Watch Anime Crimes Division: Because Anime is For Everybody
By: Ruthie LaMay
“In Neo Otaku City, there are two kinds of people. The kind of people that can recite the Sailor Moon theme song from memory in the original Japanese, and the kind that don’t belong here. When someone commits a crime against anime, they don’t call the police. They call: the Anime Crimes Division.”
When I was a kid, I grew up watching Sunday morning cartoons. Besides the usuals like Spongebob and Fairly Odd Parents, I loved watching Yu-Gi-Oh, Pokémon, and Naruto. As I got older, watching anime become something like a dirty secret. All the other kids seemed to have graduated to more “mature” shows, but I still loved the craziness that anime provided. Again, I kept getting older, and, thankfully, liking anime became acceptable, even mainstream. More and more people, including myself, realized if something makes you happy, why deny it?
However, the mainstream media doesn’t seem to have caught onto the anime-lovers, or otakus, yet. Anime seemed just too weird; too niche. But now, enter Anime Crimes Division. ACD is an original web series created by RocketJump in conjunction with Crunchyroll made for the anime fans who aren’t afraid to laugh at themselves. The series is a parody cop procedural that takes place in Neo Otaku City, a city where all anime-lovers can live in peace together. But a city full of otakus is bound to be riddled with anime related crimes, and the only place citizens can turn to is the Anime Crimes Division.
The series follows a detective of the Anime Crimes Division, Joe Furaya, played by the incomparable SungWon Cho. Cho, also known as his online alias, ProZD, rose to fame through his days on Vine. His 1.7 million subscribers on YouTube speaks to the smart, quick humor that brought him viral fame on Vine. And that, along with Cho’s love of anime makes him perfect as Detective Joe Furaya. Joe is a hardened veteran detective who is suddenly partnered with a Digimon-loving, wanna-be-aboo, rookie detective Diesel (Riley Rose Critchlow). And just like your run-of-the-mill cop procedural, the two of them begin to rely on each other and, together, they must tackle the city’s biggest anime related mysteries.
The first season is only 3 episodes long, each about 8 minutes, so it’s super binge-able. ACD never takes itself too seriously, which lets them go where no other anime related content has never gone before. The conflicts of the first season revolve around things that are relatable to almost all anime fans; the first episode features a gang war between the Subbers and the Dubbers. Whether an anime fan prefers to watch with English subtitles or English voice actors dubbing over the original Japanese is a heated debate. Then in, my personal favorite, the second episode, Joe and Diesel have to track down a stolen, super rare Yu-Gi-Oh card by entering a soul-stealing underground Yu-Gi-Oh tournament. Many millenials and Gen Z’s grew up with Yu-Gi-Oh, or at least knew what it was, so this episode is extra hilarious. And in the last episode of the season, Joe and Diesel have to hunt down a Gundam murderer, another anime popular with millennials. This season finale came with a plot twist and also touched on the dark side of fandom that would be enough to drive even the biggest anime fan crazy.
The over the top plot lines contrast with the incredible cinematography, which contributes to the overall sense of hilarity of the series. When I first found ACD, I was immediately impressed by its production quality. For an idea that would’ve been great if it were created by a group of teens in their backyard, it became incredible with its polished and professional look. The series even features 2 fully animated opening title sequences and songs composed by Maxton Waller.
I’ll admit it though: this show isn’t for everyone. Although the witty one-liners and quips will definitely land, the more nuanced humor requires a certain level of knowledge of anime to really understand. If you’ve never seen an episode of anime in your life but ACD sounds interesting to you, check it out! Maybe you’ll be convinced to start catching up on My Hero Academia before the fourth season is released. And even if you aren’t an anime aficionado, there are enough references thrown in across each episode that you’re never missing out, even if you don’t get them all (hey, there’s always TV Tropes too). To speak to ACD’s popularity and resonance in the community: the first season of the series has a total of 7 million views on YouTube and aired its second season in September of 2018.
The second season of the series saw a 6 episode run and a shift in genre from standard cop procedural to prestige television. The exact definition of “prestige TV” is very loose and it seems like no one really knows what makes prestige TV “prestige” to begin with. However, ACD sums it up pretty well in this quote:
“I also love Mad Men and Breaking Bad and other shows about grown men getting away with terrible behavior.”
Generally, prestige TV has overly complicated plots that makes it feel like a directionless 10-hour movie and dark imagery. As ACD made its shift to prestige TV, the aims of the series also began to shift.
Previously, I would say the series aimed to entertain alone, but in the second season the series makes a strong argument in defense of anime in comparison to prestige TV. Even the plot overviews of second season displays a dramatic change; all of our beloved characters’ lives have turned upside down. After season 1's finale, Joe quit the force and has come to despise anime. There’s a new Chief of the Anime Crimes Division and Diesel has been demoted to Tapetective after losing her partner. Joe wants nothing more than to leave behind his old life in Neo Otaku City and start anew in Prestige TV City, but after Joe’s childhood nakama*, Hideki Jones, is murdered, he’s forced to return to the crazy world of anime he’s grown to hate. And this time, Joe and Diesel are facing an evil mastermind behind a government conspiracy who’s bent on eliminating all “fake anime fans” from the city. After it seems they’ve finally caught their guy, Joe and Diesel make the trek to Prestige TV City. There, several secrets are revealed, and soon, Diesel must take things into her own hands, and fight against those she loves most to protect the citizens of Neo Otaku City.
*Nakama is a word that means your closest friend like in One Piece and there really is no English equivalent for how powerful that word is so we have decided to keep it as nakama. (See: ProZD)
Season 2 draws mainly from prestige TV tropes, as opposed to season 1 which drew from anime tropes. The entire season is darker in tone visually, while still maintaining the same quick jabs and smart jokes as the first season. The jabs at prestige TV contrast with the jokes about anime because, in the end, anime fans know anime is ridiculous, and season 1 stands to show that. On the other hand, prestige TV fans tend to look down on other genres, even though prestige TV is full of faults as well. For example, in episode 1 of season 2, upon retrieving his badge as he agrees to return to the force, he undergoes a magical girl transformation à la Sailor Moon, complete with all the rainbow graphics. This sequence is unapologetically ridiculous and juxtaposes the serious fight sequence in episode 4: “Are you sure you want to do this, Joe? We don’t go for your adorable little quick cut fights around here. We do everything in a single take.” Then ensues, as promised, a long, no cut, hallway fight with a parody hip-hop track playing underneath.
Overall, Anime Crimes Division is a triumph for not only anime fans, but for independent creators as well. At this point, I’ve probably watched the entire series beginning to end at least 6 times, and I can’t wait to watch it again. The series is smart, timely, and is ridiculously funny, regardless of your fandom. If you’re an anime buff and haven’t seen ACD yet, I seriously recommend you start watching, right now. Episodes are quotable in their entirety, and the plot will have you putting it on your list of Top 10 Anime Betrayals. And through it all, if there’s one thing you can learn from Anime Crimes Division: whether you sub or dub or watch Digimon, anime is for everybody.