Kerberos Panzer Cop, also known as Kerberos Panzer Cops litterally , is a 1988 to 2000 manga written by Mamoru Oshii and illustrated by Kamui Fujiwara (Studio 2B) with mechanical design by Yutaka Izubuchi. This comic series tales events prior to those portrayed in Oshii's 1987 live-action feature film The Red Spectacles. In 1991, Mamoru Oshii directed the Kerberos Saga movie StrayDog: Kerberos Panzer Cops which is based on the first volume of Kerberos Panzer Cop. The complete comic series was loosely adapted for the screen in the 1999 animated feature Jin-Roh directed by Hiroyuki Okiura and written by Mamoru Oshii.
The First Part of Kerberos Panzer Cop was published in comic magazines from 1988 to 1990, it was later completed with four additional acts published in different comic magazines from 1999 to 2000. Translated versions of the complete series were issued in South Korea, Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia and Taiwan in the early 2000s. A sequel named Kerberos Saga: Rainy Dogs was serialized in comic magazines from 2003 to 2005, then published as a single volume in 2005.
An English language adaptation of the first four acts was published under the title Hellhounds: Panzer Cops in 1994 by Dark Horse Comics. The American translators from Studio Protheus, Alan Gleason and Toren Smith, randomly used the alternative titles Hellhounds (Cerberos: Panzer Cop) and Hellhounds.
During the era of high economic growth, the Metropolitan Police ("Capital Police" or "CAPO" in the English adaptation) was born to battle against the anti-government military forces. Especially the conflict between the Special Armed Garrison of the M.P. called "Tokki-tai" was extraordinarily violent. This coloured introductive chapter provides an historical, political and social background of the post-World War II Japan. Therefore the building of the Tokyo Tower (1957~1958) as well as the communist students and activists-led (Zengakuren) anti Japan-US Security Treaty protests in front of the National Diet Building (1960) - replaced by fictitious anti Weimar Establishment movement - were both removed from the English adaptation. The Prologue was replaced by a single page synopsis without any illustration nor actual reference to Japan (known as "the country") and its military occupation (1945~1952) by Germany (replacing the United States). William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar quote "Cry 'Havoc!', and let slip the dogs of war" was kept though. However, the Prologue was included in Jin-Roh's opening and it was later detailed in Mamoru Oshii's animated feature Tachiguishi-Retsuden.
The opening chapter concerns a new recruit of the Metropolitan Police, Toru Inui, who first fails to kill a suicide bomber in the sewer system and later fails to apprehend a suspicious wounded man in the company of an innocent woman escaping from a manhole. The wounded man is shot by M.P. snipers and is revealed to be an armed terrorist. Inui is reassigned to training and his superiors not only wonder why he failed to shoot, but why he transferred into the unit ("perhaps because of the smell of his own kind", one of many stray dog references in the series). He is sent back into the field and while covering the rear of the patrol, comes across the same woman and another injured man. Before he realizes what is going on, the seemingly innocent woman reveals herself to be a terrorist and shoots Inui dead. This first act was loosely adapted for the screen in Jin-Roh.
The second chapter concerns Hachiro Kishu, a helicopter pilot whose dream has been the thrill of flying and the challenge of aerial combat. Stuck to flying recon and traffic patrol onboard a gyroglider, Kishu gets his chance when the Metropolitan Police's Aerial Squadron is issued a new state-of-the-art transport helicopter prototype (Fa-666 "Jagdhund") and he has been assigned to fly it. Meanwhile, outside Metropolitan Police Public Security Division agents are tracking down a mole within the Metropolitan Police, but before they can arrest him and his accomplices, an undercover Kerberos Assault Platoon raids an accomplice's house, killing much of the cell, but the mole escapes. When the M.P. Public Security Division agents inform their director Bunmei Muroto, while they have not identified the mole, they uncovered a plot to sabotage the Special Armed Garrison's upcoming aerial demonstration. However, in order to avenge his men who had their mission ruined by the Kerberos, Muroto does not inform the M.P. Defense Division's ("Capital Area Security Police Agency" in the English adaptation) director Isao Aniya and allows the parade to go on. The Sect mole, revealed to be aircraft mechanic within the Aeronautical Experiments Platoon, plants a bomb onboard the Jagdhund prototype, which explodes during the aerial demonstration. Kishu can only watch in horror as his dream falls to the ground.
Muroto realized the society has evolved since the days of the Metropolitan Police creation, the Kerberos era's end is inevitable ("there's not enough room for two dogs in one dog house. but if you need the bloodline of both dogs you can resolve the situation by mating them..."). Therefore Muroto works against the M.P. Defense Division's interest throughout the series, although it is unclear if Muroto is doing this out of self-interest or for loftier goals. In addition to letting a terrorist bomb the parade flight of the Special Armed Garrison's attack helicopter, it is revealed that Muroto is planning to merge his M.P. Public Security Division with the rival Self-Police ("Metropolitan Police Force" and "NPA" are randomly used in the English adaptation) to create "a new public peacekeeping apparatus that has the Public Security Division at its core". A such move implies to dismantle Shiro Tatsumi's Kerberos unit. Knowing that M.P. Defense Division director Isao Aniya may see this as a betrayal after years of faithful service and loyalty and attempt to strike back, Muroto knows that in order for the Metropolitan Police merger to continue, he must publicly discredit or eliminate the Special Armed Garrison. Following a secret meeting with Self-Police Public Security Bureau officials, he confronts an underling, Tsujimura, of leaking secrets to a friend in the Kerberos unit. M.P. Public Security Division agents come to take Tsujimura away, but unmasking director Muroto's ambition ("say, Boss, who is it the dog is supposed to preserve his bloodline for, anyway?") he pulls a gun on him, forcing the agents to kill Tsujimura. This chapter also foreshadows the downfall of the Special Armored Garrison, when a stray dog finds the corpse of Tsujimura in a junkyard, then wanders next to a large pile of discarded Stahlhelm helmets, machineguns, and armored personnel carriers, all presumably from the Kerberos unit, with the gleaming glass office buildings of Tokyo in the background.
Muroto first sets the M.P. Defense Division to deal with a hostage crisis at the Germany embassy. If any hostages are killed during the siege, an international incident could erupt. The Kerberos Assault Platoons storm the embassy, eliminating the radicals within minutes. However, the embassy takeover was a diversion by a splinter group of the Sect. The main cell and their leader, Fujiwara, has hijacked a Lufthansa plane at Haneda Airport. It is soon revealed that Fujiwara's splinter cell broke off from the Sect following a series of incidents similar to the Special Armed Garrison: the Sect's leadership, behind bars, has compromised with the government and has abandoned its more extremist and violent members, calling themselves the Four Seasons League. The goal of the splinter faction's hijacking is an appointment with glory with the Kerberos unit.
The Kerberos Assault Platoon unit is charged with the capture of Fujiwara ("No one else is to take him") and is dispatched to Haneda Airport, but soon has a conflict over jurisdiction with the Metro Police, who polices the airport. The jurisdiction conflict comes to a head when the unit commander, Handa, orders the Kerberos unit to ignore the Metro Police blockade, resulting in an armed standoff inside the airport terminal and in front of the public. The resulting backlash quickly dumps the Kerberos unit on the tarmac, where Handa formulates one last plan to capture Fujiwara. Handa has his unit secure a service truck and sends Koichi Todome, Midori Washio, and Soichiro Toribe to infiltrate the plane as caterers delivering food to the hostages, violating the Metro Police's jurisdiction. If they are caught, they can be arrested and the scandal would destroy the Kerberos unit.
Handa launches a diversion and Koichi, Midori, and Soichiro storm the plane and kill most of the splinter faction, but before they can fully secure the plane, Fujiwara orders the pilot to takeoff. Koichi, Midori, and Soichiro force the plane down by shooting the engines. The plane crash-lands on a landfill on Showa Island and Fujiwara makes his escape. Koichi and Soichiro are in a daze from the crash, but Midori climbs up on the fuselage and begins setting up her Mauser C96 for long-range shooting. Handa and the rest of the Kerberos unit scramble to the crash site, but are beaten by the Metro Police. Fujiwara meets a wall of Metro Police in riot gear, waiting to apprehend him, but instead resisting arrest, he turns to face the distant crashed plane and Midori, who shoots him between the eyes.Protect Gears used by the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Forces (陸上自衛隊) are pubicly unveiled during a military demonstration at the Mount Fuji in December. The new 1st Airborne Brigade (第1空挺団) is modeled after the World War II German elit unit which fought and eventually defeated the Soviets at the decisive Battle of Stalingrad that turned the tide of war (see Kerberos Panzer Jäger). The young leader of the Panzer Jäger Unit (ギア部隊) incorporates the Kerberos organization's Academy Training School (首都警・養成学校) as an undercover trainee. There he met and fall in love with instructor Midori Washio.
The Kerberos organization's reputation worsen further with the Fast Food Grifter assassination case. A Tachiguishi that goes by the name Cold Badger Masa is brutally murdered by an off-duty Kerberos in a public place (see While Waiting For The Red Spectacles). The Self-Police quickly arrests the killer and rumors of an anti-Kerberos conspiracy starts to emerge. Soon another rumor arise, the existence of a self-preservation underground cell within the Kerberos members called Jin-Roh.
When two German officials have to come in Japan on a diplomatic trip, hundreds of anti-Weimar Establishment (ワイマール体制) protesters gather at a bridge junction near the airport. As the Self-Police using rubber bullets is overwhelmed by violent rioters enforcing the security barrage and eventually molesting the diplomatic convoy, standing Kerberos which were sent in for backup fire over the protesters. This event becomes a political scandal known as "the incident of the 200 killed" and the National Public Safety Commission votes for the Metropolitan Police's dismantlement order. Isao Aniya and Shiro Tatsumi refuses it and instead plans a coup d'état, then Hajime Handa gathers the three Kerberos companies and delivers a rousing speech. The clicmactic "Kerberos Riot" is about to begin.
On February 26 of 19XX, Kerberos Captain Tatsumi Shiro led the 1st Company "Kurzhaar" to the Tokyo City Hall, while Vice-Chief Hajime Handa led the 2nd Company "Langhaar" to the Self-Police headquarters (警視庁 庁舎). Company Kurzhaar is about 22 motorized vehicles and 120 men, Company Langhaar is about 31 motorized vehicles and 180 men, support is granted by the Kerberos aerial platoon "Laelaps" made of 22 men (mechanics and pilots) and 5 Fa-330 gyrogliders including Hachiro Kishu's. Instructor Hachiro Tohbe and the remaining Kerberos of the 3rd Company "Drahthaar" set barricades in the Academy Training School to hold a siege. During the fierce battle between Kerberos Panzer Cops and Panzer Jäger Troopers, Soichiro Toribe, Midori Washio and Koichi Todome runaway onboard a kübelwagen toward the docks (see The Red Spectacles).
Magazine serializations, Original, Complete and Kerberos Saga editions are standard B5 (25.7cm x 18.2cm / 10.1" x 7.2"). Popular edition is A5 size (21cm x 14.8cm) and Frozen edition is B6 size (18cm x 13cm). Additional contents such as prologues, production notes, scenarios, organization charts, glossary, staff interviews and bibliographies are always included in tankōbon editions to explain the Kerberos Saga's complex background. Amazing Comics serialization (Act1~2 / B5) Kerberos Panzer Cop: Part I (第一部) was first published in Amazing Comics (アメージングコミックス), a SF/Horror two-monthly comics magazine published from 1988 to 1989 by Kasakura Shuppansha.