This stylish science fiction detective story bears the stamp of director Mamoru Oshii (Ghost in the Shell). "Labors" are gigantic robots used for everything from construction work to law enforcement, but a massive land rec... more »lamation project in Tokyo Bay is threatened by robots going on unexplained rampages. Patlabor cops Noah Izumi and Azuma Shinohara are called in to investigate, and soon find themselves trying to decipher the apocalyptic visions of E.†Hoba, who wrote the operating system for the Labor robots and then committed suicide. Hoba introduced a virus into the software that could affect robots all over world and cause unparalleled destruction. In abandoned slum apartments and high-tech construction sites, he left clues about what he was doing--and why. But are Noah, Azuma, and their friends clever enough to second-guess a genius? And will their superior officers accept their conclusions? The first Patlabor feature has a darker tone and look than the previous OVA series. Oshii assumes the viewer already knows the characters, and doesn't bother introducing them. But this powerful tale of the dangers of over-reliance on technology is far superior to ordinary mecha features. The recent attacks of powerful computer viruses give the story an added relevance. (Unrated; suitable for ages 10 and older: occasional profanity and robot vs. robot violence.) --Charles Solomon« less
Brad S. (Snibot) from DALLAS, TX Reviewed on 2/25/2010...
As far as the large mecha anime are concerned, many of them centralize around aliens and invasions of Earth, which is great and all, but this is fresh and new. I like the idea of humans constructing the large robots without alien technology, and their uses make a lot of sense... construction robots, as well as military robots.
The voice acting is excellent both English and Japanese, the writing is good, the artwork is amazing, and the story is exceptional.
Props for this film
Finally, a quality release for a classic film
Daniel Cowden | USA | 04/28/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is the way "Patlabor 1" _should_ have been treated in an English-language release. This film is the foundation of Mamoru Oshii's signature style, which would be perfected in "Patlabor 2" and then reach international attention with the later "Ghost in the Shell" and "Innocence" features.
The new translation of the dialogue offers far more detail than the old version from the late '90s by Manga Entertainment, Bandai Visual USA seems to have really wanted to make a mark with this first release for the new company, and they achieved this.
The film itself is a classic Oshii blend of philosophy and action, based upon the characters he helped introduce with the "Patlabor: The Original Series" OVA, but turning the focus of the show from the adventures of the Patlabor cast to an introspective look at where Tokyo (and humanity in general) was heading. Many elements were far ahead of their time; today threats of killer computer viruses are common; all of us deal with them in our email accounts, but in 1989 the internet was in its early public infancy, and the idea of someone creating a virus to spread death and destruction was a fantastic concept. The fact that humanity's inventions could so easily be taken from their pure helpful purposes and turned to nefarious ends was a relatively new idea, one which challenged the prevailing viewpoint that humanity would only be helped and assisted by its new technological creations.
This release sets a new standard for how high-profile titles should be released, and I hope that it is a precedent that will be followed commonly. The documentaries on the extra disc were a little underwhelming compared to the standards set by Peter Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" or even the well-conceived and excuted making-of documenatries that came with Pioneer/Geneon's "WXIII: Patlabor 3" special edition release.
But the 184-page Patlabor Archives book is a treasure for those interested in how and why "Patlabor 1" turned out the way it did, detailing much of the history of the film, why it is so different in tone from the Patlabor OVAs and TV series, and the innovative ways that Oshii used to turn the city of Tokyo itself into one of the central characters of the film. I read the entire booklet before watching the new version of the film, and it changed the way I viewed the movie, made me far more conscious of the social commentary that is in fact one of the film's central themes.
The storyboard is another gem for those who are interested in the process of how an idea for a film is translated into a finished work, and even glancing through it made me more conscious of some of the finer details in the film, things which are so subtle that they may escape detection even after multiple viewings, but because they were specifically laid out in the storyboards were deliberately placed to enhance some aspects of the film.
Is this Limted Edition of the film necessary to enjoy the picture? No, it's not. Get the new version of the basic movie if all you're interested in is a great thinking-man's movie with a few heart-pounding action sequences thrown in for variety's sake (it _is_ a mecha anime on the surface, after all). The basic film of this Bandai Visual USA version is far superior to the old Manga Entertainment one; if you already own that, you might consider picking up this one, anyway, because this translation mentions an awful lot of details that were left out of Manga's version. But the Limited Edition's special features will probably only be of interest to the devoted anime and Patlabor fans, for its illumination of how the anime industry and Mamoru Oshii actually work.
The downside of this, for those who have been following Patlabor for a long time, is that this is the fourth complete English-language cast for the Patlabor characters, a result of four different companies having been responsible for releasing this over time (Manga Entertainment doing the original versions of the first two movies, US Manga Corps doing the OVAs and TV Series, and Pioneer/Geneon doing WXIII: Patlabor 3)."
For once an anime that is NOT an action film...completly
Bjorn R. Buer | Northern California | 10/22/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I need to start by saying I have not watched anything but the Patlabor Movies so I have no clue what the series is all about. I also need to say that I bought this film on the heels of watching Macross Plus, my favorite anime EVER, and was expecting an action mech film. Boy was I suprised.
The first time I watched this, I literally fast forwarded through most of it to get the the action. Imagine my dismay when I got there and there seemed to be NONE! I threw down the movie in disgust and left.
Weeks later my friend who got me into Anime saw it and asked to watch it. I told him I thought it was crap but why not. This time...I actually watched the movie and I was blown away with its deep story, amazing imagination and palpable theme of discovery and mystery. For plot line and story, look at the other reviews, I'm just here to give opinion.
Patlabor uses Labors, or mecha, not as show stealing engines of destruction but as obvious evolutions of police enforcement. As such, there is no flashy gundam style energy exchange or more deliberate destruction of the mechwarrior fame. But what you do get is a deep plot of industrial espionage, mysterious dissapearences and a suprisingly realistic look at what future law enforcement would actually look like, detective work too.
In the end, I realized that all anime need not be about amazing action. Patlabor has a pretty good action scene towards the end but that is not why I suggest this movie. I say watch this because it shows what anime can also bring to our DVD players. A well written, well studied movie that would probably crash at the box office because everyone expects it to shoot stuff."
The Blade Runner of anime.
N. Daniele Pietro | Milano, MI Italy | 04/27/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I got interested into Mamoru Oshii's work after I saw the stunning "Ghost in the shell" and I have to say that I wasn't disappointed by this earlier release. It's an ambitious movie, that tries to renew the typical mecha-action story, and succeeds thanks to a multi-layered , complex plot that blends seamlessly science-fiction and detective story, very realistic in its premises (the mechas are very much everyday tools) but also with many interesting twists (the investigation scenes in the slums of Tokyo have an intriguingly surreal quality to them) True, it's not a relentless, action-packed movie, but I think that the battle scenes (the one in the streets of Tokyo is splendid!)have a stronger impact on the viewer when they make sense in the context of a story, and this is the case. The final climax, maybe, is not as powerful as I expected, but that's a minor flaw, because the rest is so good. Also , this is a movie, not a tv-series, so it has the kind of top-notch quality usually reserved to theatrical releases: superior character design, wonderfully "fluid" animation, and incredibly detailed machines, mechas, landscapes etc. The sequel is supposed to be even better, and I'll get it for sure. Strongly recommended."
Smart Mecha Movie of the Not So Action-Packed Kind
Skyline 99 | Chicago, IL | 01/06/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In Gateway country, people rule. Well, at least until someone plants a virus into the system before he dies and all of the sudden labors are on the rampage, and it would take more than Pinkerton's Men to stop these guys. If you are looking for a fast-paced in your face action with a hyper cool robot title, look no further... for another anime. But, if you a are looking for an anime that poses deep questions such as "Who am I really?", "My purpose is?", "Will the Cubs ever win a World Series?, and...aw nevermind, it's not like that either. All I can say is that Patlabor is a smart, and stylized mecha movie with enough techno stuff and mystery to boot. But of course, the Patlabor series is one of the best mecha anime series ever, so what's not to expect? Especially at the hands of director Mamoru Oshii (Ghost in the Shell). The big difference about Patlabor is that instead of focusing on the mecha, it focuses on the people. Labors aren't the solve-all, end-all super robots out to save the world, they're functional machines, and could be related to much like cars today. That's where Patlabor works its magic, with the characters. Masami Yuki, one of the creators of Patlabor, and Headgear, took what was originally a parody of Gundam into an anime that has come into a light of its own. Patlabor is great show and a great movie, and Patlabor 2, even beter that the first, is considered Oshii's masterpiece. Highly recomended to dedicted fans and the casual otaku alike, Oshii show us that technology does not always mean progress, and nothing is ever failsafe."