To combat computerised crime more effectively, the Cyber Police unit of the future Japanese city of Oedo has restarted the feudal practice of hōmen (放免), employing hardened criminals with a history of hi-tech offences and other crimes such as murder as officers themselves.
Three such criminals are Sengoku, Gogol and Benten who are serving their 300-or-more year sentences in an orbital penitentiary. For duty served, each criminal will receive a reduction in their prison time. Desperate to get away from the boredom and monotony of jail life, they half-heartedly agree to the deal. They answer to police chief Hasegawa who keeps them in check thanks to an explosive collar that each criminal wears around his neck. Hasegawa can blow this collar from a distance and it will also explode if they fail to complete their missions within an allocated time period.
Although there are no specifics to what kind of society the series is based in, it is presented as very high-tech but also with a very dystopian feel. In the first episode for example, a man under pressure confesses to a murder (which he did commit) and which is responsible for the present crisis. This is enough for Hasegawa to order Sengoku to kill the man there and then without so much as a trial. When Sengoku fails to do so his sentence is increased.
There are three episodes, each one serving to focus more on the personal exploits of one of the three-man team. The UK release had different titles for these episodes than other markets did.
- Episode 1; "Virtual Death" (aka "Time Bomb" or "Memories Of The Past"): Sengoku is sent to save 50,000 people trapped in Oedo's largest skyscraper after its central computer is mysteriously taken over. Along the way, he finds that the only suspect is a dead man.
- Episode 2; "Psychic Trooper" (aka "The Decoy" or "The Decoy Program"): Gogol's investigation of a murder pits him against an experimental military cyborg as he tries to rescue his ex-partner. Of note is that during this episode we see at least one other cyber-criminal trying to (unsuccessfully) remove his collar, so we know that there are more than our three anti-heroes being employed by the Cyber Police unit.
- Episode 3; "Blood Lust" (aka "The Vampire" or "Crimson Media" ): The freak murder of three geneticists leads Benten to investigate one man's quest for immortality, as well as finding a young woman transformed into a psychic vampire because of this quest.
- Shunsuke Sengoku (千石 旬介 Sengoku Shunsuke?, センゴク Sengoku) is very anti-social and a renegade. He uses a high velocity .44 Magnum revolver as his weapon of choice and swears a lot. He is fond of teasing Benten for his effeminate looks. Seemingly contractually obligated to be followed everywhere by Varsus (see below), who monitors his behaviour, keeping him in line while occasionally helping Sengoku out of tight spots. Sengoku is serving a sentence of 375 years, with a 0.005% chance of parole. Shunsuke Sengoku is voiced by Hiroya Ishimaru in Japanese and Bruce Martin in English.
- Rikiya Gabimaru (蛾眉丸 力也 Gabimaru Rikiya?), also known as Gogol (ゴーグル Gōguru?) In the opening title sequence his name is also given as Go:gl. A blinded ex-heavyweight boxer, the punk-like Gogol is a brilliant combination of brains and brawn, being a musclebound expert on many subjects ranging from computers to medicine. He has an electronic visor for eyes, and wears a mohawk hairstyle. He is infamous as an expert computer hacker who once used his talents to hack into government datasites and hold them for ransom. Gogol is more stoic with his lot: he realises that hunting down cyber criminals is better fare than rotting away in orbital prison. Gogol is serving a sentence of 310 years, with a 0.013% chance of parole. Gogol is voiced by Tesshō Genda.
- Merill Yanagawa (メリル・柳川 Meriru Yanagawa?), also known as Benten (ベンテン?), seemingly a person meticulous in his job, whose main weapon is a mono wire which can cut through anything. A man of androgynous appearance, he's also an expert gymnast and something of an astrologer: He is often found to be reading bad omens from the alignment (or misalignment) of the stars. Benten is serving a 295 year sentence, with a 0.008% chance of parole. Benten is voiced by Kaneto Shiozawa.
- Juzo Hasegawa (長谷川 十蔵 Hasegawa Jūzō?), the Cyber Police officer responsible for controlling the cyber criminals utilised by the police. He possesses a device that acts as a communicator between police and the three cyber criminals: a dual detonation/reset device for the explosive collars and cigarette lighter. Juzo Hasegawa is voiced by Norio Wakamoto.
- Kyoko Jonouchi (城之内 京子 Jōnouchi Kyōko?, オキョウ Okyou), Hasegawa's secretary, who assists the crooks-turned-cops in their investigations. She openly appreciates their talents and skills better than her boss. She appears to be romantically interested in Sengoku who also appears to care for her, though the fact that they come from different sides of the law makes him hesitant in going any further.
- Varsus (ヴァーサス Vāsesu?), the robotic liaison between the cyber criminals and the police. Often accompanies Sengoku (see above), to keep him in line, provide mission information and be on the receiving end of Sengoku's frustration and insults. Varsus is voiced by Kyousei Tukui in Japanese and Nigel Greaves in English.
The game is clearly quite rare, at least in the West, although there is video of it available on Youtube showing that it does not follow the story line of the OVA and instead the creators of the game opted for an all new story seemingly keeping the main characters. There is no change in the violence quotient. It was released only in Japan with no English localization.
The original British VHS release (also televised on Channel 4 circa 1995) features a more rock-centric 23 track score composed by Rory McFarlane not present on the US or Japanese versions, his score combined rock, electronica and ambient styles as the samples below demonstrate, it has been out of print for years and as such is very rare to find on CD but it is known to be available on the internet. The UK edition score is considered by some fans to be better suited to the ultra violent, dark and stylish atmosphere of the anime than the original (more pop-like) Japanese score. Due to Manga Entertainment, UK losing the rights to the Cyber City series this edition of the score is unavailable on western DVD releases and remains available only on the old VHS versions from the mid nineties.
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You can help Wikipedia by introducing information to it. (December 2010)
- Cyber City Oedo 808 at the Internet Movie Database
- Cyber City Oedo 808 (anime) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia