Police in a Pod episode 2 is here. The MADHOUSE-animated series, directed by Yuzo Sato, is one of this season’s slice-of-life titles: except with a slightly more serious tone. In the review of episode 1, we tackled the subjects of vulnerable characters, who are not OP in the traditional sense, but instead mere “humans” who commit mistakes as well, while simply trying to do their jobs.
It’s important to note that following the release of the first episode, the series received backlash from some of the viewers – mainly from the West. Some criticism included the series being tone-deaf to the major perception of police and their work while trying to present the image of police work in a much better light. Viewers have also mentioned how the first impression the series gave was being out-of-touch of the actual duties of a police officer, and instead focusing on the mundane office duties, without addressing some of the bigger issues. But with episode 2, I feel like the series managed to shift the focus from the police to some of the actual societal issues Japan, but also other countries are facing.
In this episode, while we are met with the usual comedic tone, we are also introduced to a new side of detective Seiko Fuji. She shows off her great intuition skills, but also her ability to clap back against the male-predominant Criminal Affairs Division. This mirrors what mangaka Maiko Yazu said in an interview in 2018 about the harsh realities of working in the Japanese police force, including the death of her co-worker due to overwork.
In the first part of episode 2, we see Kawai and Fuji aid a 16-year old runaway girl. As the episode progresses, we see two interesting points: how the runaway girl, despite being a minor, has engaged in consensual relations with clients; and how she herself had been a victim of an assault by her stepfather.
This is a good touchpoint for Police in a Pod to discuss, especially with the mounting pressure from the Japanese public in recent years to raise its age of consent. For context, 13 is the minimum age of consent in the country, albeit some prefectures have implemented their own higher age of consent rules. What makes this particular part of the episode so interesting to watch is that it highlights as well the growing issue of domestic violence against women.
Later in the episode, we see Kawai and Fuji visit the Criminal Affairs Division to report on yet another instance of domestic violence. Kawai worries about asking someone from the division to sign it, until another female detective, Miwa Makitaka, offers to sign them.
In 2020, it has been reported that domestic violence has reached an all-time high in Japan, amounting to 132,355 recorded cases from April to November. For Police in a Pod to tackle such an issue in a realistic way piques my interest even more for the series, especially when you consider the fact that Japan itself is still majorly a patriarchal society that sidelines women most of the time.
Throughout the episode, we saw a lot of hilarious yet harsh clapbacks from Fuji. These included scolding Takeshi Yamada for not helping Makitaka in her paperwork, and commenting on the predominantly male staff of the division while saying that “they only have that [pompadour] hair because they want to make themselves look big and important”.
But perhaps a more perfect clapback was when Fuji confronted a shouting man in the police station. When Makitaka faced the man, he remarked that “talking to a woman will not get me anywhere”, but conceded when Fuji told him that one cannot select an officer to talk to and that she will try her best to keep up with the man’s expectations.
This scene is one small but perfect jest to the current gender equality scene in Japan. As more and more notable Japanese people have been called out recently due to their sexist remarks against women, Police in a Pod can be viewed through the lens of how Japanese women are willing to fight back against gender inequality in the country.
To sum it up, episode 2 definitely hit my expectations when it comes to this series and made me realize once again the importance of the topics presented in the episode. I look forward to seeing how the series progresses.
All images via Muse Asia.