Studio: Production IMS
Alternative Titles: Active Raid: Kidou Kyoushuushitsu Dai Hachi Gakari, Active Raid: Special Public Security Fifth Division Third Mobile Assault Eighth Unit
In a Japan that faces a soaring rate of high-tech crime, rookie police inspector Asami Kazari is assigned to Unit 8 of the 5th Special Public Security Section’s 3rd Mobile Assault Division to investigate their work and to determine if the unit should be disbanded. Donning the mobile armour known as ‘Willwear’, Unit 8 takes a fine line between justice and the law as they work to bring down criminal Willwear users. Meanwhile as the unit’s fate hangs in the balance, a dark force attempts to manipulate both crime and justice from the shadows.
Episodes 1 & 2
When first jumping into Active Raid, it’s not hard to be reminded of Rail Wars, with a uniformed special police force using a train to catch unscrupulous individuals, and Tiger and Bunny, with the Willwear suits being very similar in concept and design to those worn by everyone’s favourite superhero duo. While it lacks the trashy fanservice of the former, it follows both close in tone – it’s fun-but-dumb as the most unprofessional police unit in existence try to run down criminals in a train-cum-command centre (thankfully not literally!)
It’s these madcap chases that make Active Raid fun to watch, as the supposedly ‘elite’ unit constantly gets outdone by the bad guys, before getting caught in a Scooby Doo-like “if only it wasn’t for those pesky kids!” manner. If the characters were seriously thought out it couldn’t work like it does, but having them almost as buffoons really works in the show’s favour. The “banter” between the two “lads” of the show, Takeru and Souichirou, is hilarious as they constantly get in each other’s way during the first fight, leaving the villains actually looking like they might get away with it.
The armoured Willwear suits themselves are a bit generic and give our band typical superhero powers like super strength or being able to fly. They’re not that bad per say; you could argue that they lack a lot of imagination, but to be honest there’s not much else that can be done that hasn’t been already, so it’s easy to forgive them for that. What could be interesting is seeing them being used in the smart device form, which gives a whole host of information on a visor that can be worn across the eyes. This mode is introduced at the beginning of episode one, but hasn’t seen a use otherwise as yet, so I’m hoping for some tech use which is pretty close to the real world.
What might limit that is the rule that Willwear users can’t show their faces, and that public use of the smart device mode is socially rude and can leak secret information to the public when everyone can see the back of your screen, as Asami Kazari finds out at the beginning. For a protagonist, Asami isn’t really a likeable character – she’s exceedingly naïve, far too serious, and believes that her method of personal justice is the right approach, when sticking to the rules is going to hinder rather than help in the situations she finds herself in. That said it gives a base and a reason for her to change, as you want her to open up to the ways of Unit 8, and that apart from the collateral damage, they actually do a pretty good job (a building that is accidentally destroyed in episode 2 was evacuated beforehand, preventing the loss of life).
So far the setup sounds pretty solid, but there’s some dubious points. Firstly they’ve stuck a cackling villain in the background who is seemingly setting up all of these criminals with Willwear in order to test what Unit 8 can do. We haven’t seen too much of him so far, but is there any real need to make him a lunatic? There’s silly and there’s too silly. Secondly every time anyone puts on a Willwear suit from our police unit, they experience some kind of sexualised bondage situation when they moan at having a black band snapped around their neck (with the guys) or the midriff (with the girls). It’s very unnecessary fanservice in my view, along with the slimy ankle grabbing maintenance guy.
As long as you don’t take this seriously I think this series will be a fun laugh. With a cast of goofy characters and some decent action scenes I think this will deliver some decent entertainment.