Coppelion is an anime series based on a manga series written and illustrated by Tomonori Inoue. The anime is produced by GoHands and is directed by Shingo Suzuki. Coppelion aired on Japanese television from October 2-December 25, 2013. As of this writing, VIZ Media holds the North American streaming and home video rights for the series.
Coppelion takes place in a postapocalyptic setting, where a disaster has taken place in the capital and the people had to be evacuated. Genetically engineered children called Coppelion were created. They were born with a strong resistance to the environment, so they can walk through the capital in order to look for any survivors. The Coppelion attend the National Defense Academy technical school, hence why you tend to see them dressed in school uniforms while out on missions.
At the beginning of the series, there are three Coppelion who are focused on: Ibara Naruse, Aoi Fukasaku, and Taeko Nomura. In the first episode, the three girls are sent to the capital to investigate the city and determine if there are still any people there.
In episode two, they find a man in a hazmat suit. He’s Mitsuo Kawabata, and he takes the three Coppelion to where he, his wife Yukiko, and daughter Miku have been living. Miku, who has learned to put on her own hazmat suit, has gone missing. The Coppelion go to find her.
In episode three, they find two men in hazmat suits, and they have been delivering supplies to the survivors who are still in the capital. It turns out one of the men is Professor Shiba, who was the scientist that was ultimately responsible for the accident that destroyed the capital. Through these men, they learn about an elderly woman who has not been rescued. When they go to get her, they are attacked by a stealth aircraft. Not only do the Coppelion rescue the elderly woman, they also discover many canisters of high-level waste in the speedboat racing pool.
After getting a list of people in the capital from Professor Shiba, the Coppelion continue looking for survivors. In episode five, they find Gojiro Kajii and his pregnant daughter, Ibuki. They have been attacked by the 1st Division, a group of soldiers who were abandoned by the government in the capital after the accident. Gojiro takes them to The Planet, a refuge where the Kajiis and some other survivors have been living.
The remainder of the series sees the Coppelion trying to help the people at The Planet escape out of the capital. Three more Coppelion are introduced during this section of the series: Haruto Kurosawa, Kanon Ozu, and Shion Ozu. Unfortunately, a couple of these Coppelion have decided to side with the 1st Division, who have decided to take out revenge on the world for their abandonment by setting off a large amount of toxic waste. It becomes a race against time to help the survivors at The Planet to escape.
At the beginning of the series, the Coppelion believe that they are simply “dolls,” since this tends to be the perception that the public has of them. Through their early encounters with humans in the series, they come to understand that they are more than the dolls that they have been told that they are. Of all the characters, I think that Ibara went through the most change in this regard.
During the series, several ethical questions are raised that make the viewer think about them and how those decisions could affect the characters of Coppelion and the world that these characters inhabit.
I will admit that the story was a little slow to get going at first; however, once it did get going, I became emotionally invested in the characters and in some of the ethical questions that they found themselves facing.
The animation is probably the weakest part of Coppelion. While the backgrounds look incredible, the character designs and animation are a bit on the weak side. Right at first, I noticed that the black lines around the Coppelion characters were thick and stood out a lot in comparison to the backgrounds; however, as time went on, the black lines didn’t stand out as much to me. Unfortunately, I don’t know if this was due to a change in the animation, or if I had simply become accustomed to the look as the series progressed. I also noticed that the Coppelion looked rather pale in comparison to the other characters, and at first, I thought this was supposed to signify the fact that they are engineered humans. However, this theory was thrown out the window after Ibuki was introduced, because she was a human who was just as pale as the Coppelion.
Personally, I enjoyed Coppelion, but I know there were a good number of detractors of the series on the Internet. Ultimately, it’s a series I would recommend to viewers who can overlook some of the weaknesses in the animation and are willing to watch an anime series that might make them think a little while they’re watching it. If you want mindless entertainment, you’re not going to find it in Coppelion.