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"A.D. Police": They Do The Job, But That's All

The A.D. Police are Genom City’s specialized division to handle insane androids. Yes, the future’s so messed up there’s a branch of the police devoted exclusively to dealing with mutated psycho bots. Buddy-cop drama meets the post-apocalyptic in this classic anime, but how does A.D. Police hold up nowadays?

Episodes included in this set
Episode 1-12 (Complete Series)

Chances are you’ve heard of the Bubblegum Crisis storyline, perhaps from Bubblegum Crisis, Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040, A.D. Police Files, Bubblegum Crash, Parasite Dolls, and, well, this set, A.D. Police. ADV handles this entire franchise and a few years ago they released a two-disc set collecting all twelve episodes of A.D. Police. The series was created in 1999, the DVD in 2001. By animé terms, that’s pretty old, and this is even more apparant once you see the animation, extras, and the case. But more on that later—in case you have no idea what Bubblegum Crisis is, here’s a quick run-down.

In the near future (2020-2040, or thereabouts), mankind builds nanotechnology-based androids, BOOMERs (which I still find funny considering we call subscribers at my work BOOMers as well). If you saw the part of “The Second Renaissance” from The Animatrix before everyone goes nuts then you get the idea. Naturally, these things’ operating systems, or “cores,” crash once in a while, making them go crazy, absorb or fuse with nearby machines, and go on killing rampages.

The Advanced Police, or A.D. Police, are the defensive force against these outbreaks. With jurisdiction above and beyond the regular police, they’re called in for the big problems involving BOOMERs. On the civilian side is Genom, which is either “The Man” or a slightly more evil version of Microsoft, I’m still trying to decide. Running everything from the BOOMER business to a fast-food chain called “Genom Burger” (they’re real innovative), it seems they’ve never heard of anti-virus. Backers, the back-alley version of Genom, supply BOOMERs on the black market. Somewhere in the middle is Fletcher, constant pain to the A.D. Police and more than meets the eye.

Kenji and Hans are our main heroes of the A.D. Police. Kenji’s the stereotypical “cop who loses partners” and Hans is the pretty-boy-with-amnesia. All these forces come together in Genom City, or MegaTokyo (not the faux-manga webcomic), whatever they’re calling it this series. I’ll call it Genom City, since that’s what’s on the case.

For the most part, A.D. Police works as an episodic series: you get a rogue BOOMER, you deal with it, you get a little plot development, restart. There are few exceptions, such as an episode set in a bar that looks like a Cheers parody and features a very surprised would-be robber, another dealing with a ticking time bomb/kidnapping, and, of course, the oh-crap-we-have-to-end-the-show-somehow final episode.

While Kenji and Hans share the cover and most of the screen time in the series, Hans is the far more intriguing character. His amnesia is more than it appears and his true nature is revealed near the end, but looking back, like any good M. Night Shyamalan flick, it all makes sense. Kenji’s most interesting scenes are those with his girlfriend. The rest of the team doesn’t get much development, but considering they’re ancillary characters, it’s fine. Someone dies in one of the series’ most fake-out moments, which hits the team hard, but that’s rather it—the girls are almost indistinguishable from one another (outside of the Cheers episode), and the only other distinctions come from rank (Captain to Officer, etc).

A.D. Police is nothing spectacular. If you’re looking for the best part of the Bubblegum Crisis franchise, go watch the recently released “Essential Anime” edition of Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040. If you’d rather not compare it to the other works, A.D. Police is nothing more than your standard buddy-cop show with a dash of monsters and robots. It’s far from bad, but doesn’t bring anything new to the table. If you can get it for free or incredibly cheap (as I did) and are interested in the Bubblegum mythology, check it out, but be warned that A.D. Police pales in comparison to the other shows in the franchise.

The animation, though relatively recent, still looks dated. There’s some CG in the last episode and the transition from “old-school” to digital is way too obvious: characters instantly look brighter and more defined. The dub job is one of the standard-issue ADV releases; doesn’t stand out as good or bad. It’s serviceable, like the series.

Extras are very light, consisting of only production sketches, story notes, artwork (from what appears to be the Japanese releases), a clean opening and closing, and trailers. The story notes would have worked better as an insert, but they’re helpful even on the disc when something confusing happens along. The case is an Amaray two-disc set, which ADV tends to not use nowadays (all the Essential Animé Collection two-disc sets are no wider than a single case). I did have some disc read problems for the second disc, but I’ll give ADV the benefit of the doubt and blame my PS2.

A.D. Police just screams mediocrity. The series isn’t spectacular, the extras are minimal, and the animation is passable but dated. Wwatch if you have time on your hands and like the Bubblegum-verse, but give the other, better installments a shot first.

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