What Is It?
Cyber City Oedo is a three-episode cyberpunk OVA from Madhouse. The series was directed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri, and features music by Kazz Toyama.
Cyber City is set in Oedo City in the year 2808. In this thriving metropolis, crime runs rampant and prisons are near their bursting point due to over-population. The worst offenders are thrown into an orbital prison, where they spend their remaining days isolated from humanity. With cyber-crime is on the rise and the Cyber Police short on personnel, the law finds themselves with nobody to turn to, aside from the people they tossed behind bars.
Benten, Goggles, and Sengoku are the three newest additions to the Cyber Police’s convict recruitment program. With every job they complete, a few years are shaved off of their sentences. To keep the three in check, they are forced to wear special collars that monitor their every move, and count down the seconds to their completion deadline. If they stray too far or let the time run out, the collar will detonate and their heads will pop like over-ripe grapes.
Why Was It Passed Up?
Cyber City Oedo is a red-headed stepchild of the VHS era. The show was originally released on VHS in 1995, five years after the show hit Japanese stores. At the time of the show’s release, anime was beginning to hit its stride in America. Titles like Urusei Yatsura, Tenchi Muyo, Oh My Goddess!, and Ranma 1/2 were hitting the market with more promotion and far stronger word of mouth from the consumer community. Even in the cyberpunk genre, people were seeing far more prominent titles like Armitage III, Bubblegum Crisis, and Appleseed being released in the same time frame. Because of this, the show simply slipped under the radar in its original release.
Central Park Media tried to revive the show in 2004, but it faced the obstacles of a market that was openly hostile to older titles, as well as a bubble that was ready to burst by the time the show was released.
Why This Show?
In three episodes, Cyber City Oedo manages to create a world of intrigue and excitement. Sengoku, Benten, and Goggles serve up their own brand of dry wit, as they help to keep the world safe from rogue robots, cannibalistic killers, and other threats to Oedo City. While there is no over-arching plot, each episode manages to excite and enthrall with gorgeous action scenes and punchy plots.
Gorgeous animation and an industrial-electronic soundtrack helped to sell the grungy, desolate universe that the characters inhabited, and brought life to the many car chases, fights, and explosions within the show.
Cyber City Oedo is a title that simply didn’t exist in the eyes of many. Terrible timing to market and a general drifting away from cyberpunk led the title to be a two-time loser at retail, and a hidden treasure for the few that purchased it. The dialogue wasn’t Oscar-worthy, and there were a few definite rough edges that pop up through the show’s three episodes. However, the series is far more than the sum of its parts, and stands as a testament to a genre that is now nearly dead in today’s market.
Cyber City’s license lapsed when Central Park closed up shop. However, copies of the show are still fairly easy to come by.