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Dominion: Tank Police


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Title Info

  • seen: 1-4 of 4
  • type: OAV
  • grade: flawed
  • people: Shirow
  • source: commercial
  • form: dub
  • made: 1989
  • Review created: Mon Sep 24 17:01:08 EST 2001
  • mod: none

Um, well, I was asked to review this title but I'm not sure the requester is going to be that happy with it. While this is derived from a Shirow manga, and has all the technical detail you might expect of such, I could only remember it as being under impressive. There's also a `New Dominion Tank Police' OAV series though, and I think that was better...


The essence is clearly Masumune Shirow, the tech fetishist, playing what-ifs with the world again. In this case a world of the future which takes some elements of our own and amplifies them dramatically. The central one being that the `war' on crime has continued to intensify by virtue of an arms race between the cops and the criminals. To the extent of which the police now field a division armed with main battle tanks. What's more this division is frequently called upon, even in light of the massive collateral damage they have a tendency to cause.

We get to meet this rather, um, exotic bunch of people over the shoulder of Leona, an ex motorcycle cop who's just joined the tank police. They're horrified to find a female assigned to such a `blokey' organization. While she's rather shocked at how informal they are and the hyper aggressive way in which they operate. Not too surprising since her first encounter is them playing grenade golf as a way of interrogating a suspect. Of course, being a shirow female, she ends up proving she can hold her own, learn their strengths and even find a little tank to call her own.


The manga also introduces a crime gang who are the tank police's main nemesis. The criminal buaku and his henchmen, not least of whom are two quite cute cat-girls. It also contains a plot based around the fact that the earth is wreathed in a cloud of toxic micro-organisms. And there are various scientific and human responses to this threat, one of which revolves around the `green peace' plan.

Now you might ask why this isn't in the synopsis where story elements are supposed to go. And the reason is because only bits and pieces of this story make it into the actual anime. And without the background of the manga you're going to have a tough time putting it all together. We get flashes of greenpeace herself, some discussion of the actual crisis and smatterings of Shirow brand confusing scientific philosophizing. Of course you can take it as an entirely new plot, in which case it still doesn't hang together or make too much sense. Apart from providing a meaningful backstory for Buako himself.

The real problem, though, is it's just not able to capitalize on what it inherits. On the one hand it's derived lots of machinery, tanks and a design for a world in which the concept of a tank police makes sense. Some hard core super tech action, insights into all the tech toys they use and some exciting combat scenes would make for a good anime. But it doesn't quite manage to get it to work. There's none of the technology details and jargon to make you feel a part of a high tech conflict. The items of technology basically end up as nothing more than high tech tanks and helicopters, no different in behavior than what we have now. And, most importantly, the action isn't that good. There's some nice explosions, exchanges of gunfire, and some absolutely ludicrous scenes of flying tanks but it lacks originality, imagination and excitement.

It also inherits lots of characters from the manga...a fairly exotic bunch. The over the top military macho-ness of Brenten. The romantic triangle between Al, Leona and Bonaparte (her mini-tank). The spiritualism of the police priest meeting the science of their local tech expert. It's not incredibly subtle, or original, but it's quite entertaining and interesting. However once again the average writing leads to a feeling of dissatisfaction. It tries to add comedy, depth and shocking scenes (such as the grenade interrogations) but does so in a somewhat erratic and unconvincing way. As an example Leona is a tank force newbie in one episode, a tank loving cop in another but is still willing to model a bunny suit while running a grenade interrogation in another? The insights into, and feel for, the personalities simply don't add up. And the dialogue and inter-action is average at best. The puma sisters are another example, alternating between tough and competent crims, sex objects and comedy relief in a rather confusing melange of character impressions.

Then again it's not really helped by me seeing the English dub. There are some good voices with poor direction in addition to some outright poor voices. Hearing a tough merc take a bullet and go something like, "ooowie!" really breaks the reality of the show. There's also some `mass produced' electronic dance music in parts. While it sort of produces a feeling of energy it mostly ends up feeling forced, as if the producers have felt they needed to cover failings in the show. The animation itself is not too great either, quite average for an OAV series. The characters occasionally look a bit sketchy, the background detail is often average and the action scenes are quite lacking. Mostly because they feel more like a montage of shots than a continuous scene. A lot of it is very silly too, with the anti-tank `weapons', and the bad jokes that follow, being sure to discourage any one trying to take it seriously.

Other Reviews

  • THEM review Wow, THEM weren't very impressed by this one. While some sections appealed to them it sounds like there was way too much irritation in between. Simple dialogue, average animation, bad dub, irritating music. While they might be a little bit too negative most of the points they make are quite justified (1/5).
  • Akemi's AnimeWorld review And then there's a review from Akemi's AnimeWorld that is way over on the other side of the spectrum. They like the world design, the comedy and the characters with few reservations. Although they're not too keen on the music and voices in the English language version. I must admit though, calling this one an anime classic seems to be going a bit too far (4/5).
  • Anime Critic review Followed by another review that is strongly on the negative side. Clearly this title polarizes opinion. The critic finds the voices and characters unlikable, the subtlety level low and the humor generally unsuccessful. He also notes a dramatic change in `feel' between the two parts. The final conclusion being, "Anyone looking for an entertaining comedy, should just keep looking" (1.5/5).


Words by Andrew Shelton, Web by Ticti, Last Compile: Wed Aug 5 12:39:17 WST 2009