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"Coyote Ragtime Show" Collection: Even the Coyotes Won’t Touch It

by on December 11, 2008

A while back, when I reviewed Coyote Ragtime Show‘s first volume, I expressed annoyance about the numerous sources who said the series sucked. It left me feeling like a cretin, since I enjoyed the first four episodes.

Well, ultimately, I find that “they” were right. Despite a promising start, the rest of the show doesn’t live up to the first four stories, and I became more disinterested the deeper I got into it.

The series concerns a famous criminal, nicknamed Mister, who breaks out of prison a week before his term is up. Why would he do something so asinine? Because there’s a planet named Graceland set to detonate in a week, and said planet happens to contain a valuable treasure. For help, he gets his team back together, including a girl named Franca who is the only one who knows the way to the treasure. Private investigator Angelica Burns and her new partner, Chelsea Moore, are tailing Mister and the gang, hoping to bring them in (although, as is revealed later in the series, Angelica has other reasons for being so adamant about chasing Mister). As if that isn’t enough, twelve ruthless female robots named after the months of the year are also following Mister and his posse, as they want the treasure for themselves. As such, they constantly try to hinder their progress.

All of this sounds more exciting and interesting than it actually is. Despite the fact that this is supposed to be an action series, there’s a lot of talking, unremarkable sneaking around, and dead moments. And before you ask: No, the talk isn’t that engaging, because the personalities of the characters are so flat. Remember Cowboy Bebop? There was a cast that played off each other well, especially since they got on each others’ nerves quite a bit. You don’t get that here; I didn’t particularly care about any of these characters, or find any of their comedic dialog funny. In addition to being uninteresting characters, there are too many of them. You could cut the crew down to three members and it wouldn’t make much of a difference. And were twelve robot maids really necessary? Outside of one, who decides to help Angelica and Chelsea after her head is separated from her body, none are given a personality to speak of and exist solely to hinder the protagonists. And because there are twelve of them, their screen time has to be divided up, which gives even less time to each.

Even the action isn’t anything special. There are lots of explosions and gunfire, yes, but it’s the kind that never seems to hit the characters, and so exists solely as a kind of visual background noise. There is a moment halfway through the series where Mister is shot, but that’s only a temporary inconvenience. It would’ve been better if it had hurt him so that he had trouble partaking in the mission, as that would’ve made their odds of getting the treasure even slimmer (thus increasing the tension), but no such luck.

I think my biggest disappointment is with Franca. The main thread of her plot has her concerned that the crew is just using her to get the treasure and will discard or abandon her after they accomplish the mission. That’s a set-up for good conflict and inner turmoil, but the show never really explores it. We get a brief scene where she asks Mister if that’ll be the case, and he basically denies it, and the subject is hardly touched again. Talk about a letdown.

And if you’re expecting a slam-bang ending to at least make up for the slow moments, think again. Tthe infiltration of the rotating treasure-holding cube is short-lived and not nearly as life-threatening or cool as the tutorial video during episode 4 made it seem, and there is little tension to the ever-approaching planet explosion. Even the final sword battle between villain Marciano and Mister doesn’t contain any real suspense; we’re pretty certain Mister will come out okay. Compare that to Revy vs. Ginji in Black Lagoon, which was much more nail-biting. But then, that series is much better in general.

Even the art takes a dive from the first volume. Too much time is spent in the crew’s spaceship with stars in the background, which is visually monotonous. Their eventual destination, Graceland, is nothing more than a bland rock desert with nothing particularly distinctive. And the animation in the second half of the series, while not terrible, isn’t as excellent as the first episode. It’s like they poured all their resources into that opener to sucker us in. About the only consistent positive in the series is the music. It’s very funky Mission: Impossible-esque BGM and fits the show nicely.

Since this is an ADV thinpak (now re-released by FUNimation), there are no special features aside from trailers and clean opens/closes. There weren’t any to speak of on the old ADV singles either, so it’s not like we’re missing out on anything. At least the cover art, displaying quite a few of the characters, is nice.

While not the worst show I’ve ever seen, Coyote Ragtime Show isn’t particularly enthralling. That’s a shame, because its first few episodes showed such promise. I get the feeling this would’ve been infinitely better as a feature film instead of a series, because then the useless scenes could have been cut (thus resulting in tighter pacing) and the animation budget would’ve been higher.

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