With high crime and more incompetent terrorists than you can shake a tank at, life’s not easy in Newport City.
What They Say:
When tanks are outlawed, only outlaws will have tanks. Or at least, that’s what Mayor Weatherby of New Port seems to be forgetting in his efforts to ban certain forms of weapons, including those used by tank-driving policewoman Leona Ozaki and her partner Al. Granted, the city’s Tank Police do seem to cause a lot of collateral damage, but New Port’s a dangerous place. Especially with the felonious and partially feline Puma sisters back on the prowl, and the Dai Nippon Geiken Corporation building even more nefarious devices of evil intent that are finding their way into the hands of local terrorists.
Unfortunately for DNGC, they may be connected to the murder of Leona’s former partner, and once this hard-headed heroine sinks her treads into a case, there’s no backing up! And as for the Pumas? It’s going to be like cats and police dogs, but there are few problems that a little carefully applied mobile artillery can’t cure!
Contains OVA episodes 1-6.
The audio presentation for this brings us just the original Japanese language track in stereo encoded at 224kbps. Due to issues with the English language track that Manga Entertainment produced years ago, it could not be included. The Japanese audio here is pretty solid though and works through the material well as there’s a decent blend of dialogue and action throughout the show. The series is definitely a product of its time though as it’s largely a center channel/full kind of mix where there’s not a lot in the way of directionality or placement, but it has some decent moments. The dialogue comes across clearly and the action scenes allow for things to go a bit bigger, but it doesn’t have the impact that you might expect for a show involving tanks. It may not be a standout mix, but it gets the job done and we didn’t have any issues with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally released in 1994 and 1995, the transfer for this six part OVA series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The show is spread across two discs since the episodes are just a bit longer here, clocking in at thirty minutes each, and we get four on the first and two on the second. The series, animated by JC Staff, has a really good look about it with a lot of detail that holds up pretty well considering that it’s a darker setting overall and there are plenty of murky scenes. The colors generally hold up well throughout with only some natural grain noise in places but also some of the usual problems you’d expect from a show of this age where there’s some cross coloration in a few areas – particularly the Japanese credits – and a bit of line noise during various panning sequences as well. There’s plenty to like with the look of the show and the transfer here in general, though I’d love to see a full high definition remaster.
The packaging for this release gives us a different look than we’ve seen with previous releases of the title, both here and abroad, as we get a good action pose of Leona with her gun out while Bonaparte is tearing up the ground behind her. Past releases have had a much darker look about it but this one goes for a lot of lighter colors and whites that gives it a bit of a fresher and more engaging look. The back cover goes for blacks and reds in a strip form with some murky looking shots from the show, though they provide a look at the cramped aspect of the tank and some fun fanservice of our favorite cat girls. The premise is given a solid spot here with a lot of material covering it and a good looking technical grid that lays everything out clearly and accurately. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menu design works off of the layout of the back cover with the mechanical aspects that are more visible here in the black part of the background while it gets overlaid with some bright red stripes and some yellow and black pieces giving it a mild police tape angle. The layout is simple as there’s nothing to really do with the release overall so we get the episodes listed by number and title while the second volume has a submenu for trailers and credits. With it being a monolingual release, there’s nothing to do about that so it goes a bit simpler and cleaner overall.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After starting off as a short run manga series by Masamune Shirow in 1985, Dominion Tank Police had a very fun four part OVA series in 1988. After that, things were quiet for awhile and while we had a couple of brief resurfaces with the manga, the main event that happened was a six part OVA series that was produced by JC Staff in 1994 that brought us back to the world of Newport City. The first OVA series was one of my earlier anime experiences when that was brought over and it was just one of those eye-opening series with its comedy, sexuality and action, all of which was kept to the beauty of Shirow’s designs when it came to both characters and equipment, never mind the background settings as well. Something about his work is just hugely appealing. But when New Dominion Tank Police came out, there were too many expectations based on what came before and it didn’t do much for me when I ended up seeing it.
The series brings us back into the world of Newport City where crime happens constantly and terrorist attacks are just as common as well, which keeps the police hopping. They’ve had to deal with increasingly difficult types of threats and that means they’ve beefed up as well, hence the whole Tank Police division. The show doesn’t re-introduce us to everything or start from scratch, instead giving us a new story that just takes place after what came before. We’re given the quick introductions to the team, lead by the hilariously gruff Brenten and his distaste for rules, even as he becomes more like the Chief, and our real lead characters of Leona and Al, the team that runs the mini tank Bonaparte that Leona has been madly in love with ever since she transferred over to this division. The two make a great team, even if they do cause a whole lot of destruction. For both of them, it’s warranted considering the risks they face and the city and government should be pleased that they manage to deal with these issues without the whole city being blown up.
Across the six episodes we have here, there is a storyline that spans it as we have some corporate competition going on with some shady projects that will bring them a lot of money if they can get it completed. But there’s plenty of other companies out there as well to deal with, so we get various incidents that slowly draw out that there is something larger going on as a lot of the competitors start going under, people start dying and infiltrators make their way in to even the police in order to gain position. This larger storyline is certainly interesting enough when looked at in full, with the virtual drug they’re creating and some of the ways they’re manipulating a lot of people, but when taken in the individual episodes, it doesn’t work quite as much, particularly since there really isn’t a single focus villain to latch onto. We do get a bad guy, but it’s certainly not like comical Buaku we got in the previous series. Even the use of Anapuma and Unipuma doesn’t do much here as they’re more background characters than real threats that have an impact on things for the most part.
The individual stories do work well though and are fun to watch since we get an amusing cast of characters. Leona is a fun personality all in herself with the way she loves her tank, though she doesn’t get as bad as Noa in Patlabor, though there are certainly similarities. Brenten is really fun as the team leader and we get a diverse group of characters, such as the squeaky clean Al who gets tied to Leona, Megane and his tech knowledge, the preacher and Charlie Nam. Though it may not always be clear at times, we get a really diverse ethnic group here, albeit with a lot of Japanese names for the rest of the characters, but it’s the kind of show that plays more international and big city in a way. While most of the characters – including the leads – are pretty superficial, it’s appreciated that it can be accessible to so many different sides and come across as any big city in a way.
New Dominion Tank Police is kind of weak on its overall plot when you get down to it, but it’s the kind of show where the parts work better than the whole. I’ve long enjoyed this particular little world of Shirow’s, one that has been revisited from time to time but never achieved the level of some of his other works. But for me, this and its predecessor are important early parts of what brought in a lot of anime fans when there was little out there and seeing it well over a decade after I last saw it has certainly softened my distaste for it by a large degree. There’s a lot of good fun to be had here with the action, the comedy and just the expressions and interactions with the cast. It’s simple but easily accessible in a way that can cross fandoms well. While I wish the dub was here, getting back to the original show itself and having it in a tight, low priced package definitely makes me glad it’s back on the market.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: B
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B-
Extras Grade: N/A
Released By: Maiden Japan
Release Date: August 20th, 2013
Running Time: 180 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation 3 via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.