In the last article, we delved into the print adventures of the Tokyo Policewomen Duo. Due to the popularity of the Manga series, as well as the successful transition of Fujishima's Oh! My Goddess to animated form, plans began to bring the trials and tribulations of Miyuki Kobayakawa and Natsumi Tsujimoto to the small screen.
Building on the successful format of Oh! My Goddess, work began on a four -part OVA series. However, instead of being based on episodes from the manga, four new original stories were developed. For the first time, fans would be treated to the story of how our two heroines evolved from reluctant rookie partners into an indomitable crime-fighting team and a lasting friendship. The four OVA's, released in 1994, cover events in Miyuki and Natsumi's first year at Bokuto Precinct.
The first animated appearance of Miyuki and Natsumi begins appropriately with a chase scene. The chronically late Natsumi Tsujimoto is on her way to start a new job and resorts to taking an illegal shortcut with her Moto-Compo. She emerges only to spot a patrol car headed in her direction. Thinking that no one can match her skill and agility, she tries to lose the patrol car, but to no avail. Arriving at the Bokuto Station, merely 1 hour and 12 minutes late, she finds that her new partner, Miyuki Kobayakawa, is the same officer that just busted her. This partnership seems to be doomed from the start, but an appearance by "The Fox" and his Mini Era Turbo sends them on another high-speed chase on and off the streets of Tokyo. Throughout the course of the chase, Miyuki and Natsumi realize that they work well together and make a pretty good team. Evil doers beware!
An impending typhoon and a speed maniac in a yellow Lancia put our fledgling partners in a pinch while trying to take care of a pregnant kitty in OVA File 2. But never fear, Natsumi's herculean strength, Miyuki's mechanical genius, and Ken's roadway rivalry will save the day.
In File 3, our team takes a break from the action to focus on the relationship between Miyuki and Ken. A quick look at Miyuki's day planner has Yoriko's rumor mill in overdrive. A high school reunion, a seemingly innocent road trip, and the constant meddling of everyone at the station puts a damper on their developing romance, and it is up to the Chief to set things right and get the department back to it's real job - fighting crime and protecting the streets of Tokyo.
The concluding episode of the OVA series has Natsumi receiving an invitation to become one of the first female officers in the elite white bike troopers, but accepting means a transfer. Is this the end of a beautiful partnership? Will Natsumi find fulfillment on the glory parade? Can Yoriko fill her shoes as Miyuki's partner? Will Ken ever work up the courage to tell Miyuki how he really feels? These questions and more are answered in the action filled finale. When a fire during a traffic jam and a runaway fuel truck threaten the safety of a local marathon, the team pulls together and realizes where their real strength lies.
With high quality animation, character designs by chief animation director Atsuko Nakajima and mechanical designs by Toshiharu Murata, the animation debut of Kosuke Fujishima's You're Under Arrest was a big hit, leaving the fans wanting to see more.
Due to the success of the OVA's, a TV series was developed and began airing October 5, 1996 on TBS. Using the four OVA's as a springboard, the TV series started with File 5. Providing a good mix of original stories and plot lines adapted from the manga, the adventures of Miyuki and Natsumi continued on to a total of 51 episodes, completing the series on September 27, 1997.
Some changes were inevitable when making the jump from the OVA format to a broadcast TV series. A somewhat less detailed (and less expensive) animation style, coupled with new character designs by Atsuko Nakajima gave the series a new look. Best known for Ranma 1/2, Atsuko Nakajima's new take on Fujishima's characters provided audiences with a familiar mix of television-style animation and faithfulness to the creator's vision.
The continuing series format also allowed the introduction of new characters and ongoing story lines. Many of the fan-favorite characters from the manga made appearances throughout the series, rounding out the ensemble cast.
The first major addition to the cast took place in File 5, with the introduction of Officer Aoi Futaba. While the treatment of Aoi-chan's condition was dealt with in a somewhat more civil manner than in the manga, having a female traffic officer who is actually a man provided both serious and humorous consequences. The acceptance of Aoi as a person and as an officer at Bokuto Precinct was a key element in the formation of a solid bond that holds the team close throughout the series. As the perfect confidant and partner for Yoriko, Aoi was a welcome addition to the "girls of Bokuto Station."
Another prominent addition to the cast, and an overwhelming favorite of many female fans, appeared in File 35. During an extreme weather rescue attempt, a call went out for reserve personnel with the skill to help Natsumi scale the outside of Tokyo Tower. An experienced mountain rescue officer named Shouji Toukairin answered the call and proved to be a match for both her strength and determination. Much to the surprise of Natsumi, he appears again in File 38 as a new member of the Bokuto team. A relationship of romance and rivalry soon began between the two, and continued throughout the series.
And speaking of relationships, Miyuki and Ken's romance roller coaster takes a few twists and turns in this series. This thanks to Yoriko's unreliable gossip, Natsumi's physical threats, and the appearance of Ken's new 20-year-old step-mom. With many of the fan favorite adversaries from the manga also making visits to the series, there seemed to be more work and less play for our intrepid heroes. Strikeman, the dimwitted baseball vigilante, constantly fouls Miyuki and Natsumi's plans with his own brand of misguided justice; and the Scooter Lady, a geriatric terror on two wheels, lets neither man nor machine deter her in a quest to capture every bargain in Tokyo.
With a healthy mix of original and manga-based story lines, the television series provides a humorous and sometimes dramatic look into the everyday lives of the people of Bokuto Station. These officers are the ones who handle the little emergencies and the smaller crimes, usually without the recognition and appreciation that they truly deserve.
With the successful completion of the series in the fall of 1997, it seemed that fans of the Tokyo Policewoman Duo would be left with only memories and stacks of play-weary videotapes. Just as the symptoms of withdrawal were starting to subside, an announcement was made that Miyuki and Natsumi were making the jump from the small screen to the big screen with a full-length feature film. Set to premiere in the spring of 1999, Taiho Shichauzo the Movie (You're Under Arrest the Movie) would be a significant departure from the action-comedy television series. Harnessing the talents of a few of the heavy-hitters responsible for the success of the Mobile Police Patlabor movies, the development team built a taught suspense thriller out of a series better known for lighthearted situational comedy. With Miyuki and Natsumi each completing a one-year special training program in another department, the atmosphere of Bokuto Station seemed carry an air of renewal. The team was back together again and it appeared to be business as usual, but the discovery of a cache of smuggled guns and mysterious traffic signal failures trigger a series of coincidences that culminates in a threat to destroy all the bridges over the Sumida River. After an explosion takes out Sakura Bridge, the officers of Bokuto Station spring to action. But, is this merely a coincidence, or are they connected? Who is the missing Detective Imoto and how is he connected to the Chief - and to the mysterious File 8-1-5? These questions and more lead our team on a high speed pursuit over land, sea, air, and cyberspace. To make matters worse, while the cats are away the mice have to defend the station from an all-out military style assault. It's up to the "office ladies of Bokuto" to repel the invaders - with a little help from Miyuki's secret stash of paintball gear!
The complex plot and dramatic action were not the only reasons You're Under Arrest the Movie was a hit with fans. The artwork alone in the movie was worth the price of admission. Extreme steps were taken to make all parts of the movie realistic and accurate. The designers and artists worked from photographs and diagrams of real buildings, vehicles and locations to develop the scenes for the movie. All of the buildings and other locations (except for the fictional Bokuto Police Station) were actual places in Tokyo, painstakingly reproduced down to the last detail. Coupled with a dramatic musical score by the phenomenal Kenji Kawai (best known for his work on Patlabor and Ghost in the Shell), You're Under Arrest the Movie is a fitting big screen debut for the work of Kosuke Fujishima.
To coincide with the release of You're Under Arrest the Movie, a series of special episodes were produced for the TBS program Wonderful. Because of Wonderful's late-night time slot (Monday through Thursday at midnight) and short runtime (about 7-9 minutes), it presented the perfect opportunity to showcase some of the shorter and racier stories from the manga, as well as some originals. With slight character design tweaking again by Atsuko Nakajima, these 20 episodes (five 4-episode blocks) provided mostly humor and fan service suited for the midnight time slot.
Not relying on the specials alone, TBS rebroadcast selected episodes from the TV series before the premiere of the movie. Following these episodes was a new full-length episode created just for this event. You're Under Arrest Special - Traffic Control at the Beach was loosely based on the manga story "Traffic Control Under the Blazing Heat" (manga File 23) and featured Miyuki and Natsumi handling a traffic jam at Shonan Beach - in their own unique way. Thinking that it would be "a day at the beach", our overheated officers found themselves dispensing justice upon unappreciative vacationers, until purses and handbags started to disappear. In true You're Under Arrest style, the chase is on - over land and sea.
With 4 OVA's, 47 TV episodes, 21 special episodes, and a feature film, it seemed as though the You're Under Arrest franchise had finally drawn to a close. However, rumors had begun to arise concerning a new television series. These rumors were confirmed with an interview featured on Newtype-net.com in February of 2001. When Shogo Kawamoto, the director for the new series, was asked about specific information on the new series he replied; "A huge walking robot is going to be involved in the new story, and the new "You're Under Arrest!" is going to turn into a Mecha-Anime!" Fortunately, he was kidding. But he did confirm the addition of a character to the cast - Saori Saga. Not actually a new character, Saori first appeared in File 12 of the TV series as a semi-suicidal teenager who decides to become a policewoman after Miyuki and Natsumi save her life. She is now fresh from the police academy and has received her first assignment. Armed with a rookie's enthusiasm, a firm grasp upon the Police Manual, and absolutely no practical experience, Saori returns to Bokuto Station to rid Tokyo of traffic violators. Much to Saori's dismay, Miyuki and Natsumi's years of experience have taught them that "by the book" doesn't always work when dealing with real-life situations.
You're Under Arrest: Second Season began broadcast on April 7, 2001 and lasted 26 episodes, with the final episode airing on September 29, 2001. Many of the usual suspects make appearances in this series. There also appears to be some competition for Ken Nakajima in the quest for Miyuki's heart, but since I have only seen a few of the episodes, I will have to delve into this new plot twist at a later time. Stay tuned!
The OVA series was available here in the US on videotape and laserdisc from Animego, and is now available as a complete collection on one VHS cassette. Dubbing on the TV series began in the spring of this year, and Animego plans to have the series available on bilingual DVDs only sometime next year. According to earlier reports, the OVA's will be included in the DVD box sets. ADV Films has purchased the rights to both the movie and the specials. A theatrical release has been mentioned for the movie, but no release date has been set. Rumors had stated that Animego was interested in the second season tv series, but sources from the company said that they were not adding any new additions until they clear their current DVD schedule.