Dominion: Tank Police

Image via Wikipedia

 The first time I saw Dominion Tank Police in the early 90s I laughed so hard I cried.

This 4 episode OAV still raises a smile,  but is no longer laugh out loud funny. 

Partly this is the “funny once” effect described by Manny in Robert A Heinlein’s Moon is a Harsh Mistress.

Partly it is the march of time turning what was ridiculous into something that is closer to reality than I like.  When I grew up in Perth, and even when I first saw Dominion, police did not routinely carry guns.  The idea that some  police would routinely use tanks, whilst contemptuously dismissing SWAT as “wimps” who only ever call for backup, was just too funny for words.

Similarly the exuberant interrogation techniques (involving at various times rifles as golf clubs, chocolate wheels, knives, grenades, and a bunny suit) fall a little flat these days.

The request from the Chief for some additional weapons to “deter” crime with, or the, ah, special landmines that the bad guys use in the second episodes do still raise a smile.  However these are definitely “funny once” sight gags so I won’t spoil those here.

Fortunately even as Dominion becomes more black than comedy over time, it is sustained by the characters and an, unfortunately, not quite resolved story arc.

The first episode is essentially Leona Ozaki‘s less than successful introduction to the Tank Police.  The second introduces her minitank Bonaparte and sees her “bargain” to remain in the squad. 

Leona is a fun character, in many ways she is a cheerfully violent version of Noa Izumi with a tank instead of a Patlabor.

The third and fourth episodes see Leona forced into an uneasy partnership with one of the bad guys Buaku as a three-way fight rages between the groups looking for them. And, yes, the three-way fight gets messy.

Along the way much is revealed about Buaku, and also about the bacterial cloud that has made Earth a less than desirable piece of real estate.  This section of the plot is not entirely resolved, which is a pity.  Buaku also becomes a much more nuanced character as a result, although this part is a trifle heavy on the flashback as infodump (to be fair there weren’t many alternatives available).

As for the Puma Twins (Anna and Uni, shown above) they are always entertaining to watch, and at least the fanservice (and their involvement with Buaku for that matter) is justified by their backgrounds (which they’d rather forget, thanks very much).  

Overall the comedy aspects of Dominion have not aged well, but it is still a rewarding way to pass an afternoon.  I would appreciate a copy with easier to read subtitles though, the Central Park Media DVD release has some problems there.

As an omake I’ll leave you with the opening credits which do catch the spirit of the show quite well.