How does crime anime reflect the Japanese police system and work culture?

In crime anime such as You’re Under Arrest and Detective Conan, we can see Japanese police at work. In a way, it is possible to see from these anime how Japanese police function and the various characteristics of their work culture.

For instance, in You’re Under Arrest; perhaps the most notable of the anime would be the friendship and partnership among the police officers. Main characters i.e. Miyuki, Natsumi, Ken and many other officers often work hand in hand to ensure traffic safety on the streets as well as general public order. Besides work, Natsumi and Miyuki are room mates, and are often seen doing many activities together during their free time. Further more in one of the episodes, we can see still scenes of the traffic police officers engaging in different activities such as judo or kendo.

Indeed, in the Japanese police system, police officers are not only encouraged to work together when on duty; they are also encouraged to build and develop strong friendship outside work. Most of the Japanese police officers live together outside working hours, just like Miyuki and Natsumi. Within each station or precinct, police officers would organize events and activities for all officers to take part in, thus providing a way to develop strong bonds among them. They believe in this strong unity within the station because that would help foster relationships and thus provide better work service to the public.

However from the anime, we see a reversal of roles whereby the two female protagonists being the stronger and more capable officers than the male officers. Miyuki is an excellent driver well-equipped with knowledge of cars and engines, while Natsumi possesses great strength for a woman and rides the mini-motorcycle extremely well. Both are accorded respect and held in high regard by their colleagues and supervisors. However in contrast, this is not the case in Japanese police workforce. Women in the police workforce are usually given mundane administration tasks like preparing presentations to educate school children, or even serving the male officers. They are also not in charge of the koban or police box. On top of that, many higher executive positions are not available to them. Their pay is also lower that their male counterparts.

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The cooperation between amateur detectives and police officers, both seen in You’re Under Arrest and Detective Conan, perhaps speaks of the cooperation between the public and the Japanese police. In Japan, the public are generally trustful towards the police and would usually cooperate with them. Police officers spend most of their duty hours patrolling the streets and neighborhoods, and they would talk to the people, ask questions and get to know more about them generally. Thus, they build up a more cohesive relationship with the people.

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About the author

Nadia Petrova

I'm running this blog because I love Japanese culture, especially the art of geisha. When I was a little girl, I used to dream of becoming a geisha myself. In my spare time, I enjoy watching good anime and reading some manga.

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