Natsumi Tsujimoto and Miyuki Kobayakawa are partners at Bokuto Police Station’s Traffic Department. Between Miyuki’s technical expertise and Natsumi’s reckless street, there’s no better team to patrol the streets for wrongdoers- it may mean skirting the rules, but they’ll do whatever it takes to catch the criminals and utter that trademark phrase: “You’re under arrest!”.
Kosuke Fujishima may be best known for creating the Ah! My Goddess franchise, but away from the adventures of Keiichi and Belldandy, he is responsible for a different tale- You’re Under Arrest, the story of two policewomen and their colleagues in a Tokyo traffic department. Don’t by misled by the setting, however, this is one series that resolves not to take itself too seriously, choosing light-hearted comedy and a touch of romance over complex storylines and solemn police drama.
Despite being slightly formulaic, hothead Natsumi and quieter tech geek Miyuki form a likable pair of leads; both are strong women (in Natsumi’s case, quite literally), able to stand up for themselves without recourse to angst or over-reliance on the men in their lives. Other characters include the hardworking yet clueless Nakajima, chirpy best friend Yoriko and beautiful crossdresser Aoi; unfortunately, none of these characters receive much in the way of development, although all have their part to play in keeping events flowing in an entertaining fashion.
Visually, the series relies on a limited ‘realistic’ colour palette; gone are the bright costumes and hairstyles of Ah! My Goddess, in favour of standard police uniforms and more muted tones. With the possible exception of the movie, the animation isn’t particularly outstanding, but is nonetheless serviceable enough to get the job done.
Getting started in the You’re Under Arrest! Universe
I’ve yet to see either of the You’re Under Arrest TV series; to be honest, the price of the season one boxsets seems a little too high compared to my projected enjoyment of the series. My predictions are that the series will offer more in the way of character development, but that the stories could get a little repetitive.
The original OVA that kicked off You’re Under Arrest’s animated incarnations, these four half-hour episodes chart Natsumi and Miyuki’s first days at work together and the relationship they build up. As to be expected, there are a few predictable plot devices along the way, but the OVA nonetheless gains points not only for actually having a plot in the first place, but for including a likable cast, some high octane car chases, and a decent helping of comedy.
A series of twenty 5-7 minute shorts (the twenty first episode is not available on ADV’s release) focussing on the day-to-day events of the station. Unfortunately, the specials start on a rather dull and repetitive note, with the first eight or so being entirely devoted to peeping toms, panty thieves and the like. Fortunately, just at the point where it becomes tempting to give up, the perverts are left behind and the series moves into more varied territory, ranging from ghost sightings and stolen wallets to an attempt to revive the station’s cafeteria. Some episodes can be skipped, but others are purely undemanding fun.
The trouble with many movies is that they often try to present the more serious side of a series, without realising that it is the comedy that makes it watchable. Unfortunately, the You’re Under Arrest movie is a perfect example of this, with its focus on an ambitious tale about the theft of top secret government documents. Unfortunately, the film doesn’t seem to know how it wants to present the story, flicking randomly between standard scenarios such as terrorist bombings and a takeover of the police station, before finally fizzling out into nothing very much. Even the character design is more sombre than usual.
In the short bursts offered by these single-DVD releases, You’re Under Arrest proves to be a somewhat variable but nonetheless generally entertaining franchise. Although I’m not entirely sure if the basic premise has the stamina to produce a consistently good run on the TV series front, I’m nonetheless intrigued enough to eventually want to see more than the OVAs and specials can offer.