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Tank S.W.A.T. 01 Anime Review

Tank S.W.A.T. 01 Box Art

Tank S.W.A.T. 01

1.5 stars / OVA / Action / 10-up

Bottom Line

No plot, bland characters, and uneven CGI visuals--only of interest to Dominion fans.

It’s Like...

...An abbreviated New Dominion Tank Police trying to be John Woo's Appleseed, and failing.

Vital Stats

Original Title

警察戦車隊 Tank S.W.A.T. 01

Romanized Title

Keisatsu Senshatai Tank S.W.A.T. 01

Literal Translation

Police Tank Corps

Animation Studio

DOGA Productions

US Release By

Unlicensed

Genre

Tank Police Action

Series Type

OVA

Length

30 minutes

Production Date

2006-03-24

What's In It

Categories

Look For

  • CGI Visuals
  • Mini Tanks Gone Wild
  • Slo-mo Action

Objectionable Content

  • Violence: 2 (moderate)
  • Nudity: 0 (none)
  • Sex: 0 (none)
  • Language: 1 (mild)

full details

See Also

Sequels/Spin-offs

You Might Also Like

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Plot Synopsis

Leona Ozaki is captain of Newport City's Tank Police, an aptly-named group consisting of the androids Annapuma and Unipuma and a variety of other misfits. Her squad is closing in on stolen disks containing valuable--and potentially embarrassing--government data. Things are going well until, in the middle of retrieving the disks from an office high-rise, the mastermind behind the scheme shows up along with a horde of AI tanks, then takes one of the Tank Police's newest members, Asada, hostage on top of it.

Quick Review

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In theory this odd little OAV one-shot is a side-story of the Dominion: Conflict manga. That reduces the obligation for set-up, but that's a weak excuse for a show that completely omits character establishment or even the background of the plot at hand--it feels like the second half of an already-abbreviated movie. Worse, the details of the characters and setting feel slightly off when compared to the manga, so it's not even doing a particularly good job of catering to fans, who are the only people likely to have any interest in a half-hour one-shot. It also feels more like a Hollywood adaptation than a faithful homage--the plot is generic loose-cannon police stuff and the action sequences try very hard to look like John Woo. The short's most memorable feature is the all-CG visuals, which are hit and miss--the action scenes look relatively nice and the character designs are faithful, but some of the character animation is stiff and the overall flow lacks sharp timing and professional polish.

In the end I didn't dislike Tank SWAT 01, but if you're not already a Dominion fan it's too abbreviated to be of any interest. Even if you are, it's still only half a movie, and a disappointingly generic one at that--more a teaser than something to get excited about.

Read the full-length review...

Full Review

Switch to Quick Review

This odd little one-shot is based on Dominion: Conflict, the much-later, somewhat re-envisioned sequel to Masamune Shirow's original Dominion manga. That sounds promising--both of the other Dominion anime adaptations are quality entertainment, as is the manga. However, at only 30 minutes long, Tank SWAT 01 lacks the time to do anything with the plot, the characters feel a little off, and the all-CGI visuals are hit and miss.

I should establish that I'm a big Dominion fan--the combination of over-the-top action, cheerfully sadistic humor, colorful characters, and slightly-tweaked cyberpunk setting is hard to beat. In manga form, Conflict one-upped the original, toning down the philosophy, ratcheting up the humor, and having the beloved cat sisters do a heel-face turn to play friendly foil to a veteran Leona.

Now, I assume I'm the target market of this OAV; it's far too short to do anything at all in terms of establishing the characters or substantive plot, so presumably the only people interested would be existing fans. And indeed, it's framed like a side-story of the manga, reducing the obligation for background.

Even taking that into account, though, it feels like the second half of an already-abbreviated movie; there isn't a shred of character establishment or even background on what they're doing. While it keeps hinting at backstory--some past tragedy they never so much as mention--there is, functionally, absolutely none.

All you're left with is the most generic sort of paint-by-numbers loose-cannon police "drama" for the plot, and a couple of nifty-but-brief action scenes. I've seen movie trailers with more substance. The slimy, confident villain is obviously implied to be Buaku, which would actually make for some decent where-do-their-loyalties-lie drama with the cat sisters, but there's nowhere near enough time to do anything with it. In fact, trying to jam what could (and probably should) be a series-finale-scale confrontation into a rushed side-story is rather disrespectful to the material.

Speaking of disrespect, the whole thing has a bit of that Hollywood adaptation feel--the big points are right but the details seem a little off, for lack of a better word. The worst is that all the characters lack the spunk and energy that made the original work; Leona, in particular, is disappointingly humorless. Her heartless superior (the secondary antagonist) is an entirely new character, and the plot is a vaguely Die Hard-esque showdown-in-a-high-rise thriller lacking in Shirow flair. To be fair, Conflict doesn't have much continuity with its manga predecessor, either, nor is there much tank action in it, but if you're going to forgo setup and your only audience is fans, I'd expect a more faithful interpretation.

As for the positives, the main ones are a couple of relatively nice-looking action scenes, in particular a tank shootout early on. The cat sisters also get plenty of action and at least as much screen time as Leona. Some attempts to do John Woo-style super-slow-mo bits aren't 100% successful, but still look reasonably good. There are also a few bits of decent physical comedy, and I did like the friendly antagonism between Leona and her co-pilot (signaling by way of repeatedly kicking her in the head). The villain has a decent calm, manipulative evil-guy vibe, albeit of the sort you've seen a dozen times before.

The most memorable thing about the show ends up being the all-CG visuals. On the plus side, the character designs are true to the manga (the cat sisters are back to being blondes like they're supposed to be), and the interiors of the tanks are loaded with the kind of meticulous detail Shirow is known for. On the minus, it lacks professional polish; most of the character animation is noticeably stiff, and the timing is a bit off--there are awkward little hesitations where there shouldn't be. Don't expect anything on the level of the slick uber-budget CG Appleseed films, even if those feel less like anime than this.

Combined with the abbreviated plot, Tank SWAT 01 felt to me like an experiment--an episode-length technology test run or maybe a very good amateur homage to Dominion. Which, given that director Romanov Higa is a relatively successful indie CGI anime specialist, and DOGA Productions is a small-time studio that usually does supplemental CGI work, isn't much of a surprise.

The acting is acceptable, nothing more, and none of the actors from either previous Dominion anime reprise their roles. The tiny cast includes several complete unknowns and a couple of big names--most notably Satsuki Yukino (Chidori from Full Metal Panic), a good fit as Leona.

In the end I didn't dislike Tank SWAT 01, but if you're not already a Dominion fan it's too abbreviated to be of any interest. Even if you are, it's still only half a movie, and a disappointingly generic one at that--more a teaser than something to get excited about.

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Related Recommendations

The most obvious parallels are of course the other two Dominion anime adaptations, of which the second, New Dominion Tank Police, is closer. There are also the two recent Appleseed movies, which are similar in that they aren't a very direct adaptation of the original material and have all-CGI visuals with some attempts to do John Woo action (literally, since Woo produced them), and different in that they have massive budgets and functional plots.

Notes and Trivia

Based on Dominion: Conflict, a manga series by Masamune Shirow that, as of this writing, only consists of a single volume (more were planned, but are currently on hold). Conflict is, in turn, based on Shirow's original Dominion manga of a decade earlier. Even in manga form, Dominion: Conflict makes a number of adjustments to the setting and characters compared to its predecessor, although it is, for the most part, a sequel.

Note that the title of this anime doesn't actually have the word "Dominion" in it anywhere, although it does technically include the Japanese title of the Tank Police.

To my knowledge, the opening shot is the first time that the location of Newport City has been identified--in Hyougo Prefecture. Being in Kansai, that presumably explains why Leona and crew have mild Kansai accents in this short (in contrast to the cat sisters' strong Kansai accents). While Leona doesn't have an accent in either earlier anime adaptation, or the original manga, she actually does in the Conflict manga; I don't believe the manga specified where she picked it up.

While Unipuma and Annapuma are very tall in this version, they've been somewhat downsized compared to the manga, where they were pointedly huge. Even Shirow was a little inconsistent drawing them some of the time, but in the one full-group frame they're clearly a full head taller than Katsu (the big-chinned guy in this short who they're shown as being the same height as). They were also specifically too big to pilot a Bonnaparte-class tank.

The director, Romanov Higa, is known for his semi-indie 3D CGI anime work. He's is probably best known for the similarly-styled URDA, a short series of action-heavy mini-episodes about an alternate take on WWII (it also shares a couple of small-time voice cast members with this show). URDA is available in the US from Media Blasters. More recently, he was responsible for a similar series of straight-to-the-Internet mini-episodes, Catblue Dynamite.

Unlike Catblue and URDA, both of which were released in 5-minute mini-episodes, Tank S.W.A.T. 01 was a single half-hour one-shot sold (in Japan) as a DVD.

Higa had been tapped to direct Appleseed: Genesis, a TV series spawned by the recent movies, but that project apparently was canned early in production due to budget issues. I'd have guessed this short was intended as a test run for the Appleseed TV series, except that project wasn't even announced until a couple of years after this was released.

US DVD Review

No US-release DVD exists as of this writing.

Parental Guide

A modest amount of violence makes for about a 10-up.

Violence: 2 - There's some relatively serious violence, but it's bloodless.

Nudity: 0 - Nothing at all.

Sex/Mature Themes: 0 - Not even an off-color joke.

Language: 1 - Hard to say with no official translation, but probably pretty clean.

Availability

Not officially available in North America as of this writing.

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