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AD Police Complete OVA Collection Anime DVD Review

8 min read

AD Police CoverThe harder side of Megatokyo.

What They Say:
Relentless technological development has resulted in the creation of Boomers, artificially intelligent androids with the potential to free mankind from physical labor. But anything that can be used can also be misused…

AD Police rookie Leon McNichol gets his first lesson in the school of hard choices when he and his partner Geena are given the job of tracking down the cause of several incidents of Boomers running amuck. They soon discover that a defective Boomer is illegally reactivating Boomers which have been scrapped – and one of these Boomers has a vivid memory locked in her mind; the image of the man who destroyed her. The image of Leon McNichol.

The Review:
Audio:
The audio presentation for this series brings us the original Japanese language track and the English language track in stereo encoded at 192kbps. The series has a fairly good stereo mix though the bulk of it does feel like it’s going to the overall soundstage and without too much in the way of directionality. The majority of dialogue is center channel based but the sound effects and music, particularly the songs, come across well from the stereo channels. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally released in 1990, the transfer for these three OVAs are presented in their original full frame aspect ratio. While at times Bubblegum Crisis wasn’t exactly the brightest show made, it never moved to the level of darkness that these OVAs did. There is such an oppressive feeling of the blacks and reds here that you feel just how down and dangerous the places these characters go are. The episodes strike me as being very close to the same level of quality as the laserdisc releases a number of years ago which were just gorgeous. The backgrounds are nicely solid and things like cross coloration and aliasing are very minimal. Most of the actual “problems” with this show are in the animation itself and that’s practically negligible, though with advances in decoding both in players and TV sets, it’ll either be exacerbated or minimized depending on what you have after all these years. In general, this is a good looking transfer of a show that’s hard to believe is twenty-five years old now.

Packaging:
The packaging for this release brings us a standard sized DVD case to hold the single disc in it. Using some of Tony Takezaki’s original artwork for the cover, this release uses what was done with the previous VHS release for cover artwork (which pales next to the laserdisc artwork they were able to use). The imagery of the female body in a very thin swimsuit style outfit with a cybernetic arm set against the graffiti is a good image and a staple of near-future mythologies and it works well here. This is probably one of the brightest points of the show. The back cover mixes in more illustration shots instead of animation shots and the look is just right. It’s heavy on the text here as summaries for the premise and then for the three episodes are done here as well as some of the basic production and copyright info. As is now standard I believe with AnimEigo releases, there is no included insert.

Menu:
The menu layout takes a variety of the clips from the show that go on about boomer technology and place them into complementing sections here while one of them has the selections lined down them as part of the music from the show plays along. It’s a decent looking menu and definitely in theme. Access times are nice and fast but the disc didn’t read our players language presets. In fact, once we set them as the show played using Play All, it reset to English language when it started each subsequent episode.

Extras:
While this release has some of the familiar standard extras, it also has some material that just makes it even more important to me than the show itself in some ways. We get the standard image gallery and the liner notes, which are really just fourteen screens of song lyrics. There’s a brief section of the promotional trailers used for the show as well. But the big extra that I wanted was all the music videos and we’ve got them all here, from the three mix version to the three separate ones as well. While it is most definitely pure 80’s music, t’s music that I listened to heavily when I got these back on VHS and laserdisc as well.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Not long after Bubblegum Crisis ended but before Bubblegum Crash hit the scene, it was decided to give the focus to police side of things in the world of Megatokyo. But instead of playing around with the ground that was already covered, they opted instead to go back five years in time to 2027 and introduce us to Leon as he was a rookie in the AD Police. Megatokyo at this time is a city where the laws are still being written on boomers and while there are crimes and violence with them, it hasn’t hit the levels we see in the other series yet.

But at the same time, the violence is much stronger, much nastier and almost more personal. AD Police takes something a cop drama approach to it but with more of an action/syndication kind of feel where there’s going to be some real work done to solve a situation and it won’t be done just by analyzing the clues and going “aha!”. The world of AD Police is one where both the boomers and the people commit serious atrocities and have to deal with the results of a world that’s changing around them. There’s one poignant scene where a young office of the normal police is being told that any discomfort in her eye means she should have it replaced with a cybernetic enhancement right away. Why suffer he says, it’s an age of pleasure and paradise to be sought after.

But to hear it, you wouldn’t know it by seeing many of those with the implants, something that looks to have been clamped down on by the BGC years as many of those in the high-class hospitals look more like they came out of a freak parlor than there. The stories on this release run across the range of what you can imagine in this kind of world. From the general boomers that go wild from being misused, which in fact causes the internal affairs side of things to start wondering if AD Police members are inciting such incidents so as to collect massive payoffs in insurance, to a woman who has the bulk of her insides taken out and replaced with cybernetic parts so that she can perform equally at work against men by eliminating the hypothesis of menstrual cycles affecting her productivity. The two shorter opening stories present an intriguing world and go through both of these cases and examine how society is reacting to them. At what point does someone no longer become human and become something less but something more?

The most interesting story on here to me is the final one where we in the introduction get a brief history of a boxer named Bill Fanword who eventually leaves the ring and becomes an AD Police officer. Through the series of illustrations used instead of actual animation shots, we see his rise and fall in the line of duty. What results is that he ends up in an experimental test for the AD Police and probably Genom as well in some form. The result is that all that’s survived of him is his brain and his tongue, which he uses as a way of keeping his sanity by lighting biting it so that he can feel some part of himself still. His body is now instead a really beefed up humanoid sized police officer and he’s still captaining a crew of officers with him. This episode is both very introspective since we get to hear what’s going on in his head as well as bloody violent as he deals with the situation he’s in. It’s a fascinating piece and plays out in a very engaging manner.

In Summary:
The style and feel of this show is just completely unlike anything else in the Bubblegum Crisis universe over the years that it really doesn’t feel like it belongs at times. But at the same time, it still holds up so well all these years later and after the sequel series and the reboot that it’s almost surprising in some ways. It’s like the black sheep of the family that went too far and is now kept away from the rest of the flock, but it’s still an attractive piece. While it doesn’t work Leon over as some may want, to give him a chance to really be as rough and tumble as possible and allow for the change to his cool older self, it does let him see the really bad side of the city he loves and defends which helps build more character for him. AD Police is probably one of the more intriguing aspects to the entire run of Bubblegum Crisis related titles I’ve seen over the years and the one that gets the least buzz. This is a solid science fiction police action/drama set in a familiar world that’s worth hunting up and worth hoping for a Blu-ray upgrade for.

Features:
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Music Videos, Image Gallery, Promotional Trailers

Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B

Released By: AnimEigo
Release Date: October 5th, 2004
MSRP: $24.98
Running Time: 120 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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