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Mobile Police Patlabor: The Movie


a.k.a. Kido Keisatsu Patoreba Gekijouban

Genre: Action/Drama
Company: Production IG
Format: 1 movie
Dates: 7/15/1989

The year is 1999 and the police have gone high-tech in order to combat crime. Once used exclusively for construction work, the Labors have been upgraded with a prototype operating system. Too bad all the kinks have yet to be worked out of the system, for the number of Labors running amok seems to be increasing daily. Mobile police officers Izuma Noah and Shinohara Azuma are assigned to investigate the eerily-connected cases of Labor malfunctions.

summary by Kain


Reviewed: 04/26/2004 by
Grade: 78% av-Kain

Highs: First 3/4s delightfully deep; animation keeps getting better; mesmerizing dialogue

Lows: Last 1/4 mindless mecha fare; action choreography confusing & lacks focus; sequence of events a tad bit too convenient

This is not your everyday mecha anime. The first hour of Patlabor: The Movie is perhaps the most riveting, psychological who-done-it I’ve had the pleasure of watching. The problem is, the movie quickly runs out of steam and falls victim to every mecha cliché known to man. What a shame; I was thiscloseto placing it among my “Greatest Anime of All Time” list. Oh, how the mighty have fallen…

Let’s put this anime in perspective. This anime has more religious and psychological metaphors and references than Neon Genesis Evangelion could shake a stick at. I’ve seen other anime falter while attempting to make their themes “deep”, but Patlabor: The Movie has most definitely succeeded. That is what I love about this movie; the focus is nearly entirely on man and his dependence on machines. Most of this is brought about through a tried-and-true film convention known as dialogue; frequently characters are seen performing everyday, mundane tasks but sustain some of the most witty conversations I’ve witnessed in a long time. To top that off, the animation and art start at a level which unmistakingly shows the age of this film but progresses to the point of being a pure visual feast.

And then we have the concluding minutes of what could have been something special. For an anime that copped out for an action ending, the director couldn’t even get that part right. Camera angles were all wrong and ill-positioned; it was immensely difficult to make heads or tails out of what was going on. In the end, this was Patlabor: The Movie‘s ultimate downfall, and because it’s such a stark contrast from the brilliant beginning and middle sections I was left angry and disappointed.


Mobile Police Patlabor: The Movie can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.


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