「人形 (コッペリオン)」 (Ningyo (Kopperion))
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!
ED: 「遠くまで」 (Tooku Made) by angela