AD Police: Files 1-3 Review
In 1987 a series known as Bubblegum Crisis hit VHS in Japan. This eight part mini series followed the adventures of four female crime fighters who call themselves "Knight Sabers". Their speciality is taking care of renegade "Voomers" (otherwise known as Boomers) - artificially created machines who are on occasion susceptible to madness.
As the Knight Sabers destroy the Voomers so too much frustration does the AD Police have to clean up their mess afterward. In an attempt to expand the bubblegum universe a three part mini series was introduced in 1990. Set in Mega Tokyo 2027 AD, a few years before the events of Bubblegum Crisis and therefore before the Knight Sabers made their appearance this series takes us into the heart of the AD Police operations and gives us an insight into how they once had to deal with these situations before later interventions. Therefore it’s somewhat ironic to think that in later years the AD Police would require help themselves.
Voomers have been designed to do the jobs that no one else wants to do anymore, when they lose control of themselves and begin to cause havoc the police force are no longer capable of dealing with them alone. The Advanced Police unit is called in to take over, and so sets up the three episodes presented in this single volume DVD.
File 1: Voomer Madness
After killing a rogue Voomer, Leon is praised for his efforts and is promoted to the AD Police force. He is partnered up with Nena and together they set out to investigate a series of recent killings, discovering that scrapped Voomers are being resurrected illegally. It soon turns out that one such Voomer - a beautiful woman with past memories still in her mind - is behind the murders, but unfortunately for Leon she is the very same Voomer he killed in the past...and now she wants her revenge.
File 2: The Paradise Loop
There is a new threat to Mega Tokyo. A killer is on the loose, preying on innocent victims; prostitutes who go about their business and travel through the city's old subway, known as "The Paradise Loop". Each victim is mercilessly disembowelled by what appears to be another example of Voomers gone bad, but it seems that there is more to this latest spree than just malfunctioning robots. The AD Police are back on the case…
File 3: I Want Medicine
Billy Farnwood was critically wounded during a police operation a few years ago and almost died as a result of his injuries. In a government project he was given a second chance at life - as an experimental fighting machine, a fusion of his remaining body parts and cold, metal casting. For a while Billy fought off deadly Voomers with ease but now things have begun to worsen for him. Plagued by his feelings and memories he is slowly losing his mind and fears he is being overtaken by his metal shell, until nothing remains. In his search to cure himself he inevitably goes on a rampage that sees him come face to face with old friends.
AD Police was made during the very popular Cyberpunk era in anime, where we saw such series like Bubblegum Crisis, Cyber City Oedo 808 and Genocyber and even feature films such as Akira, only a few years prior. With regards to its origins AD Police is ultimately more adult, featuring plenty of violence and scenes of a more sexual nature than Bubblegum Crisis ever offered. The themes are a lot more serious and throughout the three episodes presented here there is very little in the way of humour. AD Police is a dark series that echoes films like Blade Runner and Akira in terms of setting and atmosphere and paints a gloomy picture of a not too distant future.
The first, instant problem is that for a series set in 2027 it has an overall eighties feel. The series had begun its animation process in the late 80's and many influences from that period shine through, notably in terms of costuming and music. The creators seem to be blissfully unaware at just how dated their show looked then considering its time period, let alone present day. The setting for the series is very attractive, largely thanks to the detailed cityscape that has been meticulously hand drawn. It is the city that stands out amongst everything else and lends itself well to the kind of atmosphere generated in the films mentioned previously.
It doesn't help that Manga's offering here is that of the English dub only, bringing down the whole series considerably. This would have to be one of the worst dubs I have ever heard, with a soundtrack that is so cheesy you might want to keep the sick bag handy during the closing credits. A lot of my disappointment comes from the fact that we have to put up with such tedious performances, carried out with such clichéd mannerisms. It is hard to take the concepts seriously when the main cast sound like they're bored reading the scripts in front of them. Had we been given a Japanese track then it might have lent a little more credibility, having said that the episodes suffer themselves from being all too brief.
Each episode runs for approximately 27 minutes, during that time little is offered in the way of characterisation, save for a couple of intimate conversations between Leon and Nena as they get to know each other better but for episodes this short it feels like mere padding that doesn’t generate a whole lot of interest.
Noboru Aikawa has adapted Toshimichi Suzuki’s original work, keeping in mind the fundamental messages that are presented - when our heroes are not engaging the bad guys in an orgy of bloodshed the story deals with familiar, underlying issues. In The Paradise Loop there is a lot of attention put toward the issue of organ transplants and ethics, with vital points being made about having surgery done in order to improve yourself. This episode asks the question "Would you be happy if you had surgery done in order to improve yourself"? It further goes on to beg the question of whether or not you would later regret what you've done to your own body and that the things we should hold dear to ourselves and respect should not be tainted in any way. I Want Medicine gives us more to think about, should we tamper still with science if the cost is that of human degradation and fear of living? The ideas presented here are very much in line with the kind of reality we could expect to see years from now, as science advances it is only natural that we become even more obsessed with new technology that provides a cure for disability, disfigurement and so on. AD Police is a series that takes a look at vanity and how we take many things in this world for granted, it also ponders what would happen should machines break free and destroy their creators. It's not bad going for a series of such short length but despite all that I’ve mentioned it must be remembered that these issues are dealt with over all three episodes, so what is left is very little and largely consists of stretching out ideas.
Manga Entertainment put out this title from their back catalogue on a disappointing DVD. It also comes with a mini fold out, reversible poster. The DVD comes in an armaray case, with an outer slip case featuring conceptual artwork and curiously a Knight Saber on the cover, suggesting its spin off.
The animated menu screens are actually pretty decent. The main menu plays along to the series' opening theme and has an attractive design. The Data Base menu is a little more annoying, with a constant ringing noise that plays to a distorting screen.
"Digitally Remastered", or so Manga claim. I'm always dubious when I see this typed on a cover and to no surprise the DVD is not remastered in the slightest. This is evidently a video transfer, with the occasional lines to prove it. The transfer is presented in its original 4:3 aspect ratio and suffers from being overly bright with poor black levels and an overall dull look, though the muted colours fit the tone of the show. It's time companies started to take note and stop putting out false claims as part of a shoddy marketing gimmick.
Manga provide us with a 2.0 stereo track and a 5.1 surround sound track. The original Japanese language track is not present and nor was it available for the old VHS release. The English dub that is offered is very poor with uniformly awful acting. Otherwise the tracks are lively enough, with the 5.1 having a little more boom. Seeing as Manga never had the Japanese track to include I'm going to have to score it fairly, still too much disappointment.
I'm hesitant to even call these extras:
A pointless feature really. Clicking on this will take you to a screen where you can view a complete episode rundown with film footage playing to the left. If you just want to know about the episodes then go watch them.
Character profiles for six of the main cast. These are one screen profiles that give us information about each character that we already know.
This isn't concept art. It is a collection of shots taken from within the episodes themselves. Anyone familiar with anime will know how often the animators use static paintings to convey a moment of action. This happens several times in the series and there's nothing here that is original.
An 8-minute feature showcasing Manga trailers for: Bubblegum Crash, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Patlabor 1 and 2, Black Jack, Detonator Orgun, Vampire Hunter D, Virus, Kaidohmaru and Read or Die.
AD Police presents some good ideas but is flawed in several areas. There are some interesting designs scattered throughout the series but the presentation of the episodes is muddled in places making it difficult for it to escape its 80's origins.
The series is well animated though and provides enough action to satisfy many viewers. I'm disappointed that we don't have a Japanese language track to choose as I feel the dialogue would have been delivered with a lot more conviction and made it more enjoyable than it is in this current state.