Jan 28, 2009
Beatnik (All reviews)
A prequel to Bubblegum Crisis, set in 2027, AD Police Files drops the light-hearted humour of the previous OVA and replaces it with noir-esque crime thrills.

Someone saw more potential in the franchise and decided to take Blade Runner and blend it with Miami Vice. Inspired? Foolhardy? Definitely worth a shot. The cyberpunk genre can be blended with anything, and Bubblegum Crisis brilliant as it was, could have been taken in another direction entirely, and AD Police Files directs it into moody fatalistically romantic territory.

Leon McNichol is almost unrecognisable, not just due to a change in character art, but he's a jittery straight-laced rookie in the first episode. A far cry from the ladies man, with a penchant for showing up at the right time with a big gun that we saw in the previous OVA. You’d think this OVA would chart a rites of passage for this character, throwing him into the deep end of sex-crazed Boomers in a lecherous city and spitting him out a grizzled veteran, but he’s just another character in the background to the city and its blood-soaked tragedies.

Whereas Bubblegum Crisis reminds you vaguely of the style of Ghost in the Shell at times, AD Police Files strangely and for a brief moment will make you recall Ghost in the Shell: Innocence's opening assault on a building harbouring a crazed robot 'doll'. This serves as another reminder of the Bubblegum franchise's subtle impact on the cyberpunk genre within anime, very subtle indeed.

AD Police Files addresses one of the aspects of Bubblegum Crisis, that of the AD Police being completely and utterly useless at everything. This was not so much a flaw as it was a humorous running joke throughout that OVA. This time they get a lot of love and attention, turning up at crime scenes violently, intimidating 'normal police', and generally causing the same amount of destruction as the Knight Sabers except with a humorously bemused scowl upon their weathered faces.

Another aspect addressed in this OVA that was lacking in Bubblegum Crisis is more of a definition and elaboration of what Boomers actually are, and their role in society. In the previous OVA all we got was rogue Boomers, custom-made and with inconsistent personalities. There was no outline for why Boomers were made, or what they were made of exactly. The line was blurry and with the array of different personalities it wasn’t clear if they were cyborgs, robots or synthetic humans. Sure the name is a riff of baby boomers, but Bubblegum Crisis didnt really do anything else with that symbolism.

AD Police Files is more direct in its approach to everything. We're told Boomers are artificial humans made up of proteins, artificial intelligence and artificial organs. A real mash-up indeed. Future Frankenstein monsters terrorising Mega-Tokyo with random violence due to mysterious bouts of insanity. Then there is the issue of people with implants, if over 70% of their body are cybernetic then they are classed as Boomeroids. After you've stopped laughing at that name you realise you're in a perfect setting for philosophical musings.

You'd think after the previous paragraph that you'll endure endless exposition and rambling but you'd be incorrect in that assumption. One of AD Police Files' saving graces are the stylish art direction and minimal dialogue. There are many instances of wordless scenes, set to an 80's synth score, and its absolute bliss for cyberpunk lovers, and seasoned anime viewers in general. We're not getting talked down to in this OVA, and although we're also not being asked to work our brains, we're still being entertained without being insulted. Well, much. The content of the episodes is a bit on the nose at times, though the core plots for all three are still pretty good.

AD Police Files is required viewing for fans of cyberpunk and 90's anime. It hasn't got the quality of the best animes of the genre, but it has its heart in the right place. Ironic, huh?