Shaenon takes a tour of two works by legendary mangaka Natsume Ono.
Reviewby Bamboo Dong, Mar 16th 2002
DVD: To Protect and Serve
Genom City is being victimized by a series of illicit Boomers trades, and it's up to the AD Police to stop the main perpetrator, Liam Fletcher, from getting away with his crimes. Among the force is Kenji Sasaki, a man who prefers doing things his own way without the help of anyone else. Despite his preferences, he's teamed up with Hans Kleif, whose true nature turns out to be something no body ever suspected.
In 1987, the anime world was introduced to a series called Bubblegum Crisis, which was brought to the States in 1991. Garnering a large fan base, it spawned an OVA series called Bubblegum Crash, and a new series called Bubblegum Crisis: Tokyo 2040. There was also a three-part OVA series by the name of AD Police. Due to its radically different nature, AD Police was never as widely accepted as its Bubblegum counterparts. Then in 1999, AD Police was revamped, and a new TV series was born. Released in North America by ADV, AD Police - To Protect and Serve is legions better than its predecessor, as it focuses more on plot and character development than just gore and fighting. Overall, it's an engrossing series, with a fast moving story line, intriguing personalities, and exciting fighting scenes. The only problem with the said fast plot is that the twelve episodes aren't that well equipped to deal with it. Sometimes, the viewer is forced to drawback and figure out what's going on in the scene, as many things are left unexplained and awkwardly thrown in. If one were to excuse the sometimes unintelligible plot twists though, a solidly good series would still be left, as there are many aspects of it that make it worth watching.
With all twelve episodes collected onto a two-disc set, the DVD box is a super bargain for those who are planning on watching the series. Each disc contains six episodes, with trailers for other ADV series on the first disc, and extras on the second. Among the extras include production sketches, which feature line art of the mechas and other objects in the series. Also included is a character gallery, which amusingly, features many shots of the women characters scantily clad, and posed in provocative positions, a well as just some general shots of the other characters. Another extra on the disc is a section entitled "notes." This is a chapter devoted entirely to background information about the people and entities in the series, such as the weapons used by the AD Police, the scientific developments of the Genom Corporation, and other useful tidbits. Another appreciated feature is the chance to view both the opening and ending title sequences without credits.
Speaking of the theme sequences, the music in the new AD Police series is really quite enjoyable to listen to. The vocal songs are fun to sing along to, and the instrumentals are soothing to listen to. One of the main things that the viewer might notice, though, is that the same tracks are recycled over and over again throughout the entire series, so that the music can be predicted by the contents of the scene before it is even played. For instance, there's a steamy saxophone solo that plays every time Hans is left alone with his girlfriend. This eventually gets amusing, since nothing romantic ever takes place, regardless of what the music might imply. Especially nice is the quiet piano piece that is played in the foreground as the AD Police engage in a bloody battle with several Genom employees. Somehow, the sad, lyrical piece makes the tragic scene more dramatic than a pounding symphonic ensemble would, and the effect is very touching. Overall, even with the sometimes overplayed pieces that are sprinkled in the series, there are also some nice one-shot pieces that fit the scenes very nicely and make the soundtrack one worth thinking about.
As far as the artistic aspects of the series are concerned, there were certain things that could be better, and others that were just fine. The frame per second count was rather low, which in turn made the animation a bit choppy. With a series lasting only twelve episodes long, and with a minor emphasis on action sequences, perhaps more work could have been splurged to make the scenes flow better. Not much attention was paid to the characters' mouths, either, as oftentimes the actor would stop speaking long before the flapping mouths stopped. Overall, the quality of the animation could have been improved; if it wasn't in the budget to do so, it can be excused, as it doesn't hamper the series too much. Still, it would have been nice to feel the driving excitement of the plot not only in the voices, but also on screen. The art itself, though, is fine, and makes the characters enjoyable to watch. The character designs are pleasing to the eye, and match the people's personas well. There were times, though, when the charcaters' mouths were placed at odd angles, which some viewers might consider disconcerting the first few times. Also, it's a puzzle as to why some of the characters will wear the same outfits in every scene, especially if it's their at-home casual wear. Aside from the occasional quirks, the characters are fun to watch. The backgrounds are also desgined deftly, especially the buildings, which look quite natural. The art, in general, is drawn rather well, and does a great service is countering the slightly choppy animation.
For the most part, ADV did a wonderful job dealing with the language tracks on the disc. The subtitles were translated fluently and abundantly, and the font was easy the read. The English voice actors performed commendably, and portrayed the natures of the characters well. The script was off though, and sometimes the meaning of the scenes were changed. Also, there were times when the characters would speak even when there was complete silence on the Japanese track. Despite that, the dub track was pretty good. A little odd, however, was the innate fear the characters had of using each other's first names. Whereas first names are used on the Japanese script to address people, the English characters only used each other's last names. Another item of triviality that was a bit unnerving was when Hans attempted a fake German accent for a line or two in the dub, but I suppose the intended humor was communicated.
After the revamp that AD Police went through, fans are in for a big surprise, as it's much darker and more suspenseful than it was the first time around. The characters have more depth, and there are elements in the series that would glue just about anyone to the screen, whether it's the confrontation with the boomers, or just curiosity as to what's going to happen to everybody. The characters are readily likable, and the series is just all-around exciting. With the entire series in one convenient box set, the DVD set is a good choice for anyone who is planning on watching it. As for the anime fans out there that have no intention of watching this series-well, maybe that decision should be reviewed.
Overall (dub) : B
Overall (sub) : A-
Story : B-
Animation : C+
Art : A
Music : A
+ Guess what girls, the main boys are pretty indeed.
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