“Sightseeing?” “No. Combat.”

I got the opportunity yesterday to watch the first Patlabor movie (with my brother, who, despite being 14, highly enjoyed it, a fact which continues to mystify me) and I really enjoyed it. It was certainly different from what I had envisioned it to be. I didn’t realize it’d be so…police-y, but on second thought it really wasn’t that surprising. I figured there’d have been more actual Labor combat, but what Patlabor actually is was better.

It turns out that Patlabor is more a police drama than a mecha series, which really interested me. I don’t really watch any of the police shows on American TV, but I can’t help but think that Patlabor is a shining example of the genre. With robots. The movie was my first introduction to the world of Patlabor, and it was quite interesting to see Oshii Mamoru work on something that isn’t either a) pretentious or b) Ghost in the Shell (Sorry, fanboys–Ghost in the Shell never really interested me). The cast of characters in the franchise is quite likable, and you have to be an inhuman monster to dislike Izumi Noa. My actual favorite character was the commander of Section 2, Goto Kiichi, who’s just this smooth, laid-back guy who just happens to be a brilliant manipulator to get his way. The interaction between the members of Section 2 was also quite well-done, and among the most enjoyable parts of the movie–having seen nothing else in the Patlabor universe, I got a grasp on the characters very, very fast.

My only problem with the movie would be the rather open-ended feel it has–at the end, the Ark collapses, Eichii Hoba’s scheme to destroy Tokyo is left a shambles, and Noa has lost her best friend in the entire world, Alphonse the Third. The last bit was especially saddening, but no doubt that Noa will simply get another Labor of an entirely different type and call it Alphonse the Fourth, since she’s completely unimaginative (and cute that way).

Interesting thing about the mecha design–the Labors Section 2 uses has kinda sorta external cockpits. Those who’ve seen any Patlabor will know what I mean–you’re inside the Labor, but your head is kind of sticking out in the middle, so it looks less like a mecha and more like glorified body armor. It’s a weird effect, but it’s quite nice to see a mecha design that isn’t just a standard cockpit interface.

In sum: I think I need to watch more Patlabor. And American cop shows need to have giant robots.

2 Responses to ““Sightseeing?” “No. Combat.””

  1. 1 nil! 14 January 2008 at 11:01 am

    I still find the Patlabor series to be one of the finest gems in the anime world. I like a show that puts the technology in the terms of setting and ordinary tools and instead focuses on the characters. I think the only show that manages to come close to capturing the fit and feel of Patlabor would be Planetes which is another show I really enjoyed.

    If you get the opportunity, I highly recommend the TV series as you get much more time with the characters.

  2. 2 OGT 14 January 2008 at 2:09 pm

    Yeah, I mean to get the TV series at some point in time, since I loved the movie. And I guess you’re right with the Planetes comparison–same kind of “realistic” feel.

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I cannot understand those that take anime seriously, but I can love them, and I do. Out of my love I warn them to keep clear of this blog.

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January 2008

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