「人形 (コッペリオン)」 (Ningyo (Kopperion))
“Puppet (Coppelion)”

Are there people around? No. Not a single soul.

Ladies and gentleman, welcome to the world’s largest ghost town. With the debut of Coppelion, the start of the fall season is truly upon us, and we start the ball rolling with one of the season’s most anticipated shows. Based off Inoue Tomonori’s ongoing manga, Coppelion takes place 20 years following the catastrophic meltdown of a nuclear power plant near Tokyo. A sudden distress signal leads to the dispatch of a special military unit known as “Coppelion”—made of girls genetically engineered to withstand radiation. With that said, that’s exactly what this first episode ends up covering, and it’s a superb introduction for many reasons.

And for me, there is no better reason to start with aside from how well this introduction captures the “there’s obviously something wrong here” atmosphere one would expect from a series with such a premise. Indeed, it’s surrealism at its best, and there’s nothing quite like seeing high school girls walking in a deserted, ruined Tokyo to really set the alarm bells ringing. Combine this with the light flickering effects throughout the episode, the gradual revelation that there are still living organisms in the city, the oddity of there being an SOS signal in the first place, and the excessive outline on each character that makes them really stick out from the backgrounds at times—everything just screams “out of place,” and I love how the story just seems to be setting up for some pretty epic developments. Whether or not they end up as insane as I expect is still debatable, but if the cliffhanger to start off this first episode and the PV are any indication, we’re going to be in for a wild ride.

Either way, the cliffhanger leads me to the main characters themselves—out of which Naruse Ibara instantly jumps to the front as a character I feel like I’ll end up loving to watch. Granted, it’s probably just my whole pet peeve with people that follow rules too rigidly, but yeah, her blatant disregard for the rules (“TO HELL WITH THE RULES!”) instantly makes her a character worth watching. Her outgoing and fearless nature also scores double, and her witty retorts just adds a cherry on top. I mean sure, from a morality vs. practicality standpoint, she probably shouldn’t have used the cure all ether on someone who has obviously been exposed to too much radiation to be cured, but when you get a response like “Limited quantities? Then just make more. I’ll continue treat everyone I see, because it’s my job!” it was arguably worth it. I know our unnamed civilian sure appreciates the pain relief.

Moving on, some other things to note from this first episode involve matters of a more philosophical nature. I briefly touched upon one in the aforementioned morality vs. practically notion, but there’s a few more here, and one of them involves the fact that our main characters realize they’re not normal humans. Arguably, they’re so special that they’re essentially “inhuman,” and it’s something that Fukasaku Aoi points into perspective with her comment asking about whether or not they’re just “puppets.” To this, she gets the reply that they aren’t, but one can say they still are—that is, they are still “puppets” of the military.” And it’s something that also brings up the fact that they’re all quite young, which means they’re still growing and trying to find themselves, and I feel like the doubt and uncertainty creeping in the back of their minds may end up playing a key part in the future—heck, it arguably already did in regards to the wolf attack we get near the end of the episode.

All this ultimately pales though, in comparison to the potential questions and arguments one can get in regards to nuclear reactors and their usage in the first place. Because as we’ve seen first hand in real life (recently as well), nuclear meltdowns are indeed a possibility, as are the potential for grave problems resulting from them. The manga was written well before the Fukushima partial meltdown in 2011 however, so it’s possible there was no intent from the part of the creator to touch upon this issue, but the fact remains that it’s quite relevant now, and Commander Mishima’s comments end up being even stronger than they are as a result:

Why did it happen? Why couldn’t we prevent it?”

And well, as you can see from the above, there’s just a lot to like from Coppelion’s first episode, and I haven’t even discussed GoHands’ generally awesome backgrounds and animation throughout. The seemingly excessive outlines on each of the characters do occasionally make them stand out like sore thumbs, and it’ll likely take some getting used to by some, but it’s arguably part of the experience of things being “out of place,” and it’s something that just heralds the potential of this series. All in all, the series received the mark of high expectations for a reason, and the first episode does nothing to dispel that. Here’s to some more post-apocalyptic Tokyo goodness!

Full-length images: 17, 21.

Author’s Notes:

  • Please refrain from spoilers past this point in the manga. If you must, use spoiler tags where appropriate.
  • I will always try to release Coppelion ASAP, but due to my ever shifting real life schedule and obligations, it is possible that some posts may not release until Friday night EDT. I apologize in advance if this happens.
  • Lastly, I will be attending New York Comic Con next week (I’ll probably be the guy wearing a tux and carrying around a Dominator on Fri or Sat), so don’t be surprised if episode 02 is delayed a few days.

    ED Sequence

    ED: 「遠くまで」 (Tooku Made) by angela



        1. so…is that mean we are going to see you/someone cover Mardock Scramble triology??now that the BD was released a week ago…
          I haven’t seen even one cover for this in RC…to be honest it was surprising indeed.

        2. Honestly if I had the time I’d do it guaranteed… but as is I’m pulling on average a 6AM-5PM day at least every weekday with the occasional weekend class. -_-

          I’ll see about trying to churn something out, but it might take a few weeks at this rate (if at all). =/

      1. Now that mention The Dark Tower, I remember where I felt this kind of atmosphere, it was when Roland and his ka-tet went through the city of Lud and later Topeka after Captain Trips made its dirty little job on the entire world. Only Stephen King can give this feeling of “I should get the hell out of here!” once you enter a ghost town, a place where only Death lives and reigns supreme.

    1. This was a lot more subdued than I thought it would be. The trailer I watched on ANN was pretty heavy on the action. That is not a bad thing, the (mostly) quiet stroll through the empty ghost town certainly helped set the mood. The visuals of the city being overtaken by nature were beautiful and it was nice that that the show took its time to introduce the setting before unleashing any major action sequences.

      1. Taking the PV away, I enjoyed those “nothing happens” scenes a lot. It reminded me a tiny bit of brilliant Russian “Stalker” movie, with the same postapocalyptic atmosphere.

      2. The feeling and mood of the whole capital was amazing! Not only you think some monster will come out of any corner at any time but also there is this dead atmosphere that warps everything; Aoi was right, Tokyo is no longer a place for humans, only Death and her friends are living in there.

      1. Oddly enough, Zephyr’s meta explanation near the beginning of the review has made that point stop bothering me. Yeah, logically it doesn’t make sense for them to be wearing skirts at least when going through a ruined city (immunity to radiation doesn’t keep you from scraping yourself bloody), but looking at the uniforms as a narrative tool to emphasize the surreal oddity and wrongness of the situation… Yeah. I can accept that.

        Because it works. I mean, you look at those three and you think “they do not belong there.” Everything about them is out of place and wrong for this environment they’re in, and that’s exactly the way we’re supposed to feel.

        1. Yeah, that was the interesting part. If it was any other show, there would’ve been like 30 shots in this first episode alone, but Coppelion didn’t do a single instance of it despite all the chances they had. Definitely a plus.

        2. Actually there was one single frame of pantyshot, just after the girls split up when they had met the dog. But really the lack of panty shots combined with the relatively correct physics for their skirts made it look like they were nopan most of the time.

      2. If there is a reason I didn’t enjoy the first episode as much as I hoped to, were all these little things about the setting that kept nagging me and stretching my suspension of disbelief to its limits. It might be hard to believe a bunch of genetically engineered girls trained at a military academy are sent to a nuclear wasteland with nothing but their schools uniforms on. But it’s much harder to believe that with miles of walking in difficult terrain they choose to carry enormous sling bags with them, one of which is full of perishable food. I know an introductory episode needs to spell everything out for the viewers but Aoi’s naivete (and noisiness) is even harder to swallow. I believe the show has great potential (as for example its ED shows) so I just sincerely hope the creators stop catering to their audience so much. But we’ll see. Maybe there’s a reason for all that.

        1. Gamma radiation actually preserves perishable foods. This process is used by NASA for astronauts’ food and also in some countries such as the Netherlands (hence the name “dutching” for the process).

    2. Its strange to think this was supposed to air before “K” but its probably thanks to “K” that a lot more people know about Project Go Hands. Either ways, I’m glad you picked this up Zephyr because your first ep review is so mature and…makes you sound intelligent, more importantly its enjoyable. I swear I think the anime population outside of the RC radius is like 12 year olds because I kept on seeing the same comments on the streaming sites “I hate the animation!” “Its copying Shingeki!” “Project K sucked so this is going to suck!” “This is so boring!” “Why aren’t they fighting?!” or my favorite “Why are all the main characters girls?! Lame!!” -_- If I don’t want to lose anymore brain cells I’ll just stick towards reading your reviews ^_^

      1. Truth be told, I’ve never enjoyed K.

        It felt as though GoHands botched it up without realising it. It started off good buy it ended up as being excruciatingly slow.

        I’m hoping the Coppelion does not end up that way.

        I’m quite psyched about this after seeing the PVs for it

    3. Question though, since this was created some years ago, do you think that they just kept what they had and released it as it was now or did they go back over the previous year and revamp any previous animation they already did for it?

        1. That was my thoughts exactly; Due to the fact that this series was suppose to be released a while back, I really hope to not see any major dips in animation quality; there would be no excuse for it since they would have had time to revamp their work.

    4. Am I the only one who was watching with a hitched breath, expecting some kind of horrific mutant monstrosity to come bursting from the ground and/or the buildings or something? Even when that wolf suddenly attacked, I was expecting some sort of Resident Evil 4 / 5 mutation to suddenly occur.

      1. Definitely expected something more than your “average” wolf (Resident Evil a good example or Dragon Age Blight Wolf). If it was me, I’d have picked up the soldier’s (seems to be military) gun & ammo just in case there is something worse around there. There girls seem a bit under equipped for this type of “field trip”.

      2. They seem to be depicting mutations in a very realistic way in Coppelion.
        The first episode had some ‘blink and you’ll miss it’-moments with this, the most obvious being the frog at the beginning who had not developed front legs even in it’s adult form and the small translucent fish Ibara played with.

    5. I really like what I saw from first episode. besides I did expect coppelion since I heard it was gonna be an anime.
      post-apocalyptic tokyo?army girls?count me in.

      as mentioned above in the first comment – animation was eyegasm. sasuge GoHand, the creators of Mardock Scramble.
      anyway, for a pilot episode it was really good. pace was good. we saw a lot from the characters and there’s more.
      conflict with vice-principal was good, but clearly it wasn’t that big-deal.
      there’s still some mysteries and shadowy stuff about the whole post-apocalyptic situation and my guess is we see more to it next episodes.

      Ed was good and the OP is already somewhere at youtube. I like them.

      can’t be helped, I am already fallen for that show. hope it will become a good series.

    6. The first episode was done well and directing is superb, but for some reason, the first episode didn’t really get me hooked. I want to know what happens next episode since it seems that this show will be a thrilling ride that follows the very popular question, “What does it mean to be human?” I see the potential for this to be a great show if they do character progression and growth right, or it could just end up being a show that just falls short of it could become because I see a lot of potential with this series already. Hopefully, the next episode will have me hooked. Maybe, I wasn’t hooked because the opening wasn’t grandeur in a sense that it isn’t explosive in your face type opening like Shingeki for example. It took it’s time and had wonderful pacing in my opinion, but at the same time, that may be what turns me off. I’m the type of guy who just likes things constantly happening in the show. It doesn’t matter if its jokes, comedy, fighting, or explosions everywhere, but Coppelion took its sweet time slowly revealing the world, its premise, and the characters. It was like they knew exactly what they were going for and executed it perfectly. There was no awkwardness in the show first ep.

    7. Animation for me was jarring, between the scenery porn and the rough outline style the characters got. But then, it’s nice.

      Since RC is blogging this I won’t go into full depth like I did with Girls und Panzer, but I will for Blue Steel.

      Shameless Plug: http://rightwingotaku.wordpress.com/2013/10/03/quick-thought-forward-into-the-unknown-coppelion-episode-1/

      For me:

      -Animation Style: Rough outlines, much like superimposed over the scenery.
      -Scenery is breathtaking, but eerie, much like Chernobyl.
      -Character movement rather…unnatural, that or really peeved at the genki girl.
      -A coming of age story superimposed over a cautionary tale on nuclear power?

      Regardless on this rather slow opening, I look forward to the rest of the series.

      Even with such a slow opening. Why?

      Because I’m an unabashed supporter of nuclear power. The only other alternative I believe works better than coal/natural gas/oil to me is hydroelectric, and it’s limited by where you can dam up a river. This throws it out there, and shows not only Murphy’s Law permeates all, but as well as TANSTAAFL. For the pros, there must be cons. As Jeremy Wade has said in his show, specifically the episode on the Chernobyl Wells Catfish, there are hundreds in the United States alone, and each can go up like Chernobyl.

      There is also the underlying moral and existential question on being alive as a member of the species Homo Sapien/Homo Sapien Sapiens or being something completely different. Is it a Darwinian to think they are bred selectively for survival in irradiated Tokyo? Or just plain mad scientist?

      Anyways, like Zephyr on RC, I look forward to this. I just won’t be writing or taking screenshots as much as he is.

      Anyways, like Zephyr on RC, I look forward to this. I just won’t be writing or taking screenshots as much as he is.

    8. Eh. The visuals were excellent – stunning and haunting at the same time, with all manner of minutiae lovingly imagined and recreated. But somehow the pacing felt off – like all the pauses were in the wrong places. And somehow both Tomatsu Haruka and especially Hanazawa Kana sounded a bit wooden – the latter especially was rather unconvincing, which is surprising, since whatever one thinks of her characters she usually doesn’t phone it in the way Hikasa Yoko sometimes does.

      Then again, I am a manga reader, so there might be a bit of comparison bias there.

    9. The best word to describe my feelings evoked while watching this premiere was “foreboding”. There’s something very dangerous about this world other than what’s clearly observable, and I’m very curious to see what that is.

      The last time I felt this level of foreboding was with Shin Sekai Yori, and that was a masterpiece of a show. I hope this is at the same level.

    10. When will people learn to stop leaving their talkies in blood-poles? They are hard to clean afterwards and lead to probably erroneous deductions…

      For me when the chapter started I thought the animation of the characters was off with the surroundings. The road is all crumbled but they walk like it was all plain. One normally wouldn’t put the knees there too.

      And about the luger, the survivor gets a shot like a sedative but then the wolf gets blown backwards?! I have not seen anything to adjust the strenght of the shots there.

      It was an Ok introductory chapter but if they are trying to give a realist approach they should have gone all the way. I guess I’m not satisfied.

    11. OMFG, that short-haired girl needs to be less annoying. She overreacts to EVERYTHING. Maybe that’s her quirk, but I’m not really liking it.

      Other than that, I’m putting this to my three-episode litmus test. Pilot was good enough for me to check the next one.

    12. That might be a HUGE nitpick for most of you, but… why are the girls dress with school outfits? Why don’t they have a proper outfit from the military? I’m not talking about the bulky radiation-resistant suits, since they have been rendered immune to radiation, but come on, you don’t send 3 girls exploring a dead zone dressed like schoolgirls.

      I was honestly expecting something like Lara Croft, Nathan Drake, Indiana Jones… or any survivalist for that matter. Y’know, pants, vest, light shirt, gloves, boots, belts, harnesses, backpack and such.

      That might be a fetish for the Japanese audience, but sometimes, it feels more awkward than practical.

    13. After watching the 3 primer of fall..

      For me…

      Coppelion > Kyoukai no Kanata > KyousoGiga

      Now let’s see some for today.

      Wearing a skirt maybe it can be a business strategy I think, so that they will more appealing to boys… since I knew, majority of anime fans are boys, and most girl anime fans read manga than watch anime.

      1. Oddly, I can’t help but agree with you. In college, the girls who I overhear talk or even the ones I talk say that they just read manga or rather read manga while the boys would rather watch anime (and they’re mostly slack-jawed drooling idiots…no offense to the guys out there who aren’t drooling idiots)

    14. I found the character animation fairly off-putting. It was stiff, didn’t flow well and someone should really work on the synchronization of the vocal performance with the animation. I’m not looking for perfection but when you have 2-3 seconds silence while the characters appear to be speaking (or vice versa) that’s little much.

      That being said, the backgrounds were absolutely gorgeous and you can tell they spent a lot of time and effort to almost make the city like a character. Great world-building.

      Looking forward to more.

    15. Well, obviously they do have some supplies, but no weaponry besides a trank gun, no sleeping bags, backpacks, camping gear, girls that seem to have no survival or emotional training to deal with sh*t. Oh, well.

    16. I love the series already, from the haunting deserted scenerie of the “old capital” to the brash and rules-be-damned attitude of Ibara-chan. Her immediate springing into action to help nakama in danger is also something I like very much.
      “Never let your sense of morals prevent you from doing what is right!”
      (Isaac Asimov)

      One thing I am not sure about is sending the girls in clothed in seifuku. They are not in school anymore, and some sort of hiking clothing or even military uniforms would be definitely more practical…

    17. I’ve got to rewatch this on my Apple.

      The show pretty much messed my computer for a bit. Nonetheless, this’s a good start to the season. Hope my experiences with K isn’t repeated here

    18. looks promising…but I hate that they chose school girls. I don’t have a problem with the fact that they are young, it’s the fact that they are in school girl uniforms.

      It’s a post apocalyptic setting and Japans human/bio engineers supervisors decide they want maintain Japanese tradition and keep old uniforms rather than design a practical field uniform for them? It’s stupid by my standard.

    19. 1st of all,I’ll be another one to join the “Why schoolgirls?And more importantly,why school uniforms?” club.Otherwise,I can say that this premiere did peek my interest more than I expected.This will probably end up being one of those shows that I’ll have to give waaaay more than a 3-ep rule,or just watch it all even if the road will be bumpy,to be sure about it.

      At any rate,I think it’ll either be good or bad,I don’t see much middle ground here.

    20. Lol,this is the unofficial follow-up to Godzilla vs. Destoroyah (1995). Yet on a more serious note,the show has an interesting world and plot,I’m just hoping that its potential isn’t wasted.

    21. For me, the greatest detail about this episode was its general lack of music. I think the only time I’ve heard the BGM was during the TV broadcast and the wolf scene. That did a much better job at making me feel the lonesome, abandoned atmosphere of the city than the colors or the outlines.

      And speaking of that, it feels like the girls over-react a bit too often, which makes them stand out even more. I wouldn’t be surprise if it’s intentional.


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