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Film / StrayDog: Kerberos Panzer Cops

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What is a dog’s purpose when its master abandons them?

StrayDog: Kerberos Panzer Cop (ケルベロス 地獄の番犬 Keruberosu: Jigoku no Banken - meaning Kerberos: Watchdog of Hell) is a 1991 Japanese science fiction film directed by Mamoru Oshii and stars Shigeru Chiba (And yes, THAT Shigeru Chiba) and Yoshikatsu Fujiki in the lead roles. This is the second film entry in Oshii's Kerberos Saga before Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade and after the The Red Spectacles.

The movie takes place years after Jin-Rohnote  when the Special Armed Garrison "Kerberos" unit is under siege at a compound used by the Tokyo Metropolitan Self-Police Department. While most of the unit holds off from being attacked by the Japanese Self-Defense Forces, Kerberos leader Koichi Todome is seen escaping while the unit conducts a last man stand. Three years later, surviving Kerberos officer Inui is released after he survived the siege and arrested for being involved in the mutiny.

Inui takes off for Taiwan, searching for clues after he got word that Todome was last seen in Taipei. After a brief confrontation with Koichi while spending time with a Taiwanese woman named Tang Mie, Inui finds out that Koichi is outside Japan for specific reasons and he was leading Public Security to hunt down the rogue Kerberos commander.

Inui is given two choices. Either help Public Security get Koichi to surrender and get his acquired Kerberos Protect-Gear equipment and be given a pardon or risk being killed or arrested.

This film provides examples of:

  • Action Prologue: The movie starts off a bit when the Kerberos unit holds onto the compound they took refuge in before they stormed out after some Kerberos officers were being shot at.
  • Downer Ending: Inui dies from a gunshot wound he sustained after he battled a Public Security unit brought into Taipei in order to give himself a chance to start over and help Koichi out. Meanwhile, Koichi was able to escape from the PS dragnet and return to Japan, setting the events of The Red Spectacles. This might seem like a Bittersweet Ending at first, but the fact that the audience likely already knows that Koichi will die in Japan makes the ending seem much darker.
  • Enemy Mime: The killer mimes from The Red Spectacles make a return. After the disbandment of the Kerberos unit, Public Security has begun to employ constantly-laughing-or-smiling killer mimes. This is where the Black Comedy element gets around.
  • Extreme Close-Up: Done to a comic effect as Inui and Koichi unexpectedly meet again in Taiwan.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Since this is a prequel, people who watched the previous film are already aware that Koichi's return to Japan is a one way trip to his own grave.
  • Gun Porn: A lot of detail and close up shots are given to Inui's operation of the MG42 from barrel changes to a detailed reloading procedure.
  • Leave the Camera Running: Most prevalent when the cameras shows the interior of the besieged Self-Police compound at the start of the movie.
  • Scenery Porn: Quite possibly some of the most ever seen in anything involving Mamoru Oshii. This holds true during the Taiwanese scenes.
  • The Siege: The rogue Kerberos unit holds out on the siege from the JGSDF at the prologue.
  • Special Effects Evolution: The firearm props in The Red Spectacles are all either cap-firing replicas or non-firing models. The MG42 used in Stray Dog is a real firearm converted to fire blanks.