Oh where to start...
Story: It starts out pretty episodic, with Mylene pretty much acting like the female, gun-boobed version of James Bond. Towards the end, there is an actual plot revealed involving the psychic children and some sort of world-wide network.
Animation: Was it just me, or did Mylene's eyes look like they contained male anatomy? Besides that, her cyborg body seems a little ill-proportioned (but it's a cyborg body, so of course it is o.o) The style was similar to that of the 70's and 80's, perhaps to connect with the Cold War feel. Also, the "Russians" were almost misshapen in the face...
Sound: I watched the English dubbed version, and the voice actors were chosen well enough (though why all of the girls had a different accent is beyond me) The only issue I had with it was the third episode, mainly because I kept laughing at Vic's attempt at a "hard-boiled assassin"
Characters: Besides Mylene, most of the characters were bit characters that only appeared to further the story a little. The focus was entirely on Mylene (for whom the anime is titled).
009-1 is an action/drama series, which tries to rekindle the flame of the old-school way of drawing; it has a 60s style, boosted by modern day flashy visuals. Based on an old manga by the now deceased Shotaro Ishinomori (mostly famous for his Kamen Rider and Super Sentai Tokusatsu live-action series), it was animated by the homonymous company he left behind. It is quite close to the feeling of the original since they did a good job at retaining his trademark gloomy and a bit morbid atmosphere. Which is exactly why this show is not for everyone. It won’t be enjoyable for most of the modern audience and will be appreciated only by retro fans or middle aged men who grew up with Ishinomori and are fans of his works.
Its retro style helps it stand out from more recent anime series, assuming you got tired of the cop-out looks of most modern shows. It is all about curvy ladies (for all you pervs), packed with cybernetic limbs and a hundred gadgets; it’s like a combination of Bionic Woman and James Bond (for all you action weebs). Remarkable at first, unless you get bothered by the facial structures which is where most of the retro aesthetic is based on (basically, it doesn’t look like modern anime).
Aside from that, there are plenty of detailed backgrounds, dressed with nicely made lighting effects. They are pretty dark colored, and have a mostly cold mechanical/industrial look, making them claustrophobic and creepy. If you prefer cheery atmospheres, look elsewhere.
Animation is fluid for the time the show was made, backed up with computers to look more real when characters spin or turn around, and there is basic battle choreography in every fight. Being a rule-of-cool action show also means you must not try to reason how everything works out, since it has a lot of bad guys who freeze whenever the heroines pull out their secret high-tech gadgets and beat them out of the blue. Basically, the bad guys suddenly move like slowpokes whenever the heroines go on the offense.
In an alternate history, where the Cold War still rages on and both sides still use spies, now cybernetic in nature, a team of female cyborg spies go on missions for the protection of their leader/creator’s status quo. It’s interesting but used in a very light manner, as most episodes are stand-alone and from time to time a flashback occurs to only give a few simple twists to the story or flesh out one of the characters.
It goes easy with the technology, so there is no elaborate explanation regarding how all the hi-tech gizmos work (how does that cybernetic woman move around with a smoke grenade launcher inside her kneecap?). After a while the setting doesn’t differ much from any generic fantasy realm full of magic. It’s a kinda mindless sci-fi series not bogged down by technobabble.
The ending is nothing major. You will get to know the characters better but that’s it. You’ve probably seen the same scenario on dozens of spy films and most likely won’t remember anything special about it after it’s over. Also, the series is short but ends before becoming annoying.
The girls are only defined by hi-tech gadgets, sexy bodies, and retro-style faces and will be a major turn off for younger viewers. They won’t ever make you wanna cheer for them. The atmosphere of the show ends up being more captivating than them. I mean, they all have a dramatic backstory, it’s not like they are left paper-thin in characterization, but it’s not detailed. It is rather basic and can get overblown with cheesy drama at points. For the same reason there isn’t much character development; it’s more like colorizing them through flashbacks. Certainly not people you will relate with (which is a common trait of most retro shows). You will probably only care about their gadgets and sexy bodies instead of their tragic pasts.
Can’t say I enjoyed it much. I liked the retro feel, but most of the plot was quite boring. And although the drama and the action are fine on their own, I’ve seen it all before, in a lot better settings than this one. It was mostly the visual aspect that I enjoyed, which tends to be a small part of the whole. The battles were not exciting, the stories lasted too little, and the characters felt simple. It is a typical story dressed handsomely to appeal to the older viewers’ emotions; a time-waster at best and eventually a forgettable title. It has no actual rewatch value and is not some great spy/sci-fi series. As far as mainstream appeal goes it never had much and was forgotten fast.
Story? Oh yeah. Now that you mention it, it did have a smidgen of story in there didn't it? Honestly, the "geniuses" behind this anime ought to be proud of themselves for making another anime that begs the question "Why did I just spend that chunk of my life watching this?".
OK, getting serious now, the story wasn't so much horrendous as it was non-existent. From episode to episode there seems to be absolutely no congruency whatsoever aside from the accepted notion that time is passing and we are simply watching mission after mission that our main character Agent 009-1, or Mylene Hoffman rather, is assigned to carry out. Finally, in the last episode, some references are made and a character from our past appears, which gives this anime its glimpse into a progressive story telling. It's much more like a collection of shallow poems than a novel of any sort. It was hard to grind through this series and now that it's over I can safely say that I don't intend to ever watch it again.
As far as animation goes, I was unimpressed. After having seen some beautiful anime it is hard to jump into this series and manage to take it seriously. A step out of the norm, 009-1 takes a more unique approach with the same quirky drawing style seen in the old Sonic TV Series, as well as Cyborg 009.
The women are all drawn fairly normally despite their outlandish bust and rear accessories, but the men are for the most part, a laugh. Drawn with extra large noses, sunglasses that shape to their eyes, and clumsy, pudgy hands, the masculine portion of the series would be funny if it wasn't first a tad annoying, as 009-1 crept along I found myself expecting to see Doctor Robotnik around every corner.
Beyond the people the guns that she uses look, more often than not, like a squirt gun. How is a spy supposed to deliver any kind of fear into the enemy with something like that? Just because it is shaped like a gun doesn’t mean that it strikes the same amount of fear as one. The cars are all very Speed Racer and I couldn't help but notice that the main character (a Spy, if I may remind you) has her code-name on her license plate, I don't think that is the wisest of choices Mylene but you're the secret agent not me.
The music in this show was actually quite nice and gets the highest rating in my review, although, it won't rise above a five since the implementation of said sound was a bit mediocre to say the least. I particularly remember a very sad melody playing while a character was raging their life away in a monologue. Other than that, the sound effects were all your general tire skids, laser blasts, and gun fire, followed by a cliché ricochet. As a side dish, the music was quite nice and I did like the occasional Big Band touch, but the cooks dumped it on thick and spoiled the main course.
Mylene Hoffman was a very static character and really the ONLY main character to speak of, very much a female James Bond, the only break in her "I've got a job to do" attitude was her occasional puns and playful banter. Throughout 009-1, the studio did manage to find it in their best interest to introduce some background to the cyborg super agent, which is a touch I could appreciate, except that her unchanging personality remained, and I again found myself getting bored with her. 009-1 will at random find some sort of compassion in herself to help people who get caught up in her missions, whether this is simply because she actually cares, or because her missions are already too easy, and she is looking for more of a challenge, is beyond me.
This series was really just an excuse to show someone with a nice rack kick some ass, and I can't help but feel that anyone looking to watch something with more depth than a sheet of paper will be sorely disappointed.
An action-packed spy thriller. The story seems interesting. The characters seem pretty interesting. The action isn’t half bad- just over-the-top at some times.
What really turned me off was the implied sex in the first scene and then the l3sbian prostitution-type sex scene for information all in the first episode. And that’s what I saw. There are probably many more such scenes throughout the anime that I can neither confirm or deny due to the fact that I dropped it early.
Probably could have been a good series without the degenerate garbage. 3/10.
You may enjoy this series because of... its refreshingly "retro" style and and refreshingly "grown-up" sensibilities.
On the "style" side of things, the series is modeled along the lines of a Cold War-era spy thriller, and the anime does a good job evoking that tone with sleek and mod-ish character designs, worldbuilding that strongly captures the paranoia-rife eastern/western-bloc mentality of that period, and an array of gadgets and weapons straight out of a James Bond fantasy. Overall, the tone and style of the series is spot on for what they were shooting for.
This carries over, also, into the attitude and panache of the title character, Agent 009-1 (aka Mylene Hoffman). There's always something sort of refreshing about women in anime who manage to be both sexy fan-service AND mature, professional *adult* with actual three-dimensional character development, and Mylene is a good example of this. It's equally fun to watch her work her womanly wiles in pursuit of a mission, or to see her grappling with the morality of some of the gray-area orders she's given. The fact that they give her some layers instead of going for the easy "sexpot cyborg" action gives this a serious boost in watchability, imo.
You may not enjoy this series because... it's mostly episodic. This isn't a series that grabs you with one big season-long arc, but one that spends most of its time on "mission-of-the-week" standalones, then launching into a big finale mini-arc in the final few episodes. The standalone episodes can still be enjoyable for the strong character and worldbuilding elements discussed in the "like" section, but if that's not working for you, the plots may come across as rather lightweight and predictable.
That said, there *is* a progression in the series. Recurring plot threads and thematic elements pop up enough in the standalone episodes so that when things get more story-arc-driven toward the end, it feels like a natural progression. I found the concluding arc to be quite satisfying, and given that this is a short one-cours series, the overall time investment to get to that conclusion wasn't terribly high.
Bottom line: An enjoyable action-er that makes up for the ho-hum-ness of some episodic stories with a uniquely retro style and a likeable lead.