AD Police is a fine looking cyber punk thriller that is let down by forcing us to follow the exploits of a rather crude bunch of futuristic crime fighters. Being a spin-off from the famous ‘Bubblegum Crisis’ anime, AD Police borrows from bleak and dark modern setting of it’s predecessor but removes much of it’s cutting humour in favour of adding several scenes of pointless violence and placing an over emphasis on sex; ultimately resulting in the viewer feeling cold and frankly, uninterested.
The year is 2027 AD and the story is set in ‘Mega Tokyo’. In an attempt to shirk the typical kind of tasks any regular person would find boring and uninteresting, humanity has begun to develop highly advanced robots with constantly improving artificial intelligence. Problem is, these robots (also known as Voomers) are starting to show signs of independence and a spirit of their own.
As strange reports of rogue, insane Voomers attacking humans increase, the Mega Tokyo government have responded by creating the AD Police – a special unit of police officers specifically trained to handle the Voomer threat. We join Leon and his partner Nena as they go about their everyday, rather extraordinary lives in the AD Police; fighting insane Voomers and discovering there maybe something more to these so called robots than just electrical wires and computer chips.
Judging by the fantastic cover-art alone, one could assume that AD Police was going to be something slightly more than an excuse to draw (some admittedly) cool looking robots reeking violent havoc in a distant, alternate reality – but alas, AD Police flatters to deceive.
And it’s a shame too – I really can’t help but be inspired by this wonderfully realized futuristic world. It’s just so bleak, dark and completely unforgiving that it mirrors the type of dysfunctional and hopelessly cold futuristic setting introduced to us by the likes of Blade Runner.
Yet the root of the problem with AD Police lies with its hollow and completely unemotive characters. Leon, the main focus of these stories (and a character from the aforementioned Bubblegum Crisis), just lacks the kind of personality and spark required to be a true, compelling ‘leading’ man. Given that we learn little to nothing about him over the course of these three stories, it should come as no surprise that we feel no real bother as to whether if lives or dies in a succession of rather sticky situations.
Similarly, the rogue Voomers fare little better. I assume we are supposed to think that these revolting androids, in gaining a mind of their own, are rallying against their harsh oppressors; yet ironically, in attempting to claim their “individuality’, the Voomers end up being portrayed as little more than stupid (and frankly soulless) killers. There is no attempt to make us understand or sympathize with the Voomer situations; we are just treated to scene after scene of naked chicks, cool machinery and eventually, bloody violence.
With all that said, I expect the story wasn’t helped by this DVD release sporting a terrible English langue dub-only option. Each performance is as painfully wooden as the next and fails to make the viewer care (or even become interested) in their characters’ plight.
AD Police is the typical kind of anime that characterizes the flood of releases we saw hit the UK in the wake of the (worldwide) success of Akira during the early 1990s. It delivers exactly what the fan boys could possibly want – cool looking robots, a dark and moody sci-fi setting and a bucket load of blood and guts, yet barely scratches the surface of what could have been an interesting precursor to the likes of ‘Ghost in the Shell’.