The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Inferno Cop

Title: Inferno Cop
Genre: Comedy/Action
Company: Studio Trigger
Format: 13 ONA
Dates: 25 Dec 2012 – 19 Mar 2013

Synopsis: Inferno Cop is a messenger of justice who has come back from the black pits of hell to deliver vengeance against the evildoers of Jack Knife Edge Town. His enemies are the vile villains of Southern Cross, superheroes and even the FBI.

The Highlights
Visuals: Stiff and downright bad, but in an intentional way that informs the tone and humor.
Humor: Ranges from crude bodily humor to parodies of anime genres and tropes.
Inferno Cop: A great hero; that is, of course, until he gets distracted by fulfilling his desires.

When Imaishi Hiroyuki left Gainax to form Trigger, many were understandably excited about what his new studio might come up with. Who wouldn’t want to see new work from the director of Dead Leaves, Gurren Lagann and Panty and Stocking? Much like the anime Imaishi directed, Trigger‘s first anime, Inferno Cop — which Imaishi supervised rather than directed — is not like what people expected, however. This is not a bad thing.

Inferno Cop is a crude production in every sense. The animation barely exists; it’s like a more exaggeratedly bad South Park. Each character has one pose they keep for the duration of the series — not one animation, but a single pose. When they leap around, fall over, or whatever else, they hold onto that pose as if their life depended on it. The characters don’t walk so much as they hop around angrily from place to place. Character designs are cheerfully reused throughout the series. Live-action special effects are occasionally inserted awkwardly to provide a climactic punch to action sequences (such as they are).

The cheapness of the production is amusing, but if Inferno Cop were cheap simply for the sake of being so, the joke would wear out before long. Instead, the production values inform the entire tone of the series. They strip away all the shiny packaging of most anime and lay bare all the silliness of many standard anime tales and tropes. The initial target is the old ultraviolent OVA (think Angel Cop, Mad Bull 34 and the like). Inferno Cop is a tough-talking police officer who has returned from hell to enact revenge upon a shady supergroup. Extreme violence is the order of the day as far as Inferno Cop is concerned; however, he lives in a world that is not entirely concerned with concluding plots spectacularly. In one instance, Inferno Cop finds himself being tried by Mr. Judge, who required Inferno Cop to make it to the Supreme Court via a shonen battle tournament. The case turns into a shouting match over who is truly guilty, and Inferno Cop ends up incarcerated — and, later, the victim of a car crash. But then that storyline is discarded, as Inferno Cop wakes up in the hospital accosted by an insane surgeon and the FBI, only to later find out he has woken in the middle of a zombie apocalypse.

Inferno Cop‘s method of anticlimax and its Frankenstein mishmash of plot points and tropes makes the experience convoluted and confusing. The real joke, however, is that it’s no sillier than many more serious anime that make their mark by introducing a whole host of shocking twists at the end of the story. I don’t even want to hint at the silliest excesses of Inferno Cop, because they’re so damn funny when they show up. But Inferno Cop isn’t satisfied solely with poking a bit of fun at the self-seriousness of cartoons. There are also many instances of crude bodily humor; for me, these bits aren’t as effective, because they’re executed Family Guy style. That is, prolong the joke as long as possible in the hopes that the sheer absurdity of length makes the joke loop around and become funny. This almost never works. Perhaps, though, I am simply a curmudgeon.

I cannot conclude this review without writing about Inferno Cop himself. He’s a great protagonist, someone who presents himself as the righteous arm of justice but is as selfish and dumb as anyone else in the series. Inferno Cop is particularly prone to being distracted by delicious food, a running gag that somehow never got old for me. Maybe it’s the joyous way Inferno Cop shouts, “Umai!!” as he chows down on something yummy while bad things inevitably happen to the innocent who is unfortunate enough to accompany him. The way Inferno Cop gets frustrated and abandons his duty is also continually amusing, as is his ever present confusion regarding the insanity that surrounds him.

Inferno Cop is a silly, light series. It’s worth mentioning that it’s an ONA, and every episode is quite short; the entire series can be viewed in under an hour, and for free legally on YouTube, at that. It’s a great diversion for anyone who wants to delve into something truly weird and pull out in a hurry.

The Rating: 7

Reviewed by: Shinmaru

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