a.k.a. Kido Keisatsu Patoreba II
Now in 2002, three years after the Mobile Police single-handedly avoided global catastrophe, new problems are on the horizon. Political decisions lead an entire peacekeeping platoon in Cambodia to its destruction. The troop leader Tsuge, thrown into disarray, decides to go out of his way to prove how feeble the government who cost him everything really is. It is now up to the senior Mobile Police members Kiichi Goto and Nagumo Shinobu to conduct an investigation in a panicked city, put a stop to Tsuge’s scheme and save Japan from civil war.
summary by Kjeldoran
Highs: Reflects profoundly on serious themes; realistic characters; crisp art
Lows: Clashing finale; exploited to invoke Patlabor melancholy
Let me be brutally honest; it’s slow, it’s long-winded, it’s Patlabor: The Movie all over again: there are barely any mecha, characters discuss things… have I lost you yet? I hope not. You would be missing a fascinating essay on this messed up world we inhabit and throwing away your chance at getting straight As in political studies.
Oshii Mamoru (Jin-Roh, Ghost in the Shell), as always, puzzles the mind with mundane yet brilliant dialogue in this slow-paced, modern thriller. Much like its predecessor and nearly all of the director’s movies, Patlabor II: The Movie features a realistic palette, dangerously cold characters, hidden references and a mysterious yet omnipresent antagonist with radical methods of imposing “righteous” ways of thinking. The intentions of Tsuge (this installment’s intellectual bad guy) may not be explained and depicted as clearly as in Patlabor: The Movie, but sets the stage for an even deeper thesis; this time on political fragility and war all wrapped in an even thinner layer of mecha.
Since Oshii passed the torch to Takayama Fumihiko (known for his participation in Orguss and Macross Plus) for the direction of Patlabor III: The Movie, the second movie was initially envisioned as a conclusion to this long-running series. A few moments inspire nostalgia for fans but are useless in terms of story advancement and lost on the general audience. This also engenders an all too cliché ending for a movie that started so well. While finding slight comfort in an over-dynamic climax, stock-still monologues will be excruciating on viewers with short attention spans or those who care little about political functioning. Additionally, characters seem to be lacking the charm that made them famous in the first movie but their primary function here is to add to the general imagery by representing casts of our society or giving tidbits of insights throughout their dialogue.
All and all, we have here another great philosopher’s movie. Yet someone needs to tell Oshii Mamoru a good conclusion does not necessitate pointless combat. Let us hope he reads this.
Highs: Intelligent script and characters; mesmerizing, perfectly-timed music; smooth-as-silk pacing; exquisite animation
Lows: A few below-average seiyuu; ill-fitting cameos
Under Oshii Mamoru’s tutelage, the Mobile Police Patlabor movies have been regarded as the “thinking man’s mecha anime”, and rightfully so. Of the three, Patlabor II: The Movie is the most successful at melding the dialogue with impressive action. Oshii has tried this many times before and several times afterward, but this is indeed his greatest achievement as a director.
If this is your first experience with Patlabor, some of the cameos and references to already-established relationships will be lost on you. And for those of us who have immersed ourselves in this wonderful franchise before, the inclusion of certain characters, like Patlabor pilots Noah and Azuma, really serve no purpose; it’s good that they are relegated to back burner status for most of the movie. Combined with some droll, unimpressive seiyuu, like the one for Arakawa Shigeki (who, unfortunately, has the most lines of dialogue), you’d be amazed that I was impressed with the characters at all.
But I was. There is much to like about this anime, and intelligent, street-smart characters are among them. In particular, this is the show that really allowed me to make an emotional connection with protagonist Kiichi Goto, one of the most underrated and under-appreciated heroes in anime. He exudes a carefree, we’ll-jump-off-that-bridge-when-we-come-to-it attitude on the outside and a calculating omniscience brewing from within. Goto personifies the feel of this movie, which is very stealthly methodical in its approach but moves forward with impressive confidence in its characters, its story, its music… everything. While on the topic of music, composer Kawai Kenji has put together a hypnotic soundtrack that enhances its scenes when used (which isn’t often. Music is used very sparingly). Eye-poppingly attractive action is icing on this delicious cake.
Although lacking the biblical references in the first movie and psychological introspection of the third, Patlabor II: The Movie is as smart as its characters. Well done, Oshii Mamoru.
Mobile Police Patlabor II: The Movie can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.