Set in a part of Tokyo that has descended into a quagmire, the story follows Unit 8 of the 5th Special Public Security Section's 3rd Mobile Assault Division, popularly called "The Eighth," who don powered armor "Willwear" exoskeletons to counter the rise in crime.
OK, I'm only writing this review as everyone else is too much of a coward to write one (as of yet). I just want to be first for once, you know?
Ay, so here's the run down for you, boyz:
- BAM! Best use of Engrish in the biz
- Best random use of out of nowhere swearing that I've seen in a long time. Where are you going to see a character nonchalantly call someone a "scumwad dick" on multiple occasions or randoming saying "Dick in pussy?", yeah that's right! Increase your hustle 'anime industry'
- Yooo, that last episode though? Budget, babbyyyyy (Even if it was for a short time)
- You up on your waifu game? This show got you, my dood
- On the real, the soundtrack is also pretty peep worthy, scope this one
Overall I rate this a solid "Yeah/Boy" - it's alright
This sure is one goofy-ass spicy meatballread more
Sometimes writing reviews is easy. You finish watching, check your notes & before you know it the words are flowing onto the page. No guarantee they'll be any good, of course, but at least there was no trouble finding something to say. For Active Raid's second season, it's a struggle to say anything.
After the events of the first season (Winter 2016), Unit 8 has seen some changes. Asami has found herself shunted off to lead the newly formed Unit 9, letting her have the power trip she's always wanted while getting her out of the way of serious police work. Sena, meanwhile, has left Unit 8 to become a bin collector, working for the foul mouthed Abigail. Something, something & now everyone finds themselves facing corrupt politicians, the remnants of Logos & a conspiracy that goes to the heart of the Tokyo governor’s office.
For a series seemingly as ignored as Active Raid, there's some pedigree in its production team. Director Gorou Tanigouchi is none other than the creator of Code Geass, as well as director of niche favourites like Planetes & Maria the Virgin Witch. With series composition by long time anime writer Naruhisu Arakawa & character designs by Asako Nishida, on paper it sounds like Active Raid should have been something noteworthy.
It certainly tried to be. The second season in particular seems to have upped the efforts to fit social & political commentary into its crime stories. City Hall corruption, abuse of undocumented migrants & the use of what are in effect PMCs to supplement the police all come up for discussion. Normally, this would be praiseworthy in a medium where such subjects are rarely explored with more depth than an angry teenager shouting at people whenever they mention his girlfriend is a half-elf. But Active Raid's writing isn't really up to exploring these issues in more than superficial & at times contradictory ways. The writing in general isn't great, with some...interesting ideas to put a twist on its functional but pretty cliché structure. For example, when it comes time to try to get the prime suspect to confess, Unit 8 come up with the brilliant plan of staging a fake wedding where he'll have to tell his bride the truth for some reason. Genius!
But perhaps more important than that, Active Raid is a series that manages to not look quite like anything else airing, yet have no real identity of its own. There's a whiff of design by committee about it, as though they're trying to ensure it appeals to as broad an audience as possible. The result is a super sentai, sci-fi, police procedural, workplace comedy, character drama, conspiracy thriller; with a vocaloid mascot, sexy guys with troubled pasts for the girls & sexy girls with cute character quirks for the guys. It's not that all those elements can't coexist, but in this instance they feel as though they're There so there's something for everyone; ironically resulting in a show for no one.
Active Raid's production quality is, perhaps intentionally, best summed up by the show itself. When asking an old film director why he still uses practical effects, he says it's due to asking kids at a cinema what they thought of a new film & they respond that the CG made it look cheap. Active Raid has the same problem. Like all too many anime these days, the only things that aren't 3D models are the characters, which to be fair are all pretty nice looking, if unremarkable. The backgrounds are all those low resolution, purposely slightly out of focus eyesores that are always a red flag for a lower effort production. The Willwears look all right in action, but their designs remain rather uninspired & look floaty & awkward when performing slower motions.
It's often a knee jerk reaction to call a series like Active Raid underrated. It's certainly not bad & who knows, maybe in time it'll find a niche audience that rehabilitate it, much as happened to Maria the Virgin Witch when it started appearing in critics favourites lists in 2015. But I doubt it. That kind of thing generally happens to series that tried to be their own thing & had to wait to find an audience. In contrast, Active Raid has a little bit of everything but nothing that makes it seem more than functional. It's okay, but that's all.read more