In the mid-90s, Sierra On-Line and Pioneer Electric formed a joint venture which was uncreatively called Sierra Venture. In addition to the benefits of the acquisition of a handful of smaller developers, the venture allowed Sierra to distribute many of its signature titles in Japan for the first time.
Most of these titles were localized as they were, with one bizarre exception: Police Quest II. Police Quest was a series known for its realism, its dedication to police procedure, and its unforgiving difficulty and while those qualities made it through the port intact, the character models…didn’t.
It’s not clear why (some of) the characters were changed to adopt a more absurdist look, with styles befitting some animé characters. If the concern was the grittiness of the original characters then the change was incomplete as there are several core characters whose models stayed the same. And it’s not like the models that were changed were very tough and gritty, either. Sonny Bonds is a boy scout.
I can only assume that the intent was to keep the crime-drama tone that worked so well for the game and for most media in the late ’80s and still attempt to somewhat soften the palate for Japanese audiences. It doesn’t work, though – the characters that were changed look like fish out of water in a world that doesn’t match their appearance, and the game is worse for it. But it does make for an interesting story, and this version of the game itself becomes an interesting artifact because of it.