Kerberos saga

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For the 2005 manga, see Kerberos Saga Rainy Dogs.

The Kerberos Saga (ケルベロス・サーガ Keruberosu saga?) is a military science fiction franchise and alternate history universe created by the Japanese writer and filmmaker Mamoru Oshii in 1986. The saga is centered around the fictitious Tokyo police Special Armed Garrison which emblem and nickname is Kerberos (a.k.a. Cerberus), the mythological three-headed watchdog of hell. Before it was officially renamed "Kerberos Saga" circa 2004,[1] it was known as the "Kerberos series" (ケルベロス・シリーズ keruberosu shirīzu?) or the "Kenrō series" (犬狼・シリーズ kenrou shirīzu?).[2]

The franchise is currently owned by Mamoru Oshii and the Barque company; It consists of works based on Oshii's original story spanning in various media including feature films, radio dramas, comic books, animation films and monographs. Licensed products are mainly Special Armed Garrison powered suit based action figures or garage kits, called Protect Gears, and Kerberos Saga episodes derived soundtracks, storyboards and guidebooks. Merchandising includes posters, folding fans, mousepads, statuette busts, tee-shirts and even bottles of wine with a dedicated online shop available on the official website.

Release chronology[edit]

Kerberos story arc[edit]

Tachiguishi story arc[edit]

  • 1984 : Urusei Yatsura: Hisatsu! Tachigui Wars!! (うる星やつら ~必殺! 立ち食いウォーズ!!~), TV anime series (episode #122)
  • 1987 : "While Waiting For The Red Spectacles" (紅い眼鏡を待ちつつ), Radio drama
  • 2004 : Tachiguishi-Retsuden (立喰師列伝), novel
  • 2006 : Tachiguishi-Retsuden (立喰師列伝), animated feature adaptation of the novel
  • 2006 : "Onna Tachiguishi-Retsuden" (女立喰師外伝 ケツネコロッケのお銀), Short film
  • 2006 : Kerberos & Tachiguishi (ケルベロスX立喰師 腹腹時計の少女), Comic book series (Act1~7)
  • 2007 : Kerberos & Tachiguishi(ケルベロスX立喰師 腹腹時計の少女), graphic collection
  • 2007: "Shin-Onna Tachiguishi Retsuden" (真女立喰師列伝), Short film

20th Anniversaries[edit]

In order to celebrate The Red Spectacles' 20-year anniversary (actually the movie's 1986 production since the theatrical release is February 1987), a new Protect Gear armour (Type 34 "Wolfpelz") was designed by Jun Suemi in 2006 as part of a new Kerberos Saga project. This new episode was Kerberos Panzer Jäger a radio drama series narrating the Protect Gear's roots on the 1940s German-Soviet War.

2006 was also the opening year for the Kerberos Saga's official website. Kerberos Saga official website owner Raiden (Nippon Cultural Broadcasting Media Bridge Inc.) released a collectible bottle of German wine, Riesling through the official online shop.[4]

As a 20th celebration of the Kerberos Panzer Cop original edition (1990 volume compilation by Nihon Shuppan Sha), the Kerberos Saga's new publisher Gakken will release a collector boxset Kerberos Panzer Cop a Revision: 20th edition (犬狼伝説 20周年エディション).[5] This boxset will feature both volumes from Kerberos Panzer Cop in B5 size original aspect with "digitally refine"[5] graphic arts by Kamui Fujiwara (original illustrator) a pamphlet and a new Revoltech Yamaguchi Protect Gear figure. Pre-ordering campaign will last from July 26 to the end of August 2009.[5]

On March 2009, a new comic book chapter entitled Kerberos Panzer Cop: Special Issue, was pre-published in Gakken's Kerberos Saga monograph Kerberos Panzer Cops: Tokyo War. This was released as a sample of the upcoming two-volume Kerberos Panzer Cop "revised edition" to which it will be included.[6]


Characters & organizations[edit]

For more details on this topic, see Kerberos saga characters.

As a military science fiction work the Kerberos Saga's main characters are members of rival military and police services, namely the Shutokei (a.k.a. the "Capital Police" in the English language adaptation), the Self-Police ("Local Police" in the English adaptation) and the JSDF. However, these conflictual forces have a common foe, Anti-government organizations and terrorists such as The Sect and its factions.

Secondary and guest appearance characters introduced by author Mamoru Oshii are taken from his previous works such as culinary art and rhetoric masters Tachiguishi ("Fast Food Grifters" in the English adaptation) or Detective Matsui from the Patlabor franchise.

Members of the saga's core organisation, the Shutokei's Special Armed Garrison, have an animal counterpart which is an allegory and sometimes a metonymy. This animal can be a mythological dog such as Cerberus (the garrison's emblem) and Laelaps as in the comic book, or it can be a German dog breeds as in Kerberos Panzer Cop and its sequel Kerberos Saga: Rainy Dogs; this comic book series original title means "Dog-Wolf Legend" (犬狼伝説, kenrou densetsu). It can be a Japanese Wolf (狼, Ookami) as in Jin-Roh ("Man-Wolf" in English) and in Kerberos & Tachiguishi which borrow drama parts to the Little Red Riding Hood tale. Also it can be a stray dog as in the 1991 eponymous movie.


The Kerberos Saga is based upon an alternate history with key events called "incidents" (事件, jiken). Altered historical events turned into fiction include the Germany-won battle of Stalingrad, Stauffenberg's then-successful assassination attempt on Hitler, the occupation of Japan by Germany - instead of the United States - called "Weimar Establishment" (ワイマール体制, weimaru taisei), and the prominent 26 February coup d'état (a.k.a. "Kerberos Uprising") attempted by the Special Armed Garrison instead of the Imperial Japanese Army.

Main locations[edit]

Although the saga's plot is mainly located in the Japanese capital (as the Special Armed Garrison jurisdiction is limited to the Tokyo area), some episodes happen in foreign cities including Taipei and Tainan (StrayDog: Kerberos Panzer Cops), Old Havana (The Killers) and Stalingrad (Kerberos Panzer Jäger).

Among the Tokyo landmarks appearing in the saga are Odaiba (The Red Spectacles), Shibuya, the Tokyo International Airport (Kerberos Panzer Cop Act4), Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department headquarters building (Kerberos Panzer Cop Act8), the Prime Minister of Japan's cabinet called Kantei (Kerberos Panzer Cop Act8) and the University of Tokyo's Yasuda Auditorium (Kerberos Saga Rainy Dogs Act3).

A recurring location is sewer, it can be the Tokyo sewer as in Kerberos Panzer Cop (Act 1) and Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade or abroad sewer as in Kerberos Saga Rainy Dogs (Act 8). In all these works, sewer is the final stage holding the Special Armed Garrison (Kerberos) main character's last fight. In the Greek mythology, the Kerberos (Cerberus) watchdog guards the gates of the Underworld, called Hades, to prevent those who have crossed the river Styx from ever escaping. Hence the sewer can be regarded as an allegory of the Underworld; the original title for the 1991 movie StrayDog is "kerberos: watchdog of jigoku" (ケルベロス 地獄の番犬, keruberosu: jigoku no banken) with jigoku being the realm of the dead in the Japanese mythology.

Key elements[edit]

Protect Gear[edit]

Protect Gear has become a generic term to designate all full body armours used by the police and military special assault units in the Kerberos Saga. Actually, "Protect Gear" is the name of the Special Armed Garrison's specific Kampfküriss Typ 92 (92式特殊強化装甲服) designed in 1986 by Yutaka Izubuchi.

This mechanical design piece has been really manufactured, in limited quantities though, to appear in The Red Spectacles and StrayDog feature films. Scale models are since produced by toy companies such as Kaiyodo and Takara Tomy.


Soichiro. (illustration by Kamui Fujiwara, 2000) The term kerberos is a reference to Hades' three-headed watchdog of hell in the Greek mythology. This fictitious creature is better known in western countries under its Latin form, Cerberus, which is the character's name in the Roman mythology.

Keruberosu (ケルベロス) the Japanese render for "kerberos" first appeared in 1987, in While Waiting For The Red Spectacles.

In Akai Megane, Kerberos is used as a nickname for the Panzer Cop officers trio consisting of Koichi Todome, Midori Washio and Soichiro Toribe. The teammates cooperate as if one, as a metaphor for the three heads of the Cerberus, with each character completing and backing-up his comrades with his own abilities.

The term is also used within the saga as a generic term to designate all Panzer Cops wearing Protect-Gears or Light-Gears. The Kerberos is also the mascot of the Metropolitan Police "Shutokei" (首都警特機隊, Shutokei kidotai) featured in flags, uniforms, equipment and vehicles.

However, the anti-government rioters designate the Panzer Cops with a pejorative term, "watchdog of hell" (地獄の番犬, jigoku no banken) rather than "Kerberos".

The Kerberos emblem designed by Akemi Takada, first appeared as a backcover artwork in the Japanese VHS release of Akai Megane in 1987. Since then it is featured in most of the saga's works including Kerberos Panzer Cop (1988), StrayDog (1991), Jin-Roh (1999), the CD drama release of While Waiting For The Red Spectacles (2000) and Kerberos Saga Rainy Dogs (2005).

The alternate spelling "Cerberos" was used in the Dark Horse Comics edition of Hellhounds (1994).


For more details on this topic, see Tachiguishi.

As tachigui professionals, the legendary Fast Food Grifters have the privilege to eat in stand-and-eat street restaurants without paying. The Fast Food Grifters first appeared in the episode #122 (February 8, 1984) of the TV anime series Urusei Yatsura. In this episode, the Tachiguishi (立喰師) were known as "pro of tachigui" (立喰いのプロ).


  • Jäger: German word for "hunter". Panzerjäger was also used during World War II to designate armoured anti-tank vehicles armed with anti-tank cannon and MG34 machinegun.
  • Jigoku no banken (地獄の番犬): Japanese for the "watchdog of Hell" aka Cerberus.
  • Kerberos (ケルベロス, keruberosu): Greek word for Cerberus (Latin), the hellhound of Hades in the Greek mythology.
  • Tachigui (立ち食い): Japanese term for stand-and-eat street bars and restaurants.
  • Tachiguishi (立喰師): Japanese for "Fast food grifters".
  • Panzer: German word (from the French pancier) for "armored" from World War II.
  • Protect-Gear (プロテクトギア, purotekuto gia): The full body armor used by the Kerberos Panzer Cops and Kerberos Panzer Jägers.
  • Weimar Republic (ワイマール体制, waimāru taisei): The Weimar Republic ruled Germany from 1919 until 1933. This term appears in Kerberos Panzer Cop (Act 4, Chapter 1) and Kerberos Panzer Jäger. The term was translated as "Weimar Establishment" in the English version of Hellhounds and was censored (removed) in the Korean version of Kerberos Panzer Cop.


Japanese releases[edit]

The saga started in January 1987 with the Japanese broadcast of the radio drama series While Waiting For The Red Spectacles (紅い眼鏡を待ちつつ, Akai megane o machi tsutsu), prior to the theatrical release of the live-action film The Red Spectacles (紅い眼鏡, Akai megane). A manga series adaptation, Kerberos Panzer Cop (Kenrou densetsu) started the following year and was compiled as a single volume (Acts 1~4) in 1990.

The following year was released StrayDog: Kerberos Panzer Cops (ケルベロス 地獄の番犬, Keruberosu jigoku no banken), the first theatrical adaptation of the manga.

In 1999, the manga series was completed (Acts 5~8) and re-released as two compilation volumes. Few months later was released Jin-Roh (人狼, Jinrou) the anime adaptation of the first manga. It remains the franchise's most popular work outside Japan until today.

Tachigui: The Amazing Lives of the Fast Food Grifters (立喰師外伝, Tachiguishi retsuden), an animation feature spin-off was released in theaters and DVD in 2006.

Asian releases[edit]

Kerclros Panzer Cop 犬狼伝説, an unlicensed Chinese version of the 1990 manga volume was published in Taiwan in the early 1990s.

犬狼傳說, a Chinese version complete volume (Acts 1~8) was available in Malaysia in 2000. A licensed, two volumes, Chinese version of the Japanese 2000 re-edition ("Frozen Version") was issued in Hong Kong the same year. A similar edition was available in Korean language in South Korea the same year.

A traditional Chinese 2-volume licensed edition was published in Taiwan in 2002.

North American releases[edit]

A six issues English adaptation of the first manga volume was published in 1994, in the United States and Canada as Hellhounds: Panzer Cops. A compilation volume edition was published in 1997.

The English dubbed version of Jin-Roh was released in North America in 2001.

Two years later, the English subtitled version of the 1987 and 1991 live action films was released on DVD.

European releases[edit]

Hellhounds: Panzer Cops, the English adaptation of the first manga volume, was translated in German and serialized in a German book from 1996 to 1997.

In 1998, the American Hellhounds: Panzer Cops all-in-one volume was licensed and distributed in the United Kingdom.

The following year Jin-Roh was premiered in France and later released in Germany. It was one year before the Japanese release.

Toy lines[edit]

For more details on this topic, see Protect-Gear.

With each new episode release, Japanese toys and model kits manufacturers such as Kaiyodo, Medicom or Takara produce Protect-Gear scale models.

'Killzone' video game[edit]

Fan made Jin-Roh Protect-Gear skin for Counter-Strike.

In 2004, Killzone was released in North America, Europe and Oceania. Killzone is a Dutch FPS video game which its main characters, Helghast, share a resemblance to the Kerberos Protect-Gear created by Japanese mechanical designer Yutaka Izubuchi (it's unclear whether the developers at Guerrilla-Games were inspired by Izubuchi's Protect-Gear as basis for the Helghast however, seeming that both designers were rather inspired by Nationalist Socialist Germany and their war machine during World War II). The game was released in Japan in 2005. 3 sequels and several spin-off's followed, including; Killzone 2 in 2008, Killzone 3 in 2011, and Killzone Shadowfall in 2013 for the Playstation 4, several more sequels have since been planned.

The game series was extended in a comic book by John Ney Rieber and Anderson Garcia. This project was canceled due to Canadian independent publisher Dreamwave Productions going bankrupt few months before the first volume was issued. Trailer No source

Fan works[edit]

For more details on this topic, see Images of the Last Battalion.

After the North American release of Jin-Roh, various Kerberos Protect-Gear skins were created by fans to be used in the popular Counter-Strike FPS, an American video game series (1998~2004).

In 2005, Images of the Last Battalion, an independent short anime directed by a student, Koichi Kishita, was released in Japanese film contests. The following year, the bootleg video was edited and projected as an official trailer at Mamoru Oshii's Kerberos Panzer Jäger launch party and Kishita joined Production I.G's 3DCG team.

Japanese and Chinese Protect-Gear fans sculpted, modified, or repainted licensed toys. Some of these "custom" items are released as limited edition garage kits available in conventions and import action figure shops and websites.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Mechaphilia (メカフィリア), Mamoru Oshii & Atsushi Takeuchi, 第2章:プロテクトギア篇 vol.01[三頭犬の皮]:92式特殊強化装甲服【PROTECT GEAR】, page 25, October 5 of 2004
  2. ^ Mechaphilia (メカフィリア), Mamoru Oshii & Atsushi Takeuchi, 第2章:プロテクトギア篇 vol.01[三頭犬の皮]:92式特殊強化装甲服【PROTECT GEAR】, page 22, October 5 of 2004
  3. ^, news099:『犬狼伝説 20周年エディション』&限定仕様BOXが発売決定!, 2009.07.17
  4. ^ Kerberos Saga The Red Spectacles 20th Anniversary
  5. ^ a b c news099:『犬狼伝説 20周年エディション』&限定仕様BOXが発売決定!, 2009.07.17
  6. ^ 犬狼伝説 20周年エディションBOX (コミック),

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