not leave out the chance of a sequel. This tends to make them feel like plot devises thrown in just to show an idea and not to deal with an issue. I can’t say they are people you will identify with; a common trait of most retro shows where the story was more important than the characters. You will probably only care about their gadgets and their sexy bodies instead of their tragic pasts.
Can’t say I enjoyed it much. I liked the retro feeling but most of the plot was quite boring and although the drama and the action were fine on their own, the final comment I had was “Seen it all before, in a lot better setting than this”. It was mostly the artistic aspect that I enjoyed; which tends to be only a small part of the whole. The battles were not exciting, the stories lasted too little, and the characters felt basic.
It is a typical story dressed handsomely to appeal to the older members’ emotions. It is mostly interesting to look at it as an interesting idea rather than an enjoyable time waster, thus it eventually becomes a passable title. I myself did not bother keeping a copy, as it has no actual replay value or is that great as a spy/sci-fi series.
Kamen Rider (live action sci-fi about superheroes)
Ghost In The Shell (hard sci-fi cyberpunk)
Battle Angel Alita (manga only, hard sci-fi cyberpunk)
And now for some excused scorings.
ART SECTION: 7/10
General Artwork 2/2 (retro beauty)
Character Figures 1/2 (generic sexy babes)
Backgrounds 2/2 (fitting with the feeling of the series)
Animation 1/2 (basic)
Visual Effects 1/2 (basic)
SOUND SECTION: 7/10
Voice Acting 2/3 (corny but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Music Themes 3/4 (not great but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Sound Effects 2/3 (ok I guess)
STORY SECTION: 6/10
Premise 2/2 (interesting)
Pacing 1/2 (erratic)
Complexity 1/2 (not much)
Plausibility 1/2 (so-so)
Conclusion 1/2 (cheesy)
CHARACTER SECTION: 5/10
Presence 1/2 (generic)
Personality 1/2 (typical)
Backdrop 1/2 (generic and simplistic but it’s there)
Development 1/2 (overblown but it’s there)
Catharsis 1/2 (overblown but it’s there)
VALUE SECTION: 3/10
Historical Value 0/3: None; left no standing impressions and it feels too old to be appreciated today.
Rewatchability 0/3: Nah, people want Clannad or Bleach designs and it’s too simple to deserve a rewatch.
Memorability 3/4: If you are a hardcore fan with a taste for retro and originality, go ahead and get this jewel. Its unique feeling make it memorable and cult important. But for the rest of the mainstream guys, it will be forgotten fast.
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 2/10
Art 1/1 (looks retro)
Sound 0/2 (sounds meh)
Story 1/3 (good concept but loose plot)
Characters 0/4 (they are sexy but forgettable)
VERDICT: 5/10 read more
Both series feature sexy agent girls who can kick ass. Stylistically they look different, but the basic premises are rather similar. Also, 009-1 is more mature and bloody.
From the start, both series involves independent female characters who are skilled with handling firearms. They are good at what they do and that usually involves action with science fiction themes.
Both series' main female protagonist also mature themes involving murder and fan-service.
Both series has that tough girls with guns theme.
Both mix very good music with some very stylish action sequences. Both are episodic and don't really have an interconnecting story, and both were dubbed amazingly well.
As each episode tells its own story, some of them can be quite emotional, and some can be better than others.
But they both have graphic content, have elements that are targeted towards Americans, and are fun to watch now and then.
009 has more of a 007 approach to the stories, as many of the episodes reference the Cold War, deal with multiple countries, and feel a bit old fashioned. It also has a lower episode count, which could hamper the mileage of enjoyment
Cowboy Bebop has qualities that place it in the traditional sci-fi genre, making it easy to enjoy no matter how many times one watches it. It also has self-contained character stories, but they're anything but innovative. Unlike 009, Cowboy Bebop also has an abundance of insert songs which makes it's overall musical score stand out more.
Opening Theme"Destiny girl" by Minato
Ending Theme"Theme Song of 009-1 (Closing Mix)" by ???
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