In the future (early 21st century), Tokyo is a city collapsing under the weight of crime and corruption. Laws have been introduced to give the population a sense of security--allowing nearly anyone to legally carry and use firearms for "self-defence"--and the streets have become a war-zone. Tokyo is--in all but name--under martial law, and the law is RAPT, a private security force whose draconian measures have resulted in more deaths than arrests.
Against this background, Bakuretsu Tenshi is the story of Jo Carpenter, a mercenary in the employ of a woman named Sei. Sei is the commander of a detached strike-force nominatively under the control of Bailan, an underground organisation that is pursuing its own mysterious agenda in parallel to RAPT. Mission after mission, Jo throws herself into battle, sometimes for and sometimes against Bailan's directives, as RAPT's sinister agenda for Tokyo begins to unfold, and Jo's own place in that agenda starts to be revealed.
I'm not a fan of the opening credits theme: "Loosey". It annoyed me a lot and after the first episode I fast-forwarded past it every time. Otherwise I liked the music in this series. There were very noticeable Western (i.e. American Wild West) influences, particularly in the "show-down" scenes between Jo/Django and the enemy-of-the-week :). In any other series this would be jarring, but it fit Bakuten very well. The music really worked in this series to highlight the scenes and support the script without actually getting in the way of it.
As far as the mecha and background/city-scape goes, this is superb. Reuse of footage is actually quite minimal, the action flows and every action has a proper reaction. I can't fault it.
As far as character designs go: on the one hand, I liked it because it was more realistic than others I've seen; on the other hand, I disliked it because it was just as unrealistic as others I've seen :).
To elaborate ...
On the good side:
These characters have proper legs. At first I thought they looked a little stumpy, but then I realised that they were actually properly proportioned, instead of 70% legs and 30% torso and head. These character-designs also have substance; you don't miss them if they turn sideways. I liked that.
On the so-so side:
The faces are minimal and sketchy, as is the hair, which took me a while to get used to and I never really warmed to, but otherwise this aspect of the character-design passes muster ... just.
The characters looked a little awkward when they were running. These scenes didn't quite flow, which was disappointing considering the wonderful animation of movement in the mecha scenes.
On the bad side:
The majority of the female characters had really disproportionate breasts. In Sei's case, it's amazing she didn't put her back out trying to stand up. She looked like she had basketballs strapped to the front of her body. I really don't like that. Breasts were also emphasised by either very tight clothing, or extremely minimal clothing that barely covered the nipples, which were very prominent. I really don't like that.
Though it stuck with the Wild West theme, I couldn't find any plausible reason for Jo and Meg to be running around in chaps and cowboy hats. I was also perplexed by the very short shorts, which strikes me as quite impractical when handling weapons that frequently become quite hot during use. This is anime, of course, so I could put up with it, and it didn't bother me as much as the barely-there shirts.
Jo was the saving grace of the series in terms of character-design, as a nearly adult female with an extremely modest endowment. She even managed to pull off the chaps and short-shorts with dignity, which I found impressive.
The main character is Jo. She is supported by Meg, Sei and Amy. Additional minor characters are Kyohei, whom we meet at the beginning of the series, and Leo and Takane, who are introduced later. The team's cybot--which is nearly always piloted by Jo--is called Django.
Jo - is a mystery, both to herself and to others. Her first memories are of Meg, whom she met only two years before in New York. She cannot remember any further back. Laconic and reserved to the extreme, she is supernaturally strong and displays incredible skill in combat. Battle appears to be the only arena in which she comes to life; otherwise she is content to sit at home and watch B-grade horror movies. Her closest attachment is to Meg, whom she indulges and protects, and whose safety she considers paramount. The mission comes second to Meg's safety, and on the--frequent--occasion of Meg falling into enemy hands, Sei can find herself with a loose-cannon on her hands if her first concern isn't to retrieve Meg.
Meg - is Jo's partner. She can be selfish and isn't the brightest star in the cosmos, but her first loyalty is to Jo and she'll throw herself into a fight if she thinks she can help Jo out. She was living on the streets of New York when she met Jo and this background has left her very focused on survival. Food and shelter are high on her list of concerns, but she has a strong sense of compassion for others that she hides under a belligerent streak. She's also fiercely loyal to the people she considers to be her "family".
Sei - is the granddaughter of the head of Bailan and the commander of its detached strike-force in Japan. Bailan is a powerful and clandestine organisation that appears to have started in China but has since spread internationally and has strong roots in Japan. Its crest is a dragon. Sei is greatly trusted by her grandfather and it seems that his intention is that she will take his place at the head of the organisation after him, though Bailan seems to function a lot like a corporation with a powerful executive branch. She has a powerful sense of responsibility and loyalty to tradition, so much so that she will sometimes compromise her own values in meeting her obligations to her family. She will put the mission before all else, which often also puts her in conflict with Jo.
Amy - is a pre-teen girl who is very intelligent--possibly even a genius. She's extremely talented with computer systems and electronic information. She's the "hacker" of the team and is an important part of nearly every mission. She doesn't seem to have any family and may also have lived on the streets at some time. She considers herself to be very independent and self-sufficient, though when push comes to shove, she craves affection and acceptance from her "family". She is well known and respected by others in her field of expertise.
Kyohei - is a student of a culinary school. His dream is to become a respected patissier--a pastry chef--and to study in France to that end. He answers an ad for a cook and ends up embroiled in the lives and turmoil of Sei's team. He can be timid and awkward but is essentially a nice guy who does his best to adjust to a situation outside of his experience. He shows moments of courage and eventually wins Jo's respect. He's not a main character, though he features prominently in the first few episodes as a view-point character to introduce us to the team.
Leo - is the designer and engineer of the team's cybot, Django. He and Jo appear to respect and like each other, though they have moments of friction revolving around Django, whom Leo is constantly fixing and Jo is constantly breaking. He's a jovial and light character without much depth. He displays a fair amount of martial skill himself, though he is rarely called on to act as a fighting member of the team.
Takane - is a police-officer from Osaka who was previously the leader of Kanbaku, a well respected/feared motorcycle gang in the west of Japan. Her father is the chief of Osaka's police-force and Takane takes great pride in her own role in protecting Osaka. She can be loud and arrogant and almost excessively confident of her own abilities, but she's also very loyal and has a strong belief in justice and in paying her debts. She meets Jo under strained circumstances and initially has a poor opinion of her, though she later comes to give her grudging respect.
Django - is the mecha arm of Bailan's detached strike-force. Jo utilises Django's abilities to the maximum, though she is frequently out-gunned by her opponents since Django has few of the extras that most cybots feature. Django, like Jo, is armed with a pair of oversized semi-automatic handguns which are worn in holsters on each thigh. It appears to have a store of a variety of rounds which can be fired from the handguns--including explosive rounds--and a mecha-sized double-edged combat-knife. Movement is very human-like, though fast travel on roads is aided by skates that extrude from its "feet" and by jets on its back for propulsion.
I enjoyed it a lot, though I could have happily finished it at Episode 23. The plot was coherent, everything more-or-less tied together, the animation was decent and the music, with the exception of the opening song, was great. There were a few dull episodes that didn't contribute much to the overall arc and I probably wouldn't watch again, but otherwise this seemed like a very accomplished ramp up from start to end, with little two and three-episode mini-arcs that were individually quite entertaining.
A lot of reviews like to call Jo, Meg and Kyohei "clones" of Rei, Asuka and Shinji from Neon Genesis: Evangelion. In my opinion, this is true only if you stop at superficial impressions. Yes, Jo has silver hair, red eyes and is reserved to the extreme. Yes, Meg has red hair and blue eyes and is loud and vivacious. Yes, Kyohei looks a lot like Shinji and displays some of the same mannerisms. Under the surface, however, they have completely different motivations and hence, I think, also act completely differently.