Cheese it! It’s the Fuzz!
What’s the Story?
Fifteen years ago a portal opened up to another world, one where fairies, monsters and magic all exist. Now the beings from two worlds mingle in the city of San Teresa, but as the otherworldly visitors bring new technology and culture to the city, they also bring new crimes. Fairy smuggling, new drugs, even porn! To tackle this rising wave of crime is the police force of San Teresa and grizzled detective Kei Matoba has just got a new partner, Tilarna, a knight from the other world. Let the buddy cop shenanigans begin!
I used to be of the opinion that it doesn’t matter what a show looked like, as long as I was invested in the characters or plot, it could be as cheap looking or dated as it wants. Yes it’s nice when something gets the budget it deserves and you can do some truly jaw-dropping things with animation and special effects, but at the same time I’m a big fan of classic Doctor Who, so I understand that there are times when budget and reality can’t quite stretch as far as the writer’s imagination. Cop Craft is a show that has severely tested this philosophy though, on the one hand I love the set up of this series and both Kei and Tilarna are really likeable leads. On the other, I struggle to call what this show has animation. There are so many still frames, so many moments swallowed up by dark shadows (yes, let’s have the fight with a vampire in a dark subway tunnel so we can’t see anything!) and then there’s the bewildering action sequences where the camera got drunk for several minutes so I don’t have the first clue what happened! The show has plenty of other problems that it develops across it’s run, but the ‘animation’ was the one that had me on the verge of dropping this show time and again.
The show starts off decent enough, both in the animation and story departments. Nothing mind blowing, but perfectly serviceable and, as I said, I really like the set up of this series. Mixing a classic cop show with fantasy elements? Putting together two of my favourite genres? Oh heck yes! This will be awesome! And for a time it was. True the opening story arc doesn’t do anything that original, in fact I’m pretty sure it ticks off most every buddy cop cliché you can think of, but it’s fun. Sometimes tropey things can be fun, that little spark of recognition can give you a few warm fuzzies, and that’s one of the bigger problems of this series, it doesn’t add anything to the tropes so that over time you get bored of it. Yes, Kei and Tilarna don’t get along, but when the chips are down they’ll always have one another’s backs, that’s great, but what else have you got? Grumpy police chiefs? Mysterious conspiracies? Yes, and? I can literally watch any cop show in existence and get that exact same stuff.
In fact, and this is quite a statement from me, my favourite episode has to be the one with the guys smuggling porn mags to the other world. It’s a bizarre concept on paper, I mean considering these cops normally take on drugs and murders, to find them suddenly dealing with truck loads of porn, it feels a bit below their pay grade. Then again it’s a problem that’s unique to this world and I love that. The other world (I keep forgetting what it’s proper name is and honestly my opinion of the show is at rock bottom right now so I really can’t be bothered to google it, so forgive me if I keep referring to it as the other world), doesn’t have photography and therefore no porn. Hence porn is big business. It’s a problem I hadn’t thought of, but the writers clearly did and that’s what this series needed. Plus the conversation between Kei and another officer about tastes in porn was pretty funny, that and Tilarna the car killer as she systemically destroyed Kei’s cars one after another had me laughing. If the series had more episodes like this, taking advantage of the unique world then I’d probably have a higher opinion of this show.
There are several cool ideas dotted throughout the series, like someone combining Earth technology with the other world’s magic to come up with new weapons, like a camera that transforms into a working gun, or…actually nothing else is springing to mind, but that one’s a cool idea at least. On to a more positive topic though, Kei and Tilarna, honestly these two are the reason I kept watching this series. On paper they’re both fairly stock characters, Kei is the jaded, lazy old detective, and Tilarna is the stuck-up, stickler-for-the-rules newbie, and yet you feel the bond between them. There’s this sense of camaraderie there and you just know that, despite the fact they argue and say some pretty mean things to one another, they have this healthy respect that all buddy cops have. You believe that these two both infuriate one another and yet at the same time are very protective of one another. The final episode of the series was pretty anticlimactic, but I do like the last few scenes between Kei and Tilarna as it perfectly gets that relationship across. I do like the other officers as well, and though you don’t get to know them too well across the series, I wouldn’t mind seeing them again.
In the end, Cop Craft is a pretty disappointing show. The animation is barely qualified to be called that and that really is the biggest detriment to the series. Of course the series being so laden with tropes and doing so little with its set up doesn’t help and the show ends up just what it looks like, a mess with a couple of bright spots along the way. There are some smart ideas and both Kei and Tilarna make a likeable pair of leads that can carry you through the show if you decide to try this out, but I can’t really recommend this series. This officer is turning in his badge on this one.
Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday or you can follow me on Twitter @ChrisGJoynson.