I recently revisited one of those seminal anime titles that first introduced me to the world of anime way back when… and boy am I glad that I made the effort. Cyber City Oedo 808 is considered one of the original cyberpunk genre releases and is set in the year 2808, in the megalopolis of Oedo (Tokyo). The three part OVA was first released in 1990 and is directed by famed anime director Yoshiaki Kawajiri, with animation duties handled by the ever brilliant Madhouse Studios.
Essentially in a high tech, but pretty dystopian future, the Japanese government has set up the Cyber Police unit to better combat computerized crime. What makes this unit different however is its use of hardened criminals with a history of hi-tech offences and deadly assault to do all their dirty work for them. These criminals are controlled via an explosive collar attached to their necks and are generally motivated to work by the promise of reductions to their sentences in return for successful missions.
Three such criminals are Sengoku, Gogol and Benten who are serving their 300-or-more year sentences in an orbital penitentiary…
The OVA is split into three distinct episodes, focusing in turn on each one of these three characters, though at the same time making sure to emphasise that these three often work together on cases, thus presenting an almost pseudo teamwork feel to the story. Each episode is self-contained and all three pretty much investigate completely different scenarios, the first being a battle against a sentient computer that is controlling one of Oedo’s super skyscrapers, the second being a battle against a military grade cyborg capable of blowing you to bits with its sonic blasts and the third investigating modern day vampirism thanks to a nanotechnology infusion gone wrong.
The stories are all action packed with a hint of intrigue and generally make for a pretty absorbing watch. What pushes Cyber City Oedo 808 up the ladder just that little bit extra is however without a doubt its stunning visuals, with some highly detailed backgrounds and character models, as well as its particularly smooth and stylish animation (which is brilliant considering that this is an early, early 90’s production). The musical score is just as polished and as a package this OVA was certainly one of the top shelf releases for the period.
So if you enjoy a bit of cyberpunk and want to see one of the earliest good entries in this particular genre, you would do well to check out Cyber City Oedo 808. It is not exactly the most awe-inspiring of creations that will leave your jaw on the ground, but it IS an extremely polished and tight package that shows you exactly what can be done with a lot of effort and a good director behind the helm of an OVA.
And besides, it is another Madhouse masterpiece, so why the heck haven’t you seen it yet? :P
Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyber_City_Oedo