Active Raid takes place well into the future, where even mechas are outdated, and the latest technology is ACTIVE (Armored Combined Tactical Intelligence Vanguard Elements)– the police have started using ACTIVE along with new pieces of combative hardware/armor, known as Willwears.
The series revolves around a group known as “Unit 8”–a team that most government branches, officials, and the general public view as a band of misfit willwearers with some very destructive tendencies. Truth be told, Unit 8 is the one team that doesn’t play the political game–not by choice but by necessity–because all they honestly want to do is keep the people of Tokyo safe. They’re the good guys who are looking to do the right thing but are held back by policies, politicians, and jurisdiction lines; and when things go south they’re the scape goats.
So far the story in Active Raid is clearly of the “progression” kind. The idea of a futuristic society with cyborg like enhancements was easily captures within the first episode, but because Unit 8 boasts a very large cast (coincidentally, 8 people) it seems that the first arc to this series is all about building foundations for those character. There’s a lot of surface-level revelations, but Active Raid makes no attempt to dig deep into any particular character; it keeps things simple on that front. Each episode of Active Raid rides this dual line of character background/understanding, while trying to make the over arching plot move forward. For now, the actual plot to Active Raid is a bit of mystery. I mean, I totally understand the characters and their perceptive- even have some history on them…But what’s the actual plot to Active Raid? I really couldnt tell you besides that there is a mysterious shadow organization, Logos, that purposfully goes out of their way to make trouble in the city to lure out Unit 8. That’s it. I’m not joking. The antagonist to Active Raid is mysterious and does not give any indication of what they’re looking to accomplish. The frustrating part about this little detail, is what the audience knows, is what Unit 8 knows. Unit 8 has no clue what is happening in the back ground, but it seems like theyre starting to slowly notice a trend and that they are the common factor. Story wise, character wise, and development wise, Active Raid is pretty sub-par.
If Active Raid was a single season series, my review for the series would go in a different direction, but it’s not. Active Raid is scheduled for two season, the second season picking back up in the Summer. So, this gives the series a little bit of leeway in my review; because there will be a second season Im banking on the story to ramp up in the future which will allows the slow progression, and hidden way too long details a pass (for the time being).
However, Active Raid is a fun watch…even if it has a very slow moving story line with a pretty basic episode formula.
What I do like about each episode is that the character took no time to mesh with each other. Its fun to watch the team dynamics–Unit 8 seems to be rather dysfunctional, but with their chaotic plans they seems to make it work, knowing each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Im a big sucker for casts that meld together well, and Active Raid has truck load of characters that interact with one another, but have a believable team chemistry that works. Double the points because Active Raid has such a large cast of characters; each character really does interact with each other, there are no cliques. On top of that, being able to give all the characters enough screen time so the audience becomes familiar with them, is equally impressive. Active Raid does an amazing job at building character chemistry and managing story time for all of it’s cast.
The animation for Active Raid is also top notch—the production team spared no expense. I love how the animation feels new, but it pays tribute to alot of the old styles of previous futuristic series. When I look at Active Raid, I feel like Im seeing an updated art version of Gundam Wing, but with sharper lines and a ton of color saturation. I have no complaints about the explosion of color that is used in Active Raid, in fact it’s one of the perks of the series. The colors in Active Raid are gorgeous and pair well with the art style, but what I find intriguing is that the color of the animation makes it seem like everything is going the way its supposed to. At first glance, or watch, the audience cant tell something more sinister is about to happen–the bright colors of Active Raid set up an atmosphere of “everything is just perfect here!” Whether this was intentional, it’s hard for me to determine, but the color is definitely something to behold.
Another high point for Active Raid is the music and voice acting– the voice actors are clearly seasoned and I absolutely love the choices made. When you listen to a character, the voice matches perfectly for what their personality type is. There are hardly any events in Active Raid where I thought the acting was off—key word: hardly. The only time I cringed in Active Raid is when one the main characters, Kazari, would reply with surprised English remarks. The English was kept to simple phrases like “Are you joking!?” “Are you serious!:?” but it was but painful to hear because you could tell that the voice actress was having some difficulty with the words, and instead of getting a smooth dilouge you could hear the brief hesitation while she was speaking. Thankfully, the quick, surprised, English phrases were put to rest by like episode 3, so didnt have to deal with that for very long. The music in Active Raid is pretty sparse, I dont think much of the score during the episodes, but I absolutely dig the ending and closing sequences. Gold Light, the opening song, is damn catchy and makes me laugh each time because it reminds me of a cleaned up 80’s police sitcom. Not a bad thing! It’s upbeat and fun, a good opening to set the pace for a perky anime.
As it stands the rewatch value for Active Raid is average. I dont think I would visit the series again soon after completing it, but after not seeing it for some time I could see myself picking it back up for some of my favorite highlights. It’s good a show to watch while youre multi tasking since the plot isnt very heavy and doesnt require a whole lot of brain power, but it does make you want to stop and watch some of the character interactions and the climax of each episode.
Overall, Active Raid is a good anime that warrants a once through, Im just hoping that by the time second season rolls around the story picks up and is given a little more depth to pair with the wonderful animation.