A hundred years after Earth is invaded by aliens, the last remnants of the human race dwell in underwater "Aqua Bases." A team of five cybernetically enhanced women is trained for the purpose of carrying out guerilla attacks against the occupying forces. Earth's last hope for salvation is...Voogie's Angels.
#1: "Ganbare! Otoko no Ko (がんばれ!男の子)" by Cherish ♥ Monkey (ちぇりっしゅ♥もんきー) (Sakura Tange and Shiho Kikuchi) (ep 1) #2: "Namida no 5 Byoumai (涙の5秒前)" by Sakura Tange (ep 2) #3: "Dreams" by Aya Hisakawa (ep 3)
Dennou Sentai Voogie's Angel is an anime, like Elfen Lied, that I've heard a lot of negative things about. The OVA came out in the late 90s from JC Staff. That's right, the studio behind Azumanga Daioh, Yami no Matsuei, Shakugan no Shana & Toradora to name just a few. They've had some true classics but they've also come out with shite like Shakugan no Shana, so I can believe that the things I've heard about this are true. But, let's look at it and decide for ourselves, shall we?
Our tale takes place in the far off future where Space Emigrants (or SE) have
come to take all of our jobs, or as an invading force. Humanity has been forced to take refuge in underwater bases. In order to fight back against the invading SE, cyborg women are developed. Can they thwart the SE's plans to make humanity extinct for our crime of exacerbating climate change? Seriously, they're mad because of our polluting ways. Clearly, dialogue is impossible in that situation. Dammit, Timothy, I told you not to throw your candy wrapper on the ground. Now we're all going to die.
There are a lot of issues with the story here. First off, we're told that all of humanity has been forced underwater but the SE starts their attack against the remnants by striking at their supply lines that, I guess, are run by chinchillas. But let's allow for some hyperbole and say that some select few were left behind to run supply lines. This just brings up a mess of questions. First off, what are they supplying exactly? We should be able to get food, drinkable water, various metals and such from underwater. Especially if we have the technology to build massive underwater bases to house all of humanity. What exactly do we need from the surface? Is it the spice? Do we just really need the spice to flow? Furthermore, how did the SE not notice the moment humanity started constructing the facilities to give us... spice? You'd think if they were controlling absolutely everything on the surface they'd have noticed and put a stop to the supply lines before they even got finished. This is a big part of the lore too. There's a big fuss made about how they have something like two years left before the spice withdrawal does them all in.
That's not the only issue. Our cyborg heroines had their memories erased for no adequately explored reason. I guess the people behind their construction thought that their memories of why they got the surgery would only give them a sense of purpose. Why would you want your soldiers to have that? Then we have the comedic scenes to consider. This OVA likes to break the tension by giving us funny little scenes of our heroines being incompetent dumbasses. They'll destroy things by engaging in horseplay and comedically fall out of the sky because they don't account for the power drain of firing their super laser. Because that's the best way to add a bit of comedy, destroy any credibility your protagonists might have had. Then we get a scene of someone protesting including them in the military stuff. Which, you'd think would be because they're totally inept but it's actually because he doesn't trust robots or anyone with robotics. I also have a question about their AI, Myer. Who thought it was a good idea to make an AI vehicle that could force its pilots to go down with it in the event that things go wrong? Because we find out he can do that in the first episode. That seems like almost, but not quite, as dumb of a design decision as making a mecha that causes its users pain whenever it takes damage.
So, what's wrong with the characters? Besides them being one note tropes. Well, there are the stilted reactions. For example, we've got this guy who's a robot racist acting like a dick to our cyborg heroines. Things go badly for him and Voogie gets really upset about it because... I have no idea. There's literally no realistic reason for her to care about this guy. He's been nothing but terrible to her and her friends. There's also the aforementioned loss of memory solely for the purpose of giving us a bunch of boring flashbacks at the end. What motivated them to do that?
This isn't a good looking OVA. You get some OVAs like 3x3 Eyes that put a lot of effort into the aesthetic. Then you've got ones like this that seem to be made by temp animators with bad attitudes. The designs are built around fan-service. The action is janky. It's far from the worst I've seen but it's pretty bad.
This anime did get some strong actors. Hisakawa Aya, Hiyama Nobuyuki & Inoue Kikuko among them. Their performances in this are pretty sub-par, though. The music is all right. Probably not anything you'll listen to on its own but it's decent enough.
The characters in this don't have well enough developed relationships to provide any les-yay. So, there's that.
Dennou Sentai Voogie's Angel is a pretty shit anime. It's full of narrative issues, the characters don't have anything going for them, the animation is quite bad, & the acting is sub-par. That being said, I've certainly seen worse. It's never infuriatingly bad. My final rating is going to be a 2/10. Next week I'll go back to looking at requested anime for a bit with Warau Salesman New.
Some spoilerish territory in this review, but not enough to blow everything.
Ok, so what I think happened:
Not unlike Mezzo and A Kite, the writing/directing team had an idea. But, they knew they didn't have an idea that would sell to the masses, so they made a compromise. They put together the pitch for a crappy sci-fi show, made some cute titty-bouncing shitshow concept art, and sold that. Then, once they got the money, they spent like literally all but 10 cents on the final episode, making a nugget of the story they actually wanted to tell, and just
slapped together the rest for the first two episodes to appease investors. It feels, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the last episode was the pilot they wanted to pitch, but couldn't.
Seriously, that was one of the most brutal, and best animated episodes of anime I've ever seen. Having watched the hot garbage first episode, and saw through the narrative tricks of the second, I can say the third is worth it. Beyond worth it.
The first 54 minutes of the series is just a ruse they made to get the money to make the rest of what is essentially a really interesting 27 minute pilot with movie-quality animation. You probably only need to watch the OP with its intro, then the last 5-7 minutes of episode 2 for all the context you need in the last episode, so I might recommend that over watching the first episode and a half as it was quite clear the first episode and a half wasn't the priority.
Listen to me right now:
Grit your teeth,
watch it now.
It barely has a beginning, over half of it is trash, and it sure as shit doesn't have an ending,
but it's, like, an hour and a half long.
You're not losing much, and the first 10 minutes of that last episode are fucking masterful for what they are.
In the far future, Earth was invaded by a race called the Space Emigrants(SE). The people of Earth were swiftly defeated and forced to retreat under sea. One hundred years have passed since then and Earth's numbers are fading fast. Within the next three years, it is predicted that all of the people will be extinct. As a final desperate strike, Earths forces create a five girl, half human, and half cyborg team that they hope can give them an advantage.-summary
Well, I'm finally convinced now that director Masami Obari is a hack and not a good hack either. I'm also convinced that the well made
three episode OVA Detonator Orgun, which is also directed by him was either a freak accident or maybe I just need to see it again. Perhaps I won't see it again, as not to destroy my fond memories of it.
Voogie's Angel was nothing more than a waste of 90 minutes across three episodes for me. I was never gripped for a single moment due to numerous elements. First the characters, there actually was potential with the them. They were all brought back to life in the form of cyborgs, with each of them possessing a tragic past. In addition, they were deprived of their memories. This was a very interesting story element here but it required someone with talent to properly execute this idea. Obari may be somewhat creative unfortunately talented for the most part he damn sure isn't.
I found the characters to be very uninteresting and cliché ridden. You have the red headed and loud mouthed lead who has to consume large quantities of food. The innocent, petite, and useless girl who whines a lot(and I mean A LOT), and really I choose to leave most of the descriptions alone. There was only one of them named Rebecca who I could somewhat relate to, because she had the coolest personality. Other than that, the rest can just burn.
Now for the plot, if you can call it that, actually had the potential to be a lot better than what it was. It mainly revolved around finding a way to destroy the enemies super weapon called "The Hypercannon", which gave them an overwhelming advantage; but this was pretty much just thrown in there to give the series something because most of the time was taken up by the girls meaningless antics and temper tantrums. So when the battles finally occurred, they were over as fast as they begun. This short OVA has some of the worst direction I can remember.
Let's see, the plot is atrocious, and the characters are annoying. Well it must have good animation right? If you're looking for fan service, then you will be satisfied. There was far more effort put into the girls "bounce" than anything else, but this is a big problem for me. When I play an animated film or series; I want great characters and an interesting plot. I can care less about a good rack and nice curves. Masami Obari damn sure needs to grow up. The explosions and battle scenes which are mostly aerial combat is unimpressive, and the hand to hand battles are boring to say the least.
The artwork is good in regards to the female character designs, but pretty bad for others. The so called super weapon lacks so much detail it isn't even funny. Honestly, there's nothing funny about this tripe altogether; but anyway, back to the hypercannon. This doodle actually appears as if it was conjured up in about ten seconds, by one of the writers five year old sons who saw way too many Transformers reruns, but in all fairness, Masami was obviously given a low budget to work with. When looking at his very less than impressive track record in regards to anime. Someone with a fully operational brain must have took a look back at Fatal Fury: The Motion Picture (only to name one), and realized their money was going to go up in flames. Oh well, at least it has a good soundtrack with decent voice acting to go along with the scantily clad chicks.
I'll mention that Obari didn't direct the final episode. It was actually directed by Aoi Takeuchi(yeah, I don't know who that is either)and the series found a tad bit of focus. However, the direction is still just awful. Voogie's Angel shifted from its light hearted nature to tragic at a moments notice. This occurred when the girls experianced a flashback revealing their tragic past, but I found this also to be poorly executed, very corny, and most of all just too tacked on. The final act leading up to the end is a typical sudden burst of energy cheeseball fest, that makes Dragonball Z look like Witch Hunter Robin. It's jam packed with bad drama, cheap action, and all; and let's not forget the open ending which left a lot of room for a sequel because nothing was solved in this at all.
It's obvious that I have a deep hatred for this short OVA, but in a very creepy way Voogie's Angel could have been much worse. Especially, when taking under consideration this is from the exact same guy who also gave us other disasterpieces such as Battle Arena Toshinden and Voltage Fighter Gowcaizer. The funny thing is, those two titles along with Fatal Fury: The Motion Picture actually feels like the blueprint for this. I recommend this only to those who found some enjoyment in any one of those titles. If you liked those in anyway or if you're very easy to please, then this is for you.
Highs: Nice music, hit and miss artwork, forces one to appreciate better anime
Lows: Characters are walking stereotypes with very little depth, pseudo drama, open ending