You’re Under Arrest! (drama)

Law enforcement rarely looks this good.

Law enforcement rarely looks this good.

As I have mentioned in my list 5 Awesome Anime Series, You’re Under Arrest! (even with the lackluster Full Throttle in mind) was one of my all-time favorite anime series. I came to find out the manga on which the anime was based was also adapted into a 2002 live-action drama. I decided to check it out.

You’re Under Arrest! (逮捕しちゃうぞ!, taiho shichauzo!) follows our leads, traffic policewomen Officers Kobayakawa Miyuki (Hara Sachie) and Tsujimoto Natsumi (Itoh Misaki), in their misadventures as they keep the roads of Tokyo a little safer for everyone else.

I need to warn fans of the anime right now that the characters in the drama and the anime are similar in name only. I’m pretty sure when Fujishima Kousuke was writing the manga, he made his lead characters traffic police specifically with the intention of keeping them away from violent crimes, and thus letting his stories just be purely character-driven comedy. We still have speed/mechanical freak Miyuki, who is still partnered with the super strong “act first, ask questions later” Natsumi. Other officers at Bokuto Station include motorcycle officer Nakajima Ken (Nagashima Kazushige) and Nikaidou Yoriko (Otoha), a bespectacled policewoman who worries more about her own marriage prospects than she does about the lives of her own colleagues.

Each of the drama’s 9 episodes involves Miyuki and Natsumi stumbling upon a crime and ultimately bringing a felon to justice. Criminals ranged from a drug dealer who also cyber-bullied a teen, leading her to attempt suicide, to someone who attempted murder in order to collect life insurance. Needless to say, the episode plots are a bit grittier than they were in the anime.

Of course, every felon does get brought to justice, and it is almost always after getting his ass kicked by Miyuki and Natsumi. Despite the fact that the drama involves more serious crimes, the show still remains feel-good in nature. Every episode has an “all’s well that ends well” ending.

Of course, the show gets very silly very quickly. The first thing to happen in the first episode is Miyuki and Natsumi stumbling upon what looks like a grocery store robbery in progress and giving everyone an epic beatdown (including Natsumi clubbing someone with a daikon radish), only to find out this “robbery” was in fact an exercise conducted by their fellow policemen.

That said, I need to say it was the writing for each individual episode I found to be a bit problematic. The actual crime plots in certain episodes (File 7, which involved a hit and run, comes to mind) felt a bit forced. In some episodes, the crimes helped with character development (like File 4 served primarily to develop the female chief), but felt like filler in others. The last episode dealt with a corrupt politician who was using his power to allow his son to commit crimes with impunity. I think it would have been better to let that story eat up the last three episodes instead of filling up episodes 7 and 8 with weaker stories; the corrupt politician was something the writers easily could have done a lot with.

The villains were also rather clumsily handled for the most part. Usually, one of two things would happen. Most of the time, it would be a minor character (like one in a crowd of high school students) who was unimportant enough where I wouldn’t bother committing his face to memory only for that character to pop back up as the perpetrator. Other times, I would see the character step onscreen in the episode for the first time and just point to him saying, “He did it!”

Still, it was kind of obvious from the get-go that the show was not planning to be a serious NYPD Blue-esque police drama. The whole point it to show policewomen kicking ass, and looking good doing it.

Itoh Misaki was prettier between the two, but I will say Hara Sachie was the better actress of the two leads. With that in mind though, it was Nagashima Kazushige who really stole the show for me as Ken. In my opinion, Ken was the funniest character in the show and it really looked like Nagashima (who was a former baseball player) really poured his heart and soul into playing Ken. I personally felt like there was a lot more chemistry between him and junior motorcycle officer Takagi than there was between him and love interest Miyuki. Overall, the show’s acting wasn’t great, but it worked for a cheesy show like You’re Under Arrest.

You’re Under Arrest! also had an interesting music score. The opening was Katase Nana’s “Galaxy”. “Galaxy” isn’t really a great song in itself, but it somehow works with a show of You’re Under Arrest!’s flavor. I guess it maybe because Katase singing “Dandandan!” reminds me of a police siren. However, I personally felt using Mariah Carey’s “Through the Rain” for the show’s ending theme was a near-fatal decision. It wasn’t a bad song in itself, but it felt very out of place with the rest of the show’s soundtrack. In the first three episodes, an instrumental reprise of “Galaxy” was used as the end theme, and that worked a lot better in my opinion. Overall, the show’s background music, if over the top, suited the mood of the scenes the were associated with.

I know Japanese dramas generally are short. However, You’re Under Arrest! just seemed like it would have been unable to sustain itself for more than 9 episodes as by episode 7, it was kind of clear the writers had run out of ideas. Overall, it was good cheesy fun while it lasted. Still, I would have preferred it if the show didn’t just slap the You’re Under Arrest! moniker onto itself; the show would have been just fine if it was a standalone drama (Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows comes to mind with something like this). Besides the names of the characters, it didn’t really bear any similarity to the manga or anime.

This show gets a very weak 3 out of 4. It’s the perfect show to pick up if you want to see some beautiful Japanese actresses kicking butt, and you don’t really care about anything else. While this review sounds harsh, I will admit I found this show to be entertaining.

Score: 3/4