It’s a horrible series, but it’s never a boring one. Directed by Ichiro Itano well after he animated those amazing Macross dogfights and written by Sho Aikawa well before he scripted Fullmetal Alchemist, Angel Cop is fast-paced drivel taken further into camp territory by a delightfully profane dub from Manga UK. Consequently, the series never goes three minutes without someone shooting, swearing, exploding, roasting alive, tripping a landmine, torturing a suspect, delivering some bizarre phrase in a masked British-Brooklyn accent, or ranting about how the Vietnam War was just a weapons test for Uncle Sam’s military contractors. It’s best summed up by this helpful compilation.
However, there is another version of Angel Cop. A shorter, lighter, and shockingly cuter version.
Not long after Angel Cop started production, it was accompanied by a manga adaptation in Newtype, Japan’s biggest anime magazine. Itano and Aikawa are credited with the original story, but the comic was drawn by Taku Kitazaki, now better known for gentle, introspective fare. Kitazaki was just starting out in 1990, and his one-volume adaptation of the Angel Cop saga is a strange assembly of soft-looking characters and grimy, Akira-style punk violence.
It’s weirdly upbeat for something connected to an exploitive bloodbath like the Angel Cop anime, with Angel herself providing a good gauge of the changes. In the OVA series, she’s a brusque, uncaring, profanity-spewing hardcase. She thinks nothing of leaving her partner Raiden bleeding in the street or of pumping a few extra rounds into a terrorist who’s already splattered across a wall. In the manga, she’s a chipper young Special Security Force recruit, throwing peace signs and not really hiding a rather obvious crush on Raiden.
Then again, the first few pages show her shooting off a suspect’s hand and beating him insensate, so in some ways she’s still the Angel that anime viewers grew to loathe.