Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Dominion Tank Police Anime Review

Dominion Tank Police
Manga Entertainment
Complete Collection - 1 disc
160 min. - 4 episodes
$9.95 (2003)
$34.99 (1999)
ISBN 719987177925
Japanese/English Audio - English Subtitles
Director - Koichi Mashimo
Studio - Agent 21

Synopsis: In the future a dense bacteria cloud has engulfed the city of Newport and its citizens must wear gas masks to avoid dangerous levels of bacteria inhalation.  The cloud has been around for decades and is a fixture of living in Newport.  Life goes on underneath the cloud and the city is a futuristic urban sprawl with strangely organic-looking architecture.  Crime continues and has escalated to a point where the police department includes a tank battalion within the city limits.
People wear gas masks due to the dense bacteria cloud covering the city
The tank police are a rough bunch of para-military soldiers who often cause more destruction than the criminals they are supposed to catch.  Tanks are burly machines which tear up roads, smash through walls, and blow things up.  Regular citizens are up in arms about the wanton collateral damage caused by the tank police.
The tank police fight crime with these massive tanks!
Leona Ozaki is a new transfer to the 110th tank police division and their only female member.  The squad is led by a macho tank commander named Brenten who doesn't think a girl can pilot a tank.  Leona must prove him wrong and gets help from some of the other members.  Al Cu Ad Solte is a handsome, young police officer who takes a fancy for the attractive Leona.  Also on the team are Chaplain, who spouts sage advice, and Jim Lovelock, a science expert.
Buaku and the Puma Sisters are Newport's top criminals
Now Leona must prove her mettle with the tank police and stop the criminal menace of Buaku.  He's the premier criminal in Newport and works with two renegade former-catgirl-sex-dolls, the Puma Sisters.  Can Leona pilot one of the massive tanks when all her training comes from the motorcycle squad?  Who is the mysterious backer of Buaku's gang?  Can the tank police avoid destroying an entire building on every mission?  What is Leona's new secret weapon named Bonaparte?
The 110 Tank Police are the only ones who can stop Buaku!
Pros: Lots of comedy, interesting mecha designs for future tanks and aircraft, Leona and Al are cute together, the Puma sisters are pretty funny, music is okay
Leona pilots her scratch-built mini-tank with Al
Cons: Mediocre dub, dated animation (from 1989 and nothing like the beautiful cover images), plot is kinda dumb, Buaku appears to be a goofy criminal yet is somehow important?, weak ending
Now the criminals have tanks - it's a war zone!
Mike Tells It Straight: Dominion Tank Police is an anime based on a manga by Masamune Shirow (Ghost in the Shell, Appleseed).  He continues to explore the theme of urban combat, but with a heavy dose of comedy in this series. I thought Leona and Al were great and likable characters, but the villains were a little silly.  Buaku seems like a bumbling criminal, but somehow becomes significant in later episodes.  The missions the tank police went on were also really goofy.  I guess that's because they just utterly destroy stuff with their giant tanks and complete disregard for collateral damage.
A diabolical (and humiliating) new tank deterrent!
This show was all about laughs and comedy.  It veered into semi-serious territory a few times which seemed a bit out of place (the bio-ball and Buaku's origin).  The dub wasn't great and the animation is very dated (although I thought it was better than the animation in Appleseed).  I really liked the design of Bonaparte and Leona's plucky attitude!
The tank police run into the fearsome Red Commandos
This OVA series serves as a prequel to the Dominion Tank Police manga (from 1985) despite being released several years later.  I really liked the manga and recommend any fan of Shirow's work check it out.  A later OVA was released in 1994 called New Dominion Tank Police which is a sequel to the manga.  Then another manga was released in 1995 called Dominion Conflict One: No More Noise in a slightly alternate universe.  A new OVA was released in 2006 called Tank S.W.A.T. 01 which has yet to be released domestically.
Al ponders how he got assigned to a group of raving lunatics
Overall it's an amusing little series, but shows it's age and has low production values.  It's not a classic by any means and another nostalgic '80s anime title.  It's entertaining if somewhat unfocused and the ending was muddled.  The later storyline featuring Buaku's origin hinted at a grander plot which never materialized in this series.  I loved the manga and will review New Dominion Tank Police to see if it does it justice.  Cheers!
Group shot from the manga
TO BUY and Recommendations: