Set in a futuristic Tokyo, Active Raid tells the story of “The Eighth,” a rash and careless unit of power-armoured police called the “5th Special Public Security Section’s Mobile Assault Division.” After the Third Quicksand Disaster sinks Tokyo into a quagmire, the city’s reconstruction efforts are carried out using high-output, reinforced exoskeletons called Willwears. But they can also be misused, and to combat the rising number of crimes involving them, the National Police Agency establishes at its Kichioji Branch the Special Public Security Fifth Division Third Mobile Assault Eighth Unit, AKA Unit 8.
The show focuses on Kazari Asami, who is tasked with leading Unit 8 of the “5th Special Public Security Section’s Mobile Assault Division”. Which is a fancy way of saying this anime is pretty much about policemen in mobile armour suits. In the first episode, we get introduced to a collection of people forming this group that also, unofficially, is called the “garbage unit”. Of course, Kazari Asami doesn’t fit in right away and doesn’t understand the unconventional way the group execute their jobs.
This anime falls into the mecha and sentai genres mainly and includes some ambitious 3D animation. It also launches into the storyline as if you are already familiar with all the characters, which can be quite tricky if there are a lot of people you can’t remember the names of (or their significance) doing a lot of things. Whilst I appreciate that they are trying to limit the exposition right at the very beginning so as not to impede the plot pace, once I watch an episode and try to recall the characters and their roles in the show, I really struggle. This is something that instantly distances me from an anime’s characters, especially when I am watching lots of other different anime at the same time (which is frequently).
The aforementioned mecha in this series take the form of suits rather than large robots/vehicles. They are biologically attached to people via a spray alongside metal outlines that essentially make the wearer superhuman. Though these Willwears have cool things like limit breakers but also are on a time limit based on how long these suits have ‘charged’ beforehand. It brings a realistic touch to know that these Willwears aren’t exactly all-powerful, and one of the things I find most interesting about anime with a mecha element is the science behind it – what is so amazing about them and how modern technology works with and gives these potentially overpowered pieces.
The dialogue can sometimes be a bit less than standard. When the characters aren’t fighting crime or commanding the Willwears it’s filled with ‘time off’ banter which I think is where you’re supposed to start understanding what each character is like. It’s humorous to begin with, but can get pretty inane after a few episodes. There’s the idea that Unit 8 is a bit of a catastrophe and though they get the job done, they often destroy quite a lot of things and cost the government more money. It’s a running gag within the group that regulations weren’t something anyone held in high regard, and not one character listened to the new Asami, who tried to be the voice of reason.
There’s nothing particularly wrong with Active Raid, it’s just that I can’t see anything particularly noteworthy that stands out to me. The animation is okay (which maybe it should be a little bit better considering the fact that this is supposed to be a mecha anime). There wasn’t much creativity on display though, the cast designs being being shown off here rising to bland-supporting-character quality. The protagonist mechas have slightly better designs and are a little bit more impressive to watch. When they finally get going, that is.
At least Active Raid doesn’t take itself so serious. The strongest novelty this anime brings is the ridiculously high speed bureaucracy and politicking that in real time governs the fights of the police mechas. For example, planned interceptions are scrapped because of the danger of collateral damage to the electricity supply of an anime-studio subsidiary with a tight deadline since the anime studio does PR for the mayor. However, earlier episodes sometimes fell into the typical trap of supplying too much exposition and info-dumping.
To sum up, Active Raid is an okay anime. It’s general blandness makes it the most middle-of-the-road mecha anime I have ever watched. It alternates between being mildly humourous and disappointing to watch.