Before I even opened the case, I was wondering if an extensive – or even basic – knowledge of Bubblegum Crisis was an important prerequisite for this series. A good spin off, as any decent TV addict should know, is something that needs to carry all the elements of the show its referencing, without relying on pre-existing viewer knowledge.
As it turns out, I needn’t have worried. A.D. Police is driven enough by it’s drama and the interpersonal relationships between the characters that it stands well enough on its own, and hardly relies on its predecessor to tell its story. Somewhat old school in terms of its art direction and design, its a reasonably entertaining power-drive through the standard robotic existential dystopia; a genre exemplified in films like any of the Patlabors and elevated by films like Ghost in the Shell.
Nowhere near that lofty, this show is more about the guns and the attitude. Focused on the members of the AD Police force, an elite squad who deal with rogue robots, there’s plenty of action and cop show cliches, but the characters make it a lot more watchable than it sounds. It’s always interesting when polar opposites clash and somehow manage to find a grudging respect and understanding for each other. Kenji Sasaki is dealing with the loss of his partner to a rogue boomer, and in the classic cop station drama style definitely does not want someone else stepping into his friend’s shoes any time soon. Enter blonde German import Hans Kleif, whom Kenji sucker punches at a bar the previous evening mostly just for being there. It’s a recipe for disaster, however Hans isn’t the little ray of sunshine he necessarily plays at being, and both men have issues unspoken as they face an increasingly dangerous boomer outbreak
It’s the basis of just about ever buddy cop movie ever made, and it still works here. Sure, it won’t perplex like an Oshii film, and it’s not exactly the latest, greatest and slickest in animated giant robots, but you’ll find yourself scooting ahead just the same and putting the pieces of the puzzle together. You’ll find yourself caring when the bad guys try to blow up one of the squad with ridiculously rigged toy bombs and a couple of helpless hostages. You’ll even be rooting in the end for everything to work out and for Sasaki and his partner to live happily ever after, and considering that this isn’t the greatest OAV series ever made, that’s actually pretty good!