What They Say:
In the not-so-distant future, a catastrophic event has turned the old capital of Japan into a wasteland, forever changing the lives of its people. Decades later, three schoolgirls set foot into the now forsaken city. They are the Coppelion, genetically engineered humans created by the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force to operate under the lethal conditions of the contaminated city. Trained since birth, the girls must use all of their skills and resources to carry out their one and only mission: to rescue those left behind.
The audio presentation for this release is pretty solid as we get the original Japanese language track in stereo as well as the new English language adaptation, both of which are encoded using the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. The show is one that works the balance fairly well between dialogue and action/ambience aspects that stand out a bit so that it’s not just a lot of talking. The show has to deal with a lot of scenes with some of the characters behind masks or helmets and that comes across really well here while still being clean and understandable. The action side is rather variable throughout with what it wants to do, from hand to hand to weapon action as well as things like bombers and other military gear. This gives it a nice bit of punch and the overall impact of it was pretty well done, making it engaging across the forward soundstage in a way that hits the right notes. The mix between both tracks is definitely solid and works well throughout with a clean and solid design with no dropouts or distortions.
Originally airing in 2013, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The show is spread across two discs with seven on the first and six on the second. Animated by GoHands, the show has a very distinctive look to it with some great color design throughout it that gives it an otherworldly feeling. This is on top of the character designs, which are distinctive themselves because it does it with some solid line thickness that gives it a great feeling separate from how most other shows work. The detail in the show is great throughout, both in foreground and backgrounds, making for a pretty rich show, though it can be thrown off some by the color layering that’s being used since it can mute some of it at times. But the show plays well to the concept of where it takes place and the transfer captures the colors and detail in a great way.
The packaging for this release is done in a slightly thicker than normal Blu-ray case with a hinge to hold all the discs. The release also comes with an O-card that replicates what’s on the back packaging itself, but the use of the O-Card helps to let the artwork stand out even more. The front cover has the familiar key visual image for the show of the three girls in the ruins of the city with the very natural but subdued look as well as the kind of burned and rusted logo along the top. The case artwork itself goes different with an image of Ibara along a run down city street on the outskirts, which isn’t quite as color distinct but still looks good. The back cover goes with a softer image of the trio together with smiles in front of the scale of the city behind them while providing a decent summary of the premise for the show. There’s a few shots of the show through the center in a strip while the discs technical specs and features are all listed clearly. Production credits round things out as well as some logos and the like along the bottom. The case itself has artwork on the reverse side which is done up as a pushpin board with a number of photographs plastered and taped and across it with images from the show.
The menu design for this release is fairly standard here as it really is just a series of clips playing throughout, but it does it with some nice style as there’s the whole warning strips layered across parts of it where we get the navigation aspects. Since it’s playing to a condemned city, it has the right feel with this aspect of it but also uses some good clips overall with what it does so that it sets the tone and atmosphere right. Menu navigation is simple and easy since it’s straightforward, but it’s unfortunate that you can’t change audio tracks during playback on the fly with the buttons, though you can use the pop-up menu to navigate during it and switch it to the presets, as I would have sampled the dub a lot more than I did. Everything loads quickly and cleanly which is the big positive though, all while looking good.
The extras for this release are pretty simple as we get a brief art gallery with some good pieces as well as the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.
Based on the manga by Tomonori Inoue which began back in 2008 and has over twenty volumes to its name so far, Coppelion is a thirteen episode series animated by GoHands, who got a lot of acclaim for their work on K. While the volume count on the series is one that obviously makes it clear why it hasn’t been licensed here for release, it also is one that makes you think with its content that it might be worth taking the risk because it gives you a lot of material and a pretty good story idea, albeit one that’s very weak on the whole science thing. But as we’ve seen, sadly, series with this kind of content just don’t seem to connect like they used to since it requires something different than the usual parade of high school aged shows out there in the normal world.
The series works off of the premise that in 2016, an accident outside of Tokyo hits and the city ends up being evacuated as it gets overrun with radiation. That radiation has largely sat on the location for the next twenty years, making it so that people cannot survive outside in it unprotected and there are some very high concentration zones that are even too dangerous for those in hazmat suits. It’s an interesting idea overall and there’s certainly merit in it, but there’s so many unanswered basic questions about how this particular place in the world would work that it really leaves you grasping for something to latch onto in this regard. What we get is a very localized show, without the kind of big top down view of it all that we need in order to place it all into proper context, so it ends up just being a character driven piece with what they have to do within the city.
We’re introduced to a group of three girls that are part of Coppelion, a “class” of genetically engineered people from birth that are resistant to the radiation in the city. The trio that we follow are part of a rescue team that’s designed to go into the old capital in order to rescue those that stayed behind for various reasons and have survived through some creative means. There’s a decent number of people that are in there living in different hiding areas and eking out an existence with some of the usual reasons you can imagine. It’s not given a lot of depth or detail, but we get a decent idea why for those we deal with and it makes a certain amount of sense. For the girls, the “class president” with Ibari at age seventeen and the two sixteen year olds with Taeko and Aoi, we get the standard kind of trio that each have their own abilities and some genetic pushes that have been given to them as part of their overall engineering to survive in this environment while being overseen by the “Vice Principal” as part of the military.
The layout of the series here is fairly interesting as it goes on as we get the first five or so episodes doing smaller and almost individual stories as we get to know the layout of the premise, the characters and the organization itself. Once it gets past that though, the second half of the series is one long storyline that deals with several smaller issues along the way. This one is a bit more interesting because it has the time to work the story and the characters as we get a remnant of the military that stayed in the city all these years with their own plan and are using some surprising waste barrels in interesting ways that surprise the team as they figure it all out. The main thrust within it is that the girls are trying to help a small group of survivors out, one of whom is pregnant and they want the child to be born outside of the radiation, but it delves into a few other things as well. While the first stories are kind of small and straightforward, this one goes larger with the military and their wing bomber that they have, the equipment and general tone of their designs as well as the big train escape sequence towards the end combined with a giant killer robot machine. It sounds crazy, but it works well enough as there’s seemingly almost always continued forward energy here.
What also helps is that the main trio get a little help along the way. Initially you could easily believe that Coppelion is made up of just high school girls, and with it being anime nobody would blame you, but we do see them getting help from Haruto as part of a different unit that’s not tasked with rescue but other more military style orientations. His arrival provides a different feeling since he’s more clinical about things but backs up his abilities very easily, which makes him a rather fun asset. But we also get some chaos into the mix as when the big operations start moving forward in the second half, some other members from Coppelion show up in the form of the Ozu Twins. What we learn is that when all of these kids were being engineered, they worked off of genetics from existing people, so they’re essentially duplicates but advanced in some ways. What they didn’t know with the Twins original genetic source is that the actress was secretly a psychotic serial killer. That begs the question of why they’re given any free reign at all, which is one of the problems with the show outside of the science of it all. It’s hard to imagine them being sent in knowing what’s known about them. But with one that’s got enhanced strength and the other that feels nothing because she shoots electricity, it makes for some engaging fights across the terrain.
Since there’s a ton of material out there from the manga, Coppelion certainly doesn’t provide any closure here with its larger story. But there’s the sense that there’s no real larger closure to be had considering the location and what it’s designed like. What we do get are some decent short stories in the first half and a larger, more sprawling story in the second half that expands things in some fun ways. It’s a show that you certainly have to turn off your brain for in regards to certain questions that you’d ask about the why and how of it all, but it also has a kind of 80’s story charm about it where it moves loose and free to do what it wants to do. I’m still straddling the fence on the style GoHands uses with their series as there’s some really great things and some things that bug the hell out of me, but it really works for this series with the run down and radiation heavy location and what they all have to deal with. I had hoped for more with this series and it feels like it could be a lot more, but what we get are just the opening chapters here which have some potholes to deal with. It’s solid and it certainly makes you want to check out the manga more and certainly not averse to more anime if it ever gets made.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Art Gallery, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Viz Media
Release Date: February 3rd, 2015
Running Time: 325 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.