While not offensive, some viewers may find the police in a pod callous at best, or muted and even triggering at worst.
WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Police in a Pod Episode 1, “Unbox & Punching Bag,” now streaming on Funimation.
The new anime series Font in a capsule (also known as Hakozume: Kuban Joshi no Gyakushuulisten)) is a slice-of-life comedy show based on the seinen manga of the same name. Largely harmless on paper, it follows rookie cop Kawai Mai, who is about to quit her job when a new instructor, Chief Fuji Seiko, is assigned to her, breathing new life into the workplace with her unconventional ways. .
Comprised of several different sketches, the first episode quickly establishes its main characters and jumps right into the comedic aspects of its premise – petty criminals with big mouths, relatable office politics, and having to make presentations to young and impressionable school kids. . However, Font in a capsule stumbles in a number of ways, and in the current climate, the content itself may not be what some Western viewers are looking for.
One of the show’s biggest problems is its sense of comedic timing, or lack thereof. Some of his sketches contain some good ideas, especially ones that any viewer who’s ever worked in an office or group can probably relate to (Kawai’s complaints about having to call in crime specialists to interview a prolific thief, given that they have a high-and-powerful attitude and despise beat cops, is a good example of this).
However, skits that rely less on natural-looking situational comedy and more on action or punchlines don’t land as well. The pacing is too uneven for these jokes to be delivered in a way that feels organic or even very funny on its own, and some lines seem downright bizarre (like the thief’s claim that he targets cities with higher crime rates high – – like people who cycle in pairs – because the people who live there are less likely to pay attention to each other).
Nevertheless, it is the general tone and the general premise of Font in a capsule it may rub some Western audiences the wrong way, especially given the real-world socio-political climate and contemporary conversations regarding the role of the police.
Kawai is a police officer about to quit as the nature of her job gives her a bad name, but she only joined in the first place because her father wanted her to be a civil servant…and he was the only one exam she passed. Meanwhile, her new supervisor Fuji has reportedly been fired from her role as a detective for workplace bullying – and although she seems outwardly nice, one of the episode’s sketches, where she mumbles a series of sonic curses to voices bass to passing motorists, makes it clear that she has something of a temper and plenty of suppressed aggression.
Of course, the position and reach of police officers in Japan – at least those stationed in small neighborhood (kouban) police stations – can be quite different from images of police officers elsewhere in the world, particularly in the United States. Nevertheless, it might be difficult for non-Japanese viewers to laugh at the kind of jokes that Font in a capsule seems to deliver, especially when it comes to gags that intentionally or inadvertently touch on social commentary.
It’s obvious that Font in a capsule isn’t meant to be offensive, and for many that might be enough, especially since they aren’t the intended audience to begin with. However, to other observers, the anime might seem slightly insensitive at best, or tone-deaf and even potentially triggering at worst.
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