A.D. Police Part 1 Manga Review: Cyberpunk is back, and they brought cyborg puns

I’ve got some Valkilly (or “Ghost in The Shell” soundtrack, if you prefer) playing in my ears, an image of that one Aerosmith album with the robot on the cover in my head (you know the one I am talking about), and a destaine for all human life.  That’s right, I’ve got A.D. Police on the cyberbrain.  Well, the AD Police manga and the A.D. Police Files anime that is, which I will review in a two part installment.   The very early ninties prelude, to the eighties anime classic Bubblegum Crisis, comes as a (maybe?) needed backstory for the character Leon McNichol. Some say that the Cyberpunk genre is dead; but as long as I have my A.D. Police, I should be just fine.

I’ll start with the Viz released manga first, considering that it was being worked on by Toshimichi Suzuki and Tony Takezaki a few months before the OVA*  (Original Video Animation).   What I found out about the artist, Tony Takezaki, is that the only thing he did outside of A.D. Police was the Genocyber manga and some mecha designs for some episodes of Bubble Gum Crisis. Personally, I think in the vain of cyborg design, he did a pretty good job; I liked most of the robots that showed up in the A.D. Police.  Toshimichi Suzuki on the other hand seems to lay more on the executive producer end of the process.  Playing these roles in A.D. Police Files, Bubblegum Crash, and Gall Force he seems to find himself connected back to the Mr. 80’s character designer Kenichi Sonoda (a name that will most probably show up in this blog again). Be it Bubblegum Crisis, Bubblegum Crash, or Wanna-be’s (which Suzuki wrote himself), he planned a part in it. It seems by this point that I  really haven’t written about the manga itself.

We start the story in Tokyo (now called NeoTokyo) in the year 2025; a setting that is both described in the manga by the get-go of a voice over, and a huge floating T.V. turtle.  The story begins when Japan is completely devastated by the Great Kanto Earthquake.  The fictional super-conglomerate Genom (the villains of Bubblegum Crisis) helped Japan recover from this disaster and by doing so, Genom was able to take over Japan’s economic restart. Enough world-building now; here is the reason you should care.

Genom, as a company, is known for making Boomers.  Boomers are the go-to baddies for anything in this series; they are multi-purpose synthetic cyborgs, they sometimes are not very different looking from their human creators. Be it construction, maintenance, or just maids, Boomers do it all.  Boomers, unfortunately, have a habit of malfunctioning.  The A.D. Police, a fictional squad force, come in whenever a Boomer goes berserk and starts killing people (something they do quite often).  We start with the A.D. Police on a routine scout around the city. This, being Leon’s first mission since he transferred from the Normal Police, does not end well. See, he almost doesn’t escape with his life on this one. Reason being, that Leon was attacked by a Boomer.  Jeena Malso, Leon’s new butch partner comes to the rescue, knife-wielding and ready to save his life.

A.D. Police, while sporting itself as a back story for Leon, doesn’t focus much on him at all.  In the five part story (with the first three being only a chapter apiece), only the first one focuses on Leon. This manga is more about Jeena than anything else; she’s the one doing all the crime fighting and general butt kicking. This is very apparent during the last part, in which things turn absolutely Die Hard (a joke that Jeena herself makes).

Pros:  As I wrote earlier, I enjoyed the robot designs; they’re slim and smooth, with some nice detail that permeates the design. Jeena is a little hard around the edges at first, but channels a mouthy Major Kusanagi from Ghost in the Shell to give her that touch of cool.  There are some expressive scenes within A.D. Police. I’m thinking of two major ones; one is when a small group of sentient Boomers are having an argument about the human race and how one, called Messiah, cannot be perfect if it was created by humans (a flawed race whose sole purpose is to create their replacements), and another when the same Boomer has taken control of Genom’s supercomputer, called Alex, to try and control Tokyo (which leads to a skyscraper growing a face).

Cons:  This manga has a problem with the dark; basically all of this manga is at night, which means that the sky turns this density of “spilled ink”.  No really, it looks like the assistants couldn’t hold onto the ink when they were doing the backgrounds.  It’s distracting, making most of the fight scenes impossible to see without being lit by artificial light. The story, especially in the first thirty pages or so is pretty uninteresting; it was hard to follow and was just a lot of talking that went nowhere. I could also say that the ending was rushed, but personally I thought that adding anything after the climax would have been fruitless.

This is an early Viz Media release, and I fear that years of being out of print have caused this book to be pretty hard to find. I picked up the only copy I’ve ever seen at Half Price, but I checked Amazon and they have some copies. It might be flawed, but I really enjoyed parts of it; even outside of its connections to Bubblegum Crisis. 

*OVA, for people who don’t know, was a very popular anime release method, focused majorly around the height of the home video market in Japan, around the time between Bubblegum Crisis and A.D. Police.

Categories: Manga

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