Girls and mecha are a popular pairing when it comes to anime so it's only natural that Burst Angel has something of a following both here in America and in Japan. Originally broadcast in 2004 this 24 episode series packs in an insane amount of action and fan service so naturally it's got some nice things going for it right out of the gate. You also should take into consideration that there was a follow-up OVA released in 2007. That's always a good sign when attempting to figure out how well a show was received.
A few years ago FUNimation released Burst Angel here in the States and it was successful enough to warrant a couple complete collections. The first collection was released in a stylish art box with some very attractively designed packaging. With that in mind we look at the re-release of the collection in the Viridian line. Previous outings in this "Green" series have offered flimsy packaging in an effort to save on production costs and reduce MSRP (I guess helping the environment isn't necessarily a bad thing either). This time around though the boxed set is packaged as a thinpak but the kicker here is that the OVA is included with the series. Disappointing packaging aside this is still a kick ass anime and now it's available at a decent price. If you haven't taken the plunge already then there hasn't been a better time.
So what's Burst Angel all about? Well, it all takes place in a future where criminal activity has gone through the roof and mutated people run amuck. In this time regular folk have been given the right to arm themselves to the teeth so there is a quasi-Western theme running throughout the program. After all, why would anyone mess with anyone else if they knew they were all well-armed? At any rate crime is still happening at an exponential rate and a national police defense force has been put into play to combat these elements.
The Recently Armed Police Taskforce (RAPT for short) is really the extreme arm of the law. They escalate things to the next level and everyone behaves like they're on thin ice when RAPT comes to town. While the local enforcement may not be quite as efficient there are groups of people who take it upon themselves to help those in need; and themselves at the same time. Led by a ridiculously busty named Sei, one such group stands out as a champion of the people of sorts and they are the main attraction in Burst Angel.
Joining Sei are a young tech wizard named Amy, another busty lady named Meg, and a rather robotic gunslinger known as Jo. Each of these four characters brings an interesting dynamic to the show though it's safe to say that Jo and Meg get the most time in the spotlight. Considering Jo is a virtual war machine when taking on mutants and Meg has a penchant for getting herself in situations that require saving you know there's an instant relationship between the two. Caught in the middle of all this is poor young Kyohei who wants nothing more than a job as a cook.
The main crew of this show is a lot of fun and their relationships are well-developed enough that banter feels natural. It creates a nice energy that is maintained for just about the whole run of the program which is definitely a plus. Often times shows like this fizzle out after a while but things in Burst Angel are kept fresh enough the whole way through. Granted there is a fair amount of one-shot episodes that drag the pacing down if you're watching it in a marathon run but on the whole things are very smooth thanks to some nicely spaced multi-episode arcs.
While the show is one that focuses on individual missions rather than an underlying plot for much of its run there is quite a bit of content that emerges as it goes. The aforementioned RAPT forces have more to do with the mutants running amuck in Tokyo than meets the eye. As Jo and the gang get closer to discovering the truth things only get more dangerous as you'd imagine. There are some interesting plot twists throughout but there's never anything too groundbreaking or surprising in all honesty. This is an action oriented show with a big focus on the girls with guns so there's a certain "leave your brain at the door" element attached to it all.
With that being said the 24 episodes and OVA of Burst Angel are wildly entertaining. It's the concept that runs the series and while it's not the most original entry the mecha genre has ever seen there are certainly some unique elements. These highlights are definitely the characters and the appropriate amounts of humor and irreverent behavior sprinkled throughout. This is a show that offers some genuine laughs even if they are mostly at the expense of poor Kyohei.
If you're looking for a solid action adventure with some heavy science fiction elements and a good sense of style then Burst Angel is definitely worth the trip if you haven't already taken it. Sure the series isn't epic and it's not the greatest anime ever to come out of Japan but it's a ruckus affair from start to finish and it's wildly entertaining. Check it out and you won't be disappointed!
Let me start off by saying that Burst Angel was produced by GONZO. If you're familiar with their shows then you already know that the design and animation has been painstakingly crafted. Quite honestly just about everything the animation house touches looks fantastic and thankfully this particular show is no different. The series is presented on DVD with a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer and it's safe to say that FUNimation did a wonderful job with bringing the show overseas. The compression rate is very decent here and the picture offers some nice clarity with very few flaws. With the CGI blended into the show there is some aliasing and a few moments here and there have some grain but otherwise the image is smooth sailing.
Typically with shows that would be served well by a 5.1 surround track we are left with English as the only option. Thankfully a Japanese 5.1 selection has been included as well so those of us who love original dubs aren't left out in the dark! The sense of immersion all around isn't quite as refined as it could have been but when the action picks up (which is quite a lot) the rear channels offer some nice details. The dialogue tends to feel a little on the flat side and the ambient noise isn't quite rich enough to take advantage of the 5.1 but both English and Japanese tracks did quite well.
One thing we anime lovers appreciate in complete collections is bonus material from the original individual volume releases. Some publishers tend to omit these but FUNimation proudly packs them into the sets. First up and probably most notable is a series of audio commentaries with the English cast spread out across each volume (the exception being the OVA). If you've ever listened to an English commentary for anime you pretty much already know what to expect going in and trust me when I tell you that there are very few surprises. Well, actually, I guess that's not entirely true. Most English commentaries make fun of the episode with stupid jokes but these feel a little more focused with personal retrospective about the show and their experience working on it.
A series of radio dramas are included here as well. These proved to be intriguing but kind of an oddity when you get right down to it. They do stand out as one of the more unique features to come along in a while though. In addition to these are some original interviews with the Japanese cast and production team. The rest of the fair is mostly light with some trailers, clean animations, and promotional material making its way onto each disc. Overall this is a nice selection of bonus content and it's more than we otaku are used to getting.
Burst Angel is a lot of fun when you get right down to it. The characters are interesting, the battles are fantastic, and fan service is present in full. This is a lighthearted action show that entertains in just about every way without ever feeling cheesy or forced. Some of the episodic content tampers with the pace of the series and the content kind of levels off without ever raising the bar for itself. That's not necessarily a bad thing but it does keep the series from achieving its full potential. If you missed it the first or second time around then this third release is definitely worth the affordable investment.
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