A young police intern, Asami Kazari, is promoted and made a member of “Special Public Security Fifth Division Third Mobile Assault Eighth Unit”. Unit 8 is known within the police as the “garbage unit,” home to members frequently called out for excessive collateral damage or protocol violations. However, it turns out that her promotion is actually so she can act as a spy and determine whether the unit’s continued existence is worthwhile. She is optimistic, and believes that she is capable of shaping Unit 8 into a “force of good”.
The unit is immediately called into action, so Asami is rapidly introduced to the rest of Unit 8’s members. They all have strange quirks, such as only talking via typing or being really into sorting garbage properly. The chief of the unit is Rin, a girl who looks like a young teenager.
Rin briefs the unit on their assignment: two men wearing illegally modded Willwear (a kind of powered armor that the police themselves use) have just stolen gold. Asami constantly tries to butt in with suggestions, but is basically ignored by everyone. One of the unit’s members, Sena, suits up in his Willwear, just as the last member – Kuroki – arrives ‘fashionably late’. They find out that their orders have been canceled – due to an incredibly convoluted explanation involving an anime company and a corrupt city council member. However, they send out Sena and Kuroki regardless. The two officers chase the two criminals all over Tokyo.
As the Willwears are running out of power, Rin releases the power limits on Kuroki’s, allowing him to knock down the two criminals. Asami activates a concealing tent, as Unit 8 members’ identities are supposed to be kept secret at all times – unfortunately, she too is stuck under the tent as Sena and Kuroki emerge, presumably nude, from their Willwears. Later, the unit celebrates their victory as a group and officially welcomes Asami in as their newest member.
Right off the bat I can say that Active Raid has got itself a fascinating premise. The idea of a “garbage unit” immediately brought flashbacks of Taimadou Gakuen from last season, but I was pleasantly surprised to see very few similarities. The unit being known for collateral damage and rule violations is not used merely for comedy – we see the Willwear users having to request permission to fire, Rin reminding her unit of the rules, and the intentional directing of combat away from important buildings and towards deserted ones. We also get to see some of the interaction between law enforcement and the world at large, from the criminals’ frequent use of social media to the absurd political situation that nearly derails the operation (a council member was afraid that the Willwears would cause a blackout in the district where the anime studio that produced his campaign ads was located, or something like that…it was complicated).
However, the characters themselves have not grabbed me so far. Asami reminds me a little too much both visually and personality wise of Psycho-Pass’s Akane. Not that Akane is a bad character to emulate, but there were points when it felt to me like this show in general was trying to be a little too like Psycho-Pass, from the “police force kept separate from society” to an offbeat light-haired man sharing a voice actor with Psycho-Pass‘s Makishima. The other characters, sans Kuroki who got a nice dramatic entrance, all introduced themselves to Asami right in a row, so it was hard for any of them to stand out to me. They also introduced themselves using their quirks, such as “obsessed with buses” or “cares about sorting garbage,” which set off some warning bells for me – too many animes think that “funny quirks” are enough to make a well-rounded character. Still, this was the first episode, so it’s understandable that not every character stands out yet. At least nobody seemed to much of a blatant stereotype, except maybe the mysterious evil character observing the action and his loli sidekick.
Another thing about this show is it looks absolutely stunning. The animation is slick, the colors are bright without being eye-burning, and the design of Unit 8’s custom train car – complete with flashing police lights – is really neat. Episode 1 was also very light on the fanservice – though the womens’ uniform skirts are short, there were no panty shots, and we also got a subversion of the “awkward groping introduction” when one of the male Unit members accidentally grabbed Asami’s….ankle. Since the so far all-male Willwear pilots get a nearly-naked shot while putting on the armor, the male fanservice shots actually outnumber the female in this show so far.
It’s too early to decide whether or not I’ll blog this, but Episode 2 is at least a guaranteed watch from me!
Out of 5 Dios: