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This Week in Anime
Is Cop Craft Worth Watching?

by Michelle Liu & Steve Jones,

Cop Craft is the newest fantasy buddy cop adventure from the creator of Full Metal Panic!, but its lackluster production values and questionable subject matter have made it less than a hit this season. This week, Micchy and Steve debate the merits of this messy action comedy.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the participants in this chatlog are not the views of Anime News Network. Spoiler Warning for discussion of the series ahead.

@Lossthief @Liuwdere @A_Tasty_Sub @vestenet

You can read our weekly coverage of Cop Craft here!

You know, Micchy, I'd consider myself something of an anime veteran, so it takes quite a bit to catch me off guard. And let me tell you, I mean it when I say that I did not expect my regular summer viewing schedule to be interrupted by a cute anime girl using a cat's litterbox in broad daylight. And I especially didn't expect it out of Cop Craft.
Cop Craft redefines the concept of catgirls, as in the girl is an actual cat with a cat brain but a people butt.

I just want to know how all of these anime about piss keep finding me. I swear these weren't around last year, but 2019 has just been a constant stream of—actually, let me not finish that sentence.
That's because you weren't paying attention to the masterpieces of Charger Girl Juden-chan and Recently, my sister is unusual. Piss anime isn't new, Steve.
Well, I refuse to spend the rest of my night thinking about ImoCho., so please, let's talk about Cop Craft instead! It's got cops! It's got witchcraft! What more could you want?
How about fairy-fueled drug deals and magic-racism?

Cop Craft as a show is every bit as punchy and dumb as the name "Cop Craft" would imply. I don't know if I'd call it "good," but I've certainly been enjoying it.
Well, it certainly doesn't look good, but it's got a cute cat in it, so I can't say I dislike it!
Still, it's a pretty strange show that lives and dies on the strength of its central duo, Grizzled Cop #4378 and that girl from the Last Exile sequel who solves fantasy racism.
The basic premise is that a magic portal opened over the ocean, turning the city of San-Teresa into this big melting pot of Earth and fantasy cultures, and bringing all kinds of CRIME with it. In other words, it's basically the same premise as Blood Blockade Battlefront, but Cop Craft is more firmly rooted in the buddy cop genre, and to that point, grizzled veteran Kei and rookie elf warrior Tilarna hit that frenemy sweet spot of being a perfect match while also consistently making each others' lives a living hell.

While initially hostile to each other, they eventually develop a sort of sibling rivalry dynamic, which pairs quite well with the buddy cop formula. It takes a while for them to build enough trust that Tilarna feels comfortable moving into Kei's apartment, but once it happens, the whole situation becomes ripe fodder for both "noble knight vs. cynical cop" friction and "obnoxious little sister vs. exhausted brother" rivalry, which I adore.
They're great together! The quality of the show itself is all over the place, but their rapport has been charming enough to carry us through the worst of it. I'm also an easy mark for how much the show leans into every buddy cop cliche you can imagine, such as the hammy police captain chewing them out every time they cause a scene, while the two of them unload the blame on each other. You can't beat the classics.
I thought you'd be more enticed by the vampire lady slowly murdering people, but yes, that too.
On that note, another one of Cop Craft's strengths is its beautifully absurd one-liners.
While it may be a mess on a macro scale, Cop Craft thrives on building character through silly little moments like that. It plays in familiar genre spaces, rarely doing anything too original, but it does have a kind of charm that makes it hard to bag on. Buddy cop cliches aside, this is also a "fish out of water" story regarding Tilarna and her utter confusion at human society, which provides another fun avenue for comedy.
Yes, I appreciate it as a throwback to that era of reverse-isekai where you could make an entire movie about some fantasy warrior dude accidentally getting transported to New York City. He shows up, almost gets hit by cars, then he befriends a cop, and the two of them end up saving the world somehow. Cop Craft has that exact energy. There's an episode, literally called "Need for Speed," where Tilarna has to learn how to drive after accidentally wrecking Kei's car. Then, during the climax, she uses her new skills to catch the perp, totally wrecking Kei's newer car in the process.
As beautifully entertaining as Tilarna's (lack of) driving skills are, my favorite Tilarna moments are the ones where she simply doesn't understand that she's supposed to be in a modern police procedural and not a JRPG fantasy world. Cue her distress over keyboards, guns, and humane interrogation techniques.
And that's not all she's learning about our world!

The underground fantasy porno ring episode is both Cop Craft's dumbest yet and consequently my favorite.

My issue with that episode is that I don't for a second buy that a European-inspired fantasy world would settle for vanilla porn. C'mon, pre-19th century Europe was kinky as shit, don't give me this "porn mags are so illicit" garbage. But then again, that episode is also the one with Speed Demon Tilarna, so yes, I agree it's the best one.
It might not be believable, but it is funny! The entire episode, they make jokes about the ring being run by 12-year-old boys because the porn is so vanilla, and that more or less turns out to be the case.
This episode also features their fellow cop Tony dropping some truth bombs.

Tony is the world's most fabulously gay angel, I will protect him with my life. Extra points for his slicked-back douchebag undercut disguise.
Yeah, his aggressively heterosexual undercover alter-ego McCloud is a treat.

Man, that episode is so dumb, but it's silly-dumb and not tryhard-dumb like the first arc's Fairy Dust Nuke Terrorism plot. Fantasy racism metaphors, wow, this is such new ground.

Cop Craft has legit great character writing and a strong authorial voice, but its overall storytelling is just one big woof. It is amusing to see it try to hit every police movie cliche possible, but everything from the overarching plots to the climactic moments themselves are pretty lacking. Like, this is supposed to be this big moment where Kei is betrayed by his boss, but it comes out of nowhere and then it's gone immediately, never to be brought up again.
At least I have to give it accuracy points for the first major villain being a xenophobic cop trying to incite public animosity toward innocent immigrants. The dude didn't have to team up with an evil immortal wizard, he could've just joined ICE.

I'd be willing to let that plot point slide if the worldbuilding were substantial enough to show how xenophobia manifests outside of this one encounter. The show doesn't seem interested in painting a clear picture of what life is like for Semanian immigrants aside from its perps. A buddy cop comedy doesn't have to be that nuanced, but if it's gonna mention racism every other episode, I expect a more thorough understanding of what that looks like than "sometimes Tilarna gets called an alien".
Yep, it's all very surface-level, and it should be noted that the characters aren't very complex either, but Cop Craft is just much better at depicting their banter than it is at making them solve meaningful fantasy crimes.
Cop Craft is fine entertainment, and it doesn't need to strive for more to be a fun watch. It's just amusing when it attempts to do big multi-episode arcs and completely fails. Its strengths lie in episodic shenanigans like the goofy body-swapping episode.
It's def the big thing holding Cop Craft back from actually being "good," but the show's overall wackiness still makes for breezy anime comfort food. And there are so many great Tilarna pouts!
Tilarna is an excellent source of silly anime girl faces.

And most recently, anime cat faces.
Oh no indeed.
Please give the anime girl some pants, I'm begging you.
I'm fine with Cop Craft using cat-Tilarna's behavior for laughs, but it's also not fooling anyone when there's a half-naked anime girl crawling around on all fours for an entire episode. I'm a sucker for a good bodyswap episode though, and Kei gets to have some fun of his own too.
Between the goat and getting harassed first thing in the morning by a bipedal cat, Kei has filled his daily quota of wacky hijinks.

It is weird that the silly cat episode followed up last week's departure into actual character drama.
Tonal whiplash is kind of Cop Craft's thing at this point. Frankly, I don't expect the show to build to a cohesive finale that brings everything together, but it doesn't have to. It's a bumpy ride, but a fun one nonetheless.
Yeah, the storytelling's as disjointed as the show's action scenes (giving me bad flashbacks to Hero Mask), but when the first named character to die was named "Rick Fury," I knew I was in for a good time.
I'm here for the dysfunctional cop siblings palling around, and this show has given me plenty of that. It's comfort food, the kind you pick the olives out of and carry on consuming. Nothing wrong with that.

For sure, and I'm gonna keep eating it up.

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