New Dominion Tank Police (Japan 1990)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 4/15/07

Six episodes

Due to some subversive political conspiracy, this is one of the hardest anime series to track down in America. Manga Entertainment's original VHS release in the early 90's was unwatchable due to appallingly bad dubbing - so bad that I couldn't even make it through the first episode. In 2003 the subtitled DVD was finally released as god had always intended, and then at some point Anchor Bay got the US distribution rights. After that, the disc completely vanished into obscurity, and every time I found a retailer that claimed to have it, it would mysteriously vanish and my money would be quickly and quietly refunded. Even though the Region-2 PAL release is still readily available, for three years I couldn't even find used copies of the NTSC version. Once again, Canada became my salvation, and I managed to import a copy from the Great White North. Very strange.

Anyway, this miniseries is a follow-up to Masamune Shirow's original "Dominion Tank Police" (1989), and follows a political terrorist plot to remove Mayor Weatherbee from office for her proposed anti-weapon bill. Leona Ozaka gets messed up in some weird stuff involving brain-washing, illegal drugs, a former mentor, and suspension from the Tank Police. Her long suffering partner, Al, is constantly by her side, and her diminutive tank Bonaparte heroically saves the day again and again.

Overall, the series is much more serious minded than the overly campy original, and the animation and production values are MUCH better. Of all of Shirow's works that have been adapted to animation, this one realizes his style and character designs better than any other. It's actually like reading one of his comic books, which is extremely unusual and quite impressive. The story is a bit disjointed, but overall interesting. Anna and Yuna Puma repeatedly show up as comedic relief to antagonize Leona as much as possible. It's a fun and nostalgic outing that harkens back to the good old days when anime was still fresh and not polluted with gratuitous panty shots and behemoth breasts.