“How on Earth can people possibly do this?” I wonder as I strut about the city streets in my impeccable cream suit, starched lily-white shirt and blue silk tie. All these people doing all these shitty jobs; cleaning the streets, lifting heavy objects, fighting tooth-and-claw with sewer rats, that sort of thing, just to catch that elusive dollar – around sixty pence in our money. Brushing my diamond-ringed fingers through my heavily Brylcreamed hair, I approach a toothless, withered old specimen hauling a huge plastic sack, picking up litter. I look him through the mucous in his good eye. “Why?”
“I gots to guv’nor,” he croaks in a Dick Van Dyke chirpy-Cockney accent – quite unusual up here in the North. “My wife’s dyin’ o’ cancer, my kids need heroin money, my grandkids are eatin’ out o’ the gutter and I gots to pay for me mother’s funeral next week.”
“I see,” I reply thoughtfully, before dropping what’s left of my Danish pastry on the floor and grinding it into the pavement with my snakeskin shoe. As I walk off, I wonder: Why can’t we get robots to do all this?
If robots are our future, then Takamasa Ikegami and Akira Nishimori’s AD Police (a spin-off from the successful Bubblegum Crisis series) allows us at least a quick glimpse of it. In Mega Tokyo, 2027, robots known as “Voomers” do all the shit work so we don’t have to. But they’re so advanced they’re almost human – thus, just like regular humans, they fuck up every so often and go completely berserk. Problem is, as well as nuts they’re practically unstoppable.
That’s where the AD Police come in. A hardcore offshoot of the regular police (some speculate that the “AD” is short for “Advanced”, although I’m not entirely convinced), they’re the only guys who can stop these crazy bastards the best way possible – by brute force!
The first of these three stories, Voomer Madness, introduces us to the hero, Leon McNichol and the heroine, Gina Marceau – you can tell she’s a real tough chick by the excessive amount of effing-and-blinding she does, a real candidate for the next Bride of Bernard. Here we get to see the downside of recycling – a Voomer Leon once destroyed has been rebuilt and is desperate for revenge – or is she after a fuck? We don’t find out for sure, as the sex-mad robo-nymph is left pulverised and bleeding in a shop window. The next episode, The Paradise Loop, is even more twisted – a Jack The Ripper style killer is picking off prozzies on Mega Tokyo’s half-abandoned subway system, The Paradise Loop. Turns out it’s a Voomeroid – that is, a half-human – a woman who had her sexual organs replaced in an effort to stop her blobstrops hindering her career! Seriously! And the final episode, I Want Medicine… deals with another cyborg, Billy; this former police-officer given a second chance to live by the miracles of science, just a brain inside a robot’s body, is slowly going crazy as the pressures of being able to feel nothing constantly build up inside him. He even resorts to taking drugs to stimulate his mind, going bonkers in an effort to feel… something.
AD Police is sexy. Many of the Voomers are women, all of whom seem to have an unquenchable sex-drive and dress in stockings and suspenders, revealed when their clothes just “fall off”. It’s gory too – in a way these things – which are about as human as you can get without actually being one - are like zombies; you have to completely destroy their “brains” to stop them. If you don’t, they just get up again, disfigured faces contorted in agony, oozing blood and white shit from their severed, mutilated limbs.
But more than all this, AD Police is intelligent, a look at where humanity is heading worthy of the most celebrated sci-fi author, exploring interesting, philosophical themes such as mind-vs.-machine, and man playing God. The Voomers here are more than just cannon fodder, they are actually tragic characters. When I mentioned earlier that Leon’s pursuer wanted a fuck, I wasn’t being crude – whilst feeling contempt for what happened to her, she was also desperate for attention, love even, from the man who almost destroyed her. Whilst she is a robot, cursed with near humanity, Billy, the cyborg from the final episode is a real human, denied his humanity, forced to vegetate within a steel prison. In episode two, Voomeroid Caroline also forsakes her humanity when she forsakes her femininity, understandably bitter that she has been forced to by a male-dominated world: How much must we dehumanise ourselves to overcome discrimination?
It isn’t often you come across a satirical premonition of the future as successful as Robocop or Judge Dredd (the comic strip, of course). AD Police is it, albeit a slightly more introspective look. Those queuing up to watch I, Robot – those with brains, that is – would be better advised to check this out instead…