(12 episodes, with a second season already scheduled for Summer)
What’s it about ?
The director of Code Geass does Patlabor, basically. I.e. we’re following a dysfunctional police unit dealing with mecha-related crimes.
Asami is a teenage genius fresh off the academy (and some abroad internship) who’s tasked with “inspecting” the 8th unit. The unspoken assumption is that she’s supposed dig up enough evidence to shut down this embarassment of a squadron ; she sees it more as a personal challenge, and aims to straighten them all up by herself.
Now, at first the 8th does look like a collection of screw-ups :
– The neat freak who despises his co-workers
– The operator who’s too shy to communicate with her other than with text messages
– The petite and genial woman who turns out to be the chief, but certainly doesn’t act so
– The technician on loan from the partner mecha companies who’s way too creepy and touchy
– And of course the asshole who pickpocketed her phone on the train, and arrived late to the operation (with a bemused unrelated perp in tow)
The case of the week involves two teenagers holding up a bank with a pair of mechas (and dumb enough to tweet about it), as well as the ensuing protracted chase scene… Wait, this is way too well-planned a heist to be that simple (a drone airplane passing by just at the right time so that they can hitch a ride ?). The two mysterious people talking in riddles early on are probably involved in this.
The big idea here is that while the 8th at first look like a complete mess operating like cowboys, there’s a method to their madness, and they turn out to be surprisingly efficient as an unit considering how much they squabble. When Asami tries to school them on proper procedure, not only do they already know all this crap, but they also know how to navigate through all the cracks in the red tape and avoid the worst of political landmines. Frankly, given the insane constraints they’re under (can’t do any collateral damage / controlled blackouts HERE because a random building belongs to a prominent politician, and so on…), it’s a wonder how they can operate at all, let alone keep track of their quarries and successfully neutralize and arrest them.
The character designs leave a bit to be desired, and that sure is a lot of stock footage for the “suit-up” scenes, but the important thing here is that the directors know how to pull off an extended chase scene with lots of twists without losing sight of clarity nor characterization. Being reunited with the Code Geass composer, who can jazz up an action sequence like nobody else, certainly helps.
Interestingly, the main bit of fanservice here is the two male leads being in speedoes for half the “suitup” sequences.
Uh oh. There’s a lot to like in the concept and many of the details, but the execution doesn’t quite pull it off. It feels a bit too rushed and busy, trying to cram too much exposition and too many characters in at the same time. It’s also not helped by a very unlikeable point-of-view character ; it’s a wonder such an entitled little snot as Asami manages to be even halfway sympathetic at all. Not that the rest of the cast are much better.
And still… I could see this working, if it were to slow the heck down and leave more room for the characters to breathe. I really want to like it, and thus am willing to give it some rope, but it’s not quite there yet.