WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Police in a Pod Episode 1, “Unbox & Punching Bag,” now streaming on Funimation.
One of the newest and provocative anime of the Winter 2022 lineup is Police in a Pod, which follows a rookie cop named Mai Kawai as she navigates being part of a police force and deals with her new partner, Seiko Fuji. While some of the initial impressions have been a bit iffy, Police in a Pod takes a wholesome view of a relatively small police force that deals with similarly small challenges. It also delves into a genre that's almost unfamiliar territory in anime -- the buddy cop genre.
While the buddy cop genre is familiar to avid watchers of TV and movies, there aren't too many anime that really dip into this. Besides Heavy Object or Tiger & Bunny, anime just doesn't seem to want to talk about two beat cops on the job.
Police in a Pod sets up the buddy-cop dynamic right from the start. The first episode "Unbox & Punching Bag" introduces the main character, Mai Kawai, who is regretting her decision to become a police officer. She always wanted to work in the civil sector, but the police exam was the only one that she passed. After spending only a little time on the job, Kawai feels dejected, having encountered only angry civilians and tedious work. She's the perfect candidate for a new partner -- a buddy who is sure to bring her out of her shell and push her further into her work.
Seiko Fuji is then introduced as the polar opposite of Kawai -- confident, kind and excellent at her job. They are paired up, one junior cop and one senior cop, and sent off to patrol. Kawai soon sees how effective Fuji is at her job, quickly finding a known burglar and bringing him in for questioning before Criminal Affairs could step in. She even lets Kawai question the criminal to get some practice.
Although the anime is just beginning, the buddy-cop dynamic is already in the foundations. Two people with opposing attitudes who are forced to solve problems together fit the description for anything in that genre. As their hijinks increase in both frequency and intensity, their dynamic will only produce further comedy. That being said, some of the comedy has thus far fallen flat -- whether due to societal differences in opinion of police officers or simple bad jokes is up for debate.
The way some anime focus on high-stakes crime, Police in a Pod seems like it may take a different route to capture the essence of being a cop. The buddy-cop genre will only serve to enhance the relationship between the two lead characters and make their mundane, day-to-day tasks seem weighted with opportunity and stakes. While it may just be a low-key venture into the buddy-cop genre, Police in a Pod has some potential to stand out in a genre that hardly has a name in anime.