In the crime-infested Jack Knife Edge Town, Inferno Cop is a brutal vigilante who stands up against the powerful Southern Cross organization. He must go on a series of bizarre and nonsensical adventures to stop the evil group from eliminating him and conquering the world. (Adapted from ANN)
After leaving GAINAX for reasons that remain unclear, director Hiroyuki Imaishi lay low for some time, his name being quietly removed from the studio's roster, before reemerging in 2011 as the head of Trigger, a new animation company. Co-founded with some other former GAINAX employees, Trigger first did some bit work on series such as The iDOLM@STER before emerging with this oddball web series, the parodic saga of an undead vigilante cop. Its crass, irreverent humor and stylized delivery place it neatly into Imaishi's canon of similarly manic series. Sadly, I don't think that it represents his humor at its best.
There is almost no rhyme or reason to Inferno Cop, but since none was promised, this is not something I necessarily begrudge it for. This series settles into a strange sort of happy medium between episodic stories and a continuing narrative by frequently closing episodes with non sequiturs that may, for example, add a new twist to the battle between Inferno Cop and his enemies by throwing them back 65 million years into the time of the dinosaurs, thus opening the door for more absurd jokes to be made. Although nothing is sacred in this show, American graphic novels are the primary target of its parodies, Inferno Cop's appearance being an obvious tribute to Marvel's Ghost Rider, the characters being drawn in the detailed, line-heavy style of Superhero comics, and the animators frequently rendering sound effects in visual form (e.g. "POW!" and "KABOOM!") as was perfected ad nauseum by American comic artists.
Though interesting in concept, I didn't find much of this to be especially clever, and beyond the cultural parody the jokes are often clunky. Frequently, the humor is provided by the characters launching into long and dramatic speeches, a comedic tactic whose success rate is middling in my experience, and they just don't quite pull it off here. The style is superlatively absurd, a bit too much for me, for the most most random and ridiculous stuff that could possibly exist passes by before one can even comprehend what is funny about it: it's impossible to laugh because you're constantly out of breath while trying to catch up with it. It doesn't help, meanwhile, that the usual combination of flamboyant humor and dramatic visuals in Imaishi's work isn't there to back the jokes up. Indeed, there is virtually no animation whatsoever, the characters being cut-outs who almost never move their limbs or change their expressions but are instead slid around the screen in locked positions for comedic effect. It's amusing enough at first, but it got old quickly, and it doesn't quite complement the verbal delivery of the jokes as well as was intended. This is not to say I think the series is "bad" for doing this, since it was clearly trying to create a low budget appearance for comedic effect; I just wasn't as amused as the creators may have expected. Inferno Cop is, I think, also let down by its extremely short length: the episodes are 3 minutes long, and 40 seconds of that is already taken up by a credits sequence with a not especially good J-Rock number. While Imaida specializes in the manic, in this case the studio might have made it just a bit longer for better effect: the experience of watching it is that of barely having time to register what one even just did watch.
This is probably the first review I have written in which I will urge the reader to take my opinion with a grain of salt. I'm criticizing Inferno Cop for precisely what it intended to do in the first place, probably, and many people will be laughing so hard they won't even have time to notice the defects I've been picking on. It's true that comedy is hard for me in general, as people who've read my other reviews may know. But on the whole, while Imaida is not my favorite director, I've liked and laughed heartily at Gurren Lagann and some of his other stuff. While I see his style all over this one, it just didn't do it for me. I suppose that's the short version of what I'm trying to say.
Manic, absurdist humor that wasn't my thing. Add a star if you consider yourself a fan of Hiroyuki Imaida, or if you think the pure insanity of it all will carry you through. Given how short it is, I'd say check a few episodes out and see whether the style appeals to you. — Nick Browne
Recommended Audience: This is most definitely not for kids; there's enough stylized violence and crudeness of all sorts to indicate that that was targeted at teenagers and adults. The translation on YouTube also includes strong profanity in almost every episode, and while some of the letters in these words are censored out it is normally obvious what is being said.
Version(s) Viewed: Stream courtesy of Youtube. (See licensor.)
Review Status: Full (13/13)
Inferno Cop © 2012 Trigger
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