Burst Angel (2004)
Directed by Koichi Ohata

Artistic Value: * * *
Entertainment Value: * * * *

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Sometime in the near future, four young women, Jo, a deadly fighter, Meg, her busty, helpless, and frequently abducted friend, Amy, a pre-adolescent computer expert, and Sei, their sexy employer, who just happens to be the granddaughter of the head of a powerful Chinese syndicate, make a living by fighting criminals, working as bodyguards, and gathering information that cannot be obtained by ordinary means. After hiring a cautious young man, Kyohei, to work as their cook, the members of this group embark on a series of adventures, most of which lead them to wonder about the existence of some shadowy and dangerous organization attempting to create bizarre, monstrous cyborgs that can be used as weapons.

Koichi Ohata's twenty-four part animated television series Burst Angel, though hardly without faults, is still fun, sexy, and exciting.


The director does not tell a single coherent story that runs the course of the series. Instead, in each episode he involves his protagonists in a new adventure. That said, there are elements within every one of these stories that, by hinting both at something connecting the various villains the girls face and at details about Jo's mysterious but clearly violent and tragic past, do link the episodes with one another. While none of the tales is especially inventively realized, the viewer is, nevertheless, likely to be intrigued enough by the glimpses included in them to wonder about what is being hinted at and, consequently, to find himself drawn along by the series.


What us more, even were such suggestions not present, nearly every episode of Burst Angel is sufficiently thrilling to keep the viewer's interest. The series is filled with gun battles, acrobatic hand-to-hand fights, chases, giant robots, weird, dangerous monsters, and more. There is hardly an episode that is not fast moving and alive with action sequences.


Such elements are made especially engaging thanks to the series' characters. All four of the heroines are genuinely intriguing (though not brilliantly conceived) individuals and are sure to pull the viewer into their lives so that he finds himself caring about their well-being. I have to admit that Kyohei is a dull milquetoast, but, fortunately, he is rarely placed center stage. The director instead focuses on the smart but childish Amy, the brusque yet chipper Meg, the rough and determined Jo, and the sometimes harsh though consistently decent Sei. Their interactions are, moreover, nicely brought out. The deep friendship that exists between Jo and Meg is particularly clearly delineated and has a real effect on the emotional tone of many episodes.


Happily, the animation used in the series, though by no means amazing, is as well done as are its characterizations. I cannot say that I was ever awed by any of the images presented, but there is little that is not effectively realized. The backgrounds range from ordinary to grubby and dark, and the character designs from commonplace to appealing. The faces of the female characters are, in particular, always pretty and charming. Most of these elements are produced with what looks like conventional, drawn animation, but these are frequently complemented with computer generated images (which are most noticeably used to create various robots and other technological devices). The combination does generally work here.


The director does, I should add, pay considerable attention to the body of each of his attractive young heroines. Their long legs, slender figures, and round buttocks are constantly displayed in one skimpy, formfitting outfit or another. Ohata even includes the occasional scene treating the viewer to the sight of the crotch of one or another of the protagonists, so that he can see how the contours of her genitals have been carefully delineated. All of this said, the director usually focuses on the girls' breasts. These are often nearly exploding from some character's garments and frequently bounce and jiggle when she moves. What is more, whether a character's breasts are small, as are Jo's, or impossibly large, as are Sei's and Meg's, the nipple tipping each is always standing up so prominently that it seems like it is about to tear through the girl's clothing. Such leering, naughty touches do, luckily, have an innocent sensuality and so add to the series' charm.


As many things as there are in Burst Angel to enjoy, I will have to concede that the series never rises above the ordinary. In fact, it is filled with innumerable predictable situations and just as many clichés. There is, moreover, much in the series that is painfully juvenile. Many of the poses the characters strike, or the lines they speak, are nearly embarrassingly goofy. Such shortcomings do not, however, ruin the program. They keep it from being as enjoyable as it could have been, but they do not keep it from being enjoyable.


Though it is never more than a sexy adventure story, Burst Angel is thoroughly entertaining as what it is.

Review by Keith Allen

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