Cyber City Oedo 808 is a 1990 original video anime series directed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri, written by Akinori Endo and animated by studio Madhouse. The three episode series was released in Japan between June 1990 and October 1991.
“The year is 2808. The place: Oedo, a cybernetic megalopolis of the future where the dreams of a brighter tomorrow are drowning in a tide of violence, vice and villainy. Driven to breaking point, the forces of law and order are left with no choice but to use the very criminals they capture to help hunt their own kind.
Enter hardened cyber criminals Sengoku, Gogul, and Benten. Presented by police chief Hasegawa with a stark choice, they must decide to either rot in jail for the rest of their lives, or join a special force of the Cyber Police and possibly get one more chance at freedom.
With their less than subtle blend of extreme violence and excessive swearing, some hard justice is coming to Oedo. With each criminal apprehended and each successful mission completed, the state will agree to reduce their sentences. But with each of them serving a 300-year stretch, and Hasegawa keeping them in line with explosive collars, will they survive long enough to be free men once again?”Plot Synopsis via Anime Limited, January 2021
Before the 2000s, anime was slowly being discovered by international fans and many of them go into the medium through the various films and OVAs that were being released by distributors such as Manga Entertainment, Central Park Media, ADV Films, AnimEigo and more. The anime that eventually gathered the most appeal were the likes of Akira, Ghost in the Shell and Ninja Scroll, but there were also a couple of others that still had a cult status in a sense.
Ninja Scroll director Yoshiaki Kawajiri was the most notable of the group, as many of his works during the 80s, 90s and early 00s gathered a big following for its mature content, animation and direction. Examples include Wicked City, Demon City Shinjuku and Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust, but there was an OVA series that also had a cult following, though mainly in the west.
Cyber City Oedo 808 was brought over from Japan to the United Kingdom by Manga Entertainment and they released the series on VHS which was the standard at the time. However, they did two things that nowadays generally would not happen – the first is what was known as “fifteening”, where the distributor wants their licensed anime to earn a 15 or 18 rating, because at the time anime was mostly known for its language, violence and sexual content. What they do is basically add a lot of stronger language so that the rating is automatically set to at least a 15, because anime appeals more to the older audience.
The second change they did was revamp the music for each episode. Rather than using Kazz Toyama’s original score, Manga brought in Rory McFarlane to provide a more rock-centric score which incidentally helped bring more nostalgia and appeal to the series for the western audience.
Eventually like most of the classic anime released pre-2000s, licensing rights eventually expire and so did Cyber City Oedo 808. The series never received a DVD release in the UK. Fast-forward to 2019 and distributor Anime Limited announced they have acquired Cyber City Oedo 808 for the UK and this time for the Blu-ray format, a first for the OVA series in any territory. While it will be presented as an upscale, it was handled in the best way possible for new and older fans of classic anime.
Collector’s Edition Contents:
Anime Limited’s collector’s edition for Cyber City Oedo 808 carries over the traditional packaging style that the distributor likes to go for.
This release is presented with a rigid box containing a digipack to house the discs, as well as a 48-page booklet containing a ton of content such as interviews with UK Dub writer John Wolskel and UK music composer Rory McFarlane, an article by Jonathan Clements and character profiles.
Now while the OVA series is basically the length of a film and only needs one Blu-ray disc, the digipack also houses Rory McFarlane’s original soundtrack CD which is a pretty rare treat. The English soundtrack did get a standalone release a long time ago, but that’s out of print so now fans have a second chance with this collector’s edition release.
The artwork is free of any information or BBFC content and the info sheet covers the information and specification like previous Anime Limited releases. The collector’s edition Blu-ray has 1000 units printed for an SRP of £39.99 (the higher price is due to the soundtrack CD). This is also a Blu-ray only release and is expected to receive a standard edition sooner than later.
I pre-ordered the series during the Anime Limited 12 Days of Christmas 2020 event where it was on early bird for £24.99, but thanks to the Screen Anime membership I acquired it for about 15% less with Planetes.
- Rigid Box with digipack packaging and clean artwork
- Info sheet for specification and BBFC description
- Rory McFarlane’s original English dub soundtrack CD
- 48-page Booklet
Distributor: Anime Limited
Released: 18th January 2021
Cyber City Oedo 808 covers all three episodes of the OVA series on a single Blu-ray disc. The encode and authoring were done by Anime Limited and the folks over at MediaOCD including Justin Sevakis, who have experience dealing with classic anime that required a new upscale and the best presentation possible.
The audio options available for the series include Japanese with English subtitles, the classic Manga Entertainment UK English dub that utilises Rory McFarlane’s soundtrack and the Central Park Media (US Manga Corp.) US English dub using the original Japanese soundtrack by Kazz Toyama (this audio option covers both signs and lyrics for the subtitles as well). The white subtitles are unlockable during playback, and the regions are locked to B for Blu-ray.
The on-disc extras also include a special one hour documentary that looks into how the OVA series was brought over to the UK, the process of deciding to change the music and the many people who saw its impact at the time. This documentary premiered at Cloud Matsuri November 2020 and is worth a watch.
|Audio||English (UK) DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0|
English (US) DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
|Video||1080p High Definition Upscaled format|
“Remastered from Standard Definition source”
4:3 aspect ratio
Blu-ray On-Disc Extra Features:
- Episodes 1 & 2 Japanese Commentary with Masao Maruyama (Producer) & Yoshiaki Kawajiri (Director)
- Inside Cyber City Oedo Documentary
- Manga Entertainment UK VHS Trailer
- Central Park Media US DVD Trailers
Cyber City Oedo 808 is available to order through multiple retailers across the United Kingdom. You can order the collector’s edition Blu-ray on Amazon UK.
(Disclaimer: Amazon links are also included when available. They are affiliated so if you decide to order them, I’ll earn a small percentage if they ship which will help me with any hauls or small bills.)