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As with Patlabor 1, there's a facade of misleading marketing around this
film. There's a picture of a big robot on the packaging, and any teaser
probably promise you a non-stop mecha blasting fest. This is, simply put,
shameless lie. Patlabor 2 is a political thriller (often likened to a Tom
Clancy novel with good reasons), and a very slow, brooding, talky,
philosophical one at that. Big robots just happen to exist in it's
but their presence in the film is so slight you'll hardly notice
What you will notice, however, are some wonderful visuals and music, and a story that asks the viewer many daring, insightful questions about the world of today.
The plot centers around a few terrorist attacks on Tokyo taking place in the winter of 2002 (note that the film was made in 1993). Most of these attacks are really fake, or harmless makebelieve-attacks, but they're enough to create panic and to cause the established sense of security to crumble to bits. Captains Gotoh and Nagumo of the Special Vehicle Units try to unmask the man, and especially the ideas behind these staged attacks. Everything points to a certain Yukihito Tsuge, who's an old familiar of Nagumo.
What makes this film special is the way we're given insights into Tsuge's beliefs through the dialogues. The viewer is directly confronted with some very powerful questions. The state of being that we call "peace" in the western world - just how peaceful is it really? How fragile is it, and how much do we deserve this relative 'peace' compared to the prices mostly others pay for it? The film is rife with such questions, and they leave a considerable impact on the viewer. I daresay Patlabor 2 is worth it's price alone for being confronted with such thought-provoking issues set to some of the most beautifully haunting images and music ever put on screen.
The animation is definitely finely-crafted (there's a scene where helicopters swoop over the city who's smoothness has to be seen to be believed), but it's biggest strong point is the way it's all been directed. Slow, sweeping shots of the intricate semi-futuristic cityscape are the order of the day, with many other impressively beautiful shots.
But it's the music that really stole the show for me, with a wonderful use of mostly gentle and haunting melodies. The soundtrack is a true masterpiece, whose tunes will remain with you for a long time after viewing the film. It adds a dimension to the atmosphere that really can't be described very well on paper, so I'll just say it's powerful and beautifully-crafted stuff. The image of snowflakes drifting down onto tanks stationed all over Tokyo while a soft, ghostly melody plays in the background is a good example of the sort of moment where Patlabor 2 shines.
It doesn't shine all the way, though. There are a few flaws to this film, which make it hard to recommend to everybody. The talkiness, for one thing, sometimes really goes over-the-top. Instead of showing you what happened, a pretty important development is sometimes only mentioned in a conversation. This makes it difficult to keep up all the time, especially as the viewer is sometimes assumed to be an expert on political powergames; -"Some minister has just done something or other, and then this and that happened" -"I see... that means so-and-so plans to do yakkity-something..." Dialogues like that pop up a few times in the film and manage to be pretty unpleasant. Likewise, there's no gentle introduction to Patlabor newcomers, so it's recommended that you've seen at least the first Patlabor movie before tackling this. While the few scenes of how the regular Patlabor cast have gotten on with their lives are fairly unimportant, being at least somewhat familiar with them is a welcome help in following a sometimes overwhelmingly complex film (I mean that in a good way, though ^^).
Patlabor 2 will never be suited to general public tastes, as it's simply too complex, talky and basically 'different' for anyone just seeking some escapist fun. The DragonBall and Akira crowd need not look into this until they've learned to stop referring to the anime medium as 'ménga movies' while mistaking it for a slew of violent cyberpunk slop which they consider 'kewl' or 'kickass' or whatever. Same to the general Hollywood crowd who'd freak out at the idea of a film demanding efforts from the viewer - Patlabor 2 demands lots of efforts, but has something special to reward you with.
Patlabor 2 serves it's doses of food for thought raw, and it takes some effort to swallow them. But I'd say that effort is well worth it. For the unique, powerful atmosphere alone, this is more than worth a look. I guess "haunting" is really the most suitable word to describe Patlabor 2's superb feel. It literally does haunt you, with questions about the state of the society we live in that you can't possibly turn a blind eye on (in fact, after the attacks on America in September 2001, Patlabor 2's messages have become ironically up-to-date in their relevance). And a film that achieves such effects so very well deserves to be seen and to be praised. And then there's -that- music. Absolutely brilliant, it makes this film a must-hear as well as a must-see.
Mamoru Oshii's "Ghost in the Shell" got all the hype, but his earlier film,
"Patlabor 2," is by far the more mature, artistically successful film. This
is anime at its finest - sharply detailed artwork, superb animation, and a
story that WILL hook you.
Disguised as a Tom Clancyesqe techno-thriller, Patlabor 2 is actually a knowing, often cynical examination of global politics. The film at times resembles a surreal CNN report...if it were scripted by Noam Chomsky and directed by Alfred Hitchcock! What does that mean? First, the symbolic visuals are beguiling and plentiful. I would suggest you first view either "Psycho" or the "The Birds" and then Watch the Birdie in "Patlabor 2".
Patlabor 2 is a beautiful film. There are many stunning, surreal cityscapes that recall "Blade Runner." These scenes are accompanied by Keiji Kawai's meditative, haunting score. But the film's greatest impact is its disturbing plausibility. There may be giant robot police patrolling the streets of Tokyo, but the patterns of infrastructure and the chaos that breaks out when it breaks down seem all too real.
I give this anime my highest recommendation and I would especially recommend it to those who are either unfamiliar with Japanese anime or perhaps think animation is not a "serious" artistic medium. (This film will set them straight). Due to it's highly dense dialogue, I would recommend the dubbed version (unless you're fluent in Japanese or just prefer subtitles). The dubbing job is superbly acted and well-timed, preserving the original script's dramatic pauses and moments of silence.
This is a fine example of what Japanese animation can produce at its best.
The style of this movie strongly reminds me of a Tom Clancy novel, which
unusual for anime. At the beginning I was a little put off by the slow
of the movie, but as the story unfolded, I was sucked in by its complexity
and realism. Indeed, the conflict and the political games between the
government, the army and the police are so well constructed that I thought
"this could *really* happen!"
If you liked this movie you should try to see "Jin-roh". There's the same kind of political and military intrigue but the story is more personal and close to the action than the high-circle strategy atmosphere which permeates Patlabor 2.
"Japanese cartoons are for kids"...
This is yet another movie to show to people who wrongfully believe that!
A movie like "Ghost in The Shell" and the series "Neon Genesis Evangelion" have proven to contain more plot in the screenplay, and even afterthought in the mind of the audience, than most Hollywood-movies I know of. "Patlabor 2" is definitely another addition to my list of movies I would say disproves the first sentence in this comment.
As other commenters have noted, "Patlabor 2" resembles a Tom Clancy political thriller. The storytelling was so good that it got my heart racing in some scenes, and that is saying a lot from my point of view (Trust me on that one - I've seen "The Others" and similar movies, without moving a muscle when the rest of the theatre screamed).
If the story was tightened here, and the plot was elaborated there, "Patlabor 2" could be made into a Hollywood-movie as a frame-by-frame copy! I really mean that - There is always room for improvement, but in my opinion there are only very minor blemishes to the flow of the movie. I enjoyed every second, although some other commenters found the "slow parts" boring or irrelevant.
The music (or lack thereof) is also definitely worth a mention. It's hard to describe - I just couldn't imagine it being any different for this movie. The reason I write lack of music is because there are scenes where any Hollywood-producer would have slapped on some generic classical music, but in this case there is none. For example there is a scene after a climax where you just see different parts of the cityscape, with snow falling, and there is no sound at all. THAT's movie-magic. It's part of what draws me to this strange, exotic type of movies - it's so different than what most of us are used to.
Recreate the visuals using a film-camera, actors and a special-effects crew, copy+paste the music, label it "made in Hollywood" and you've got yourself a blockbuster-hit!
Japanese cartoons are for kids - not. If you have a brain, and an attention-span bigger than your average action-monkey, this movie is for you.
I was like many people upon viewing this film for the first time. I could sit through it without getting bored or falling asleep. It's not your typical robot anime at all. Its more than that really. The film isn't like its mecha predessors - its not about the action. And if your watching this film purely for action than you will be disappointed. Because this film is mostly dialogue and politics all the way through. But once you have a greater understanding of the film, you will realise as I have how wonderful and amazing this film actually is. The film is a commentry on Japanese 'common-sense' pacifism to war. It asks the viewer to question this pacifism: how can Japan claim to be peaceful nation if it ignores the security of others. The film makes it's point very clear, and it is effective in bringing this message across. But of course if you only want to watch the film for its action sequences, then obviously your missing the point of what makes this thoughtful film so amazing to watch.
Patlabor 2 is a very good anime, both by the technical quality of Oshii's
team's work, and by a very good and smart screenplay, using politic and
terrorism as background.
This movie show us that anime is not only for kids (see Disney) and that japanese anime can have beautiful picture and good screenplay.
Director Mamoru Oshii gets it right the second time round. His penchant for
deep philosophical stories is executed with the right touch of pathos and
aided greatly by the superior quality of animation and more "mature"
Followers of the TV and OAV series would know that the chief of Section 2, Goto harbours a crush for chief Nagano of Section 1. However, being the stoic man that Goto is, he could never openly admit his affection for her.
The plot focuses on Nagano's past as a brilliant student of labor tatics - and her relationship with her much older mentor.Their affair was doomed as he was a married man. The political fallout caused her high-flying career to to come to a halt and ended up with her posted to the "lowly" Special Vehicle Section 1.Her mentor took charge of a UN labor peacekeeping force which got slaughtered in the jungles due to inept commands from his superiors. He returned to Japan a changed man.
The story is a vastly superior adaptation of "SV2's Longest Day", one of the outstanding episodes in the first OAV series. The film is filled with poignant scenes and quiet, surreal sequences in the heart of the city that are a prequel of sorts to Oshii's masterpeice Ghost in the Shell. Like I said, fans of the series will especially appreciate Goto's dilemma in the closing scene.
The first time I heard of this japanese anime films I was very sceptic. I
thought they are stupid little movies mostly contain erotic scenes. But I
changed my mind after seeing this great anime, it has a more complex story
than many of the Hollywood productions. Perhaps this also could be a
problem, because you have to concentrate on the movie. Somethimes it is
really hard to understand all the political maneuvers and the philosophic
dialogues. But this movie is worth to look twice or even more times, also
the animations are really great. Forgett this stupid Walt Disney style If
you have seen a anime one time you will love it!
It is one of the greatest movies I have ever seen so 10 points of 10
Patlabor 2 is an incredible movie all around. Let me begin. Point#1: The Story. The story is superior to Patlabor 1's by far. It is more enthralling and has all questions answered nicely. Point#2: The Directing. Mamoru Oshii does it again! This was his first film when he started becoming artistic, and he already has it mastered. He manages to visualize Ito's screenplay so well, it is just breathtaking. Point#3: The Music. Another beautiful score from Kenji Kawai! He makes some beautifully animated scenes and makes them even more beautiful! He was definitely ready to compose a movie such as Ghost In The Shell. Conclusion: Just watch it. Go out to Blockbuster and rent this movie. Then, buy it. If they don't have it, DEMAND IT! That's all I have to say. See you later. Rating: 5 out of 5
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Mamoru Oshii has created an amazing work of political and military
intrigue wholly different from the haunted proto-ghost story of
Patlabor: The Movie. Although it parallels its predecessor in some plot
elements (lone madman with delusions of affecting a world-change), the
movie departs from all other aspects of "typical" Japanese cartoon work
and enters a realm reserved for potboilers like Three Days of the
Condor and The Hunt for Red October.
Commander Gotoh, caught between his loyalty to his men, his sense of duty and his relationship with one of his troops and a coming civil war finds himself on the sword point of a massive socio-political upheaval with overtones of covert U.S. backing. What it all leads to is a potential breakdown of civilian governance of Japan and an end to that nation's independent self-rule. The terroristic acts of a lone military mastermind who bears a grudge against short sighted bureaucrats - and has the reasons for his contempt proved time and again during the crisis he engineers - push Japan into a state of near panic as the military and the police including Commander Gotoh's Special Vehicles Unit face off against one another. Will the final showdown end in the madness of a civil war? Watch the movie, find out.
Forget preconceptions about Japanese cartoons, and discard the mental image brought up by the "giant robot" on the cover of the DVD. The "Labors" serve as mere background icons (much as the powered armor did in R.A. Heinlein's seminal Starship Troopers (not the execrable movie loosely based on that work)) and as subtle statements on the separation of men from society by duty and law.
Please, if you have a prejudice against Japanimation, don't let it override your judgment. Don't miss this one. It's that good.
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