Brief Thoughts On: 6 Angels

I can certainly be brief about this anime because I have no clue what I just watched. 6 Angels finds itself in that wonderful sweet spot where it’s both needlessly complicated as well as entirely uninteresting. That anybody actually cared enough to preserve this anime for the future is nothing short of a miracle.

A hail of rockets is fired at the incoming helicopters

The basic premise—as I eventually deciphered it—is that there’s an all-girls mercenary team called The Rose Guards. They have been hired to investigate a former prison complex that has been taken over by a criminal organization. During their approach their helicopter is shot down, whereupon the girls find themselves in a nuclear wasteland that has become a battlefield between thugs, robot suits, US soldiers, and other weirdos.

The first sign of trouble was that 6 Angels kicks off in medias res with the helicopter crash before cutting back to the start of the missions. In its rush to dump lore on you, it then forgets to provide an adequate introduction for the crew. Who are these people? What has brought them to this profession? What can they actually do? What are their relations to each other? When the episode catches back up to the present, you know just as little about these characters as you did the first time watching that scene.

A shot of The Rose Guards seated in a vehicle.

This does not change much over the course of the story. Screentime is heavily contested between the 6 protagonists and extras, not to mention the convoluted plot that has to be crammed in there. Much of this plot is also conveyed through exposition sequences, monologues, and boring discussions, which leaves the audience with little to really be taken in by.

Even the general concept of the anime is unclear to me; we got all-female mercenaries and Cold War era politics, but then also a sci-fi theme with robot suits and crazy technologies, but also magical girl shenanigans because each Rose Guard has a special power, but then also an entirely different flavor of magic exists and, also, there is a theological throughline in the story.

Whatever 6 Angels was supposed to be, it was too ambitious for just 6 episodes of wavering runtime.

A bad-looking shot of a CGI wasteland.

Even if the anime had more time and maybe a second draft for its script, that wouldn’t have helped its glaring visual issues. 6 Angels is just plain ugly. The girls themselves are horrifically over-designed. Extravagant hairstyles and random sci-fi fashion, all of them in bright colors without any kind of unified palette. The lack of cohesion makes these characters feel like a bunch “cool” ideas got thrown together at the last minute.

But wait, there’s more. While the characters are too colorful for their own good, much of the anime’s environments consist of lifeless CGI. The contrast this creates is so obviously wrong that I am baffled how they had the gall to keep making more of it. It’s painfully obvious that the characters and special effects don’t inhabit the world painted by the backgrounds and environments, making it all feel terribly fake.

This is then compounded on by the amateurish directing and frequent animation mistakes, sometimes going so far as to literally have animations missing. Even at the best of times, the lackluster action scenes fail to inspire even the slightest hint of excitement.

A comedy scene where Rose Guard members criticize their leader Maki.

6 Angels is evidently not good, nor do I see any path through which that could have turned out otherwise. Its problems are numerous and fundamental, while its appeals are so shallow that any other anime could outclass it. It came out in 2001, but brings to mind some of the most bottom-tier OVA releases of the 1980s. It may have been an early pioneer of the ONA format, but other series like Mahou Yuugi were so far ahead of it that even this can’t be leveraged as an excuse.