The slice-of-life/comedy anime Police in a Pod has just finished airing and we need to talk about it. The series, based on an original manga by a former police officer-turned-mangaka, Miko Yasu, was a breath of fresh air in the police genre. With the genre being flooded with titles depicting the police faction as bad-ass, overpowered, and brutal, Police in a Pod offers viewers a much more candid and realistic point of view of the duties of police officers.
Understandably, this series gained initial backlash especially from Western audiences due to the show being tone-deaf. In light of the ongoing issue of police brutality cases, especially in the US, the show gained a reputation for being propaganda for the Japanese police force. But beneath that blanket of criticism is a show that perfectly blends comedy with discussion on police strategy and societal issues. It is one of this season’s true underrated series and while it does carry certain messages, they are not meant to be negative.
What Carried the Show: The Message
One of the strongest points of Police in a Pod as an anime is that it managed to perfectly deliver its theme on societal issues in a manner that it knows the line between where to start and where to end. For instance, it is unprecedented for the show to tackle the topics of the rising old population and the exploitation of minors. These topics are just some of the most-pressed topics in Japan that have been long discussed and debated. What Police in a Pod managed to achieve during these moments of serious discussion was getting the viewer to carefully listen, put themselves in the shoes of the character, and finish every episode a bit more informed and aware of what happens in nearly every society.
In addition, Police in a Pod managed to explain some of the inner workings of the police force, and pointedly noted some of the discrepancies in the practice of the officers. For instance, when Kawai was asked during episode 11 to create a sketch of the criminal based on eyewitness testimony, her sketch was so crude that she was made fun of. But after asking their head if there is such a thing as a guide for creating sketches, the police chief told her there was none, and as long as people properly identify who is on the sketch, it serves the purpose.
Part of the reason as well as to why the show’s message works is that it makes you feel more personally attached to the duties of the police officers. Whether it is Kawai’s amateur actions, Fuji’s witty intuitions, or Minamoto’s cool energy: it gives audiences a bit of a variety to relate to – and this is exactly the propaganda that was mentioned by quite a few viewers.
One of the focal points in Police in a Pod is how it makes its characters exude an aura of relatability to all of the viewers. Admittedly, they are not perfect humans so to speak, but their weaknesses are what makes them more ‘human’, more understandable.
Starting off with Kawai, your amateur police officer. Being the protagonist of the show, we are exposed to an awful lot of misfits during her work and daily failures of her duties as a police officer. She often does a lot of internal dialogue during her ventures, commonly addressed to her father as if she was writing a letter. But as the season progressed, we saw a tiny bit of development in her, both as a character and as a police officer. She remains dorky, the amateur police officer she started as, but thanks to her observations, she improves in each episode, albeit it’s not always noticeable right away.
Meanwhile, senpai Chief Fuji is a witty, more experienced police officer, and yet she has this demeanor of hating her job. That was evident since episode 1 when she cursed under her breath after a driver argued with her over a citation. Despite that demeanor, Fuji is an equivalent of that very likable character who goes out of her way to improve the situation and inspire other colleagues. She might have a squabble here and there, but that’s just how things work, right? We might be experts on our own craft, but sometimes we mutter negative thoughts to ourselves in order to let out frustrations.
And who could forget our cool police detective Minamoto? As we’ve tackled in episode 3 and episode 7, he showed some of those traits that are perhaps unusual and don’t match the common police officer stereotype. He isn’t afraid to show emotions and get personal with a kid who has difficulty coping with her grandmother cited for shoplifting or being charming inside an interrogation room to build trust with the one being interviewed.
So, What Was the Low Point?
Police in a Pod‘s viewers might stereotypically expect police-centric series to be aggressive and those that show that at the end of the day, they ‘save the world’. And Police in a Pod is not about that. Viewers mostly view the series as lacking substance, but only the basis of how aggressive the show’s premise is. You know…typical car chase scene, bad-ass running, those things.
But in defense of Police in a Pod, the show’s slow-paced nature really puts into perspective a better understanding of societal issues and actions. The series’ storytelling method is, in my opinion, something unprecedented for a slice-of-life series. From the way it draws viewers close to the reality of some of Japan’s debatable social topics to exposing the harsh realities of working in the Japanese police force, for me the show’s low point of being slow-paced can be considered a strength in order to properly communicate the message.
Summing Up Police in a Pod
Overall, Police in a Pod was your average anime series in the Winter 2022 anime season, as it didn’t either stand out nor was it seen as the worst. Despite being labeled as a ‘filler’ for this season, one can find this show enjoyable if you feel like watching something slow, but also educational at times.
Images via Muse Asia
© Miko Yasu, Kodansha/Hakozume Production Committee