009-1 Vol. 1
Aaron H. Bynum · July 8, 2007 | When the development of new war technologies are either kept underground or sold to the highest bidder, discussions on the mutation of human DNA result in more questions than answers, all while the Cold War has lasted nearly a century and a half... you sort of gain the impression that things aren't going so well. Fortunately, for agent 009-1 Mylene Hoffman, the tense relations between Eastern and Western factions of world political and military powers only make for more work. 009-1, a blonde femme spy of undivided loyalty to the Zero Zero Organization, is in the business of sex, bullets and butt kicking.

The 009-1 anime is a wonderful spy program that fleshes out every facet of mission briefings, reconnaissance, jump-kicks and timed explosives, melding them with the late Shotaro Ishinomori's idiosyncratic affection for cyborg action. Produced for an adult demographic, 009-1 pulls no punches. Taking viewers on the missions of Hoffman and the all-female Nine Number Group of cybernetized agents, the anime takes advantage of sassy character designs and a superior original soundtrack in delivering an intelligent and sexy spy anime.

009-1 Vol. 1
Directed by Naoyuki Konno
Animation production by Ishimori Entertainment
Distributed by ADV Films, 2007
Originally broadcast in Japan in 2006
100 minutes

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Hoffman, the type of person who favours improvisation in the field rather than proven knowledge about the circumstance, is the centerpiece for 009-1. Her abilities as an agent include martial-arts skills, staunch/pragmatic leadership and, most importantly, seduction. While other cyborg women she works with are skilled specifically in surveillance, disguise and special mission weaponry, Mylene is an anchor to many Zero Zero Org missions... a very busty, flexible and voluptuous anchor. The 009-1 anime, in its simplest terms, "is a story about how [Mylene] lives and fights," as director Naoyuki Konno comments in a DVD extra interview.

As agent 009-1's frenetic martial arts glitter across the screen, the 009-1 anime's first priority is to jazz up the spy genre using smart camera direction and frame allotment. But with all of the jazz comes excess. Excess in the annoying forms of gratuitous fan service (Ishinomori's women have gravity-defying breasts, wide hips and what appears to be steatopygia) and convenient/poor writing. In addition to the detail that almost every episode has one generic sex scene, many of the missions agent 009-1 engages in include a brief moment of ridiculous if not absurd convenience. In one episode, snowmobiles seem to magically appear for our heroines to use in their escape; while in another, Mylene inexplicably determines the psychosomatic dilemma of a so-called "mutant girl" only moments before the end credits roll.

Nevertheless, the 009-1 anime provides some solid action, with each episode also serving up subtle lessons on the aesthetics of espionage. The third episode, for example, discusses the passion of killing, featuring in-depth dialogue on the necessity of emotion as relevant to homicide. Combining this with Taku Iwasaki's gentle, soothing musical composition, 009-1 has the capacity to intrigue any fan of action anime willing to lend their eyes and ears to the title.

DVD Features: 16:9 aspect ratio; English and Japanese audio tracks; English subtitles; Region 1.

DVD Extras: Textless opening and closing; interview with the director and Japanese voiceover artists; How the Manga Became an Anime featurette; gallery of production art with side notes.
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