There are innumerable clichés that plague anime; post-apocalyptic dystopia’s, the tormented peregrinal anti-hero with a mysterious past, irritating sidekicks, and a sense of gigantomania pervading every aspect of production design from heaving mammaries to hulking Mecha. Lets also not forget those atrocious yet strangely infectious J-pop introductory theme tunes! Nevertheless you'll find yourself heartily enjoying Burst Angel as formulaic conventions converge creating the apotheosis of the girls, guns and giant robots genre.
Violence and lawlessness ravage the streets prompting the “Recently Armed Police of Tokyo” (R.A.P.T) to pass legislation allowing citizens to carry and legally use firearms for their personal protection. Such a decree has exacerbated an already volatile situation as the arrest-rate declines and the bodies pile. Enter mild mannered pastry chef Kyohei who has just replied to a seemingly innocuous advertisement for an after-school catering job.
Unbeknownst to him his clients are the deadly all female mercenary residents of a giant armoured personnel carrier in the employ of the secretive “Bai Lan” organisation. Theres tempestuous warrior Jo; devastatingly proficient with a pair of enormous hand cannons and expert pilot of the groups combat Mech named Django, bumbling mechanic Meg in perpetual need of rescuing , pre-pubescent communications whiz-kid Amy and tenacious group leader Sei. Soon our timid Kyohei is embroiled in chaotic gun battles with New Tokyo’s most fearsome criminals, cowering before sentient killing machines and evading the clutches of tenacious RAPT agents.
The abundance of stereotypes creates a rather comforting sense of Déjà vu. Yes we’ve seen it all before but damn one can’t help but be overwhelmed by the sheer exuberance of the proceedings. Exploding with vibrant colours and spectacular pyrotechnics Burst Angel is aesthetically sublime, characterised by a consistently high quality of animation and beautifully seamless CGI work.
A distinctive spaghetti western motif pervades the piece from its musical cues to primary protagonist’s penchant for wielding pistols akimbo and is overall a refreshing conceit. The main flaw of this first volume however is non-existent character development leaving the audience with vacuous 2D exposition sandwiched between admittedly exhilarating combat sequences. Burst Angel is a series desperately striving to find its feet and comes across as a schizophrenic amalgam of sci-fi action, comedy, Mecha and scantily attired cute girls.
Just what does it want to be? As a febrile mix of elements narratively the series offers nothing new yet beams an energetic charm and holds great promise if future instalments manage to thread that difficult line between both style and substance.