Tanks for the Simulwatch: Dominion Tank Police! [Act 10 - 07/10]

Professor Irony

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Moderator
Reee~ I'll catch up soon.

Act 8: Flours of Evil

Strangely, I think this is the first episode of anything Dominion related I ever saw. Again, I remember the action, but I couldn’t have told you from memory what was going on with the underlying plot. Coming back to it now, the idea of inadvertently creating an explosion using the flour bags seems quite original - it’s a bit different from the usual barrels of magic exploding petrol or the likes.

New Dominion Tank Police - Ep. 04 - Pursuit, Bonaparte in the Mist (1993 - 480p DUAL Audio).mk...jpg

Check out Batou's scrawnier brother.

Speaking of the flour warehouse, something that caught my attention this time was Leona describing it as a 'deserted old air-tent'. If this was something Shirow had come up with, I'm absolutely sure he'd have mentioned it in the manga notes, but this seems like kind of a neat retcon to explain the mushroom domed buildings - the strange shape being presumably a huge air tank?

New Dominion Tank Police - Ep. 04 - Pursuit, Bonaparte in the Mist (1993 - 480p DUAL Audio).mk...jpg

Ayase mentioned it already, but it seems odd that this is the only time the pollution, such a mainstay of the original series, crops up in New Dominion. The world seems decidedly less screwed than it was before, given the verdant greenery seen around the motorways in the previous episode, but it does feel a little bit like we've given up some of the series's identity. When it appears though, the pollution does seem like a much more tangible threat than it was in the previous run; Al and Leona seem to be having genuine difficulty moving around outside. Presumably they wouldn't be out on foot at all, were it not for Leona's bloody-mindedness. Notably, this did come up in the original manga, where Leona briefly blacks out after expending the air cylinder in her mask.

Which makes me wonder, are the Tank Police celebrities and is there Bonaparte merch, or does Leona really have too much time on her hands and actually custom built a Bonaparte clock and multiple scale models?
I'd never stopped to question this before, but now that you mention it, that does seem a little out of step with the setting otherwise. It's interesting that Leona's room as it appears in the anime is almost exactly the way it is in the Phantom of the Audience manga, right down to the model Boneapartes and the self-driving clock, but that manga is played for much broader laughs, so I suppose it was easier to slot in throwaway visual gags like that. In the manga, the clock also seems to fire BBs from its cannon, much to Leona's annoyance...

One last note, as we briefly see Four-Eyes (fun fact: in the manga, his actual name is given as Jim Lovelock)'s former colleague pop-up here, it occurs to me that someone on the production staff really, really likes the mullet.

New Dominion Tank Police - Ep. 04 - Pursuit, Bonaparte in the Mist (1993 - 480p DUAL Audio).mk...jpg

While I dare say this dates the show a bit, I can see it being a useful trope for the character designer. The character art for the show makes really good use of shapes - you can easily tell even the minor characters from their silhouettes - and I suppose having that extra bit of hair around the neck allows you more choice with the shape of the head.
 

ayase

State Alchemist
New Dominion: Vol. 6 - Ghost in the Artillery Shell

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With no robot sex kittens around to lower the tone, NDTP is free to ascend/descend into real drama in its final episode. "They can't touch us, we're protected by international law" says the fat, sour-faced, shades-wearing corrupt diplomat. It's lucky for him Motoko Kusanagi and her stealth suit are nowhere to be found in this particular incarnation of Newport City, otherwise his head might not have remained quite so intact. And I couldn't help but notice that when Colesman comments "The cornered mouse will fight the cat even harder" the reflection from the screens in front of Kataoka also give him distinctly cat-like eyes...

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He might still be the same overburdened boiling stress pot at heart, but NDTP's Chief is putting on his best Aramaki impression this time around. His political convictions couldn't get much more diametrically opposed to his earlier alternate self - He's gone from believing the solution to the threat of violence is ever bigger guns to trying to prevent international incidents and break the cycle of violence. That bit wot I wrote about the change in attitudes with the end of the Cold War feels quite relevant again here. Good ol' Nam still loves his big guns though.

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The episode's mechanical threats (what's scarier than one super-powered tachikoma? Multiple super-powered tachikoma!) are dispatched relatively easily and they give the rest of the cast something to do, but this episode's really about closure. And this being the Tank Police, a big part of that is justice and if there's anyone who deserved his comeuppance at the end of this series it's Colesman. Big a b*stard as he might have been however, I can't help but admire his stoicism at the end. Seriously, anyone who can remain that calm while their plane bursts into flames has balls of steel. And we close with a rather familiar feeling from the original OVA with Leona, the tank she loves, the man she might possibly have feelings for and a song. It is all pretty satisfying.

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I'm very on the fence about the epilogue. I guess it shows life for the Tank Police goes on and ending with the shot from the opening was a nice touch, but the reuse of footage felt a little cheap and it does undermine the dramatic finale somewhat. Overall though, I think NDTP is a very well realised series and serves as probably, in hindsight quite an important bridge in styles between old Dominion and GitS. I've enjoyed revisiting it more than I expected to. It's also got me back into the habit of writing semi-decent length posts, which is nice.

Overall I enjoyed the larger ideas of the first series more but as a whole story preferred New Dominion. It was well executed, funny, told one off stories that all tied into a larger arc and had a much more satisfying conclusion. If the original had had more episodes it could have been something very special but it's still nice to have what we do have.
A fair position to take. You're not wrong about the rather unsatisfying conclusion given how it ends part-way through the story, but I still really miss that particular version of Dominion's world. And Buaku, who I think is a really interesting character. Also nothing against redheads, but the Pumas should totally be blonde and anything else just isn't right.
 

Professor Irony

Cursed Image
Moderator
Act IX: Stuck on You

At last, we made it to the sewers, mankind's last bastion of hope in a world gone mad. I actually thought that reveal about the terrorists moving around using the waterways came in the final episode, but that's probably more an indication of how my friends and I used to watch the show back in the day. We had New Dominion in pretty heavy rotation on the tv while playing stuff on the pc or whatever, but I think we must rarely have re-run the final episode, if we did so at all. Certainly, again, I remembered the attack on the mayor's residence and the silly parts with the Puma Twins, but really little else about this one.

Aside from that, I don't know that I've got much else to say about this instalment. The twins are a joy as always, although I feel like their raid on the bank wanted a scene of them sucking up goodies with a vacuum cleaner, just for maximum Lupin in-joke. The little scene at the end of them having played kissy face with the guard seemed like a nice little throwback to their striptease distraction tactics in the original series too.

There are occasionally a few small gaffs with continuity across the show (in the previous episode, the enclosed-cd type disc, the name of whose format escapes me, briefly becomes a floppy in a clear case), but I like that they took the time to show Mueller's presumably had his cybernetic arm taken away from him in prison.

Would agree that the action in this one is great as well. I think it's only now that we don't get things like this very often anymore, that I really appreciate how well animated and directed these parts of the show are. The use of the tatchikoma in this episode specifically is probably also the part that made me think the same animation team went on to work on the GitS PSX game a couple of years later, but that was Production IG, so it's unlikely there was any crossover of staff. I will link the intro of that game though, just for the hell of it.


I'm not sure what it changes hands for nowadays, but that game does a pretty good job of imagining what it might feel like to pilot a tatchikoma and the animation is top notch, apparently boasting character art from Shirow himself. It's arguably the closest thing we've ever had to a direct adaptation of the manga too, given that it predates Stand Alone Complex and clearly distances itself from Oshii's version.

It's a shame we never got a Dominion video game, but I suppose Metal Slug exists...
 

Professor Irony

Cursed Image
Moderator
Act X: Colesman's Mustard

Quickly, Robin!

New Dominion Tank Police - Ep. 06 - End the Dreaming (1993 - 480p DUAL Audio).mkv_snapshot_05....jpg

A fine conclusion to the series that ties everything up, but this is still my least favourite episode. Perhaps in part because it marks the end of the Dominion anime for the forseeable future (there is no more, nothing else exists, let's be clear on that), but it also feels a little like an inevitable step backwards from the carnage of the previous episode. In particular, the resolution of the showdown at the hospital seems kind of arbitrary. I suppose the idea was that when the tachikomas wind up to fire the atmospheric explosives, that's when they're vulnerable? There seemed to be a strange lack of tension in the scene somehow, maybe because they keep cutting away to Leona and Al tootling along in the green, pleasant suburbs. I'm also gonna go out on a limb and say if this were GitS, they'd breach the hospital barricade, only to find the mayor was never there in the first place, and the whole thing was a setup...

What did strike me as very GitS-esque though, and certainly something I'd never picked up on before, was that, from his reaction at being told he's hired, Colesman knows full well that he's being thrown to the wolves the moment he leaves the diplomatic compound. Perhaps that's why he showed so little reaction to the plane being hit - he knew his number was up.

One last little meta moment too - check out that poster behind Sophie...

New Dominion Tank Police - Ep. 06 - End the Dreaming (1993 - 480p DUAL Audio).mkv_snapshot_24....jpg

So yeah. At the risk of sounding like I've just copy-pasted what ayase said, this is something that holds a very dear place in my heart. I've really enjoyed revisiting New Dominion and discovering that it's a much better show than the 'it's just that thing you liked when you were a kid' little voice in my head kept telling me, but I don't find it as inherently interesting as the first series was. Perhaps in the alternative timeline where Stand Alone Complex never happened, I'd value the (surprisingly well executed) underlying conspiracy plot more highly, but as it is, I just miss the weirdness and the wildness of that first run. I'm sure that's very much influenced by my having read the manga though, and knowing how that story plays out.

I do still fully intend to scan those VHS sleeves too, if anyone's interested. I had a quick look online there's definitely some settei sketches on them that I haven't seen anywhere else.
 

ayase

State Alchemist
Perhaps in part because it marks the end of the Dominion anime for the forseeable future (there is no more, nothing else exists, let's be clear on that)
Oh no, we've come this far, there's no turning back now. But not to worry folks, I've watched it again so you don't have to.

Tank S.W.A.T. 01 - Kill all the golfers

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Does this look like the face of mercy?

Tank S.W.A.T. 01 opens with the kind of music you hear when placed on hold by your insurance company, which continues to play for the rest of its thankfully short runtime and sets the tone nicely for what's to come. This is how the story begins: In a grey, grey world there's a grey, grey building, in the grey, grey building there's a grey, grey corridor, off the grey, grey corridor there's a grey, grey room, in the grey, grey room there's a grey, grey desk and at the grey, grey desk there's UniPuma and Asada, a character whose picture appears in the dictionary under the definition of "pathetic".

Asada doesn't seem like she could even hack it at the welfare department, yet here she is in the Tank Police for some reason. Specifically, that reason is to be a damsel in distress for the rest of the squad for the next 20 minutes. The rest of the squad! I know what you're thinking - Our lovable rogues like the Chief, Brenten, Megane, and Chaplain right? Wrong. This time in addition to the newly deputised Pumas we have Conflict One newbies Havana and Shinozaki, whose personalities are not available at this time. The Blandening continues with the replacement of the Chief with "Japanese_Salaryman_001" ($5 on TurboSquid) and his clone army.

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"Execute Order 66, it'll be a kindness."

The show does however feature Pumas in uniform (probably the show's only mildly redeeming feature) and it's fairly obvious the production crew liked them the best. It seems like more time was spent on animating Anna and Uni than anyone else, as a result they come out of TS01 the most expressive and least hard done by. Most of the other characters look like blank-faced marionettes (including Leona, who to say she's ostensibly the main character barely even has a character here) reduced to merely flapping their mouths most of the time, occasionally without any accompanying dialogue. The Pumas also get to save the day multiple times, to the point the two of them probably could have handled this entire operation better if the rest of this sorry excuse for a Tank Police squad were entirely absent.

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It's okay Uni, it'll all be over soon.

For an animation that seems so keen to show off action involving physics, said physics are easily the worst part of the animation. Whether the characters are being blown away by explosions, falling down lift shafts, bouncing hilariously up and down stairs or getting knocked around with a golf club, they never seem like they have the slightest bit of weight to them and just sort of... float off. Which is probably why slow-motion was so overused, as it does sort of cover it up, though rather unconvincingly. I'm going to try playing these scenes sped up later, it might actually give me a laugh, which TS01 also utterly failed to do.

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Unseen test footage of The Matrix starring John Candy

And that, really, is TS01's cardinal sin. Not the stiff 3D animation, though it drains characters of their expressiveness and action scenes of their impact (it's not really any worse than the episodes of RWBY I've seen in that regard). The worst thing about Tank S.W.A.T. 01 is that it's dull. It's devoid of humour. It's devoid of excitement. It's lacking in fun and eccentric characters and settings. Even the colour palette is desaturated and dominated by grey and brown. Everything that makes Dominion Dominion has been cut out of it like a lobotomy, and we're left with a stranger wearing its face. I could go into the plot, but there's really no point, suffice to say that if you need to end a story with a monologue explaining one of the plot points you probably didn't do a very good job of storytelling.
 
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Professor Irony

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Moderator
Make it stop mother, the bad dreams have started again.

Joking aside, I think that's pretty much the size of it. It looks like a sub-par PS2 cutscene and seems to entirely miss the point in terms of story and character. I briefly wondered if director 'Romanov Higa' was the Japanese equivalent of Alan Smithee.

In my mind, I always assumed Tank SWAT was produced by the people behind one of the innumerable CGI adaptations of Appleseed, but apparently it was an entirely separate entity, even though Higa was slated to direct the aborted Appleseed: Genesis series. If this is any indication of what Genesis might have been like, we certainly haven't lost anything of value.
 
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Professor Irony

Cursed Image
Moderator
Guess who got his scanner working! First three sleeve inners linked below (warning: large image files). Interestingly, the sleeve gives Al's surname correctly, although I'm pretty sure he announces his name in the dub as "Al Southwell". This might also be the only place I've seen reference to Brenten having a wife and son, I forget if that ever came up in the manga.

 

WMD

Adventurer
Brenten's wife being a bodybuilder is great character development and top level world building!

If it was Hollywood his wife would be a tiny ex cheerleader. And it's nice to hear the fairly mundane things like body building championships exist in this world despite its flaws.
 
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