In a parallel Japan, the government struggles to handle the urban guerrilla called "Sects." To confront Sects' activity, Metropolitan Police was organized and its Special Armed Garrison "Tokki-tai: Kerberos" standed at the front line with their heavy arms. Although Tokki-tai achieved a triumph over Sects, people started to oppose their violent and bloody measure. Politically isolated, Tokki-tai made a final decision on their own fate...
Some readers may be puzzled by this manga if they are unfamiliar with the "Oshii-izm". You can find his deep attachment to the image of dogs and the legend of "Tachigui-shi" throughout the episodes. Nonetheless the thrilling gun actions and the complex political strifes are really exciting and surely satisfy the manga fans.
The movie "Jin-roh" was based on this "Kenroh Densetsu" but the director had to reassemble the stories of this omnibus manga and created a new main character Fuse. So some episodes were omitted from the movie. I will focus this review on them.
The existence of
Japan's controversial Self Defense Force (JSDF) can not be ignored in this manga. Oshii poses a question "what makes a distinction between the "Police Force" Tokki-tai and the "Military Force" JSDF? ". Both possess heavy arms and the task is to kill the "enemy". But police forces should function only in the time of peace. The Tokki-tai acts like a military force but the fact that Japan is not at war barely guarantees that it still belongs to the police. But does it also justify the bloodshed ? Sects are heavily armed so that a slight hesitation to pull the trigger kills Tokki-tai officers. But even a veteran officer, Washio Midori, seized firing when she saw a teenage boy pointing his gun at her. Tokki-tai officers are in dilemma whether they should be a merciless soldier or be a guardian of civilians.
The activity of combat by JSDF soldiers is tightly restricted by the constitution. One JSDF captain wrote letter to lieutenant Washio. He wrote that he wonders if he and the soldiers are really sure who the enemy is and what ensures the justice of their attacks and killings. The difference between the time of peace and war is too vague in Japan at civil war to have a confidence in one's act. The Tokki-tai's officer were trained to shoot anybody who confronts them with a gun. In contrast, the JSDF soldiers were "tamed" not to shoot first, he replied. Oshii makes the self-contradiction of JSDF even more conspicuous by comparing it with the imaginary forces "Tokki-tai": a police officer having no hesitation to shoot the enemy versus a soldier restrained to attack. At the end of the letter, the JSDF captain concluded that he will follow the order from his own "internal voice" when he confronts an enemy and is ready to fire. I agree with him. The constitution will never give him an answer, instead, the smell of the gun powder on the battle field will lead the soldiers to take an action.
The final chapter describes the "Kerberos riot", where the Tokki-tai refused the order of its dissolution, and made a sudden charge against the HQ of the Local police "Keishi-chou". The objective of the riot was unclear. One Tokki-tai captain stated that they were not carrying out a coup d'état. I think Tatsumi had intended to produce a war in Tokyo by the sacrifice of hundreds of police officers' lives and to drag the JSDF in front of the Tokki-tai. By making the JSDF go through this ordeal, he let the JSDF special unit to succeed the spirit of Tokki-tai. There still remains a room for debate whether there was any alternative to meet his objectives other than causing such a tragic riot.
If you wanna know more about the background of the "Jin-roh" world, this manga is a must-read. You will be fascinated by Oshii's elaborate scripts of the "Kerberos Saga".