The A.D. Police OVA turns Romanticism into Body Horror with 1980s “adult video” sensibility

I hope my readers will agree with me when I claim that Romantic Art has had a problem with industrial technology ever since the Enclosure of the Commons.

I hope my readers have seen enough E. A. Poe and P. K. Dick to have an understanding of how Romantic disdain for technology can easily inspire Body Horror fiction.

Bubblegum Crisis was a love letter to Blade Runner, but whereas Blade Runner featured some understated sexual titillation, Bubblegum Crisis was a show intended for a very broad audience that included both adults and children. Thus the original show had to tone down the sex to unrealistically low levels, although the later versions, Bubblegum Crisis 2040 and Bubblegum Crash, were both racier and more feminist.

Because this is an homage to Blade Runner, the artificial humans open up questions of what it means to be human.

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The physical details of these creatures reminds me much more of Terminator than Blade Runner, but there are many other works of sci-fi that have dealt with the interpenetration of natural and mechanical structures within the same body. While it is not cyberpunk, Zelazny’s Lord of Light dealt with issues of what it means to be a soul within a body – and thus is highly relevant to most Body Horror cyberpunk.


Even though A. D. Police ran in 1999, as far as I can tell, its music and art had a very 1980s sensibility. Some of its innuendo might be heavy-handed, as in the first episode, when a naked female Boomer is shot by multiple men whose ostensibly automatic shotguns apparently require pump-action loading of each shot.
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I don’t know for certain that the creators were trying to symbolize male masturbation. It looks that way to me, but there’s no way to prove it from the available information. It reminds me of a less subtle version of Wicked City


The character of Gina Marceau (or Jeena Malso, depending on what the subtitles say) has an interesting quirk. The sight of violent bloodshed sexually arouses her to the point of distraction.

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It would be interesting to see a detailed story that spelled out the origins and functionality of that kind of psychological aberration. It might be some form of sadism or a related paraphilia. However, Gina’s self-disclosure doesn’t convey mere titillation; it advances the plot considerably, and it is the kind of perversion that might be found in real life. By contrast, some of the ridiculous female characters of moe anime have far-fetched perversions that turn them into fan service icons for anime viewers with very specialized fetishes.

 

Every minute of screen time deals with Romantic themes of passionate emotion, and at least once per episode, its treatment of passion verges on territory that most would consider soft-core pornography. There are some easily identifiable tributes to Blade Runner, but the characters are vivid and believable. The central character, Leon, is much less striking than the hyper-sexual femmes fatales that drive the three individual stories.

Some women – particularly the villains – are tragic heroines. They get tempted by sex and power and fail to resist temptation. Each one of the three episodes has at least one female character who is a power-mad, lust-crazed tragic heroine. I would be happy if more writers could manage to produce such compelling characters.

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The screenshot above shows that some of these tragic heroines manage to articulate some fairly deep philosophical critiques of transhumanist self-modification!

Not all the women are power-mad. The first episode shows a very interesting contrast between a real villainess, who is dominated by her passions, and Gina Marceau, who is tempted by lust but not completely out of control.

Even though most hetero men will find these women titillating, I don’t believe that these characters were written solely as sex objects. I think that these are realistic female characters who experience lust with realistic female sensibilities. In real life, women experience lust. In this particular genre of fiction, artificial prostheses cause women to experience stronger-than-normal lust.

Oh, you're so old-fashioned! You just can't go on being so unhip!
Oh, you’re so old-fashioned! You just can’t go on being so unhip!

Not all the female characters are heroic. Some of them are just ordinary women of average intelligence, but all the characters are well written. I cared about what happened to all of the characters, even the ones whom I did not like.


Postscript: This is a minor point, but it will bother me until I write it down. The creators intended to designate the titular police force as “advanced,” which to their minds ought to be spelled ” アドバンスド” for “Adobansudo.” It is reasonable to approximate アド as “A. D.” However, English speakers see “A. D.” on the cover and think that it must stand for some two-word phrase, like “Armored Destroyer” or “Artificial Delicatessen” or something like that.

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