Alternative titles: Active Raid: Kidou Kyoushuushitsu Dai Hakkei
Anime Original by Production IMS
Streaming on Crunchyroll
A young, by-the-book police rookie is assigned to a laid-back power armor squad to evaluate their performance as they fight crime.
Actively Raid-iciulous Stupid Fun
This is like some bizarre combination of Special Police Dekaranger and GaoGaiGar, and I’m totally fine with that. Watching the first episode of Active Raid was a ton of silly, fast-paced, pointless fun. It’s the type of show where, when absurd things happen, I laugh and cheer instead of saying “this is dumb”. Granted, I still say “this is dumb”, but… I’m having fun while doing it! This first episode wastes no time introducing the entire main crew and their quirks, the “Willwear” power armor (complete with Iron Man style gearing up), and the basic setup of an uptight rookie assigned to the loose cannon unit. If Active Raid can stay stupid and entertaining a la Super Sentai, I’m looking forward to further episodes.
Gee’s verdict: Like Patlabor, But Not As Good
Right off the bat, I’ll say that if you’re watching this but haven’t watched Patlabor yet, there’s still time to address this. I highly recommend the first OVA series (which I’ve covered on our Pilgrimage to Mecha feature) or the first Mamoru Oshii film. Both are considered excellent introductions to the franchise and are some of my favorite police procedural inspired fiction of all time. As for Active Raid, I certainly can’t say it’s bad by any means, but like Ghost in the Shell: Arise, its baseline competence only further highlights just how good its spiritual predecessors were in comparison.
The “Willwear” designs are notably uninspired and kind of just remind me of Tiger and Bunny’s superior CG power armor design. The thing that probably bothers me the most is how much the main duo’s suits look like your standard Toku-inspired stuff instead of something that could be believably used by the police. I’ll buy the red one subduing criminals with its bare hands since they’re in power armor. However, why does the blue one have such a big gun? It’s a police unit, not a designated marksman. Unless it’s a subtle commentary on the increased militarization of modern police forces as they slowly evolve into paramilitary mercenaries at the beck and call of political entities rather than civil enforcers of justice, it doesn’t fit. It’s the kind of design mismatch that makes you realize just how well realized the AV-98 Ingram was. Hopefully as we learn more about the universe, we’ll come to see how Willwear integrate into society itself. One of the best things about Patlabor was its devotion to showing how Labors were utilized by society and as a result why the Ingram fit into the setting so well. If all Willwear turn out to be powersuits being shoehorned into random occupations, I’ll accept it and move on.
Despite all this, I’m a sucker for police procedural style fiction and Active Raid has some of the elements to potentially be a good one. You got your dysfunctional and maligned obscure police division, red tape bureaucracy, and some doling out of good old-fashioned justice. Also that suiting up montage is pretty hype. If it can keep up the antics while focusing on the bureaucratic politicking and crimestopping that make a good police procedural, we could have a real winner on our hands.
Artemis’ verdict: Didn’t Even Make It Through The First Episode
No doubt there are far, far worse pickings to be had this season, and to be clear, I don’t think Active Raid committed any grievous sins. However, I got so bored watching this that I found myself literally counting down the minutes to the halfway mark, just so I could stop and pretend to myself that I’d seen enough to write about it. Everything from the gratingly perky OP and generic character designs to the completely random and utterly pointless English (What? Excuse me, boss) seemed almost purposefully designed to either make me roll my eyes or put me to sleep – the latter of which, in hindsight, would have been the better use of my time.