WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Police in a Pod Episode 5, “Late Night Patrol / Vs. the Groper,” now streaming on Funimation.
Of all the anime out there that cover the lives of police officers, which are few, none make light of police work quite like Police in a Pod. One of the new Winter 2022 anime, Police in a Pod follows Mai Kawai, a rookie cop who is still adjusting to her new role in society as well as her new coworkers. In the very first episode, Kawai's narrative voice-over clearly explains that she often feels she is in over her head and that police work wasn't even her first choice -- it was simply the only civic career exam she passed.
But in Episode 5, Kawai proves to be an actual burden to her fellow officers. While she's admittedly still a rookie -- and her coworkers are understanding of that -- she faces a tough situation and falters from the pressure, potentially mucking up the investigation for others and almost helping a criminal escape.
At the beginning of Episode 5, Kawai has a conversation with her recently-appointed partner, Seiko Fuji. Fuji is an experienced officer who once worked in Criminal Affairs, and is very effective and professional at her job. Fuji calls Kawai out on her total lack of responsibility and notices that she's been slacking. While Kawai tries to defend herself by claiming she's tired, Fuji isn't very understanding, which is completely justifiable. Any new job takes a period of adjustment, but Kawai doesn't seem to be taking her work seriously, which can even be seen in previous episodes of Police in a Pod.
Because of this, Fuji drops Kawai off at a school after dark and has her perform a search of the grounds, but not before revealing her previous experience of seeing ghosts on the job. Meaning to instill a bit of fear in Kawai, Fuji succeeds at this and drives off, leaving the rookie alone in the dark. While this does seem like a daunting task for a normal civilian, police officers are trained to perform this kind of job as if it was routine. But Kawai is absolutely terrified and begins to sing to herself to keep her nerves at bay.
Kawai doesn't know that her fellow officers Seiji Minamoto and Takeshi Yamada are actually on a stake-out at the school, hoping to find a burglar who has been frequenting schools in the area. As they track their criminal on the inside, Kawai suddenly appears in full view with her flashlight on, alerting both the officers and the criminal of her presence. In addition, her loud singing alerts all parties of her arrival, if her flashlight didn't first. This puts the officers' painstaking efforts in jeopardy, risking their entire investigation. With the criminal almost in their grasp, this is the worst possible moment for Kawai to interfere.
Yamada tries to catch her before she completely scares off the criminal, but Kawai panics and runs away in full force, thinking Yamada is some kind of ghost. The criminal slips away with his stolen goods, and if it wasn't for the quick thinking of Officer Fuji, he would have gotten away with it because of Kawai's irresponsibility.
Kawai puts her own feelings and safety ahead of her job, which is not the typical temperament of a responsible police officer. They are supposed to put the safety of the public and civilians first, literally laying their life on the line. But Kawai doesn't embody this at all. If anything, Episode 5 of Police in a Pod proves just how unfit Kawai is for her job.