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Kidou Keisatsu Patlabor 2 the Movie
I can easily consider this movie to be the best of the Patlabor franchise and that is saying quite a bit for me. This movie ditches the carefree and comical moments you would find in earlier iterations of the franchise and creates a mature political thriller featuring the former members of the Special Vehicles Division reuniting to deal with a string of terrorist attacks that have the political and military sectors of Japanese society on edge. Kiichi Goto gets prominent focus in this movie as he learns that the organizer of these terrorist attacks may be connected to someone that fellow officer, Shinobu Nagumo, may have known from her past and tries to piece together the whereabouts of these conspirators and their goals. With this movie offering perhaps the most mature and serious story developments you can expect of the Patlabor franchise, fans of the older titles of the franchise may not warm up to this movie too well if you enjoyed the light-hearted and comical interactions of the characters, especially as there is minimal focus on other members of SV2 outside of Goto and Shinobu.|
The movie mostly serves as a philosophical message delving into the costs of war and peace. The ongoing terrorist attacks that occur in the movie lead Japan to take on a state of martial law as they try figuring out who is responsible for triggering the attacks and fear the possibility of American military intervention if things aren't quickly resolved. The attacks lead civilians, politicians and the military within Japan into a state of fear and disillusionment as they are unsure of whom to trust and whether or not each side has any sort of involvement in the attacks. There are occasional philosophical exchanges which, while sometimes dragging things a bit, delve into the seemingly neverending cycle of periods of war and peace for humanity. The anime is also notable for being a rare instance, for its time, at delving into relevant social issues of the early 90s in Japan where there were tensions between civilians and the country's Self-Defense Force and exploring apparent unrest with Japan's military power being restricted following the country's loss in World War II. For the most part, Mamoru Oshii does an excellent job at delivering his commentary and philosophizing on aspects of the human condition and Japanese society to fit into the world of Patlabor.
Visually, Patlabor II is the best-looking title I've seen in the franchise thus far. Scenery and character designs are drawn with realistic details as characters looked almost life-like in their drawn features and scenery shots of the city landscape of Tokyo looked like you were seeing them for real through an actual video camera. The movie mixes use of CG and hand-drawn animation in showing off scenes such as different camera shots of the Tokyo city landscape, computer layouts and different mecha in action. While action isn't the main focus of Patlabor II, the movie still showed off a nice diversity of action sequences with plenty of fluid movement such as crowds of police officers gathering together, terrorist helicopters attacking areas of Tokyo and the Labors of Section 2 taking part in the action. The soundtrack for the movie is minimally used, but mostly consists of tense and energetic tracks to accompany the differing dramatic moments that occur throughout Patlabor 2.
Overall, Patlabor 2 offers a significantly different setup for the franchise's memorable characters having more serious story developments and emphasis on philosophizing on elements of the human condition and Japanese society. While I personally enjoyed this film for its unique and more serious spin on the Patlabor franchise and find it to be the best within it, the film may not be for those who enjoy the franchise's more light-hearted and comedic offerings from its older titles.
Last updated Sunday, January 27 2013. Created Sunday, January 27 2013.
Kidou Keisatsu Patlabor 2 the Movie
One of the reasons why I ordered Patlabor 2 was because I read another review in which a critic gave the movie a perfect, 100% rating. Personally, though I certainly enjoyed it I didn't find it to be flawless. I watched the dubbed version, approximately 108 minutes long, and immediately noticed that the animation was much better than the original TV series. It reminded me of the animation in "Jin-Roh", but ironically the improvement had a disadvantage in that it made it difficult to recognize individual charachters whose faces I was familiar with from the TV show! I was operating under the assumption that the charachters would behave more or less like they did in the TV or OVA series, which turned out to be a mistake. Whereas those versions of Patlabor tend to be near situation comedies, the movies have a darker, more serious tone to them. According to the previews, the now-scattered original staff of SVD2 are supposed to reunite and solve the case, and eventually they do, but not until the last half hour or so of the movie. Until then the bulk of the attention is placed on Captains Goto and Nagumo. Goto especially didn't seem to be acting like the man I remembered from the TV series (which I had always watched in subtitled form). He had always been a quiet, soft-spoken guy, who never got excited about anything, and in this movie I was startled when he actually shouted at somebody! The people who made this movie clearly didn't feel particularly obligated to conform to the style of the original OVA series, and it might be most enjoyable to those who haven't seen Patlabor on TV. Moody music and artwork take up a good deal of time, without a word being spoken (also, the makers of this film display an almost bizarre fascination with birds!). Like the first Patlabor movie, there's basically one mecha skirmish at the beginning, then the bulk of the film is a sophisticated mystery being unravelled, and finally the Patrol Labors are called into action to set things right. I thought the climactic mecha fight was well done, though not as elaborate or lengthy as the one in the first movie. Throughout the film, you never see anybody get killed or badly injured, though with all the destruction that takes place, some people must have gotten the chop. As exciting and well animated as the action was, it was kind of difficult to take seriously because the way Japan as a whole went swiftly from a normal state of affairs to martial law. As I understand it, Japan has been very non-militaristic since 1945--there is no Japanese "army", rather the "Japan Self-Defence Force". It was hard to believe that discontented JSDF jet and helicopter pilots could be recruited to carry out terrorist attacks--kind of a paranoid conspiracy viewpoint. The movie comes to an end in a way that was partly anticlimactic and partly surreal. The makers of Anime in general apparently don't expect to have to explain everything to the viewer, and even if they haven't in this particular case, the result was still an entertaining, thoughtful piece of work--even if you don't exactly "get" it.|
My favorite line: "Isumi--Get over here and kill this thing!"
Last updated Saturday, February 23 2008. Created Tuesday, June 10 2003.