Active Raid Impressions

Active Raid has been described by some as similar to the 2014 series Rail Wars, where a collection of youngsters join a group that protects the Japanese Public Railway system. Having watched the first episode of both, I'd say that I agree: Active Raid is like Rail Wars if it weren't horrendously, depressingly boring.

I find a better description is Active Raid is like an animated Sentai, and a very good one, too; the best I've seen since 2013's Kyoryuger. The series is about a team of cops called "The Eighth" who've been assigned special powered armor to deal with the rise in crime in the Tokyo area. When the show begins, they're already a fully-formed, well-oiled team, aside from the newbie Kazari Asami, a woman sent by higher-ups to evaluate this ragtag band and their haphazard way of dealing with things. Kazari provides the "in" to explain the world to the viewers, but also plays off the rest of the group--a by-the-book rookie against a bunch of laid-back pros.

Make no mistake, though: this is a Sentai series through and through. From the complex "outfitting" scenes reminiscent of a henshin sequence, to utilizing "mobile command centers" and the characterization of the team. "Red" is a bit of a hothead who clearly knows a bit more than it seems on the surface, while "Blue" is more of a bookish, stand-off guy and they both get under each other's skin.

There's even shades of Patlabor, with the team's otherwise realistic, down to earth approach to what should be a job dealing with the fantastic, adding an extra layer of hilarity to the support team's interactions. Active Raid has been one of the best surprises I've had this season, with quirky characters that don't rely on the most tired of gags, and a fairly decent amount of well-animated (though clearly CG) action.   My only problem with the series, aside from it being AKINO's worst OP ever, is that it's split-cour with the second part in July.   Still, props go to Production IMS for giving me the best Sentai I've seen in years.


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