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ADV Films presents
A.D. Police: To Protect and To Serve (1999)

"What would you do if I wasn't the same person I was yesterday?"
- Kenji Sasaki (Susumu Chiba)

Review By: Jeff Ulmer   
Published: January 23, 2002

Stars: Susumu Chiba, Takumi Yamazaki, Yukari Nozawa, Koji Ishii, Randy Sparks, Jason Douglas, Kaytha Coker, Markham Anderson
Other Stars: Chiharu Tezuka, Takako Kodama, Toru Furusawa, Shinpachi Tsuji, Christin Auten, Emily Carter, Andy McAvin, John Swasey
Director: Hidehito Ueda

Manufacturer: IFPI
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (12+)
Run Time: 04h:46m:19s
Release Date: April 09, 2002
UPC: 702727014727
Genre: anime

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ B+A-A- B-

DVD Review

The year is 2020, and after a devastating earthquake, Tokyo has been rebuilt as Genom City, at the hands of the cyborg VOOMERS—VOodoo Organic Metal Extension Resources—built by the Genom Corporation, whose office tower now dominates the skyline. The machines, known as boomers, have become an integral part of life now, doing heavy construction and maintenance, in addition to more mundane and menial chores. A percentage also have a tendency to go rogue, and their destructive rampages can be fatal. To counter this increasing menace, the Advanced Police (A.D. Police) were formed as a small, elite team, focused on boomer crime.

Kenji Sasaki is a member of that force, but his job has a heavy price, as he has lost all of his previous partners in the line of duty. He is a loner prepared to take risks, an attitude that doesn't mesh with the team spirit of the A.D. Police. Still, he is effective, and that is what counts when dealing with machines many times more powerful, especially when human lives are at stake. Unfortunately, this independence doesn't lend itself well to social skills, so his first meeting with new partner Hans Kleif, fresh in from the regular police in Germany, is less than warming. Hans is your hunky pretty boy type, though a previous injury has caused him to lose his memory of childhood, and necessitated a personal nurse. The rest of the team consists of demolitions and team leader Jose Collins, the blonde munitions expert, Karen Jordon, and Mary Malone, whose skill lies in combat chopper flying. They report to their commander Nancy Wilson, who oversees operations. With a city facing a growing boomer threat, the workload is high, but a new menace is lurking in Genom City. The popularity of the boomer has spread worldwide, spawning an illegal trade organization known as the Backers, who sell "grey market" boomers to those willing to pay. The most visible of this organization, Liam Fletcher, becomes a prime target for the A.D. Police, as a number of deadly incidents begin to center around the Backer activities.

As a fan of both the original Bubblegum Crisis and Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040, I was eager to see what this 1999 prequel offshoot would be like. Response to the three-part A.D. Police OVAs was pretty lackluster, but I found the TV series to be quite engrossing, even if not in the same way as either Bubblegum Crisis series, whose appeal came in large part from the mecha battles and cute female casts. A.D. Police is a darker series, relying more on character development and intrigue than a cyber-noir action adventure, though it does contain a lot of intense action. Although most of the supplemental cast doesn't get much exposition, the relationship of the leads unfolds through numerous flashbacks. However, even as we begin to think we know who we are dealing with, there is always room for a twist, something A.D. Police is filled with. Comparisons were made to the original BGC OVAs, but this has even more of that dark Blade Runner feel, with entire episodes devoted to fleshing out backstory, rather than just lining up a boomer of the week. And unlike the OVAs, this actually has a conclusion, and one that doesn't come completely out of the blue.

While its strengths are in its story development, the weakness would be in the character design. Compared to the slickness of 2040, the characters here aren't pretty, and have some inconsistencies through the production, but this adds a uniqueness that I adjusted to as the series progressed. The settings and background art are up to standard, but again they're darker and less glitzy than 2040, giving a different atmosphere to the world of immediately post-earthquake Tokyo, before the Knight Sabers of the Bubblegum Crisis era were to appear on the scene.

Had this been an eight-disc release, I would have hesitated in recommending it, but A.D. Police marks another complete twelve episode series that ADV brings to market in a two disc set, a format I hope we see more of in the future. Once you get past the first couple of episodes, it picks up and becomes involving, and the steady exposition of the main story arc held my interest. While it may not be the best looking anime I've ever seen, it certainly was worth the viewing time, and in this configuration is an easy recommendation.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The transfer here is really good. While you wouldn't expect a 1999 series to look bad, for a budget release the transfer is easily up to par with more expensive releases, with minimal aliasing, good coloration, and no rainbowing to speak of. There is some fine grain evident, but it is rendered naturally with no signs of digitalization. The color palette tends to focus in the greys, browns and beiges in large part, which set off some of the more vibrant coloring we see on occasion. No complaints here.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Japanese, Englishyes

Audio Transfer Review: A.D. Police had been only available as a dub on VHS, was never fully released in North America, but this set includes both the dub and the complete Japanese language version. The audio contains no technical deficiencies. There is limited low frequency usage; however, the stereo field gets a decent workout with directional dialogue and music cues. I also liked both the opening and closing songs for their energetic hard rock stylings, and there are several places where the soundtrack kicks in to fill out the soundscape nicely.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 59 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
6 Other Trailer(s) featuring Bubblegum Crisis: Tokyo 2040, Soul Hunter, Robotech: Masters, Martian Successor Nadesico, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Dai-Guard
Production Notes
Packaging: Alpha
Picture Disc
2 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Clean opening and closing credit animation
  2. Production sketches
  3. Production artwork
Extras Review: Disc one contains a selection of standard ADV trailers for Bubblegum Crisis: Tokyo 2040, Soul Hunter, Robotech: Masters, Martian Successor Nadesico, Neon Genesis Evangelion, and Dai-Guard.

Disc two holds the remainder of the extras, including clean opening and end credits, plus three galleries.

The sketches image gallery features 28 line art renderings from the show, with many weapon and boomer designs.

The production section gives a pretty decent background on the setting for A.D. Police, and detailed info on the uniforms, ordinances, terminology, technology and origins of the boomer. It also contains a story screen with mucho spoilerage, thankfully prefaced by a big spoiler warning page—it would have been nice if that was accessable independently, as I went through this before finishing the set, so be forewarned unless you want to go through the opening screens twice.

The artwork section holds a dozen really nice images of the cast, many in pretty provocative poses.

Last, we get both opening and ending credits with clean animation and no text. Considering the end credits are primarily girls lying around in their nighties, having distracting text removed is a bonus.

What we don't get are individual chapter menus, though each episode is divided into five.

All in all, a great collection of supplements for such a low-priced collection.

Extras Grade: B-


Final Comments

ADV again leads the way with another low cost, all inclusive, two disc set of the entire A.D. Police series, with a nice looking transfer and a decent supplemental package. While the series may not be as strong in some aspects as either the original Bubblegum Crisis or the 2040 remake, it does have an engaging storyline and good character development, even if the design is a little weak. By packaging the series like this, the cost per episode makes this a no brainer to add to the collection. I hope ADV and others use this as a model for handling more of the less popular and catalogue titles.


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