Following the relative success of Sora no Woto, the second offering as part of A1-Pictures Anime no Chikara deal brings us to 1930s Shangai and a world of Japanese secret agents in China in the midst of unrest between the two countries.
However, Senkou no Night Raid isn't just your bog-standard spy story, instead having us following a handful of individuals each with their own special powers, taking in the usual "superpower" traits such as telepathy, mind-reading, teleportation, manipulation of time and Geass. Okay, I lied about the Geass bit, but you never know.
In this first episode, our intrepid heroes (assuming they're heroes of course, which may not turn out to be the case) go to work rescuing a kidnapped company president named Kaburagi, who it is later revealed has used his kidnapping to his own business advantage, giving the team an extra dimension to concern themselves with during their rescue. However, this entire scenario sets us up for action aplenty, as we see first an abortive attempt to rescue Kaburagi before we get the real thing, both of which involve fighting, explosions and bullets as well as the occasionally liberal use of those special powers.
I have to confess that I found it a little difficult to get a precise handle on things from this first episode of Senkou no Night Raid, but then again I get the feeling that was perhaps the point - To launch us into this world of action and intrigue first and foremost before explaining the exact details later in the series. To be fair, this decision works for me, as there was enough going on here to keep my attention and leave me wanting more, even if I can't help but be a little concerned that those special powers of which I speak will be used once too often as a deus ex machina to get the main characters out of tight spots every week. Still, this is a very different take on 1930s China versus Japan to what I was expecting (which of course helps it to neatly sidestep any inconvenient truths in the name of utter fiction), so I can only welcome the possibility of it bringing something fresh to the table; only time will tell whether it can do something outstanding with the obvious potential that it holds.