In 2016, a meltdown of a nuclear power plant creates a big catastrophe in Tokyo. 20 years later, the city has become a ghost town due to the high levels of radiation. From that area a distress signal is received. The Self Defense forces dispatch three girls from the special unit Coppelion to search for survivors. But why aren't they wearing any protection against radiation?
Coppelion was first announced to receive an anime adaptation in 2010, but the project was put on hold after the 2011 tsunami that struck northeastern Japan caused the failure of a nuclear power plant in Fukushima.
Coppelion is what I would describe as a beautiful anime gone straight to hell. I’m not referring to the artwork here because that’s glamorous. What originally started out as an alluring premise with promise turned into an abomination that becomes almost intolerable to watch thanks to its style and overall portrayal of the post-apocalyptic genre. This anime itself is an apocalyptic failure that illustrates just how not to adapt its manga. Not that the manga is any better but Coppelion comes to me as a show that should of never been resurrected.
The series itself is based off of the manga of the same name written
by Tomonori Inoue. The term “Coppelion” refers to an unit of trained specialists with special abilities that tries to find survivors after a faithful event that happened in the year of 2016. Apparently, the city of Tokyo becomes a contamination like war zone as its people are faced to deal with a grim reality; that reality being the brisk on extinction as the a nearby nuclear plant undergoes meltdown. So now, it’s up to the Coppelion special task force to find survivors 20 years later. This definitely sets up a decent science fiction theme series with its beautiful visuals that truly illustrates the aftermath of the tragedy as well as its story. However, that story turned out to be a tragic breakdown.
The series has three main characters named Ibara Naruse, Aoi Fukasaku, and Taeko Nomura. These three girls seems to be humanity’s last hope. But what makes its setup odd is how these young girls are able to give hope to the people. That answer is simple: they all have immunity to the radiation that contaminated Tokyo. In fact, the girls are genetically engineered to be capable of surviving in such a harsh environment. But taking the word ‘capable’ to describe these girls is an overstatement here. While the trio is able to deal most of their assigned tasks, the majority of the responsibility falls into the hands of Ibara Naruse. She is portrayed as a natural leader with her confidence and her determination to help the people. Of course, she also possesses strength, agility, and intellect to carry out her tasks. Now the other question is: what about Aoi and Taeko? They also have a purpose right? In most cases, I would regrettably say no. Throughout the series, Aoi and Taeko plays the role of more like sidekicks. Taeko at one point even puts the team into jeopardy for her careless actions. What’s even worse though is Aoi, a character that is about as useful as a palm tree in the desert. She has literally no skills and often stands in the way. Her obnoxious and childish behavior also hinders the team as well as putting others during an assigned task at risk. During many instances, she seems to be scared for her own life despite trying to save others; how ironic. It seems like other needs to save her and turns out she’s probably even more human than the survivors.
The story itself originally sets itself well. There’s the apocalyptic background clearly illustrated by its landscape of desolation. It composes itself both inside and outside with the ruined cities and lack of civilization. The only people our main characters seemingly encounter are survivors in the beginning. These survivors obviously do not possess the same ability as Coppelion. Instead, they depend on them in order to make it out of Tokyo alive, or die trying. As for the story itself though, this show tries hard but doesn’t land anywhere. The first episode establishes the fact that there are survivors out there but at the same time, there is also danger. Even when they do find survivors, it's usually shown that they are at the edge of their lives. This is presented in many circumstances as this show tries to draw out an image to viewers’ minds - a world in which anyone can die. At many cases, the girls are able to save the survivors but this usually falls under Ibara’s shoulders. AGAIN, what a shocker. Almost every episode involves Ibara pulling out superhuman movements while drawing her handy pistol. Meanwhile, our other two girls sits on standby or providing little support. When Ibara succeeds, the girls plays the role of the cheerleaders. As for the survivors themselves, most of them seemingly only play a very minor role that falls under a weekly basis, to almost never seen or heard again. Some of these survivors also doesn’t seem to want to live for certain reasons as well. Later on though, the series does shift more into a progressing plot gear mode as the girls learns more about the world they are in as well as its past. Additionally, more dangerous antagonists are introduced who even has a past with the Coppelions or main characters themselves. There is also one other main supporting character named Haruto that gets introduced mid way into the series but his characterization is no better than the rest; as if they had any at all in the first place.
There are also some absurd standards that makes this show question viewers what they may be watching. The girls is one example as we see they don’t stand out as anything special. They are designed like high school girls that shows hardly any menacing features. Their designs matches those of a high school student with they way they are dressed. More awkward is the fact that they are dressed in little protective gear. Instead, they wear skirts so noticeably short that surprisingly can hide what’s underneath the whole time. The series’ mechanics also has holes that doesn’t seem to add up such as the way certain military vehicles are operated or genetic engineering revolving several Coppelions. Then, there’s some of the antagonists the girls faces throughout the series. The Coppelion special force are just composed of a three unit team but most of the time are capable of taking down a military group. Even when they do get a little support from others, their task is achieved through some form of Deus Ex machina. What makes it worse though is the fact that the survivors seemingly doesn’t want how the results of a mission turns out to be. In most cases, this means their lives are saved despite a desire to pass on to the next world. The show also makes the antagonists seem weak as in almost fictional story of face and heels. In the end, the heroes usually triumphs out of some sort of odd circumstance.
The artwork of this series can be described as ‘scenery porn’. Most of the landscape and backgrounds are majestically illustrated giving it a cutting edge magnificence. The desolate lands of Tokyo truly does look like something of an aftermath from an apocalyptic event. The lack of civilization as well the destruction of its structures are further evidence of this. The production studio Gohands (known more recently for its works including K and Mardock Scramble) can draw some similarity with its background designs. Furthermore, the lack of fan service eliminates distractions that sets upon a more serious mood for this series. It also incorporates the usage of effective camera angles combined with gusts of wind to illustrate that empty settling atmosphere of the apocalyptic Tokyo as in 2036. Unfortunately, there is some odd artwork involving how the characters appear on screen on various occasions through a technique of thick line style and palate. The purpose of this seems to be unknown but from my guess is probably to focus on the characters as its prominent feature rather than its breathtaking backgrounds.
Soundtrack wise, Coppelion is decent enough to live up to its expectations. Action scenes and cliffhangers are demonstrated with heart beating tones. There’s minimal comedy or fan service so most of the time, the show itself omits the usage of comedic OST but replaces them with a more solemn theme. The OP song “Angel” by angela (K, Valvrave the Liberator, Heroic Age) is catchy for its scientific-like tone of presentation. The ED song sung by her also gives off both a scientific mood with its tragedy-like style. Ibara’s VA (Haruka Tomatsu) gives off a confidence tone of voice while Aoi is a clear example of a girl in distress. Aoi represents the weakness of the team as well as the most human so her voice is often portrayed as helpless girl seeking for help despite wanting to help others.
Honestly, Coppelion is a show that I tried to desperately take a liking to but its construction of the story just doesn’t swing in the right way. The premise sets up itself well and is convincing enough especially for those into science fiction or fans of post tragic series. Past series like Tokyo Magnitude 8.0, Shinsekai Yori, and Casshern Sins also demonstrated similar themes but had more character driven plots. However, Coppelion lacks most of that and instead puts its faith into saving survivors. The artwork did save the show quite a bit though but the story and overall execution is just tragic. I don’t mean tragic in a tear-jerking way but rather as an deterioration of a potential success. This show did not achieve success for me in any way. Instead, it was a bloody revolution.
Coppelion is an anime about these radiation immune Charlie's Angels who cry all the time and whatnot.
It's a melodramatic sci-fi story about these girls who won't die on radiation unlike all the other people in the world. These people are of course saints, and we get to see missions where our three radiation immune saints save people from radiation while crying. By three radiation immune saints saving people, I mean our main girl, Ibarawhatever, saving people while the other two watch. Alternatively watch and cry.
The character are pretty useless and stupid and for some reason there is three of them instead of one.
There was a seemingly interesting settings; normal people getting saved by radiation immune people. The catch being that normal people don't think these immune people as people at all. People see them as dolls, basically. However, their actions on saving normal people would change normal people's views about radiation immune people == change for character development. Unfortunately situations like these get turned back to zero by our main girl who simply replies " I don't understand such complicated things." Then we move to an another scene about crying. Followed by the next mission. Leaving me wonder why the fuck. It's not deep, there is no message. She just literally says that I'm too fucking stupid to follow what you are saying about me being like human and I also have to cry since I haven't for a while.
This really could have been an interesting series if there was other things going on, the characters had some sort of brain function and there was a reason for all of this. A plot, some motives, a tiny bit of depth of some sort, but instead of this the creators decided to take a way which should be referred as "I have a emotion thingy." This is seriously more like some project which is still on the beta stage, only way to make it sell is to add 5 radiation immune and 5 normal bishies to the series and call it a reverse harem.
Naturally, the post-apocalyptic genre has been quite popular as of late due to new mediums pulling their spin on it. So very few manage to do the genre justice with how vast in scope the genre generally has to go for it and most writers don’t have the most competence to write out a competent narrative. Whether or not they are about a nuclear holocaust, zombie invasion, ecological disaster, divine judgment, or pandemic reasons there are so many possibilities for story writers to come up with brilliant ideas for the genre with some great results and ones that are not so great. Our little
show Coppelion is one such show that falls into this category that not only fails to provide a meaningful narrative but also a dull melodramatic story that severely cripples it from being an intricate show during Japan’s nuclear fallout disaster into one that completely mocks it.
One thing that almost everyone seems to be in unanimous agreement on is that the artwork is pretty spectacular to see. To which it is, backgrounds really do look amazing and fit pretty well to the tone of the post-apocalyptic setting with the dense watercolor backdrop on the dead grass that inhabits the concrete buildings and roads. However, with that said, there’s still a problem with the consistency of the character art designs to the world’s art design. When you look at the characters, they look like they belong in your typical high-school anime with their sleek, clean looks and schoolgirl outfits. If they were to be taken seriously as consistent designs, I’d imagine them not being the glamorous, pretty girls that they are if they indeed lived in this sort of environment for so long. Not only does it not fit very well in a post-apocalyptic setting because of its distracting nature but it also doesn’t fit well with the tone of the show. It would be like if you watched a movie set in the Middle Ages during the Black Plague era and everyone else looked like they were Animation does fair a bit more than the consistent artwork, but there’s always these constant awful CGI techniques used throughout with the vehicles and fight scenes.
To start this straightforward construction of the huge points of the show’s problems is, of course, the writing. Following a 1st person narrative from the eyes of the three girls, the show follows several plot arcs where we meet certain groups of people who are trying to survive out in the nuclear wasteland of Tokyo. However, if you’re expecting something that is a similar type of story of say Mushishi, you’re going to be sorely disappointed with this. The characters we meet hardly get any deep characterization and the ones that do come across as lazy cliches that become predictable and unfortunately delves into bland melodrama that comes across as laughable than anything else.
What does kill the show overall comes from the erratic pacing that goes on. From left and right, characters crop up in many places with each continuing episode that have their agendas and personal vendettas to others. With a show that is only 13 episodes, something like this could’ve worked in a much longer season. Because of this, the pacing regularly suffers immensely in hopes of moving things forward without putting a lot of the plot points into clarification to the audience that might have the trouble of what the main plot is even supposed to be besides just three girls walking through point A to point B in a post-apocalyptic setting. One episode they are desperate on finding this granny that they’ve been building up on a lot and then in the next episode the granny character is not spoken of ever again and they move on into a new mission. Almost as if these certain events don’t feel connected whatsoever very well that cripples the world-building as a whole. When it finally does get to that specific point where you do see where the plot is trying to go, it doesn’t really go anywhere and by the end you almost can’t really feel any emotional impact from the constant cliffhangers that are thrown out there because of how there’s little development to the story and characters.
Very few characters make a considerable impression apart from the main characters, but even they suffer the same fate of being bland and stereotypical. Only Ibara Naruse seems to have a brain in her head while the rest of the girls seem only to have screaming and whining as their only two reactions and become more like cheerleaders for Naruse most of the time. They even sometimes screw up certain things that almost jeopardize their whole operation, to which begs the question of how they even got the job of being these operatives in the first place. If anything, they come across as mere mindless pawns that don’t offer anything other than pure annoying schoolgirl service that isn’t charming or funny in the slightest because of their out-of-place nature.
There are even a lot of logical inconsistencies that can’t be taken with a grain of salt in some of the action scenes, such as breaking the laws of physics. In some action shows these kinds of problems can be ignored because of their outlandish nature of defying physics just for the sake of convenience but Coppelion is portraying itself as a realistic setting. You can’t just toss out these laws to see pretty action sequences because it will go against odds with the show’s naturalistic atmosphere and we won’t be able to take it seriously as we did in the beginning. Examples include: 1) People can survive a rocket launcher’s back blast from inside a building. 2) Someone can survive from an anesthetic bullet from at close range even though a bullet of any kind can still kill a person at that range. 3) How can someone survive from a shell exploding in front of them even at medium range? None of which are given any context whatsoever due to the hack directing.
With all of that aside, the antagonists that they face don’t come across as anything memorable in the slightest. Not even the Ozu sisters, with their very eccentric personalities. The main antagonists’ reasons for trying to take over Coppelion aren’t given enough context, so we don’t even get enough out of them whether we are supposed to be sympathetic or hate them for their reasoning for doing the things they do. In reality, they really don’t have much a reason to have a response to other than the fact that they are just evil people because they’re just evil and whatever reasons that the show had written for them felt muddled and contrived. Their archetypes are the typical big bad government organization that just want to rule over the landscape so they can gain control over Tokyo, just like every other story like it.
I never thought I would say this, but Aoi would be the first character in an anime that is voiced by Kana Hanazawa that I constantly couldn’t stand at all just from her voice alone. Normally Hanazawa can pull off a good performance, even when her characters aren’t exactly likable. But with her character Aoi, there’s absolutely no positive outcome to her performance from the fact that the only tone her voice that she seems to put into Aoi is high-pitched whining. The other cast members don’t stand out either but they are at least listenable unlike for poor little Hanazawa. For the music aspect, for what little stand out songs there are for the show itself, the opening and ending songs are okay songs that do fit somewhat to Coppelion’s setting with nice dark guitar tones in the opening by the band Angela.
Calling Coppelion an abject failure would be taking it lightly. It could’ve been a solid show to be experienced if there wasn’t the atrocious pacing, badly developed characters, and horrible melodrama underneath it all but we could’ve only hoped that it would be entertaining from a funny standpoint. Once it stops being funny and steps into mind-numbing boring territory, that’s where the entertainment stops and the dull mediocrity sets in. I’d rather watch a show be entertainingly bad than to be boring and this managed to do both. To this, I must now let Coppelion sit on the throne as one of the most disappointing failures of the year, if there was ever a throne to ever exist in the first place.
This is because it has an alluring premise: a derelict city scarred by nuclear disaster, overrun by wilderness with a few human survivors scattered about. There's plenty interesting about a setting like this, and Go Hands does such a great job on the scenery porn that I am currently using a rotating cycle of background shots from the show as my wallpaper.
Unfortunately the characters who populate that setting are not interesting, nor is anything they do. The writing for this show is crap, plain and simple. Setting aside the issue of the Coppelion being teenage girls (standard anime
conceit), the whole Coppelion project seems half-assed and directionless with no clear goals despite the apparently huge amount of time and money spent on developing these super humans. Ibara's unit stumbles blindly from one rescue to the next with no plan besides wandering the ruins of Tokyo with a magic Geiger counter that mysteriously led them to humans or sometimes to animals, as the plot required. Virtually every "mission" they acquire is something cobbled together at the moment, a response to some random survivor's plight. But I've watched shows with worse plots (or no real plot at all) and enjoyed them. What keeps that from happening here is a dearth of likable characters.
Let me start out by saying I liked the Coppelion girls at first. I liked Ibara's tough compassion and Aoi was adorable. Taeko didn't stand out much, but that ended up helping my opinion of her in the long run, since I came to greatly dislike both Ibara and Aoi by the end of the series. I found Ibara's compassion to be a very sympathetic trait in the beginning, when it was directed toward the truly pitiable and desperate, but it became grating as the series wore on and she indiscriminately bestowed compassion on even the most psychotic people she encountered. It just didn't sit right with me, it made her seem naive and a supremely bad judge of character. She is not a pacifist, she can't pull off the Jesus thing, so her compassion seems arbitrary and forced when it comes to sparing the lives of homicidal lunatics. Aoi is less a hypocrite and more useless baggage. Her shining moment of the series is running away from people who bullied her in school. I wish I was exaggerating here, but I'm not. To be sure the show tries to dress it up as something heroic, but Aoi is a hysterical coward to the very end. Taeko at the least shows some grit playing the mid wife, though most of it is skipped over in favor of Aoi and Ibara using non-lethal violence against homicidal lunatics.
And a word about these lunatics: even these characters are not satisfying because they are none of them committed to their goals. Virtually every antagonist except for the shadowy foreign waste disposal companies is redeemed by episode 13, and that whole subplot about the waste dumping was forgotten halfway through the season.
So nobody in this series is really interesting. They lack conviction. Not the antagonists or the protagonists. The people rescued either gratefully go along or die. I lost track of how many times a side character took off their mask dramatically and then had a tearful goodbye, I imagine their deaths were to make a point about being the only characters in the show with an ounce of conviction in their beliefs. And lord were there tears. Ibara's toughness is apparently only skin deep, because she cries almost every episode. She cries when a person she just met dies, she cries when a person she just met leaves the city, she cries because something vaguely sad was just told to her. Aoi is even more emotional, but on her it works and doesn't seem to conflict with any of her other traits. She's a hysterical coward, so crying over every little thing is practically her job description, it's honest of her.
The wishy-washy, directionless writing aside, the show is technically mediocre. The one redeeming factor is the art assets, which are fantastic. The animation is mediocre and the sound is poor. The music was forgettable, the main problem I had with the sound were the effects used for various weaponry, which were jarringly bad, and I'm nothing close to an expert on military weapons.
I wouldn't recommend this to anybody who's got better things to be doing. Backlog it for a particularly boring stretch of time off if you think I'm exaggerating.
The Doomsday Clock - a metaphor designed to represent how close humanity is to destruction - is at 3 minutes to midnight. To help you prepare for our rapidly approaching destruction, we've got you covered with some top-notch post-apocalyptic anime.