Hiromi TsuruShigeru ChibaMichie TomizawaYuko Mita
Dominion Tank Police
Medium: OVA, series
Year: 1988
Director: Koichi Mashimo, Takaaki Ishiyama
Writer: Koichi Mashimo, Futoshi Takano
Original creator: Masamune Shirow
Actor: Banjo Ginga, Daisuke Gouri, Hidekatsu Shibata, Hirohiko Kakegawa, Hiromi Tsuru, Ichiro Nagai, Isamu Tanonaka, Jouji Yanami, Koji Totani, Mari Yokoo, Masaaki Ohkura, Masami Kamiyama, Michie Tomizawa, Shigeru Chiba, Takko Ishimori, Tomoko Maruo, Yuko Mita, Yusaku Yara
Keywords: Dominion Tank Police, anime, SF
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 4 episodes, each 38 minutes each or so
Url: https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=541
Website category: Anime old
Review date: 22 May 2024
Dominion Tank Police
It's a lot of fun. It's loosely based on a Shirow Masamune manga (and technically a prequel to it), but a lot goofier and more comedic than you'd expect. Imagine an anime parody/reinvention of RoboCop (which had come out the year before). They're both over-the-top parodic cop stories in a near future SF dystopia where the police are as threatening as the criminals (but less sinister than the mega-corporations).
The difference is that Dominion Tank Police is full of child-friendly slapstick. (And some harmless nudity.) We're not meant to take its absurdities seriously. The police's tank tracks leave massive trenches in the road wherever they go. Our heroes' super-macho squad leader (Charles Brenten) reads "How to Kill" magazine and can't be bothered responding to requests for back-up. His men question suspects by putting live grenades in their mouths, then playing hangman golf or throwing knives.
Even the anime itself isn't outraged by any of this. We're not meant to worry about anything here, as the show cheerfully throws up absurdities and lets us laugh at the idiot cops and criminals. Some of what's here is Disney-cartoon daft. Giant inflatable penises are the most effective anti-tank weapon. Criminals spend two episodes trying to steal urine. If a rocket hits a tank, its crew will have time to climb out and run to safety before a huge but delayed explosion. When an entire SWAT team has three armed robbers surrounded, the baddies escape by doing a striptease and then ducking out of camera shot while the police drool. (Warning: might not work in real life.)
Shirow Masamune's doing worldbuilding. Pollution's so bad that people have to wear gas masks and the weather report has updates on the "bacterial cloud". Our three goofy villains might have escaped from a Saturday morning children's cartoon, but they're not human. (Buaku was grown as an experimental test subject, with a possibly ageless body and a mechanical brain. His stripper cat-girls are androids.) There's a hospital for healthy people, because these freaks need investigating.
The 3rd and 4th episodes (from a different writer and director) are less throwaway. Buaku steals the last work of art produced while the world's ecology was still healthy. (It's a nude painting of him, worth 900 million dollars.) Red Commandos want to kill him and recover that painting. Is Buaku worthless or priceless? Well, he's both. We learn about his background and he hangs out with our heroine, Leona Ozaki, a cop who wants to join the macho, silly Tank Police. (Why? Also, she loves her mini-tank, Bonaparte.)
This is the first of three (to date) Dominion anime and, as far as I can tell, the best-regarded. The other two are New Dominion Tank Police (1993-1994, six episodes, okay but less funny) and Tank S.W.A.T. 01 (2006, one episode, highly entertaining despite being dog-ugly CGI).
It's a silly, juvenile action comedy. You couldn't call it a must-watch, but it's a laugh. Squad Leader Brenten is ludicrous and the show's real star. ("Just once, I'd like to rob a bank too!") The cops are surprisingly likeable, because of their over-the-top behaviour. Also, to my surprise, watching this made me realise that I'd wanted to watch this since 1988. (There were Dominion Tank Police adverts with the stripper cat girls, which I have a feeling even appeared in DWM.) This franchise is easily my favourite anime from Shirow Masamune.