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AD Police: To Protect And Serve Complete Collection SDBD Anime Review

9 min read
It's somewhat hard to pin down my feelings on the show.

AD Police takes the world of Tokyo from 2040 and turns the clock back twenty years to a time when the city is just beginning to return to normalcy while the shadow of Genom is cast across it.

What They Say:
The Packer Syndicate is wreaking havoc across Genom City, using violent robots called Boomers to commit crimes. The only ones who can stop them are the Advanced Police, an elite squad of high-tech cops! Reckless daredevil Kenji Sasaki and his new partner, Hans Kleif, are hot on the trail of the Syndicate’s devious leader – but if they can’t figure out how to put their differences aside, they’ll end up killing each other before the Boomers even get a chance!

The Review:
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language in stereo along with the previously created English language dub, both of which are in the uncompressed PCM format. This gives us the audio straight from the source in a pretty good way, but this is not a show that’s going to shine in this department. For what generally looks like a very low budget show, the audio got some nice attention and provides a solid sounding soundtrack when it comes to the music. A number of segments provide some great music to the rear speakers during the course of the twelve episodes. Dialogue and sound effects though are all forward soundstage based and lack any real directionality, but still sounded pretty good.

Originally released in 1999, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 in 480p using the AVC codec. The twelve episodes are in standard definition form but with better tools used to encode it and more space, such as twice the bandwidth, giving it a chance for a better looking result. Coming after the very glossy Bubblegum Crisis 2040 series, the animation style really didn’t provide anywhere near the same level of flash or vibrancy. In fact, it’s a very soft and pale show with drab and almost lifeless colors for the most part. The prior DVD release was early on in that format’s history so it had a grainier look to it and colors weren’t as solid. Here, it’s something that feels better defined and clearer than what we had before. It’s still pretty drab but there are no noise issues to be had or problematic blues and greens that show noise to be found. It’s also a plus in that it’s all on one disc.

The packaging for this release comes in a standard-sized Blu-ray case that has some nicely dynamic artwork for the front cover. With a blue stripe along the top that says standard definition on Blu-ray, the main covers give us our leads, two of which are in uniform, so there are muscles and guns and some awkward facial designs. I like the red and white background with a mix of black that gives it a kind of impact feeling while the logo provides for something familiar. The back cover carries over that background design nicely and adds a little more character artwork with a lot more detail. The summary of the premise of the show is way too small for my taste and eyes and much can be said the same of the technical grid along the bottom even if it does list everything. There’s a lot of empty space here but it looks good with the background that we get.No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.

The menu design takes its cues from the cover design and it works well as it uses different character artwork but the same kind of color design. The black, red, and white combination works really well on a big screen and the color quality for the character animation is great. The navigation is kept to the right and is pretty standard in what we have as selections, making it quick and easy to us. The pop-up menu during playback has a bit more style in how it’s laid out but I mostly appreciate the larger fonts used across it and the ease of access as there are some SDBD releases that won’t use pop-up menus at all. Everything loads quickly and easily with no visible problems.

There’s a nice little batch of extras included with this release. The production sketches are focused on the sketch art which runs about four minutes and the background gallery that comes in about three minutes. Both provide for some good material but it lacks all the material we had from the prior release with no color works here. Im addition to that, we also get a nice textless opening and ending, an ending that lets us appreciate the art better.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the popularity of the original Bubblegum Crisis series, which spawned a grim AD Police OVA series, and the Bubblegum 2040 series, a new AD Police TV sreies wasn’t the worst idea in the world at all. Originally released as part of the spring 1999 season, the show is one that leaned hard into cliches at first but really found a solid footing afterward. But most people only saw the first couple of episodes before abandoning ship, unfortunately, and missed out on the good stuff. The show originally saw a pickup back in 2002 from ADV Films who provided a dub for it to complement their 2040 releases. It’s one that has a fun dub from that era with some actors we don’t hear from much anymore and others that have really grown since then as well.

The series takes place twenty years before the dark and rather built up world we see in 2040. There are no Knight Sabers here and the boomers are positively primitive by comparison. Genom has its hands in everything at this time which is no different than in the future, but one surprising difference is that they have some competition. A group known as the Backers are supplying illegally built Boomers (robots) to various people and places around the world. The group is lead by a somewhat slick somewhat creepy gent known as Liam, an ex-employee of Genom.

While Boomers aren’t completely new to the world, since they’ve been working hard to rebuild the city, the level of crimes committed by them are still pretty minimal. But even minimal means that extra attention must be paid to them, and the AD Police was formed to deal with it. As we get to know the department, there are only six regular offices and one supervisor/captain. It’s definitely a small group of people and it reflects just how much danger they see on a regular basis.

And any small department has its loner that’s also the best they have. That’d be our lead character Kenji, the rough and tumble type who will take on the world by himself, no help from anyone else thankyouverymuch. Kenji’s gone through a few partners so far, so he’s pretty content to be alone. While out on the town one night, he ends up getting into a brief barroom fight with another guy celebrating his birthday. It is, of course, no surprise when the next day he’s introduced s Kenji’s new partner.

Kenji’s new partner is Hans Kleif, just in from Germany and the normal police. He’s young and handsome and comes complete with his own nurse. Well, one is assigned to him during his arrival as there’s something different about Hans. He’s got some shell lodged into his brain from an incident awhile ago. Due to it, he’s lost all of his memories of his childhood and his parents. He doesn’t retain long-term information either, but he’s still very sharp about the present.

Kenji and Hans don’t get along too well of course, but as a team when the bad guys show up, they manage pretty good and over time end up playing off of each other quite well. The two to some extent learn to work with each other, but not so much that it becomes completely predictable in their relationship. With the other members of the group, Hans gets along great. You’ve got Karen, the blonde-haired weapons chick, Mary whose got some good skills as well as a copter pilot, Jose whose the demolitions guy and the chief of the group. Then there’s the female captain who really has a minor role overall.

The show tends to be fairly episodic in dealing with the boomer outbreak of the day. But inside each of these there’s a fair amount of layering in dealing with Liam and his group and the relationship with the Backers. In fact, one of the surprising things about this show as you watch the entire series is that almost nobody is who they seem. From the bad guys to the good guys, almost everyone has some kind of secret or twist that makes them not what they seem.

There’s also a fairly dramatic death of one of the team during the series. I won’t say who or when of course, but the way the situation was dealt with was pretty good and did a nice job of setting things up for some character conflict afterward. Unfortunately, the ball got dropped there and it was barely referenced in the next episode. But it does resurface later in the series.

Probably the main thing that will turn off people is the pretty mediocre designs used for the series. I can see that they were probably trying to go for a style that went the opposite of BGC 2040 to illustrate the differences in the time they take place in. The 2020 crew is dealing with a recovery from an earthquake while the 2040 crew is at its height of cultural revolution and is on the brink of collapsing under its own weight. There’s just so much more to explore with that than the 2020 crew (unless you’re writing actual novel stories). This difference in style gives the show a definite cheap feel. And it also gives the show rather unattractive characters for the most part, outside of the mysterious nurse Satomi Yuki.

The women of the show are an interesting lot. We don’t get to know a lot about the two women on the team, Mary and Karen. The most different we see about them is during an undercover mission when they look completely different and during the episode at the bar that’s all character dialogue. Hans ends up pursuing his nurse Satomi, whose probably the best drawn character of the group. We also have what is presumed to be Kenji’s girlfriend, who he stays with most of the time and shows up. Their relationship is really hard to pin down as they don’t always seem like they’re dating but rather that he’s just keeping a promise of watching her for someone.

In Summary:
It’s somewhat hard to pin down my feelings on the show. It’s got its mediocre aspect to parts of it – especially early on – but it’s actually got a pretty good story that does some setup for 2040 in the end. The designs aren’t what you’d expect coming from a 1999 show, but the content picks up pretty well as it goes along. This release has always gotten a certain amount of hate for various reasons but there are some real charms to it and I’m glad that after nearly two decades after its initial release that we finally have it again. And it looks better than it has before with a cleaner visual presentation, sharper colors, and better audio. It’s a really niche little release in a way but I’ve always had this love for this show and the OVA series that preceded it because of what it tries to do. It’s fun and weird and an odd part of the Bubblegum Crisis universe. If you’re looking for a worthwhile upgrade over your original DVDs that came out nearly twenty years ago, you’ll be pleased by this.

Japanese 2.0 PCM Language, English 2.0 PCM Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing, Sketch Art Gallery, Background Gallery

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

Released By: Nozomi Entertainment
Release Date: February 4th, 2020
MSRP: $29.99
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480p AVC
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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