Even if they're students, why are these girls wearing school uniforms while on a special OPs mission?
There's a few reasons why I'm pretty sure I'm not blogging Coppelion this season, though I don't think it's a bad show at all. First off, the premise isn't quite my style, despite its edginess and dark undertones; this is a post-apocalyptic world of the kind we face in real life. It's a world where a nuclear disaster has decimated the population of Tokyo and ultimately forced humanity to abandon the city, and likely affected much of the rest of the world. Yet despite that intrigue, the part that doesn't quite work for me are the girls, the specially genetically engineered "coppelion" school girls who have incredibly high resistance to radiation and are the only people who can walk into the city like it's nothing. Why doesn't this work for me? It's a little absurd, for one thing, and not because they're girls (definitely not because they're girls). There's something in the way these girls are depicted that doesn't really seem to add up to the narrative, and it's just a little disappointing, though there's some other things I'm a bit disillusioned about too.
My problem with the premise lies in the fact that these girls are supposed to be some sort of special, secret, operations force who go out into the city and find survivors (from what exactly? The nuclear meltdown itself? People who have since gone in?). Yet for all that, only one of the girls, Naruse Ibara (Tomatsu Haruka), seems at all prepared for the horrors of her job. The other two girls seem rather fickle and unwilling, especially the HanaKana character, who I'm not at all disposed to name since I disliked nearly every moment she was on screen. They really just seem like regular girls, and they're definitely portrayed in a fanservicey sort of way, so much so that I can't really imagine how a trio of children got sent out with more or less what seems like no training, genetic alterations or not. That doesn't mean they're bad characters, especially Ibara, who is compassionate and clearly not taking her job for granted, but they're kind of difficult to accept in a premise this dark. Then there's also the fact that the premiere ended on a cliffhanger without explaining all too much: why were the girls sent now? What sort of organization is this school? How did the nuclear disaster happen? Who are these survivors? What does the series mean to do from here?
What I did like, and make no mistake that I did like something, is the atmosphere. The style itself is a little over the top for me, with bold outlines reminiscent of Shingeki no Kyojin and a strange bluish filter over everything, but when it comes to depicting the world as an apocalyptic wasteland, Coppelion delivers. The art is gorgeous when it comes to the backgrounds and motions, and there's a specifically desolate sensation on watching these three small girls wander this huge, ruined cityscape. It's a lonely and depressing effect, very well done, and I'm hoping that once the series really gets going, my initial issues with the premise and characters will be inconsequential. It would be a waste not to enjoy the beauty of such a world, but at least for now, I'm pretty sure this is a series I'm keeping as a "watching only" candidate.
Episode 1 Screencaps: "Puppet (Coppelion)"