|Kankichi Ryotsu: So Lazy He Sleeps on His Series' Logo|
The first DVD, released in December 2011, has a distinct theme to it that's obvious from it's subtitle: Dai Panic!! Tokushu Keiji Shutsudou-hen, or Big Panic!! Special Detectives March Out Chapter. Remember in the review for Dotabata-hen there was an episode involving Katsushika's so-called Special Detective Squad? Well every episode on this DVD is all about them, so now we can take a look at possibly the most bizarre group of police officers in the history of anime & manga... And that's definitely saying something!
[NOTE: These DVDs don't list episode numbers like the previous DVDs did, so I'll be using the numbers used over at ANN & Wikipedia Japan, with a "~" to indicate that they aren't exact #s, but rather a rough estimate.]
|Remember, this was considered safe for kids at the time...|
Episode ~34: The Rumored Kaipan Detective Emerges (Aired 4/13/1997)
Ohara informs Ryo-san that he'll be spending the day with Detective Kitano, an "Elite Detective" that has some mysterious rumors about him. When Kitano arrives at the station they all see why: Outside of his firearms he wears nothing except for a tie & a pair of Speedo-styled swimming trunks, hence why his nickname is the Kaipan/Swim Trunks Detective. Although everyone is freaked out over Kitano's appearance, they quickly ID Ryo-san, who's forced to strip down to a tie & Speedo and accompany Kaipan Detective to a hostage situation at the All-Girls School.
Oh boy... This is one of those episodes that easily can make a viewer ask a simple question: "This is a family show?!" Yes, Kaipan Detective (whose real name is Takeshi Kitano, in homage to actor/comedian "Beat" Takeshi Kitano) is a nearly-naked man who solves crimes. The joke is fairly one-note, but manages to bring with it some variety simply by going as far as it can. First off, Kaipan's very swim trunks are a hammerspace joke, as Kitano can pull out anything & everything from inside his pants, including his regularly-scheduled banana meal (he needs to keep himself healthy, after all); naturally, the very thought that everything comes from his nether-regions freaks Ryo-san & the others out. Second, due to his lack of clothes, it is nigh-impossible to take down Kitano, due to his sleek & smooth body; he takes down Ryo-san with ease, showcasing the flaw of clothing. Third, as evidenced above, the episode does indeed go "all the way". You see, the hostage taker wants Kitano to be without any & all weapons, so Kitano does (literally) go all the way down to nothing more than his necktie... And forces Ryo-san to do the same, too! It's astonishing that there's a character like this in Kochikame, and it's even more astonishing that an anime that's essentially made for all audiences would actually feature a need to mosaic out penises. It's not only a shot or two, either; the episode makes no bones about showcasing Kitano in his naked glory.
Yes, it's easily the weirdest episode I've ever seen in this series... But it's also one of the funniest.
Episode ~70: Do You Like Your Vacation This Intense!? (Aired 1/2/1998)
The Kameari Park station is planning on taking a vacation & Ryo-san manages to swindle Fudo, the local travel agent, into taking the crew to one of the Hawaiian Islands. Unfortunately, Fudo manages to screw over Ryo-san every step of the way, culminating in having him & Honda (who lost a game of roshambo) "exiled" to a nearby uninhabited island. Unfortunately, Ryo-san & Honda find a giant stash of gold coins on the island, which just happens to be wanted by the Katsuhika Police Department after an interrogation. To help retrieve the coins the force calls in Dozaemon Umino, a.k.a. the Special Detective Force's "Dolphin Detective".
This is the first of two double-length stories (i.e. ~45 minutes instead of ~22) on this DVD, so there's a lot going on in this "episode". The first half focuses on Ryo-san's constant "battles" with Fudo. For example, while everyone else rides on the plane Ryo-san has to be put in a cage with the suitcases, while everyone takes a taxi Ryo-san has to run after the car, and while everyone gets a grand meal with a show Ryo-san has a simple dinner alone on the beach. While Fudo is obviously a prick it is always funny to see Ryo-san get screwed over every step of the way, especially since he screwed everyone else over by charging them much more for their share of the trip than what Fudo charged him in total; Ryo-san's (& Honda's) "exile" is punishment for when Fudo accidentally reveals the truth.
The second half is all about Ryo-san & Honda finding the gold coins and their (literal) battles with Dolphin Detective in keeping it for themselves. Hell, Ryo-san even defeats a bunch of chimpanzees who were guarding the gold, essentially recruiting them for the fight. I must admit, though, that Dolphin Detective is nowhere near as zany as Kaipan Detective; that's not to say that he's not weird, though. True to his name, Umino can command a group of dolphins, using only his pipe, to do things like toss grenades, jump into hoops fitted with missiles... And do SeaWorld-esque tricks, too. He also ends up calling in the U.S. Navy, complete with Ryo-san managing to hijack a fighter jet & attack the Navy themselves, sinking them even! It's a pretty wild & crazy episode, & Dolphin Detective only manages to make everything even wackier.
Episode ~89: Grand Transformation! Moonlight Detective (Aired 5/31/1998)
The gang is informed by Ohara that they will be visited by a member of the Special Detective Squad: The Moonlight Detective. Ryo-san doesn't want to have anything to do with it, but when told that he'll be paid a "bonus" is all aboard. In traditional Special Detective fashion the detective makes a grand entrance with a World War II-era Nakajima J1N1 Gekko plane, but the truth behind Moonlight Detective, & his partner Venus Detective, is far more shocking: The pair's normal look is merely a secret identity for their habit of "transforming" into sailor suit-wearing heroes of justice... Something the two demand Ryo-san & the others also do.
Let's face facts here... After seeing Kaipan Detective in all his "glory" Dolphin Detective was pretty "normal". Luckily, the Moonlight & Venus Detectives bring back the "what the hell?!" that the Special Detective Squad seems to be about. Also, if you can't guess what these two are meant to parody then you might have to reaffirm how much you know about anime, but I'll explain it anyway: They are an absolutely obvious, completely unabashed Sailor Moon parody. In fact, though this episode doesn't reveal it, a quick Wikipedia search reveals that these two detective's real names are Mun Seira & Venus Seira... Just read their names Eastern style (i.e. last name first) and you'll see how blatant the parody is. The Gekko plane is simply a neat little extra in terms of the joke.
Much like Kaipan Detective, these two work so well because the show goes all the way with the joke. When trouble is first heard, Moonlight pulls out a crescent moon-headed wand & screams "Moonlight Power!!!", followed by Venus opening a briefcase that allows him to set up a jukebox, curtain, & spotlight. Moonlight then goes behind the curtain & screams "Make Up!!!" before literally taking off his clothes, with music playing, while Venus goes in front of the screen to state "Allow me to explain," before explaining the "transformation sequence" & going behind the curtain himself. Hell, the two don't even stop at just sailor suits; they also change into wedding gowns, nurse outfits, & finally dominatrix outfits(!). The climax involves everyone trying to stop a trio of catwoman-dressed thieves (likely a Cat's Eye parody), which is extremely entertaining & helps sell the episode. They don't quite top Kaipan Detective, but Moonlight & Venus definitely bring the "WTF" factor.
Episode ~94: Great Hard! Kankichi Ryotsu Dies Twice (Aired 7/5/1998)
Ryo-san, Nakagawa, Reiko, Maria, & Bolbo (I used Volvo in the Movie 2 review, but using "B" seems to be the official spelling) are recruited to join the SS/Special Security team, who are being called in to make sure a captured terrorist gets transported properly. Unfortunately, said terrorist's team springs him & take over Nakagawa Zaibatsu headquarters, holding Yuichiro Nakagawa (Keiichi's father) hostage. After a failed rescue results in the capture of everyone except for Ryo-san, the Special Detective Squad offers their help in rescuing the others & capturing the terrorists.
This is the second double-length story on the DVD, and the fact that its title splash differs from any of the other ones seen on this DVD or the previous ones probably means that this was originally aired as a TV special, hence why there's a discrepancy in the total number of episodes (depending on where you look). Also, the title is an outright lie, likely as a homage/parody of the hyperbolic episode titles seen in old mech anime from the 70s (a more well known example is "Kouji Kabuto Dies in Magma!" from the Mazinkaiser OVA series). Finally, this story is actually very similar in execution to the first movie, with it's focus on actual police work & a mixture of serious story and comedic bits. There's actually a lot going on in this story, too, which helps makes it the best from an overall perspective.
Much like both movies, this story expertly mixes seriousness & comedy like nothing. During the first rescue attempt, Nakagawa finds out about traps laid on the stairs, resulting in Ryo-san having Bolbo take out the traps with explosives. Bolbo, in turn, changes into his old Green Beret outfit for no real reason, even prompting Nakagawa to ask why it happened; Ryo-san says not to question it. When the rescue fails & Ryo-san has to escape he jumps out the window, forgetting that they were all on the 100th floor... His friends don't worry one bit about his well-being, though, with Reiko even saying that he's "like a cockroach" (i.e. he can't easily die). Finally, bringing in the Special Detective Squad brings in the usual stuff, like Kaipan forcing Ryo-san to undress into only a tie & speedo and attacking their enemies naked or Moonlight forcing Ryo-san to wear a sailor suit. In fact, Ryo-san gets along the best with Dolphin, showcasing that he's not only the most "normal" of the four but also the easiest to work with. Dolphin does, for some reason, now also have a small pink dolphin that seemingly talks in short bursts... Hey, he still is a weird one. Overall, this story is a ton of fun to watch and does kind of double as a prototype of the serious/comedy mix that would be perfected in the two movies. As an aside, three months later it appears that the "Dai/Great Hard!" name would return for another story called Great Hard 2! The Battle of the Absolute Worst, though I have no idea if this is an actual sequel to this story.
|This has now become the seemingly "lost" title splash.|
Obviously, with them being the focus of this DVD, I should cover who voices the Special Detective Squad, but none of them are really known for anime roles (obviously, they're guest performances by live-action actors). Kaipan Detective, unfortunately, is not voiced by Takeshi Kitano (How awesome would that have been?!), but Ryo Arakawa does an excellently subdued (though manly) performance. Dolphin Detective is voiced by Shoichiro Akaboshi (Prof. Ichiro Horiguchi in ChouSeishin GranSazer), who goes for a fitting "old singing sailor" performance that works for the character. Moonlight Detective & Venus Detective are voiced by Bunmei Toyama (Netero in the original Hunter X Hunter anime) & Manta Yamamoto, respectively, who both deliver entertaining jobs as old men who act as if they're living out an episode of Sailor Moon. Of note is that fact that this DVD (& the next one) show these episodes differently than the Bandai Visual DVDs by not showing them in their original format, i.e. showing their original OPs & EDs. Instead, the DVD starts with "Katsuhika Rhapsody", shows all the episodes one after the other, and then ends with an overall credits sequence that covers all the episodes while showing bits of the anime in a variety of floating bubbles. The theme that plays during the end credits is "Oideyo Kameari" by Lasar Ishii & Kochikame Win-Gashoudan, the fifth opening during the mid-to-late 100s as well as an ending starting in the 200s & rotating in and out until the very end. The song itself is essentially a celebration of the Kameari section of Tokyo sung by the entire major cast of the show (with the voice of Ryo-san himself leading it), and it's simply an awesome song; name another anime theme that makes you want to go to the actual location it's about!
Why for this change, though? The latter three episodes all would have featured "Katsuhika Rhapsody" as the opening & "Bue no Biabia" as the ending, but it's the first episode on this DVD that likely was the reason for the change in execution. You see, episode 34 originally had the second opening theme for the show, "Everybody Can Do!", a really enjoyable song which was performed by a band that (unfortunately) has become a bit of a licensing nightmare for anime, Tokio. You see, Tokio is an excellent band... And the agency that manages them, Johnny & Associates, knows this. Unfortunately, this specific agency is also known for treating their clients, collectively known as "Johnny's", like they are God's gift to world music & apparently charges insane amounts for allowing their music to be used after the initial use. In North America this has kept anime releases of The Skull Man & (more well known) Kodocha from featuring their original Tokio opening themes. In Kodocha's case the first episode actually featured Tokio as guest stars, which resulted in FUNimation having to literally remove any & all audio featuring the band & even their name. While the song was seemingly kept intact for the original VHS release, it could be likely that this agency was charging too much for this specific Kochikame opening to be used in this re-release, especially for just one episode, so Shueisha & ADK probably decided to instead use the show's two iconic anthems. This also resulted in the removal of the second ending theme, "Ii Koto Aru Sa" by The Collectors, which is an interesting slow rock song.
Much like the Bandai Visual DVDs this release of the Kochikame anime focused around a theme... And, boy, was this the most oddball selection of episodes yet. The Special Detective Squad is, without a doubt, the weirdest, most "WTF" worthy group of police officers I have ever seen. Thankfully, they also helped bring about some of the funniest episodes I have seen from this series yet, making this a great pickup. The fact that, as advertised on the cover, this DVD is only 1,000 Yen (or about $10) makes this a great deal in terms of content. In fact, even though this has fewer episodes than the next DVD, the two double-length stories actually make this the longer DVD of the two. Still, that now leaves only one DVD to cover, and we're finally leaving the earlier days of the anime & checking out the last couple of years!