Coppelion was a science fiction manga written by Inoue Tomonori from 2008 to the beginning of this year. In late 2013, before the manga had actually ended, there was an anime adaptation by GoHands. Now, I’ve never seen a GoHands anime before, so all I know about Coppelion is what I heard from the young lady who requested that I review it. She called it “hilariously bad.” I don’t know if that’s going to sum up my own feelings on it. So, let’s take a look and see if it is, indeed, hilariously bad.
After a nuclear accident, Tokyo’s been left a smouldering wreck. Twenty years after the incident, a group of students, genetically engineered to resist radiation, are sent into the ruins to find survivors and clean the area. These students are the titular Coppelion.
Let’s begin by talking about the flaws with the series, and there are some major ones. First of all, the message of the series. You know how Miyazaki films tend to contain subtle, eloquent environmental messages? Well, Coppelion does the opposite. It has a loud, sanctimonious and ill-conceived message about how terrible radioactive waste build up is and we’re ruining everything. While it is a message that I can get behind, in theory, the presentation here is just really inept. The series also suffers from narrative disconnect with the characters. Supposedly these girls have been trained for this all their lives but they come across as completely and grossly unprepared for the situation. Almost like they’re ordinary teenage girls who were tossed into it after all of a weekend of preparation. It’s also odd that these girls have superhuman abilities, but in the case of one of them they deliberately handicap those. Why would you engineer her to have super powers if you don’t want her to use them? Another of our protagonists doesn’t know how to use hers. You’d think that would be the number one item on the list of training necessities. Show them how to use the super powers they were designed to have. What’s the point of giving them these abilities if they don’t know how to use them? The back story we’re given simply doesn’t mesh with the action on screen. The series also suffers from its share of dumb moments. We’re talking the characters thinking a bomber is a bird and an “epic” chase sequence using paddle boats shaped like swans.
The sad part about all this is that the premise itself does have potential. I would be really interested in a competently written series about a group of genetically engineered characters with super powers exploring a radioactive wasteland to achieve a goal. Unfortunately, we didn’t get competence.
I’ve talked about the incongruity between the back story these characters are given and what we see of them on screen. Let me talk about what we see of them specifically for a moment. Our main characters are Ibara, Aoi & Taeko. All three of them are very quick to cry and become emotionally distraught. Which is pretty annoying. So, let me get this straight, the government sent these girls into the field after training them their entire lives, but they couldn’t be bothered to help them build up any mental toughness? They didn’t think they’d encounter anything tragic or potentially upsetting in the radioactive wasteland? They thought it was all going to be rainbows, sunshine and the magic of friendship? Aoi isn’t even aware of what her special powers are, forget about being trained in their use. Taeko has heightened senses and glasses designed to dull her super vision. There are also a couple of antagonistic coppelion with weak motivations. So weak that the ending entirely negates them. It doesn’t help that the characters have no real complexity.
The art is one area where I’ll give the series some credit. The backgrounds are really well drawn. The character designs aren’t distinctive, but they look just fine. The biggest problem with the art is that the backgrounds can be really static. There are points where it looks like the characters are standing in front of a static image, albeit a really nice static image. It’s like there are points where GoHands animated the characters and their actions and then put in the same background image for the entirety of the sequence.
They did get some strong actresses for this. Hanazawa Kana, Tomatsu Haruka, Horie Yui & Sakamoto Maaya all have roles as major protagonists or antagonists. The trouble is that their characters really don’t have much to them. The amount of time the main characters spend whining also really hurts the performances. Which results in acting that’s pretty sub-par. The composer for this series was Endo Mikio and he did a decent job. It’s not a particularly good soundtrack, but it’s okay.
The three major girls cuddle up to one another in the opening theme, but there’s no indication within the series proper that they have any romantic feelings towards one another.
So, that was Coppelion. Is it bad? It’s not one of the worst anime I’ve seen, but yeah. It’s pretty bad. Is it hilarious? Not really. It has some scenes that are pretty funny in their stupidity. The paddle boat chase is really funny in its absurdity. The characters being too thick to tell a bomber from a bird is pretty funny. But aside from those two specific scenes, it’s not really funny. It’s just bad. My final rating is going to be a 3/10. Next week will be the first review of January and you know what that means. Every review is going to follow a specific theme. We’ve had Hayashibara Megumi, yuri, Ghibli, magical girl and sequel months. This year, it’s all about girls with guns. Next week we’ll kick that off with a look at Gunsmith Cats.