2009 may be the Chinese year of the ox, but it appears that it's also the anime year of the motorbike. First we had Rideback and its story of bikes with arms, and now here we have Viper's Creed, another series which makes heavy use of motorbikes.
If you're looking for a show that takes time to slowly set out its stall and introduce the major storyline first, then you can forget Viper's Creed, for it cares not for such trifling concerns. Instead, this opening episode is pure, masculine, blood pumping action. We don't really get regaled much as to the why or the where or the what (it's something to do with a private company fighting... stuff), all we really know is that a bunch of mercenary types are chasing an unmanned robot around a city's freeways, using motorbikes that look rather Akira-esque on the surface but also have the ever-handy ability to turn into mechas as well. Oh, and they have a ridiculous arsenal to hand too, from chainsaws to rocket launchers. Between these guys and a Rideback, the latter wouldn't last five seconds.
If there's one thing that becomes an immediately fun game while watching this series, it's playing "spot the anime rip-off". The design of the runaway machine could easily have come from Ghost in the Shell, the half-underwater city reminded me of Kurokami (amongst other things), and the limited battery life of the mechas once they're off the road has obvious Evangelion comparisons. Throw in some good old-fashioned bullet time, and you have a shopping list of things to make the average anime action fan go "oooh".
Arguably the one interesting aspect of the series is the way that (in this episode at least) it focuses quite largely on the task in hand through the eyes of each rider's operator, a female assigned to a particular driver, from their control room. Our introduction to the series is via a new operator, assigned to Saiki, probably the most kick-ass rider of the lot (albeit a man of few words). It probably speaks volumes as to how little this series cares about anything other than the action though, as I don't even remember hearing this female protagonist's name (it's Sakurako, by the way) until almost twenty minutes into the episode.
If you haven't guessed by now, this first episode of Viper's Creed has one modus operandi, and one alone - To woo you with its prettiness, its explosions and its action set to a pounding soundtrack. And you know what? It worked. This is probably the dumbest anime I've watched so far this season, but I really don't care, there's a lot to be said for watching motorbikes that can turn into robots blowing things up, however cliched it may be. I may well get bored of it as the series progresses (and episode two looks like it's going to be flashback-tastic - Who cares, just blow more stuff to smithereens!), but from this opener the action loving side of me is sold.