The last episode of Axe Cop, “The Rabbit Who Broke All The Rules” is far removed from the pilot episode. While the violence and epic lines have remained consistent throughout the six episode run, halfway through there was a change in the story tone from lighthearted, goofy tales to darker moral fables.
In “The Rabbit Who Broke All The Rules” Axe Cop regales his audience with the story of his first kill which occurred when he was very young. He chopped off a rabbit’s head because it broke all the rules of being a rabbit. It walked and ate coconuts and Axe Cop was so offended by this that he murdered it. If that wasn’t disturbing enough, the soul of the rabbit seeks shelter in the body of a small child that then weasels his way into Axe Cop’s life.
What follows is an increasingly suspenseful visual of the young boy with the rabbit soul becoming more proficient with kicks and axe-chopping skills which does not bode well for Axe Cop. His only design in fostering the boy is to bring in more income for the police station, since they spent too much money on weaponry the previous month, and so has no emotional attachment to this child.
Flute Cop has to keep reminding him that the kid is indeed just a kid, and while Axe Cop takes his advice and goes to seek a mother in Las Vegas (but can’t because he’s the Ultimate Man and therefore no woman is equal to him — another disturbing assertion), he continues to act like the child is a mere money making venture.
“The Rabbit Who Broke All The Rules” concludes with Axe Cop chopping away at the soul of the rabbit and then burying him. “I didn’t name you last time,” he says, “so now I will. Last name Rabbit, first name Dead.” The gravestone reads: “Dead Rabbit (he broke all the rabbit rules).” The kid, who is now free, has run off screaming to find his real father and Axe Cop is alone again.
While I understand that this is an adult cartoon and that there are cartoons who take a more serious tone, Axe Cop did not start out this way. I’m confused about why such a change occurred halfway through the season. There are elements of Ethan and Malachai’s storytelling, but they get lost amid the morality and psychology dropped on Axe Cop.
“The Rabbit Who Broke All The Rules” does something interesting, however, which might provide us with a clue as to why the show has gotten so dark. Are we finally getting a peek into Axe Cop’s psyche? Is he, in fact, aware that he too is a “rabbit” (individual) who “breaks all the rules”? He’s one of a kind. There isn’t another person to match him. He is the “Ultimate Man.” He can’t even have an “Ultimate Son” because the only one who measured up was a kid possessed by a rabbit’s soul.
Is Axe Cop unaware of this self-hatred? Is he taking it out on the rabbit who’s different because he can’t deal with the pain of being alone? This might seem like too much to expect of a twelve minute animated feature, but when it most closely resembles an Aesop’s fable, it does leave one wondering.
I’m not sure what’s next for Axe Cop. FOX has not renewed or expanded it into the thirty minute segments originally envisioned, and that might be a wise choice. A ten to fifteen minute slot is sufficient for this kind of story, keeping the writing tight and clean while allowing the animation to shine. Although with this strange turn into an exploration of the psychology surrounding Axe Cop, I wouldn’t be surprised if the project folded.
The thing that made Axe Cop so great was the sheer epic joy, the wild abandon that allowed the mind of a creative young child to tell stories about a T-Rex with Gatling gun arms, a guy named Sockarang with socks for arms, and a justice-imbued cop who only chopped the heads off of bad guys. Going morally ambiguous with these characters is an odd choice moving it from shocking hilarity to somewhat deeper, distressing material.