OVA October: Cyber City Oedo 808

I’m back with my final post for OVA October. This time being the really interesting piece known as Cyber City Oedo 808. I hesitate to call it a cult classic, or sleeper hit – it’s just one of those pieces where in your anime social circles either everyone and their mother knows of it, or no one has ever heard of it before.

For me I found about thanks to this video by In Praise of Shadows and since it is in the era and similar theming to one of my all time favorite franchises ever – Ghost in the Shell. I was sure I was going to get a lot out of this.

And I did in a way, but I do have to admit that it’s probably due to the priming and framing of In Praise of Shadows’ video. Or maybe I’m starting to think a lot more when I watch older series and try to get in the mindset of the era. Maybe Cyber City Oedo 808 isn’t as deep as I think it is entirely. Let’s find out together!

Cyber City Oedo 808 is set in the fantastic world not so unfamiliar to our own, in the year 2808. Oedo and is overrun with criminals of all types that the Cyber Police must track down. The Cyber Police are pinned though, and make the offer to three of their most notorious convicts; Sengoku, Benten, and Goggles. The deal is the more criminals and crime they stop and solve, their life sentences will be reduced by a few years. Making sure they aren’t running back into their old ways, the three have special collars around their necks that can be detonated at any time.

Before continuing much like aforementioned Hell Target – this OVA needs a HUGE warning for anyone with epilepsy or light sensitivity. There’s a lot of flashing, sparkling, super bright, glitching effects used liberally throughout this OVA. Most are used to highlight the action, but understandably this could cause serious issues so tread with caution.

Back on topic, considering this is a three part OVA, each character gets an episode where they are the focus, first Sengoku, then Goggles, and lastly Benten. Given how short our time is with each character, I’m surprised how much I came to empathize with them as both featured characters and secondary ones. We don’t know how this all came to be, but only how they function in the now. A lot of the more subtle details of their characters are in plain sight, and later highlighted by secondary characters. It’s easy to grow and like them, despite being reminded every opening of just how horrible they supposedly are.

This empathy towards them is later contrasted by how the characters treat themselves and one another. Each one of them is a hopeless case, for every mission the time ‘served’ is but drops in the ocean of their sentence. It’s shown that time can be both ‘served’ and added to the case depending on how it was handled by the individual. Sengoku, Goggles and Benten also aren’t particularly self motivated to do this either – it’s to make the time pass easier. If one of them dies, oh well a new convict will be brought in to replace him. If they refuse a mission – they die. If they take a mission they could live to see another day or die in a terrible manner trying. There’s a coat of hopeless to the whole premise, yet it never feels quite doom and gloom either.

I mean, between the hacking, stealth missions and good ol’ fashion gun fights to be fought, the series never feels too heavy of a watch personally. Plus the threats are very cyber punk, the perfect cocktail of humanity and technology fusing in the worst sorts of ways. I mean that in a very literal, but also metaphorical way. If you take the time to really think of the larger implications between episodes – it’s pretty horrific what happens in a single episode. I’d give examples, but that would spoil the most interesting aspects of the series that I enjoyed.

This is Benten, my favorite character within the series.

Cyber City Oedo 808 as a story, is pretty smartly done. It doesn’t overstay it’s welcome on a per episode basis, being 43 minutes on average. Nor does it extend itself beyond it’s means at three episodes. It left room where it could have been returned to, should Madhouse decided to ever do that, but also feels full where it stands.

In terms of technical aspects, aside from the light sensitivities, it holds up pretty well. The only note is that it reads better in a darkened room, then a bright one. At least based on the version I watched. The characters all moved well on screen, and not too many cheap tricks were used to get around a limited budget. It has a really strong sense of style, between character designs, backgrounds, technology and more. There’s a really good sense of cohesion in all elements that just works well for an OVA like this.

As for overall impact, I can see this genuinely having a split audience. I personally got a lot out of based on elements of Sci-fi that I like, and the bit of introspection I did between episodes. I also don’t think there’s anything wrong with taking this OVA at it’s face value as a cool action-adventure Sci-fi piece. Of all the OVA’s I’ve watched this time around – Cyber City Oedo 808 takes the cake as my most highly recommended.

With that, this year’s OVA October is complete! We’ll see if this makes an appearence next year~ Otherwise, see you next post!


  1. I literally did an air punch when I saw a notification for this post šŸ™‚

    Thank you for your insightful review. Massive love for Cyber City Oedo. I remember that I was in need of Cyberpunk ambience and checked it out/reviewed almost three years ago. It is truly an underappreciated OVA classic.

    PS I love Benten, too šŸ™‚ He had the best story arc in the series.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad it’s gone over well!

      It’s such a great cyberpunk piece! I still wish there was more, but there is such satisfaction for what it is.

      Benten really did! At first I wasn’t sure about the arc, but it concluded so well. So worth it!

      Liked by 1 person

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