Burst Angel (Japan 2003)

Rating: ***
Alternate Title: "Bakuretsu Tenshi"
Review Date: 5/28/05

Divided into twenty-four episodes.

Kyohei Tachibana is your average 18 year old guy, studying to become a world class chef. His life gets turned upside down when he takes a part-time job as a cook for a mobile strike force consisting of four cute girls and a giant combat mech. Sei is the cold and calculating leader of the group, Amy is the adorable pre-teen computer whiz, Meg is the pretty airhead who always seems to get captured by the enemy, and Jo is the emotionally unstable sociopathic loner with super-human strength and supernatural powers. She's an excellent marksman and is also the only one who can pilot their combat mech, Jungle. As you might guess, the show is really all about Jo, since all of the other characters are effectively useless. The setting is a futuristic Tokyo, where the citizens are allowed to carry guns. This makes the streets a dangerous place, as people like to take the law into their own hands. The nature of our merry band remains a mystery for the majority of the series, and it isn't until the last three episodes that things start coming together. They seem to operate like autonomous bounty hunters, but they're also part of a larger underground organization that has a hidden agenda. The animation is very good for the most part, with cute character designs and slick computer animated mecha combat. The character outfits are definitely a little strange, playing more to outrageous aesthetics and fan service than practical functionality. The music is very good, and the combat sequences tend to be accompanied by spaghetti western inspired refrains. The storylines tend to be self contained "monster of the week" tales that involve cyborg criminals, kidnappings, illegal experiments, and the like. There's typically an evil mech or a supernatural monster involved for Jo to smash the hell out of. More than anything, the series reminds me of a dumbed down version of "Bubblegum Crisis" (1987). Even without any background information or clues as to who these girls are and what they do, the show continues to be fun and interesting.