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Long before anime streamed in American at the same time as it went out in Japan, before you got your fansubs on bit torrent, even before Toonami, your anime options were limited. And one of those options was Dominion Tank Police. Oh, gosh, was it ever.
There were very few anime VHS tapes at the local video store where I grew up and that was true for a lot of people in the '80s and even through part of the '90s. Akira was always checked out. Ghost in the Shell, once it was released, was always checked out. So I would watch Project A-Ko a few billion times. I think La Blue Girl was probably something I thought about checking out before my parents said "absolutely not."
But somehow, Dominion Tank Police kinda slipped under the parental radar. Maybe it was because it was about cops that my parents (and parents in general) thought the series would be more virtuous? It was not!
Dominion Tank Police was a manga first. The 1980s series was a prequel for that manga. The 1990s series was a sequel to that manga. No matter the incarnation, though, the baseline concept was the same: crime is so intense that the government has authorized the use of fully armored and advanced tanks for at least one police department. As a kid, I thought it was funny and exciting: a bunch of cops in tanks chasing after cat girls and androids with gun arms? Yes, please! As an adult, it's hard not to think about the abuse of power that would come from cops tooling around in heavily-armored death machines.
Upon rewatch, the show doesn't really try to duck that reality. Yes, these cops are authoritarian and extremely violent. They torture criminals by putting grenades in their mouths and throwing knives at them in a gameshow-like environment. But they are still treated as our protagonists. There is a special, smaller tank named "Bonaparte" that we are meant to root for. Oh, and also, there's an episode where the "villains" defeat the tank police by using giant, brightly-colored rubber dildos.
Screenwriter and film critic, Valerie Complex, chose Dominion Tank Police as the subject for today's episode of Every Day Animation and we had a fantastic time talking about both it and the weird limited anime options that were available to each of us growing up.
If you're keeping up with us, you're going to love tomorrow's episode. The creator of the comic series, Black, Kwanza Osajyefo, stopped by the program to talk about what is probably the most critically acclaimed and beloved western animated series of the last decade: Steven Universe. Truly, give yourself permission to (re)watch as much of that cartoon between today and tomorrow because, of all the cartoons in this series, it is the one best-designed to make you feel happy. We'll see you tomorrow.