[Review] Police in a Pod

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that Police in a Pod was actually not bad, though it does work with not a small amount of dark comedy and still errs a bit more often than I’d like into officer immunity expecting us to laugh off their choices. What does make this shine is the author’s obvious first-hand experience in law enforcement. Her time spent in uniform reflects not only in a few of the main female characters, but also in their interactions with both their peers and the public.

We follow Mai Kawai in the beginning, a fresh member to the squad who is already ready to resign from the rigors of law enforcement. Her decision changes after meeting Seiko Fuji, another female officer with one hell of a personality. While Seiko excels in every area you would think applicable for an officer, she also carries herself with confidence and determination. Of all the people we meet at their precinct, Seiko easily outperforms them all. With the addition of one more female coworker, Miwa Makitaka, the rest of the cast is male; this heavy imbalance is often used in PiaP’s comedy with a clear favoritism towards the girls.

Which is the yakuza? Which is the detective???

While the jokes focusing on male coworkers admittedly made me laugh most of the time–take for example, the likening of the criminal division with their pompadours to the very yakuza they monitor–I also enjoyed relatable scenes like Kawai’s poor physical stamina and the terror that was combing through video footage for evidence. The mangaka’s experiences act as lens into this world, lending us intimacy and, as a result, empathy. It’s difficult not to see these officers as humans who share frustrations, concerns, and a desire to serve the public.

Is this perhaps overly optimistic? Yes, of course. If we see ourselves in their shoes then obviously we’ll also hope for law-abiding individuals and full cooperation in investigations. We ideally won’t question the inherent bias towards certain demographics, or perhaps we’ll forget about current events that call for additional screening and training (de-escalation, perhaps??) in the force. While PiaP certainly doesn’t address all these concerns, I do not think it above self-evaluation. In one of the episodes, one of the rookie officers exemplifies misogynistic and self-righteous characteristics not only towards civilians but also to his peers. It’s very apparent by the women’s reactions just what they think about his attitude, but it rankled that their male counterparts didn’t immediately support them. The young officer gets a bit of a slap down later on when he bites off way more than he can chew, but even then the lesson doesn’t hit exactly right.

This particular scene haunted me since I had a friend go this way and I wish someone had been there to help.

I do want to close out with a bit of an anecdote since I know there are quite a few criticisms of this show for simply existing. I understand the sentiment behind calling PiaP and others similar to it “copaganda” or “bootlicking,” but I also feel that blanketing those terms on works without checking them out first hand is willfully ignorant. I completely understand the current and past outrage towards law enforcement both here in the U.S. and in other countries. As a woman of color, I’ve seen it first hand, albeit in minor ways that still bother me to this day. I’ve also seen the good they can do, and how there are truly caring people in the force. When I was a little girl, my biological father made life hell for my mom and I, and she ended up seeking help with local law enforcement. To this day, I remember their kindness and concern that lasted well beyond our initial visit. We can foster that kind of service in all areas, unbiased and valuing all lives, as long as we keep ourselves open and persistent in the pursuit of improvement.

Rating: 0 dango

Respect the K9 officer!

Additional reading:
“Police in a Pod Manga Creator Shares Her Motivation For Creating the Series

*Rating system:

  • 0 dango – average and forgettable.
  • 1 dango – very good in its category.
  • 2 dango – excellent show that is worth a try.
  • 3 dango – exceptional show one must watch.

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