Techno Police 21C
|Techno Police 21C|
Promotional poster for the film Techno Police 21C
|Directed by||Masashi Matsumoto|
|Written by||Yoshimitsu Banno|
|Studio||Toho, Eizo, Studio Nue|
|Released||7 July 1982|
Techno Police 21C or Techno Police (テクノポリス21C Tekunoporisu Nijūisseki?) is a Japanese anime made by Toho Productions and released to the theatrical screen in 1982. It was dubbed into English by Hong Kong voice actors.
This is an early anime presentation for a slightly older audience than that of children's cartoons, at a time when there wasn't much competition and before the clichés were established for this genre of action.
The anime was made during the Cold War, and so the tank was hijacked from a cargo plane resembling the B-2 bomber, and was designed to withstand the neutron bomb, even if its crew would be killed by that weapon, for the tank was computerized to continue to fight on its own. When out of ammunition, the tank would automatically explode.
One point which marks the animation studio of this film is that to save money there are many scenes which are monochromatic. When the hijackers are in the vehicle they stole, everything on screen is blue; when Eleanor starts to drive it back, everything on screen is red. Another scene towards the beginning has the Techno Police headquarters in blue.
Set at the start of the 21st century, its main character is Ken, a motorcycle-mounted highway patrolman in what is presumably the American Southwest, who is called to join the police force in Centinel City (the name comes from centennial, not sentinel), where he is only expected to last six months. He can be described as flighty, although as the movie progresses, he gets more serious. He is also known to wreck his motorcycles frequently in pursuit of criminals; he is shown in the beginning of the movie leaping from one onto a truck, and as the movie proper opens, his cycle is yet again trashed, barely making it to the station. An African American partner eyes the bike, and inquires "how many that is." Ken shrugs, and replies that it might be the sixth that month.
Ken's team consists of a woman named Eleanor and a husky male named Gora Kosaka (whom, to the Japanese audience, has a feminine name) and who grows flowers. Each has a robot to direct for police work—not a Giant Robot that they would control from inside, but a robot that is crudely presented as stupid, as a computer has to be trained to do everything. Ken's, Blader, is blue and white and equipped with a projectile handcuff, much like C.O.P.S.' LongArm. Eleanor's, Scanny, is red and has a female figure, but whose face is composed entirely of blinking LEDs, and which has two cables streaming from the neck, and which plug into computer sockets. Gora's robot, Vigobus, is bigger, and is stronger than the other two (at one point in the movie, it lifts the tank that the anime is built around, and keeps it immobile for several minutes with some strain; it lets go only when the tank becomes active again). These robots ride in the back of a large, six-wheeled, roofless police car which is red and white. A trailer is attached to pull along Gora's robot. Ken sits in the middle to drive it; Eleanor on his right and his other partner on his left.
The plot consists of a chase of a hijacked MBT-99A tank, designed by the United States Air Force. The hijackers, who appear inside the tank after getting away from a recently committed bank robbery, were hired by a shadowy group backed by a foreign nation seeking an edge in their military. The tank carries six ATGM launchers, three to each side of the turret, and a laser-based machine-gun-esque installment, in addition to its rifled main gun. The tank's treads are dual-mounted (the tread is split in half, making four sets of treads for the tank).
Another tank involved is the MBT-90D, which are dispatched by the Army to take out the tank. Despite having at least a platoon of these, the MBT-99 still evades capture. The M-90Ds are armed with a three-barreled autocannon, three ATGM missile launchers and its main cannon, mounted on the front instead of on a turret.
The MBT-99's hijackers are forced out by Ken and his team. Eleanor then enters to study the tank, and it starts up on its own, having been programmed by the hijackers to head for a pier and drive off its end so as to rendezvous with an enemy submarine. The rest of the movie is made up of the chase through the city, resulting in the destruction of another bank and various collateral damage.
Techno Police 21c started out life in 1978 as an idea from Artmic Studio founder Toshimichi Suzuki. Work began on developing the idea into a TV series as a co-production between Artmic and Studio Nue. The technology to be featured in the series was heavily researched with the intention of making the future as believable as possible.
Unfortunately, the project hit problems. After 4 years in development there was only enough animation produced for a single episode. The series was scrapped and, in order to recover some of the costs, the existing footage was compiled into an 80 minute movie and distributed by Toho.
Set in a futuristic 2001 in the Hi-Tech yet violent and crime filled metropolis of Centinel City. A reckless young traffic officer Kyosuke (Ken) is hand picked by for a special assignment far from his countryside home. He was chosen to become one of the first officers of a newly created arm of the SCPD, one which uses robotic assistants, known as Technoids, to give them an edge over the criminals. Together with his robot Blader and fellow Technopolice members Kosuga (Gora) (accompanied by the super strong Technoid Vigorus) and Eleanor (with the computer hacking female robot Scanny) Kyosuke take on the well equipped criminals that plague the city, including a runaway, prototype military tank.
Of the staff that worked on the aborted TV show two are most notable. The first is Joe Hisaishi, who provides the synth-jazz score and is well known in the west for having created the score for nearly all Hayao Miyazaki and 'Beat' Takeshi Kitano's movies including Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke and Nausicaa (Miyazaki) and Sonatine, Hana-bi, Brother (Beat Takeshi). Working as part of the animation staff is Shoji Kawamori who is now famous for his mecha designs particularly on the seminal Super Dimension Fortress Macross.
Scale model kit company Aoshima, in anticipation of the proposed TV show, had produced a number of tie-in plastic kits of Technopolice's vehicles and robots, including a few designs which never animated. These were still released, in hopes to make money from the movie instead. As well as 1/16 scale kits of the Techroids and 1/48 kits of the Mazurka, Temjin and Roadranger other items of merchandising included a soundtrack, on LP and cassette and the eventual release of the movie on both VHS and Laserdisc.
Undeterred by Technopolice's failure Toshimichi Suzuki returned to his original idea, some years later reworking it as the OAV series Bubblegum Crisis, which faired slightly better but in the end suffered a similar fate.
In 1983 Technopolice 21c was dubbed by those ubiquitous Hong Kong Kung Fu voice actors (see also Battle For Moon Station Dallos & Locke the Superpower). The company responsible for the commissioning this new English track is unknown, they also made a few changes to the movie, moving the title card to the very start and pausing the individual shots of the opening credits to remove the Japanese text without shortening the running time or messing with the music. Also the end credits are missing entirely but otherwise the content of the movie itself is unchanged.
This English language version was released on video in the UK by Mountain Video (Frankenstein, Dracula, Mazinger Z) under the slightly shorter title Techno Police. With the advent of the 1984 Video Recordings Act the video was withdrawn from shelves and disappeared into obscurity never to be re-released.
Re-edited and redubbed scenes from Techno Police also appeared in Mountain Video's obscure Flash! No.1 'Video Comic' and it's spin-off Flash! Robot Issue. These two tapes, released on VHS, Betamax and V-2000, were intended to advertise their collection of children's by collecting short clips of them together in a mock comic-book-on-video format. Both issues were released in 1983.
The American market wouldn't get to see Blader (now known as just Blade) in action until 1987 when Techno Police found the shelves thanks to Celebrity's Just For Kids (Battle for Earth Station S/1, Revenge of the Ninja Warrior), and later from Best Film and Video. All three versions are the same.
Outside of the English speaking world unedited video versions of Technopolice 21c were seen in France, Germany and Spain with a theatrical run in Cuba.
In 1994/5 Techno Police was rereleased by Best Film & Video Co on NTSC VHS to cash in on the popular rise in anime and cyber punk with OAV's such as Bubblegum Crisis, Appleseed, Dangaioh, Patlabor, AD Police, Armatage 3 and Cyber City Oedo 808 Release Date: April 15, 1995 Run Time: 80 minutes ASIN: 6303388019