Review: Coppelion DVD

Release Date
Studio / Publisher
GoHands / Kaze, Manga Entertainment
Language / Subtitles
English, Japanese / English
Run Time
312 Minutes

Coppelion is the 2013 anime adaptation, by studio GoHands, of the on-going manga series of the same name. This release comes from Kaze, distributed by Manga, and, unfortunately is DVD-only; a worryingly increasing trend. The series itself is set in a radioactive Tokyo that experienced a nuclear accident leading to its eventual contamination. 20 years later a special unit of three girls known as Coppelion are dispatched to search for survivors.

“In 2016, a meltdown of a nuclear power plant creates a big catastrophe in Tokyo. 20 years later, the city has become a ghost town due to the high levels of radiation. From that area a distress signal is received. The Self Defense forces dispatch three girls from the special unit Coppelion to search for survivors. But why aren’t they wearing any protection against radiation?” – Manga Entertainment

The post-apocalyptic setting may be commonplace and even cliché in Hollywood movies and the endless Zombie themed series but within anime it’s a rather rare occurrence. In terms of storytelling and visuals it gives a great deal of scope and free rein on what can be done with a series and Coppelion always feels fresh and interesting. A major theme throughout the series is the humanity of our main three heroines and their kind – the coppelion. They are constantly being faced with how people view them and how they, in turn, view themselves. Genetically engineered to be immune to the radiation that plagues Tokyo, they have been raised in order to explore and rescue humans who are still inside the city. Being aware of their own creation and the reason behind their existence, they are, and refer to themselves as, dolls or puppets. Often seen as freaks and non-human they set out to help these people who fear and hate them. The series also goes on to question whether real humans are all even worth saving. People are living within this radiation filled wasteland for a multitude of reasons and some relish in it, wishing only to bring misfortune unto others.

Set in post-apocalyptic Tokyo 20 years on from a nuclear accident, the scenery is very overgrown with lots of different shades of colours on display to represent the levels of radiation that has swept through the city. The use of sepia and other colour gradients really help to set the series apart visually from others. It’s not just the colours that set the series apart, as the varying use of camera angles deserves a mention. Characters have a thick outline in some scenes that appear to be a conscious choice but as it changes constantly with no real purpose it can become rather distracting. Tending to look quite comical when used, it’s a wonder why they didn’t keep it to light-hearted moments within the series. I do have to praise Kaze’s release as they generally have a high standard of quality when it comes to the menu and Coppelion is no exception.

Fans of Kana Hanazawa will be pleased to know that she voices one of our three heroines; though, while her character Aoi Fukasaku is not the lead she does get a fair bit of screen time. It always surprises me how much of a voice acting range Hanazawa has that her roles never feel same-y. She will always bring something new and interesting to each role. If Kana Hanazawa being involved is not enough reason to watch with the Japanese audio, then the English dub is average at best.

The opening song, “ANGEL” by angela, is great and really works well with the series by starting slow and ending with a fast finish. The animation that accompanies the song also features a great deal of action to come within the series. If you watch it carefully you’ll see that the series is going to get quite serious and action-packed. The ending song, “Tooku Made” also by angela, also works in a similar fashion to the opening, a slow start and fast finish. The animation that accompanies the ending features a doll submerging into a liquid with one of our heroines then being pulled out. This works well alongside the strong themes of humanity within the series and how our heroines view themselves. Extras on disc feature clean opening and ending animations as well as trailers for Tenkai Knights, Black Lagoon and Berserk: The Egg of the King. Trailers feature before the main menu with only one per disc.

Coppelion is a series that had me very intrigued going in the synopsis is a departure from the norm and I was interested to see where they went with it. Having not previously read the manga I can’t make any assumptions on how the story is supposed to go and whether or not this adaption is completely faithful. While this series does present a complete story there is obviously a much deeper and larger plot left to explore. Coppelion may appeal to those looking for something different and alternative to the norm but largely feels like it’s missing something.