HomeAnimeANIME REVIEW | "Police in a Pod" Never Above the Law

ANIME REVIEW | "Police in a Pod" Never Above the Law

ANIME REVIEW | "Police in a Pod" Never Above the Law

Police comedies have been around for decades. From Police Academy to Brooklyn 99, the way cops are showcased in these series always presents the strengths and many weaknesses of its protagonists. But one thing that they don’t do often is show the more serious side of the law, even when characters quip and rib one another. Police in a Pod, the latest series from Madhouse (The Vampire Dies in No Time, One-Punch Man), attempts to bring the lighter and darker moments of working in the police force. But does it succeed?

Based on the manga by Miko Yasu, Police in a Pod focuses on fresh graduate Mai Kawai (Shion Wakayama), who is on the verge of resigning due to the stress of the job. That’s when she’s assigned a new partner: Seiko Fuji (Yui Ishikawa), the new director of her station. Under her wing, Seito gives Mai the confidence of being a cop, with advice, help, and words of wisdom her other superiors never gave her. But Mai still has some problem people in her life, and it’s not just the criminals that she needs to arrest.

How the partnership between Mai and Seiko works isn’t exactly the usual straight-man/punchline pairing. Both characters work off of one other in ways that bring either a serious or funny side out of both characters. It could be the way Seiko mutters about wanting to arrest or beat up any law-evading punk she roams past, or how Mai deals with the struggles of a long search for an elderly man without a bathroom break. Male cops Seiji (Ryouta Suzuki) and Takeshi (Shinba Tsuchiya) also have a similar repertoire between the two, but there’s more a dumb vibe from them compared to the frustrated one from Mai and Seiko.

The comedy takes a more slice-of-life approach with its characters, with there being no cartoonish gags and instead placing an emphasis on observational humor. Police in a Pod doesn’t go the wacky route with cops like Police Squad or The Other Guys; it’s a day-in-the-life grind for those who swear to protect and serve. Even when they think they’re finally off-duty and have a moment to, say, go out for a mixer that turns awkward quickly, they get called in out of the blue to take care of some trouble on the street. And unlike something like Detective Conan, it’s almost never something about a murder.

One of the good things about Police in a Pod is that it focuses more on the domestic disturbances rather than a villain-of-the-week setup. You have your prostitution cases, assaults, missing elderly people, and even cleaning up the body of a recently-deceased person. It tries to go different routes to close cases or humanize the perpetrator, with each scenario played out with some surprising smarts. (Author Yasu used to work in the police force before becoming a manga author, hence why there’s a bigger emphasis on realism here than in other police anime.)

Granted, it knows how to get silly when the time calls for it. A situation where Mai needs to tail a person transforms into a silly story about a possible haunting. When Mai & Seiko go for a mixer, it gets awkward when they see Seiji & Takeshi doing the exact same thing a couple of tables over. Then there’s the face-off against the male cops and local yakuza, with both sides attempting to yell as loud as they can to see who’re the real badasses. (Spoiler alert: it’s neither!)

But there are some times where the comedic and dramatic parts of Police in a Pod don’t mesh well. A good example of this is when Mai and Seiko bring in a young escort for questioning. It starts with some good laughs, with the escort joking about the cops’ sex lives, but then it turns dark when it’s revealed that one of her guardians has been sexually abusing her. And it could’ve easily ended on a solid note with the arrest of the abuser, but they had to squeeze in one last joke at the end that feels slightly weird than laughable. Thankfully, the awkward stuff doesn’t happen as much as the stuff that actually works.

I wouldn’t call the voice cast outstanding, but they do a decent job with their performances. Wakayama presents Mai with a lot of uncertainty in her voice, which shows off her rookie-like experience. Ishikawa can be tough-as-nails as Seiko, but she has her genuine sweet moments that bring out a kind side when the right time calls for it. The rest of the cast is all right, but nothing that really stands out like the main duo.

Speaking of not standing out, I’m surprised by the quality of Madhouse’s animation here. It’s certainly not as vibrant as Cardcaptor Sakura or as detailed as Overlord. Granted, it’s an okay-looking anime, especially when it focuses on stuff like police chases or some of the more somber moments. But for a studio that’s known for their high-end work, Police in a Pod looks stiffer than Madhouse’s predecessors.

Sadly, the same can also be said about its soundtrack. Composed by Nobuaki Nobusawa (Dagashi Kashi), the score feels more like an assortment of BGMs one finds in a GarageBand app. Riko Azuna’s opening theme “Shiranakya” is an okay opening, but doesn’t do much to get viewers excited for what’s to come in the episode. Ending theme “Change” by nonoc is perhaps the one sole highlight of the soundtrack, with its bouncy vibe bringing to mind something you’d hear in a classic episode of You’re Under Arrest!

Police in a Pod has some good elements to it, thanks to its likable main duo and means of spotlighting other things cops do on their beat. It has its fun moments, but some gags feel a little shoehorned in rather than natural. It’s more straight-faced satire than straight-up comedy, but Police in a Pod won’t make you sound the alarm over its delivery. Instead, it’ll make you see your local police force as human beings that trudge along the work day, as every person with a job does.

Voice Acting:
Final Grade (not an average):

Police in a Pod can be viewed on Funimation, and has been licensed by Funimation. Episodes 1-8 were observed for review. Promotional consideration provided by Funimation.

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The J-POP king of America, Evan has been bringing the hottest sounds of the Land of the Rising Sun to the English-speaking public since his college radio days. He's also an expert in the gaming, anime, & manga realms, never afraid to get critical when the times call for it. Born & bred in Boston, he achieved his biggest dream yet by making the big move to Tokyo, Japan in Summer 2023! For personal inquiries, contact Evan at evan@b3crew.com. For press/band inquiries, write to us at thebastards@bostonbastardbrigade.com. (Drawing by AFLM of Wicked Anime)