Naturally, the post-apocalyptic genre has been quite popular as of late due to recent mediums pulling their own spin on it. So very few manage to do the genre justice with how vast in scope the genre generally has going for it and most writers don’t have the most competence to write out a competent narrative. Whether or not they are about a nuclear holocaust, zombie invasion, ecological disaster, divine judgement, or pandemic reasons there are so many possibilities for story writers to come up with brilliant ideas for the genre with some great results and ones that are not so great. Our little show Coppelion is one such show that falls into this category that not only fails to provide a meaningful narrative but also a dull melodramatic story that severely cripples it from being an intricate show during Japan’s nuclear fallout disaster into one that completely mocks it.
One thing that almost everyone seems to be in unanimous agreement on is that the artwork is pretty spectacular to look at. To which it is, backgrounds really do look amazing and fit pretty well to the tone of the post-apocalyptic setting with the dense watercolor backdrop on the dead grass that inhabit the concrete buildings and roads. However with that said, there’s still a problem with the consistency of the character art designs to the world’s art design. When you look at the characters, they obviously look like they belong in your typical high-school anime with their sleek clean looks and schoolgirl outfits. If they were to be taken seriously as consistent designs, I’d imagine them not being the glamorous, pretty girls that they are if they indeed lived in this sort of environment for so long. Not only does it not fit very well in a post-apocalyptic setting because of its distracting nature but it also doesn’t fit well with the tone of the show. It would be like if you watched a movie set in the Middle Ages during the Black Plague era and everyone else looked like they were Animation does fair a bit more than the consistent artwork but there’s always these constant awful CGI techniques used throughout with the vehicles and fight scenes.
To start this pure construction of the huge points of the show’s problems is, of course, the writing. More specifically how the story is executed through the character-driven storyline that follows our three main heroines. Following a 1st person narrative from the eyes of the three girls, the show follows several plot arcs where we meet certain groups of people who are trying to survive out in the nuclear wasteland of Tokyo. However, if you’re expecting something that is similar type of story of say Mushishi, you’re going to be sorely disappointed with this. The characters we meet hardly get any kind of deep characterization and the ones that do come across as lazy cliches that become absolutely predictable and unfortunately delves into bland melodrama that comes across as laughable than anything else.
What really does kill the show overall comes from the erratic pacing that goes on. From left and right, characters crop up in many places with each continuing episode that have their own agendas and personal vendettas to others. With a show that is only 13 episodes, something like this could’ve worked in a much longer season. Because of this, the pacing constantly suffers immensely in hopes of moving things forward without putting a lot of the plot points into clarification to the audience that might have trouble of what the main plot is even supposed to be exactly besides just three girls walking through point A to point B in an post-apocalyptic setting. One episode they are desperate on finding this granny that they’ve been building up on a lot and then in the next episode the granny character is not spoken of ever again and they move on into a new mission. Almost as if these certain events don’t feel connected whatsoever very well that cripples the world-building as a whole. When it finally does get to that certain point where you do see where the plot is trying to go, it doesn’t really go anywhere and by the end you almost can’t really feel any emotional impact from the constant cliffhangers that are thrown out there because of how there’s little development to the story and characters.
Very few characters even make a huge impression apart from the main characters, but even they suffer the same fate of being bland and stereotypical. Only Ibara Naruse seems to have a brain in her head while the rest of the girls seem to only have screaming and whining as their only two reactions and become more like cheerleaders for Naruse most of the time. They even sometimes screw up certain things that almost jeopardizes their whole operation, to which begs the question how they even got the job of being these operatives in the first place. If anything, they come across as mere mindless pawns that don’t offer anything other than pure annoying schoolgirl service that isn’t charming or funny in the slightest because of their out-of-place nature.
There are even a lot of logical inconsistencies that simply can’t be taken with a grain of salt in some of the action scenes, such as certain laws of physics that are being broken. Certainly in an action show these kinds of problems can be ignored because of their own nature but with Coppelion it’s portrayed as this living world that is like our own. You can’t just simply toss out these laws in order to see pretty action sequences because it will go against odds with the show’s naturalistic atmosphere and we won’t be able to take it seriously as we did in the beginning. Examples include how people are able to survive a rocket launcher’s back blast from inside a building, how someone can survive from an anesthetic bullet from at close range even though an anesthetic bullet can still kill a person at that range, and how can someone survive from a shell exploding in front of them even at medium range? None of which are given any context whatsoever due to the bad direction.
With all of that aside, the antagonists that they face don’t really come across as anything memorable in the slightest. Not even the Ozu sisters, with their really very eccentric personalities. The main antagonists’ reasons for trying to take over Coppelion aren’t given enough context so we don’t even get enough out of them whether we are supposed to be sympathetic or hate them for their reasoning for doing the things they do. In reality, they really don’t have much a reason to have a response to other than the fact that they are just evil people because they’re just evil and whatever reasons that the show had written for them felt muddled and contrived. Their archetypes are the typical big bad government organization that just want to rule over the landscape so they can gain control over Tokyo, just like every other story like it.
I never thought I would say this, but Aoi would be the first character in an anime that is voiced by Kana Hanazawa that I constantly couldn’t stand at all just from her voice alone. Normally Hanazawa can pull of a great performance, even when her characters aren’t exactly likable, but with Aoi there’s absolutely no positive outcome to her performance from the fact that the only tone her voice that she seems to put into Aoi is high-pitched whining that is constant most of the show. Other cast members don’t really stand out either but they are at least listenable unlike for poor little Hanazawa. For the music aspect, for what little stand out songs there are for the show itself, the opening and ending songs are okay songs that do fit somewhat to Coppelion’s setting with nice dark guitar tones in the opening by the band angela.
Calling Coppelion an abject failure would be taking it lightly. It could’ve been a solid show to be experienced if there wasn’t the atrocious pacing, badly developed characters, and horrible melodrama underneath it all but we could’ve only hope that it would be entertaining from a funny standpoint. Once it stops being funny and steps into mind-numbing boring territory, that’s where the entertainment stops and the dull mediocrity sets in. I’d rather watch a show be entertainingly bad than to be boring and this managed to do both. To this I must now let Coppelion sit on the throne as one of the most disappointing failures of the year, if there was ever a throne to ever exist in the first place.