Mai Kawai is a police officer by default. Her aspiration since childhood was to become a civil servant and earn a steady income (she dreams big, does Mai), but the only examination she could pass was for law enforcement. The reality of life after police academy is so painfully dull in the Koban or small neighborhood police station—filing paperwork, running errands for senior officers—that she decides to hand in her resignation. Until, that is, a new officer arrives and is put in charge of her training. The glamorous Sgt. Fuji looks like she’s straight out of the recruitment pamphlets for police women, and what is more, she has years of experience in the more respected and thrilling Criminal Affairs department. She brings her detective skills to bear on the routine tasks of patrolling and traffic duty, so before she knows it, Mai is caught up in the excitement of questioning her first master criminal. Whether it’s the sparkles that follow Fuji around, shoujo manga style, or the prospect of actually getting to do something interesting for a change, Mai decides to stick it out. And immediately regrets it because it turns out that Fuji has a really bad personality behind her polished demeanor, with a potty mouth and a reputation for bullying. Let the humorous hijinks ensue!
I’m not really sure what to make of this one! Some of the jokes were fantastic, and the female buddy cop dynamic has potential, given Fuji’s contrary personality and Mai’s tendency to overshare, turning every simple question into a set-up for an emotional childhood flashback scene—like, every time. Which is funny; and a little annoying. She definitely cannot read the room. But the humor is also at times what my Gramma would have called “near the knuckle”, which the dictionary defines as “verging on the indecent or offensive”. This is especially true of Mai’s father, who likens Fuji to a porn star. So be warned. Like any self-respecting slice-of-life series though, Police in a Pod also has a more serious side, and doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to depicting the kind of abuse that traffic cops come under. This is something that discourages Mai greatly, and seeing Fuji handle it with such an assertive, devil-may-care attitude is exhilarating to the timid Mai. The scene at the primary school is gold, as Mai is forced to convince an assembly full of children that following rules is important, when she herself feels a little ambiguous at times about enforcing them. The art is clean, in the usual Madhouse way, with sparkly Chihayafuru/My Love Story eyes and decently dynamic action shots that keep the episode ticking along nicely. I’m just not sure where it’s going. It doesn’t fit neatly into a particular sub-genre of comedy/slice-of-life, like “workplace comedy” or “cute girls doing cute things”, but instead seems to switch tones a few times. But that may be a deliberate part of the world-building, reinforcing the idea of the two leads’ unconventional personalities. Time will tell, I guess, and I’ll give it one more episode at least to convince me, more out of curiosity than anything.
Police in a Pod can be streamed on Funimation.