Future Police Urashiman

Alt title: Mirai Keisatsu Urashiman

TV (50 eps)
3.214 out of 5 from 111 votes
Rank #12,288

After being thrown off a bridge in a car chase, a delinquent youth is transported decades into the future by a mysterious phenomenon called a Timeslip. Arriving in the year 2050, he finds Tokyo a completely different place, with everything from high-tech automobiles and laser guns to zero-G discos! Unfortunately, the Timeslip also erases his memory and transforms him into the Urashiman, a human with astounding new superpowers. Now everyone is after him, including the Chief of Neo Tokyo’s Mobile Police Unit, who wants the Urashiman to help him fight the powerful crime syndicate, Necrime. Renamed Ryuu Urashima, and with new friends Claude and Sophia, the former delinquent must now fight for justice and discover the secret of his past!

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StoryWhile studios churn out more sophisticated and well-marketed products year on year, too few anime these days successfully combine an easy-going fun style with an involving mystery and traditional ethics about decency, teamwork, and justice. By this I mean, the kind of material that’s perfectly made for bite-sized weekly consumption and provides the viewer just enough amusement to last them the seven days until the next instalment. With the anime scene as it is, Future Police Urashiman’s strength certainly lies in being undemanding and yet disproportionately gratifying. Let’s see, boy gets transported into the future through freak accident – the process of which gives him superpowers – and ends up embroiled in numerous scuffles curiously similar to those of current times. While the ‘superpowers’ twist may cock a few eyebrows, Future Police Urashiman doesn’t even pretend to dwell on it much as the premise quickly steps aside to make way for a long sequence of camp episodic adventures. I’m talking the kind of camp where flashing a naked leg will distract a team of guards long enough for the heroes to infiltrate their secret lair and where laser beams and gumption suffice to help Ryuu bring the omnipresent pawns of the Necrime syndicate to justice. These mini tales include foiling the skilful heist of a crystal figurine, some prerequisite romp at the beach, and an unfortunate incident where something big and chunky from space is about to crash into the earth and only the Japanese metropolitan police can stop it! Profound it is not, but that hardly matters. Generally, the series’ radiates a vibrantly humorous tone whilst maintaining a set of plots robust enough to keep it hovering comfortably above mediocrity. Any criticisms of the silly cameo characters or naff costume changes will be accompanied by plenty of chuckles, if not outright belly laughs, and an inexplicable fondness for its heart-warming ‘Eat justice!’ attitude. Moreover, building steadily beneath that vivacious but ultimately shallow sequence of events is a fascinating core plot evident during some of the more emotional episodes (including Ludovich’s character study) but that truly emerges only after the thirtieth episode. Following that, the rewards come thick and fast as the heroes finally unravel the mystery of Necrime’s ultimate boss, Ludovich’s megalomaniac intentions, and Ryuu’s surprising link to it all. Quite a few of the elements even manage to be original by today’s standard, even if the presentation lacks modern sophistication. By the end, Future Police Urashiman delivers a fairly spectacular twist to the entire plot, which is unexpected and fitting and worth holding out for.AnimationVisually, Future Police Urashiman exhibits a playful shounen style, with bright but monotone colours, minimal detail, and plenty of convulsive facial expressions to induce a chuckle or two. Moreover, considering its early 1980s era, the visual quality is decent – being less beautiful than the slightly older Rose of Versailles, the show is nonetheless nowhere near as primitive as its contemporary, Ai Shite Night. Besides, few of the scenes involve still-shots or any other glaring shortcuts and Future Police Urashiman provides eerier palette of greens, night-time blacks, and sharp lighting whenever sinister events call for it.SoundThe character themes which accompany the scenes are entertaining enough, although their novelty quickly wears off with the incessant repetition from episode to episode. Fortunately, Future Police Urashiman manages to deliver a handful of dramatic and satisfyingly catchy pop songs to complement key moments. Firstly, the songs used for the OP ('Midnight Submarine') and ED ('Dream City Neo Tokyo') are fun to listen to over and over. However, crowning them all is the dark, theatrical Ludovich theme ‘Crystal Knights Necrime’ that pops up much later in the series – it’s the stuff nostalgia is made of.CharactersAt face value, the characters appear straightforward archetypes. The protagonist, Ryuu Urashima, is the happy-go-lucky dunce whose victories have as much to do with luck as with blazing bravado. In contrast, his physical and philosophical antagonist, Ludovich, is humourless and obsessed with ultimate power. Additionally, there’s Claude the womaniser, Sophia the goody-goody female sidekick, and the Stinger Wolf squad goons who carry out the grunt work and fight the heroes every episode seemingly just for the sake of losing. However – and this is a big however – the characters on both ends of the moral spectrum miraculously outgrow their pigeonholes, evolving gradually into fun, endearing personalities with compelling displays of camaraderie. They often achieve this through their bottomless wells of humour. Sophia may be the token female police officer, for example, but her mild tsundere habits and unusual use of Christian philosophy bolster her to the above average mark. Not to forget Jitanda, Necrime’s resident buffoon whose runt-like appearance and tendency to screw things up also make him a highly effective comic relief. With that said, Ludovich represents the crowning glory of Future Police Urashiman’s achievements as he incorporates all the things that make a great super-villain. Voiced by Kaneto Shiozawa, (the same man behind Legend of the Galactic Heroes’ Paul von Oberstein), Ludovich’s dispassionate facade combined with his infinite tragedy and glacial sophistication make him singularly enigmatic. Needless to say, the indomitable Ludovich steals the best scenes and easily ranks among one of the more memorable antagonists in anime.OverallThese days, shows about time travel are decidedly out of fashion. Even worse, Gundam has become the new face of futurism. Still, while trendy new anime fall over themselves to flaunt the sleekest animation and the most painfully twisted plots, now might be a good time to savour the light-hearted shows of yore, which promise the odd spark of originality and a whole lot of fun. Future Police Urashiman happens to be a perfect place to start.

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