009-1 Review


Hurr hurr tits.

Amazingly, people still apparently read my blog. I base this statement on the fact that I had new comments since I last checked in here, and the number of hits has remained relatively stable in the roughly two weeks since my last post. Kudos for your faithfulness, I suppose?

For better or worse, I’ve been spending time hacking my way through my backlog of already-owned shows, since I really can’t stream where I am right now and so can’t keep up with most of the shows airing currently. I also have a connection far too slow to sustain much downloading. But, hey, finally watching shit I’ve owned forever, fuck yeah!

I started with Weiss Kreuz, watched its sequel, and then when I decided I felt like more crappy assassin shows, grabbed 009-1’s discs and tossed them in. However, while the first episode seemed to confirm that 009-1 would be a Cold War cheesecake-y romp, things quickly moved in a direction where it’d be disingenuous to class it with the likes of Weiss Kreuz.

Now, this isn’t to say that 009-1 is good, necessarily. It has some pretty solid episodes, although on the balance it clocks in at ‘decent’. That it starts off as tits and ass spy antics before deciding to attempt a serious business storyline about mutants (who are either test subjects or the targets of death squads) is really the sticking point – they don’t gel terribly well. While some of the more serious episodes were pretty decent, the mutant storyline was fairly clunky and seemed to have been tossed in at the last moment. The show should’ve stuck to heavier fare that involve our heroine, Mylene, directly – stuffing in the mutant material was overkill and awkward. And, really, at this point, if you’re going to have mutants running around in your story to make moral points, you need to remember that X-Men and Terra e… are going to be your most likely comparison points. Both blow 009-1’s attempts out of the water.

“But Day,” you may say, “009-1’s manga pre-dates both of those!”

True. But 009-1’s anime does not. Simply copying from the original material is no excuse for a lackluster arc. Especially when something more engaging is already at hand, as Mylene’s family history is intermixed with the mutant storyline, although there is no need for it. It would’ve been easy to substitute another crisis (there is an attempt by mutants to force humankind at large to cease their abuse and murder of all mutants which involves nuclear weapons) in as the axis upon which Myelene’s sudden revelation turns. Trying to stuff in a moral of the story while Mylene’s background is explored is simply overdoing it.

Thus, 009-1 is at its best when its either a. tight clothes, short skirts, and espionage, or b. tight clothes, short skirts, espionage, and explorations of the character’s psyches. 009-1 really isn’t bad at the latter, although Mylene’s story is hardly original.

But, really, what is most intriguing about 009-1 is how terribly Cold War it feels. Which makes sense, considering the manga was published during the height of said conflict. It also feels incredibly American, if anything, with our cyborg spy working on behalf of the Western Bloc after having fled the East for the sake of freedom. Members of the Eastern Bloc are by and large ugly, cruel, and are generally dead by the time the ED music queues up. Members of the Western Bloc are attractive (at least, the women are), conscientious, and most likely to help a stranger out.

On the other hand, the Western Bloc shoots mutants whereas the Eastern Bloc experiments on them. Its hard to decide which is the crueler option of the two. But it doesn’t alter the fact that the plot, characters, and viewpoint don’t feel terribly Japanese, even if the visuals are a dead giveaway.

If it sounded like I was being harsh about 009-1, I actually enjoyed it a fair bit. The mutant storyline should’ve been axed, but overall it was a decent show. I’m not sure I can recommend it wholly, as I do think a lot of enjoyment rests upon how much you like or dislike Cold War stories involving spies (and your enjoyment or tolerance of cheesecake). While I don’t enjoy those poorly-written paperback thrillers taking place during the Cold War, I do nevertheless find the era fascinating. You could certainly do worse than 009-1.

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2 Responses to 009-1 Review

  1. Katherine says:

    Cheesy as 009-1 sounds, it also sounds kind of interesting because of its setting. Love the subtlety of the Eastern Bloc/Western Bloc comparisons. ^_^

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