What Is It?
A.D. Police: To Protect and Serve is a twelve-episode action show set in the world of Bubblegum Crisis: Tokyo 2040. The series was produced by AIC, directed by Hidehito Ueda (A.D. Police Files OVA, True Love Story), and features character designs by Naoyuki Konno (Dance in the Vampire Bund, 009-1). The title was released in North America by ADV Films.
A.D. Police: To Protect and Serve is set in Genom City, a few years before the events of Bubblegum Crisis: Tokyo 2040. In this city, robots known as VOOMERs (VOodoo Organic Metal Extension Resource) handle most of the manual labor. The streets are clean, the people are prosperous, and everything seems to be perfect.
Beneath the surface, though, signs of rot infect every corner of the city. The VOOMER units that make life so easy and carefree are prone to malfunctions. And, when VOOMERs malfunction, they go utterly ballistic. Rogue VOOMERs, better known as Boomers, became a true threat to the population as they engaged in criminal activities, both violent and otherwise. To protect the population and deal with the Boomer population, the A.D. Police was formed. Their mission is simple: eradicate the rogue Boomer threat, and protect the population.
Kenji Sasaki is the A.D. Police’s most gifted officers on the force. His success rate is unparalleled, and his skill with a gun is second to none. That said, though, Sasaki is a loose cannon. He disobeys orders, can’t work well with others, and his partners tend to have the longevity of a Spinal Tap drummer.
Sasaki’s latest partner, Paul, was the last person willing to work with him on the force. Unfortunately for Sasaki, due to an incident in a recent mission, Paul is heavily injured and unable to serve. Like any responsible adult, Sasaki goes to a bar, gets plastered, and sucker-punches some foreigner.
Unfortuantely for Sasaki, the guy he punched is Hans Kleif: a new recruit to the A.D. Police, and Sasaki’s newest partner. Kleif is everything that Sasaki isn’t. He’s charming, friendly, and generally willing to work within the boundaries of his job.
This obviously makes him the bane of Sasaki’s existence. So, not only does he have to adjust to having Kleif as a partner, Sasaki must also get to the bottom of a case involving the mysterious Packer Syndicate.
Why Was It Passed Up?
A.D. Police: To Protect and Serve originally hit on April 9, 2002. At this point, the anime bubble was just starting to kick into overdrive. 79 titles hit North American store shelves during the month, which include the following:
- Mobile Suit Gundam DVDs 8 & 9 (4/9/2002)
- Neon Genesis Evangelion [Perfect Collection Box Set] (4/9/2002)
- Ranma ½ Season 2 Box Set – Anything Goes Martial Arts (4/16/2002)
- Sailor Moon Dubbed DVDs 1 & 2 (4/16/2002)
- Metropolis [Special Edition] (4/23/2002)
- Rurouni Kenshin Volume 17 (4/30/2002)
Outside of the horrendously bad timing, there was also the matter of the show’s content. A.D. Police is a futuristic buddy cop series, much like Lethal Weapon, or Miami Vice. It’s the show revolves around that culture clash of two distinct individuals trying to feel each other out, while doing the best job they can.
In the anime world, that’s a bit of a difficult pill to swallow. Very few buddy cop shows post huge numbers, with the notable exception being You’re Under Arrest!. And, sadly, A.D. Police is no different. Even with the trappings of the über popular Bubblegum Crisis universe, the show simply couldn’t garner interest in the greater market.
Why This Show?
A.D. Police: To Protect and Serve is a fun, well-told cop show that absolutely nails the fundamentals. The characters are well-crafted and charming, as they share a fantastic on-screen chemistry. The playful banter between Sasaki and Kleif is delivered with a dry wit that can bring levity to the most tense situations, without stealing the show itself. The series’ plot is well-delivered, and the conspiracy angle tends to be handled with just enough mystery to keep things intriguing without becoming tiresome.
A.D. Police’s future-cool aesthetic, from sleek hover cars, to the blocky and inhuman-looking boomers and gleaming buildings, is both gorgeous and consistent. The character designs, while seemingly exuding the essence of the late ’90s, work well within this style. The leads are given plenty of costume changes, and the general fashion sense seems consistent with the world itself.
A.D. Police: To Protect and Serve is a rare chance to look at a franchise from a different perspective. Sasaki and Kleif’s experiences cast aside Genom’s corruption and wrongdoing from the mainline series, to deliver a portrait of a life within the world itself. Specifically, it’s a chance to see how those that aren’t masked vigilantes, that aren’t crazed business owners, get by in the city.
It’s not a perfect show by any stretch. The show’s low budget ensures that the overall animation is choppy and a bit cheap looking, for example. That said, though, what the show does well, it does incredibly well. The strong characters, and general fleshing out of the A.D. Police as a whole help to expand an already-familiar world, while the compelling narrative ensures that viewers will be hooked until the final credits roll.