In the mid ‘90s, Cyber City Oedo 808 aired in the UK. The short-lived anime appeared on Channel 4 (during the early hours of the morning) and with its colourful characters, stunning animation, and flagrant use of bad language, it blew my tiny little mind.
I’ll be completely honest, when I first watched this OVA (original video animation) I knew nothing about Cyber City Oedo 808. I merely discovered that Channel 4 was airing anime late at night, which I assumed was a brand new show, so I used the VCR in my bedroom to record it.
Little did I know that this was actually a series from 1990. Not that it mattered – I loved what I saw and I watched and re-watched it multiple times over successive days.
For those who are unfamiliar with Cyber City Oedo 808, the series comprised three episodes, each lasting around 40 minutes in length. The show followed three convicts, who were deputised as Cyber Police and sent on deadly missions, in order to reduce time on their prison sentence (a bit like Suicide Squad).
Today, I am going to re-watch Cyber City Oedo 808 and discuss it in this post. I think it is fairly clear I love this show, but maybe through the use of my words, I can encourage you to love it too.
Episode One: Virtual Death
For those wondering why the title includes the number ‘808’, it is because this anime is set in 2808.
OK, time to watch the first episode.
1min 15secs – Three criminals – Sengoku, Gogol, and Benten – are given the opportunity to go on missions for the State, with the promise of “a bit” knocked off their sentence if they are successful.
Ha! I love that they are not given a specific reduction in their sentence – just “a bit” of time knocked off! It’s basically do the job and maybe we will give you a reward, or don’t do the job and rot.
2mins – I must note that the music in this show is fab, and also unique to the UK. The UK version of Cyber City Oedo 808 has its own soundtrack… although, I’m not entirely sure why. If anyone knows, please drop the answer in the comments section.
6mins – This first episode focuses on Sengoku. He’s a pretty cool character, but not my favourite of the trio.
9mins – To ensure the trio don’t go rogue while out on a mission, they each wear an explosive collar. If they don’t stick to the rules, or they try to do a runner, the explosive goes off.
16mins – So, the plot of this episode is as follows: 50,000 people are trapped in a skyscraper, by an unidentified assailant. With a little help from Gogol and Benten, Sengoku is sent in to free the captives, who are at the mercy of the building’s computer defence system.
25mins – By the way, the animation for this show was handled by Madhouse and was directed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri – just in case you wanted to know.
27mins – Hmm… a new wrinkle. The computer system has access to a satellite which is equipped with a powerful laser. If Sengoku and the team don’t manage to get to the route of this dilemma soon, the satellite will fire.
28mins 45secs – To make matters worse, the building is now falling apart. Jeez, talk about having a shitter of a day!
33mins – The building is being controlled by a former tower block employee called Y. Amachi. Amachi was murdered 15 years previous, but is now seeking revenge on his killer (who is his former business partner), by taking over the building.
33mins 30secs – Oh, and Amachi is now part of the building. He has somehow become merged with the structure. Gross.
36mins – Although Sengoku has completed his mission, he didn’t obey all of his orders. As a result, he has had ten years added to his sentence. Balls!
A great first episode, filled with action, some colourful language, and a badass set of characters. The premise is simple, yet it allows for lots of potential as the series progresses.
I loved this initial episode of Cyber City Oedo 808 the first time I watched it, and I’m loving it all over again now. Just grabbing a beer, then I’m moving straight on to episode two!
Episode Two: Psychic Trooper
This episode focuses on Gogol. This was my favourite episode when I initially watched the show and is arguably still my favourite episode (although I like the final episode too).
3mins 45secs – Gogol is on a mission to bring in another convict. When he catches up with the man, the convict is trying to remove his own collar – something that Gogol is very interested in.
While Gogol knows he has a job to do (i.e. apprehend this chap), he is also very keen to remove the collar around his own neck. He is potentially willing to let the guy go, IF he agrees to disable both collars.
4mins – Of course, the convict doesn’t manage to remove the collar.
5mins – By including this opening scene, the show establishes two things:
- There are more than just three former prisoners working for the Cyber Police.
- Gogol is willing to go along with his assignment, until a better option comes along.
18mins – It is taking a little longer to get into the plot, but that’s because the show has been doing a little bit of world building. Not a problem. Not a problem at all.
Anyway, the plot is as follows: An organisation called the Special Forces, has been working on a new initiative to replace the Cyber Police. This new initiative is a cyborg, which is supposedly unbeatable.
The cyborg has been sent out on a test run to prove its worth. The test subject? Gogol!
23mins – There’s quite a lot going on in this episode. In addition to the cyborg, there is also a side story involving an old partner of Gogol’s.
26mins – And now the old partner is dead.
28mins – Once again, let it be noted, this show is so cool.
30mins – Gogol vs. a cyborg.
33mins – Gogol is taking a beating.
33mins 30secs – And here comes the cavalry. Sengoku and Benten have turned up to lend a hand.
34mins – This episode has shades of RoboCop and Blade Runner too it.
SO FREAKIN’ COOL!
41mins – After a tough battle, and a little bit of clever thinking on Gogol’s part, the cyborg has been defeated. Hurrah!
This second episode helps to flesh out more of the Cyber City world, and also shows an interesting side to Gogol. He’s very clever, very resourceful, and certainly not someone to mess with.
Time for another beer, as I head into episode three!
Episode Three: Blood Lust
I should say that while this is the final episode, nothing about it says BIG FINALE. When the episode ends, there is a feeling that this could have easily continued to a fourth, fifth, or sixth episode and so on.
1min – You know, I have only ever watched the UK version of Cyber City Oedo 808, so I have no idea what the original opening music sounds like. However, if you are watching this show on DVD, then I believe the copy you are watching features the original music.
FYI: I’m watching the episodes via YouTube. These episodes are what featured on the VHS release and what aired on Channel 4.
5mins – As Sengoku and Gogol featured heavily in the two previous episodes, it’s not a surprise that Benten is the focus this time around.
6mins – Benten is cool. I like Benten.
9mins – Benten is on a case, and this involves going to seedy bars, talking to ‘ladies of the night’ etc.
16mins – This is my second favourite episode of the three. It has a neat detective/noir feel to it.
17mins – Benten vs a cybernetic dog.
24mins – This final episode is about the murder of three geneticists.
25mins 30secs – A little conflict between Sengoku and Benten, with Sengoku now tasked with killing Benten if he doesn’t comply with his mission.
Jeez, why did this series not last beyond three episodes? There is so much potential for future stories/story arcs here, with the characters fighting each other during missions and such!
29mins – Vampires are also at the heart of this story. I should have mentioned that.
37mins – Bit of a sad ending, with a vampire being sent into space. That doesn’t sound sad, but trust me, it is.
Another strong episode, making it three for three!
What becomes clear in this final chapter is just how interesting all three main characters are. Each has their own unique attributes and personalities, and that is great to see played out on screen.
Cyber City: Revisited
As someone who grew up during the ‘80s and ‘90s, surrounded by the likes of Blade Runner (1982), Terminator (1984), RoboCop (1987), and many of the great sci-fi/cyber punk movies of the era, Cyber City Oedo 808 felt like the perfect addition. It slotted in neatly with the movies I adored, and offered an intriguing world of misfits and mayhem.
I loved this series when I first watched it, even though I saw it via a blurry VHS copy I recorded off the TV, and I loved it again a few years later when I upgraded to a slightly-less blurry VHS tape I bought from HMV. In recent years I have watched it a couple of times via YouTube and after watching it again today, I know I will return to it time-and-time again.
Are rose-tinted spectacles clouding my judgement? No, I don’t believe so, this really is a gem of an anime series.
If you love cyberpunk, ‘90s anime, and exploding collars, or you simply have room in your schedule for three, 40-minute shows, then give Cyber City Oedo 808 a watch. I’m confident you will enjoy what is on offer, and like me, you will wonder why this didn’t last beyond three stories?!
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