Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Anime Review: Active Raid

I've noticed an odd trend in my anime reviews lately, namely that the series with the best first episode premiere of the season usually isn't anywhere near my favorite show of the season. I don't know why this is, you would think that a strong first episode would mean a strong show in general and I just wouldn't use that generic word "strong" for this show.

Active Raid

In a future Tokyo, new technology means new crimes and Unit 8 is a semi-secret police force created to tackle these new problems. Asami Kazari isn't yet 20 and yet she's been assigned to, semi-secretly, monitor this group of loose cannons and see how vital they really are to the protection of Tokyo.

I saw a lot of people comparing this show to Patlabor but since I haven't seen that show yet (it's on my list!) I'm instead going to say that this show reminded me a lot of Tiger & Bunny. It has the tokusatsu-style super suits (with secrete identities!), a background character who appeared in the weirdest situations, and a hot and cold dynamic between the two male leads. Although, both of these shows had their best moments when it was more character focused than action focused and T&B just blows this show out of the water. It's not simply that T&B had more runtime (and therefore more time to develop), AR just didn't seem that interested in moving beyond "let's make the characters have funny conversations." Don't get me wrong, a lot of that bantering was enjoyable! But AR feels very much like a workplace kind of drama, it's not interested in the characters beyond their roles, and when the actual story is a bit shaky this is a problem.

Ultimately, the underlying plot of this show was a bit of a mess, too many pieces, contrivances, and moments that lacked emotional payoff. Again, bits of the show were funny but as it slightly shifted gears (from being more episodic to build up ideas to actually tackling the villains) the story seemed to think that it's plot was more compelling than it actually was. I also just wasn't a fan of the super robot episode, it's not my biggest complaint with the show but I just didn't like it! I know a lot of people dug but it was too, earnest to work for me in a show filled with snark, the show was tone deaf like that quite often.

There is a sequel series coming out this summer and, while I can see where the story could still go (it neatly wrapped up this story but there are one or two loose ends regarding the side characters) but I doubt I'll be dropping in. Nick/Bobduh said that he had forgotten he even saw this show and while I tried to tease him about that at first I have to confess that I'm the same, there are certainly better shows of this kind out there to watch instead.